By the co-author of The easy Guide to Your Walt Disney World Visit 2017, from the best-reviewed Disney World guidebook series ever. Paperback available on Amazon here. Kindle version available on Amazon here. PDF version available on Gumroad here.



yourfirstvisit.net—Disney World Instructions for the First-Time Visitor







Walt Disney World Resorts Ranked by Convenience

By Dave Shute

OVERVIEW: DISNEY WORLD RESORTS RANKED BY CONVENIENCE

The Walt Disney World Resorts are ranked below by convenience (as defined here) in carrying out the Basic Itinerary.

They are coded by price category (see this for what you get by price category): D for Deluxe, M for Moderate, V for Value, and DVC for the stand-alone DVC properties. (The DVC properties that are not stand-alone, but rather are associated with another resort (the “Villas”) have the same convenience as that resort.)

VERY CONVENIENT

1. Disney’s Polynesian Resort (D): Far and away the most convenient resort, especially if you get a room in Rapa Nui or Tahiti.

The resort monorail to the Magic Kingdom makes only one additional stop before getting there; to return, you can take the express monorail to TTC, get off at TTC—the first stop—and walk from TTC back to your room–saving up to 10-30 minutes compared to the Grand Floridian.

Moreover, the Epcot monorail is also in walking distance, saving even more time.

Shares buses to other destinations with other Magic Kingdom resorts. (~3000 rooms served/bus).

2. Disney’s Contemporary Resort (D). As convenient as the Polynesian for the Magic Kingdom, as you can walk to the Magic Kingdom, and be the first stop on the resort monorail trip from the Magic Kingdom back to the resort.

Less convenient for Epcot than the Polynesian, as you must first take the resort monorail to TTC, get off, change platforms, and wait for the Epcot monorail. Shares buses to other destinations with other Magic Kingdom resorts. (~3000 rooms served/bus)

3.  Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Villas (D). Convenient only to the Magic Kingdom, which is the first stop on the resort monorail for Grand Floridian guests.

Returning to Grand Floridian from the Magic Kingdom takes 4 stops and sometimes as long as half an hour.  Use the boat instead, if the line is not too long.

Epcot requires three stops to TTC, changing platforms, and waiting for the Epcot monorail. Shares buses to other destinations with other Magic Kingdom resorts. (~3000 rooms served/bus.)

CONVENIENT

4. Disney’s Wilderness Lodge and Villas (D). No monorail access to Magic Kingdom—bus or boat instead. Shares buses with other Magic Kingdom resorts and Fort Wilderness for other destinations. (~2200 rooms served/bus)

5. Disney’s BoardWalk Inn and Villas (D). Walk or boat to Epcot back entrance; long walk or slow boat to Hollywood Studios. Shortest walks of Epcot resorts. Typically shares buses with Yacht Club and Beach Club to Magic Kingdom, and these and Swan and Dolphin to Animal Kingdom. (~2400 rooms served/bus)

6. Disney’s Beach Club Resort and Villas (D). Walk or boat to Epcot back entrance; long walk or slow boat to Hollywood Studios. Typically shares buses with Yacht Club and Boardwalk to Magic Kingdom, and these and Swan and Dolphin to Animal Kingdom. (~2400 rooms served/bus)

7. Disney’s Yacht Club Resort (D). Walk or boat to Epcot back entrance; long walk or slow boat to Hollywood Studios. Longest walks of Epcot resorts. Typically shares buses with Beach Club and Boardwalk to Magic Kingdom, and these and Swan and Dolphin to Animal Kingdom. (~2400 rooms served/bus)

8. Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge (D). Distance from parks other than the Animal Kingdom partially compensated for by the fact that buses are not shared with other resorts. Two stops. (1700 rooms served/bus)

9. Disney’s Art of Animation Resort (V). Slightly more convenient than Pop Century below. Somewhat distant, but with Pop one of only two resorts with no shared buses, and only one stop. (~2100 rooms served/bus). Note that standard 4 person rooms are about a 5 minute walk further than other Art of Animation rooms

10. Disney’s Pop Century Resort (V). Somewhat distant, but one of only two resorts with no shared buses, and only one stop. (~2900 rooms served/bus)

SOMEWHAT CONVENIENT

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35 comments

1 Angie { 02.27.12 at 10:49 am }

Will Pop Century be as convenient once the new Animation resort is open? I’ve read they will share busses.

2 Dave { 02.27.12 at 3:10 pm }

Hi Angie! Great question. My guess is it will share buses to an extent, and this may well reduce its convenience.

3 Ali { 05.22.12 at 3:13 pm }

Do you know of a similar site for Disney LAND (California) destination?

4 Dave { 05.22.12 at 6:45 pm }

Hi Ali, I’m sorry but I don’t.

I do have a couple of pages on a first trip to Disneyland that start here: http://yourfirstvisit.net/2010/11/17/suggestions-for-your-first-trip-to-the-disneyland-resort/

They are a little out of date, but sound in general…

5 Sara { 06.20.12 at 8:56 pm }

The Disneys Cont. Resort sounds good for ages 5 and 2 as we will be spending most of the time in Magic Kingdom. Do you know an example of the price range in April 2013 for 5 nights? Also do you think we should get the park hopper pass?

6 Dave { 06.21.12 at 7:11 am }

Sara, I agree. For prices, see this: http://www.mousesavers.com/contemporary2012.html Focus on the “Regular 1” prices, and add 5% to what you see, as they are for 2012… Also add 12.5% for tax!

And no I don’t think you need the hopper…

7 sara { 06.21.12 at 6:34 pm }

Dave,

Thank You, from the bottom of my heart, this is such a wonderful job you do for all of us first timers! 🙂

p.s I lost some of the other comments I posted to you so I appreciate you sending me that link, lol

8 Dave { 06.22.12 at 2:43 pm }

🙂

9 Sara { 06.22.12 at 9:14 pm }

If you had to pick for me based on convenience for my childrens ages, would you still choose the Poly as number one? Or is Cont perfect?

10 Sara { 06.22.12 at 9:33 pm }

Also, what do you use the transportation for? To get back and forth to our hotel room? Or to get around in general? Speaking of that, how do most get around? Walking? Do you have to travel by bus or monorail to get to the different parks? Once inside the parks, such as Magic Kingdom are the sub parks such as fantasy land, walking distance?

11 Dave { 06.23.12 at 7:16 am }

Sara, I’d pick the Contemporary

12 Dave { 06.23.12 at 7:18 am }

Sara you use Disney transport to get from your hotel to the various Disney World theme parks. Once you are in the parks themselves, you walk…The Contemporary is the only hotel from which you can walk to the Magic Kingdom. Transport options for the hotel to the parks vary by hotel–some are only Disney buses, others include boats, monorails, and/or walking as well

13 Lorena McGuinness { 02.10.13 at 7:12 pm }

Hi we will be first timers at WDW in April we want to stay on site. Wewill have our boys 20 and17. Do you have Anny recommendations on where and what we should do? Do they have 3 or 4 day specials that includes everything we need? Lodging, transportation etc,, Thank you.

14 Heidi { 03.11.13 at 7:36 pm }

I am blown away by your site! I know that you specialize as a resource for first timers, but I am definitely taking it all in as a repeat visitor. Awesome! I am totally geeky and detail plan to the nth degree – I love that your information is backed by so much data. Question for you – our last two trips were MK only and we stayed at the Poly and WL specifically for that reason. Our next visit (hopefully 1st Sat after Thanksgiving ’14) will be the first with going to all 4 parks. Boys will be turning 6 & 8. We hope to take in the holiday activities. I am considering doing counter service only-dining (we’ve done the character meals twice now.) Where would you recommend staying? I was thinking of Beach Club, Yacht Club, and Boardwalk, but I wonder if I should also consider Art of Animation based on your convenience rating. Thank you so very much!!

15 Dave { 03.12.13 at 8:32 am }

Hi Heidi and thanks!!! A couple of thoughts…

I’d wait until you can book a package–those are easier to convert to a deal if one comes out than room-only, which is all you can book now. Packages will be bookable (but still with the 500 day constraint) as soon as 2014 prices come out–which will be sometime between today and mid-summer.

Second, with kids that age, I’d still go for a Magic Kingdom area resort or a family suite at A of A rather than an Epcot area resort. Besides being dull for kids that age, the counter service options at the Epcot resorts are really thin…see this: http://yourfirstvisit.net/2012/02/16/the-epcot-resorts-at-walt-disney-world/

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16 Tim { 05.17.13 at 12:49 pm }

Hi Dave! Great site!

I simply cannot agree that the Boardwalk should be listed as convenient – I imagine the BC and YC have the same issues, but can’t speak from experience. For us it was as bad or possibly worse than Caribbean Beach, Pirate Rooms. Which is to say, at least in my opinion, unspeakably bad. On the buses there was frequently standing room only, rides were often 30 – 60 min, frequent stops at other hotels and parks only made things worse, etc. The amount of stress, unhappiness, and overall delay this adds to a Dis experience is simply unacceptable to me, especially for a deluxe resort. When you’re *arriving* at a park with cranky kids because of a bus schedule/route, and you’re paying in excess of $400/night for a room, something is wrong. It’s simply amazing to me that they have the Swan and Dolphin in the same bus route. Obviously JMO, JME, YMMV, etc.

Being walking distance from Epcot and Hollywood Studios is possibly a plus, but obviously your family needs to be an Epcot/HS family for this to work out. IME, neither park appeals to younger/antsier kids much. World Showcase is possibly one of my favourite places in the universe, but children seem to be less enamoured with eating “strange” foods, or being dragged through a cultural mini-immersion while their parents “drink around the world.” Likewise, I find the shows at Hollywood Studios fascinating/exhilarating/whatever, but smaller kids seem to have trouble sitting still for the length of the shows, and it’s possibly the hottest park in WDW. Again, JMO, etc.

Thanks again for the great site!

17 Dave { 05.19.13 at 6:37 am }

Hi Tim, thanks for the kind words, thoughts and comments. “Convenience” here is relative–all the deluxe resorts share buses with others except for the Animal Kingdom Lodge, which has its own convenience issues, and all the AK buses from any resort do a Blizzard Beach stop. Sounds like you did have a particularly rough experience, though…

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18 Karen { 05.27.14 at 6:42 pm }

Great site! thanks for all the info. My family has been to disneyland many times, but it is obvious from your site that disneyworld is a very different experience! I’m looking for advice in regards to where to stay. My priority is maximizing time as we will only be there 4 days. I booked us at the doubletree suites by downtown disney, but I am reconsidering booking at a disneyworld resort. The vacation is as much for the adults as for the parents, so for me the value resorts are really out of the question (the decor is just too much for me). Is it worth staying at the French quarter or will we get to the parks faster via our Doubletree suites shuttle?

19 Dave { 05.28.14 at 8:27 am }

Hi Karen and thanks! You will get to the parks much faster from POFQ. It’s much closer, and is almost certain to have more frequent bus service, and its buses drop you off closer to the parks.

20 ray { 06.17.14 at 10:56 pm }

Great site Dave would like your opinion on what resort hotel I should stay at I was thinking contemporary or a and a I’m going with wife my two daughters ages 15 and 3 my son and his girlfriend my they are both 23 should I get 2 rooms or stay at a family room at a and a that holds 6 it will be the first time since my son was 5 that we’ve been there first itll b first time for our girls though like theming in rooms but only one young really is our 3 year old it’s been a tough decision for us I’ve seen map in booklet it seems magic kingdom is by itself and everything else is on other side wouldn’t it b wise to stay at a resort closer to that side and just travel to magic kingdom for my younger girls plan on 10 day stay to really see as much as we can I here a and a is newest and have dedicated buses but they’ll b packed too tough to make decision Polynesian,a and a or contemporary which is on other side and away from downtown ,Hollywood studios and animal kingdom and Epcot would it b better to stay at hotel near those places than magic kingdom hotels such as contemporary which rooms don’t have disney feel but values hotels overly so tough decision price isn’t important if we are all together making memories that will last forever I appreciate your knowledge and thoughts thanks Dave

21 Dave { 06.18.14 at 10:44 am }

Ray, there’s no hotel that’s convenient to everything. MK is most people’s favorite park, by far, so being near there and 5 miles from everything else matters little. On the other hand, given the ages of your crew, all but the 3 year old will like Epcot and Hollywood Studios a lot, too. So an EPcot resort would make sense too.

I would advise a two bedroom villa that sleeps 8 or 9 at about the same price as two rooms at the Contemporary. Consider Bay Lake Tower for an MK resort http://yourfirstvisit.net/2010/09/13/review-bay-lake-tower-at-disneys-contemporary-resort/ or the Beach Club Villas for an Epcot option. http://yourfirstvisit.net/2012/05/06/review-disneys-beach-club-villas/

Floor Plan Two Bedroom Villa Bay Lake Tower from yourfirstvisit.net

22 advice on Orlando hotels - FlyerTalk Forums { 07.31.14 at 5:44 pm }

[…] heh Can't believe I'm arguing on this side of this particular debate. Usually I'm the one slamming Disney transportation but that is a gross exaggeration. Any resort on the monorail will get you to Magic Kingdom or Epcot super quick. Never had a problem with that. From Polynesian we could get to MK in like 10 minutes. 5 minute walk to the direct monorail to Epcot, 15 minute ride. At Saratoga Springs, yeah, the buses sometimes sucked. Could take just 20 minutes to circle the property and get out of the parking lot. From Animal Kingdom Lodge, never had a problem. That was peak time and because of the extra buses on service was flying. I've found that it's almost counter intuitive that way; during peak times there will be so many extra buses on that you move quick. During off peak times it's slow as you wait 20 minutes for a bus. A good breakdown based on convenience can be found here: http://yourfirstvisit.net/planning-y…y-convenience/ […]

23 Sarah { 03.04.15 at 1:59 am }

If you are driving to Florida is it more convenient to stay at one disney hotel or another? I have been considering Art of Animation, Contemporary, Villas at Wilderness, and Polynesian. All of these seem to be very easy to navigate but we will be driving there. Is it easier/faster to drive to the parks rather than use disney transportation? My husband and I are traveling with my two children ages 12 and 13 and my father age 63. We will want to make sure that It is easy for him to navigate to and from the parks. He does not have any physical disability other than the fact that his is overweight and doesn’t walk very quickly. On that note as well, would it be advisable for us to get the deluxe dining plan so we can have more sit down meals and give him more time to rest in between running around to rides? I was thinking just one park a day (two at magic kingdom and two at another park of your recommendation- or maybe a day to rest in between instead of another park) to avoid the issue of running him ragged going to too many places in a day. Your advice is greatly appreciated. I am a severe over-planner and this has really helped me narrow down places to stay as well as give me a good idea of what to look for.

24 Dave { 03.05.15 at 9:45 am }

Sarah, you will waste both money and time on the deluxe plan. There’s plenty of places to sit and rest!

You can also rent a wheelchair if he needs one. Rentals are right after the park turnstiles.

It’s faster to drive to all parks except MK–for MK always take Disney transport. However, the Disney buses drop you off closer to the park entrances than where you park–cutting down on the walks.

Cars have the most benefit at the huge and sprawling resorts (Old Key West, Saratoga Springs, Caribbean Beach, Coronado Springs, Port Orleans Riverside) as they let you drive to the resort’s dining option if your room is distant…

25 Sarah { 03.07.15 at 12:43 am }

Dave,
Thank you for your reply. We have looked at our options again and decided against the dining plan. I priced out the estimated cost at each restaurant and the deluxe plan was going to cost us $2000 more than just paying out of pocket! I had a few other restaurants that I wanted to try and my husband is pretty set on one park a day with MK and Epcot getting two days so I’ve been tinkering with my own schedule (we shall see how badly it works out). However, I was wondering if you had a recommendation on hotel for us. We want to have my husband, myself, and the kids in one room and my father in the other. He snores very, very loudly and it makes it difficult to sleep in the same room as him. As we are driving and will have a car, I’m not sure that the convenience of the disney transports will be a big issue as we can drive to the parks. I saw the deluxe rooms at the wilderness resort would fit our needs but are there any others that would separate our group the way we want? That might be better or more cost effective? The deluxe rooms are a little above what we wanted to pay. If we have to, I guess we can get ear plugs and all sleep in the Polynesian standard room. Which is about $2000 less than the deluxe room.

26 Dave { 03.07.15 at 8:16 am }

Sarah, two-space rooms that are less expensive include family suites at Art of Animation and All-Star Music, and the Cabins at Fort Wilderness.

Full details are in the links, but you probably want to rule out Music because the beds won’t suit.

27 Tammy { 04.24.15 at 3:53 pm }

Hi Dave- I have been reading your site non-stop over the last couple of days and told my husband to take a look as well since he is the one aching to go to DW. We are DL aficionado’s but this whole DW thing feels quite perplexing. We are looking at taking a WDW vacation December 12-20(or 21) after my daughter finishes her first semester in college finals. It will be myself, husband (early 40’s) and just turned 19 y.o. I want to stay at the Waldorf Astoria and husband wants to stay at Poly or Grand Floridian. Given that we are used to DL, not sure how many days at MK we need to spend vs. Epcot, HS, AK, etc.? How do you feel about staying at a close by hotel that has its own transportation vs. a Deluxe Resort? Also the recommendation is a resort, would you advise a dining plan for the 3 of us or just to make some rezzy’s and eat as we go? Thanks so much as any guidance you can provide might help save a marriage!

28 Dave { 04.26.15 at 10:21 am }

Hi Tammy, I would skip the dining plan, as you are unlikely to save money on it. And for sure I would stay on property.

I would plan two days for Epcot, one for AK, a half day for HS, and 1.5 days for MK.

29 Stefanie { 07.17.15 at 12:57 am }

I’m a single mother and it will take me at least a year and a half to save for a trip to WDW. Value is key to me but I am willing to spend a little extra for convenience as I will be taking both of my parents who are handicapped. They won’t be riding rides but will be renting scooters and we all just want my 11 year old to have the best time possible. He hasn’t had much of a childhood because I have to work a lot to provide for a family of 4 so he takes on more than he should have to with taking care of his grandparents. I want him to have the time of his life, he deserves it, so I am trying to plan very early. Which resort would be best as far as lowest price but highest convenience? Any ideas as far as what parks he should experience? (Also going to the Harry Potter park because he is a huge fan) And it is his dream to hold a baby monkey so any info about animal interactions would be great to know as well, if there are any. Thank you so much!

30 Stefanie { 07.17.15 at 1:33 am }

Scratch Harry Potter I just saw some prices lol we will stick to just WDW

31 Dave { 07.17.15 at 3:05 pm }

Hi Stefanie! Will all four of you be in one room? Do you need three sleeping spots (one for the parents, one for you, one for him?) And if so, how tall is he?

32 Craig { 09.11.15 at 5:18 pm }

Hi, Planning aWDW trip from Ireland next year and unsure whether to hire a car or use Disney world transportation ( I am a bit anxious about driving in U.S. as never been before ). Would also like to stay in the most convenient hotel that would mean the least amount of bus travel between the parks. I think MK, Epcot and HS will be the parks that appeal most to us ( have 2 kids 3 and 9 ). Any thoughts would be much appreciated. Thanks

33 Dave { 09.14.15 at 6:47 am }

Craig, avoiding a car is easy. There’s no single hotel that’s easily accessible to all of those three parks. The Polynesian is the best choice for MK and Epcot, and the Beach Club or BoardWalk Inn for Epcot and HS. Given the ages of your kids, I’d go with the Poly.

34 Carolyn { 02.27.16 at 1:34 am }

Hi Dave, I am planning a Sept 2016 trip, for myself and my 6 year old daughter. I am going back and forth between Riverside, AK (renting points) and AOA. Convenience is a huge factor, because I don’t want my daughter’s first vacation memories to be of a bus. We will be staying 6 nights and I’m doing 4 park days, so we will be spending a decent amount of time hanging out around our resort. What do you think is the best option?

35 Dave { 02.27.16 at 12:50 pm }

Carolyn, between one thing and another (distance/internal stops) you’ll spend about equal time on a bus at any of these. A 6yo typically will like AK or AOA more than Riverside–though she’ll be delighted by any of them.

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