Picking your Disney digs: how the resorts stack up

Published September 06, 2012

| Oyster

We can’t help but get a little nostalgic when thinking of Disney World; after all, it’s where dreams come true. And whether you’re 6 or 60, a pair of Mickey Mouse ears never looked so good as when you’re spinning in a teacup or roaming the theme park grounds, cotton candy in hand. 

However, one thing that decades of Disney experience can change is where you want to stay on the massive property. A resort with a pool teeming with tots, waterslides, and floaties? Great for families, not so fab for couples looking for a bit of romance — you catch our drift. 

So we’ve done some digging into Disney’s digs and have found the resorts that’ll best suit all types of Disney-bound Disney fanatics. Whether you’re planning a girls’ getaway or a family vacation, Disney World can be just the spot to relax, reconnect — and most importantly – have the time of your life. 

So without further adieu, first up: Disney for families.

 Disney Digs Best Suited for the Fam: Disney Animal Kingdom Lodge

Kids love the long, winding slide at the pool at the Disney Animal Kingdom Lodge.

Kids love the long, winding slide at the pool at the Disney Animal Kingdom Lodge.

Have some rambunctious kids on your hands? Twenty minutes at the playground will wear them out.

Have some rambunctious kids on your hands? Twenty minutes at the playground will wear them out.

Modeled after an East African safari lodge, with giraffes and gazelles that freely roam the grounds, the 762-room Animal Kingdom Lodge is one of Disney’s most unique resorts — and is arguably the best option for families looking to have highly-entertained tots. Though it’s a bit more removed from Epcot and the Magic Kingdom than other properties, the resort is adjacent to the Animal Kingdom theme park and features a massive pool, a playground, a great kids’ club, and numerous free activities — such as cookie decorating and African drumming — throughout the day. Older children can enjoy the on-site arcade.

Disney Digs Where College Kids Can Find Some Fun: Disney Boardwalk Villas

The hotel's location puts it within easy reach of the bars and carnival games that line Crescent Lake.

The hotel's location puts it within easy reach of the bars and carnival games that line Crescent Lake.

Atlantic Dance is a 21-and-up club with late-night parties.

Atlantic Dance is a 21-and-up club with late-night parties.

Made to look like Atlantic City in the 1940s, the Boardwalk Villas rests beside a glittering stretch of great restaurants, bars, and carnival games on Crescent Lake, within walking distance of Epcot and Hollywood Studios. Though, like any Disney resort, the hotel hosts plenty of families, it is also the center of Disney’s nightlife and attracts a young-adult crowd. Dudes will appreciate the ESPN Club, with its live sports game commentary and over 100 television screens, and those looking to party can visit the 21+ Atlantic Dance Hall and Jellyrolls, a dueling pianos bar. Plus, as an all-suites property, the hotel boasts multi-room villas with full kitchens, so kids strapped on cash can pile a bunch of people into the rooms and cook meals rather than dining out. Ah, the joys of being a student.

Disney Digs For Couples with Romance on the Mind: Disney Port Orleans Resort – Riverside

Disney Port Orleans - Riverside has a rustic, retreat-like vibe well-suited for couples.

Disney Port Orleans - Riverside has a rustic, retreat-like vibe well-suited for couples.

The hotel's restaurants feature fireplaces and tasty cuisine.

The hotel's restaurants feature fireplaces and tasty cuisine.

Port Orleans Riverside paints a lovely picture of old Mississippi: Plantation-style mansions set amid bayous, rustic-looking wooden shacks, and meandering, magnolia-lined paths along the riverside make for a rare romantic setting in a resort town that’s better known for its crowds and (often) screaming children. Thus, the hotel is a popular choice among couples, and even its pools are smaller and less-kid crowded than those at most Disney resorts. Rooms aren’t particularly special, but reasonable rates means couples can splurge on the gourmet cuisine served at the Port Orleans’s on-site restaurants.

Disney Digs Perfect for a Girls’ Getaway: Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa

Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa has a luxe, resort-like vibe.

Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa has a luxe, resort-like vibe.

The hotel is one of few of Disney's property that boasts a beach.

The hotel is one of only a few Disney properties that boasts a beach.

When you’re planning a girls’ getaway, you want to pick a spot where you’ll be pampered — and as one of the most luxurious hotels on the Disney complex, the Grand Floridian Resort will make sure that you are. Rooms are elegantly decorated to resemble the Victorian seaside resorts of yore, and you and the gals can order gourmet treats up to your room at any hour (other Disney resorts have limited hours and options). The resort also features five upscale restaurants, a pristine beach, and a large fitness center. If you can wait to book your trip til early 2013, the hotel’s brand-new, full-service spa will be open (in the meantime, guests have access to the spa at the Saratoga Springs Resort).

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