If you’re planning a trip to Walt Disney World and want to stay on-property, there is no shortage of options to choose from. While some of the resort’s several hotels tend to come up often in conversation, others don’t seem to get the same amount of love from fans. That’s why, for our latest edition of LP Pro Tips, we asked our staff as well as MEI-Travel founder and CEO Beci Mahnken to share their picks for the most underrated places to stay at the Walt Disney World Resort.
The Cabins at Fort Wilderness
Picked by: Beci Mahnken from Mouse Fan Travel
For an official Disney resort, I think the recently renovated Fort Wilderness Cabins should get more attention. The cabins are approx. 504 square feet and can accommodate up to six guests. They feature all the comforts of home with a kitchen and lots of indoor and outdoor space to stretch out and relax. The resort itself offers lots of family activities including horseback riding, swimming, archery and campfire sing-alongs. Transportation is easy too with bus access and boat transport to the Magic Kingdom. All these benefits are at a very reasonable price range in the moderate resort range.
Picked by: Doobie Moseley
My first trip to Walt Disney World was 1997. I stayed at the Beach Club for most of the trip which was obviously amazing. But I spent the last night at the All-Star Music by myself. Somewhere around two in the morning, I woke up with a troubled tummy and proceeded to puke and make a mess in the bathroom. I called housekeeping and told them what happened (remember – this is 2 a.m.), and they sent someone right over and cleaned everything up. After spending a few days at the Beach Club deluxe resort, I wasn’t expecting that same level of service at the value All-Star Music. This incident was a reminder that while room size, amenities and services might vary between resort types, the Disney service is a constant.
Port Orleans – French Quarter
Picked by: Michael Mack
One of my favorite things to do at Walt Disney World (when I’m not in the parks, of course) is to resort hop and check out all of the different hotels. One of my top places to hang out has been the Port Orleans Resort – French Quarter. The theming of this hotel is so fun and lively with a Mardi Gras vibe. Plus, Sassagoula Floatworks and Food Factory is quite possibly my favorite quick-service restaurant in all of Walt Disney World. Plus, Scat Cat’s Club is a great place to hang out and enjoy a drink or a Baton Rouge Beignet. It also offers boat service to Disney Springs and a walking path over to Port Orleans – Riverside, which offers some more amazing views and experiences.
Picked by: Kyle Burbank
I’ve actually only stayed on Walt Disney World property once. And, prior to that stay, I honestly couldn’t have told you where Disney's Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa was located or really anything else about it. Yet, when my travels took me there for my first ever on-property adventure, I couldn’t help but wonder why the hotel wasn’t more talked about. With great views of the water (including the occasional Amphicar passing by), a relatively peaceful setting, and an easy walk to all of the Disney Springs amenities, I don’t think I could have picked a better spot for my maiden stay.
Picked by: Gideon Moseley
Even though its theme is not the best in the world, the execution is great. The giant icons are cool and my favorite is the giant Big Wheel. I also like the bowling pin pool. It also has one of the best playgrounds of any resort, a pretty good arcade, and I really like the food there too. And it’s fun to walk across the “Generation Gap” bridge to visit the Art of Animation Resort. And even though it’s not really convenient to the parks or Disney Springs, that’ll be fixed soon when the Disney Skyliner opens.
Port Orleans – French Quarter
Picked by: Rebekah Moseley
Nestled along the beautiful Sassagoula River is Disney's Port Orleans French Quarter. A far less sprawling resort than the neighboring Port Orleans – Riverside, which to my pool loving crew means easier access to the main pool or lobby area for snacks. The French Quarter has a simple playground that was wildly popular with my toddler son, with convenient benches for mom to rest while he burned off energy. And I'm very happy to report that the resort's signature Mardi Gras dragon water slide is as fun as it seems in the pics for adults & kids. Now I'll admit that I'm a big fan of the dining ambiance at Port Orleans – Riverside with its big slow-moving water wheel adjacent the food court seating and the woodwork displayed at its sit-down location Boatwright's, but that's the great thing about being a neighboring resort: I can stroll over or take a short water taxi ride to enjoy it if I'm looking for a change of pace during the vacation. Oh! And the water taxi is also transportation to Disney Springs, and we've had many a lovely trip chatting with cast or guests or just enjoying the tunes playing onboard and scenery along the way.
Coronado Springs (Grand Destino Tower)
Picked by: Jeremiah Good
Not only is it the newest addition to the Walt Disney world long list of hotel but it’s also the most beautiful. Just about a month old, this Moderate priced hotel is affordable and I feel is about on par with Contemporary or Grand Floridian in terms of style, room design, and overall feel. With the new ITV that lets you do everything from planning your day in there parks or viewing your Disney Photopass in the comfort of your own room to the beautiful lounge and restaurant at t the top of the hotel that provided some of the best viewed of the parks, this truly is the next step in Disney Hotels. Staying on property is never the cheapest option for a Disney vacation, but if you can do it, this hotel would be my choice.
Picked by: Cole Geryak
You may be asking “Isn’t the Contemporary overrated?” And to some, you may be right. However, I stayed there my last time at Walt Disney World and couldn’t get past how awesome it was to stay in one of the original hotels. Plus, Nixon gave his “I am not a crook” speech there. And that Mary Blair mural is simply sublime. So yeah, the history is there in droves.
What really stands out to me though is how convenient it is. It’s a two-block walk to the Magic Kingdom and a quick monorail trip to Epcot. With the Skyway opening in two months, soon Animal Kingdom will be the only park that the hotel doesn’t have relatively easy transportation to and that’s a huge win for me.
Picked by: Mike Celestino
The only Walt Disney World hotel I’ve stayed at in recent memory was the Grand Floridian (on Mickey’s dime) and we can hardly call that underrated, so I’ll put forward that there’s no shame in staying elsewhere during your time in Orlando. While it’s great to have the transportation and other amenities available to you on-property, you can save a lot of cash by crashing nearby. Many area hotels offer shuttles to the parks and other services that will make you feel just as comfortable as you would within the bounds of the resort. How much vacation time are you planning on spending in your room, anyway?
Honorable Mention: The Disney Springs Resort Area Hotels
Picked by: Beci Mahnken from Mouse Fan Travel
Another option many people overlook are the seven hotels that make up the Disney Springs Resort area. These hotels are not Disney owned but are in close proximity to Disney Springs and you still get the benefits like Extra Magic Hours, 60-day Fastpass window and shuttle transportation to the parks. The rates are very reasonable and fall in the value to moderate price range depending on the property, yet the comfort and quality deliver in terms of value.