The Disney Resorts at Walt Disney World
By Dave Shute
OVERVIEW: THE DISNEY RESORTS AT WALT DISNEY WORLD
(This page is one of a series explicating Walt Disney World lingo, abbreviations, and FAQ for first time family visitors to Walt Disney World.)
In other places, at times I refer to “official” Walt Disney World Resort hotels.
This page means to make clear which hotels count towards this instruction, and which don’t.
Where I want people to stay is those Walt Disney World resort hotels that are owned and operated by Disney, and—and this is the important thing—that offer all of the key benefits available to guests staying at a such a resort.
These key benefits include:
- Early access to FastPass+, the key tool for reducing waits. Guests at Disney-owned resorts can start booking their FastPass+ 60 dsays ahead. Everyone else except those at the Swan and Dolphin have to wait til 30 days ahead
- Disney’s Magical Express—free transportation from the airport to your hotel, and back again
- Extra Magic Hours: early openings, or late closings, of Walt Disney World theme parks, when only guests at Walt Disney World resorts can enjoy the rides and attractions
- The Disney Dining Plan, a prepaid meal plan. Visitors eating all of the meals in one of the itineraries on this site may save a bit of money from signing up for this plan
- The Disney transportation system, a fleet of buses, boats, and monorails that transports guest from the Walt Disney World resort hotels to the theme parks and Downtown Disney, and back again
Other benefits are also available to guests at Walt Disney World resort hotels—room charge privileges, package delivery, etc., but the five above are the key perks that are the basis of the recommendation that first time family visitors stay in an “official” Walt Disney World resort—that is, in Disney owned and operated resorts.
WHAT ARE THE DISNEY OWNED AND OPERATED RESORT HOTELS AT WALT DISNEY WORLD?
Walt Disney World Disney owned and operated resorts which offer all of these key benefits are the following:
Value Resorts at Walt Disney World
Standard 4-person rooms:
Six-person “Family Suites”
Moderate Resorts at Walt Disney World (not recommended for first time visitors, see this for why)
Deluxe Resorts at Walt Disney World
Disney Vacation Club Resorts at Walt Disney World (not recommended for first time visitors, see this for why)
- The Villas at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
- Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas–Jambo House
- Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas–Kidani Village
- Bay Lake Tower at Disney’s Contemporary Resort
- The Villas at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa
- Disney’s Beach Club Villas
- Disney’s BoardWalk Villas
- Disney’s Old Key West Resort
- Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort and Spa, main resort
- Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort, Treehouse Villas area
(I don’t include the Polynesian Villas and Bungalows in this ranking, as the offerings there–except Studios–are so different from all the rest. Ranking solely among Studios, the Poly Studios would come near the top of the list.)
Campgrounds at Walt Disney World:
- The Campsites at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort (Not recommended for first time visitors, see this for why)
(These hotels are grouped by price category. See this for details on the features of the various resort price categories. Within price categories, they are in order of how well they suit typical first time family visitors. See this for more on where to stay.)
OTHER RESORTS IN WALT DISNEY WORLD, AND WHAT THEY OFFER
Other hotels are on Walt Disney World property, but only a few offer any of these benefits, and none offers all of the key ones. Thus they are not recommended for first time family visitors.
Focusing solely on the key benefits,
- No hotels other than those listed above as Disney owned and operated participate in the Disney Dining Plan or in Disney’s Magical Express
- Guests at the Swan and Dolphin can use the Disney hotel to theme park transportation system, and can book FastPass+ at 60 days
- No other hotel offers any of these key perks
MORE ON WHERE TO STAY AT DISNEY WORLD
- For where to stay, see this
- For what you get in each resort price category, see this