By the co-author of The easy Guide to Your Walt Disney World Visit 2020, the best-reviewed Disney World guidebook series ever.

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The Disney Resorts at Walt Disney World

By Dave Shute


(This page is one of a series explicating Walt Disney World lingo, abbreviations, and FAQ for first time family visitors to Walt Disney World.)

The Disney Resorts from yourifrstvisit.netAt several points in this site’s instructions for first time family visitors to Walt Disney World I note that they should stay at Walt Disney World resort hotels—for example, in Where to Stay.

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 days ahead. Everyone else except those at the Swan, Dolphin, Shades of Green, and the Disney Springs Resort Area hotels 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 and a few others can enjoy the rides and attractions
  • The Disney Dining Plan, a prepaid meal plan. Visitors with younger kids 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.


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:

  1. Art of Animation
  2. Pop Century
  3. All-Star Movies
  4. All-Star Sports
  5. All-Star Music

Six-person “Family Suites”

  1. The Family Suites at Disney’s Art of Animation Resort
  2. The Family Suites at All-Star Music

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)

  1. Copper Creek Villas at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
  2. Boulder Ridge Villas at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
  3. Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas–Jambo House
  4. Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas–Kidani Village
  5. Bay Lake Tower at Disney’s Contemporary Resort
  6. The Villas at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa
  7. Disney’s Beach Club Villas
  8. Disney’s BoardWalk Villas
  9. Disney’s Old Key West Resort
  10. Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort and Spa, main resort
  11. 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:

(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 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 Shades of Green near the Magic Kingdom, the Swan and the Dolphin near Epcot, the Four Seasons, and the Disney Springs Resort Area hotels get to participate in the Extra Magic Hours program.  No other hotels besides these and  those listed above as Disney owned and operated, offer the Extra Magic Hours program
  • Guests at the Swan and Dolphin, Shades of Green, and the Disney Springs Resort Area hotels can book FastPass+ at 60 days
  • No other hotel offers any of these key perks

Kelly, the long-time travel agent partner of this site, can book you into any of these hotels except Shades of Green.  To contact her, use the form below:

  • Date Format: MM slash DD slash YYYY
  • Date Format: MM slash DD slash YYYY

Kelly B Can Help You Book Your Trip

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1 Erika { 10.29.14 at 10:29 pm }

Hi Dave,
We have two families traveling to Disney for the first time, a family of five and a family of three. We are debating between getting two suites at the art of animation or a single two bedroom villa at the wilderness lodge. Our main goals are convenience, kid appeal and the ability for the adults to socialize when the younger children (4,6,7) are sleeping. We were originally looking at the treehouses but nixed that due to the location. My impression from your site is that the two suites at the AOA would be our best bet and to hope they are near each other, but thought I would directly ask your opinion. Any other suggestions are welcomed!

2 Dave { 10.30.14 at 6:52 am }

Hi Erika!!

I actually like the idea of the WL 2 bedroom for your goals a bit for a couple of reasons.

First, with one space you won’t have to separate the adults while the kids are sleeping, as they won’t be sleeping in two possibly widely separate rooms, each with at least one adult on overwatch.

Second is that if one of the adult pairs can tolerate the fold-out couch (maybe take turns between it and the king??), you can stick all the kids in the second bedroom and leave them alone while the adults are in the living area, not having to pick them up and move them when the adults are ready for bed.

You will have less overall space, but if the adults want to spend time together the 2 bedroom is the better choice.

WL will be a lot more expensive, tho…

3 Poly or Wilderness Lodge - Page 2 - PassPorter Community - Boards & Forums on Walt Disney World, Disneyland, Disney Cruise Line, and General Travel { 12.29.14 at 7:29 am }

[…] The Your First Visit site gives floorplans of available room types at the various resorts. Looking at those might help. Here's a link to its page that gives links for every Disney resort for speedy reference: The Disney Resorts at Walt Disney World – The Walt Disney World Instruction Manual –yourfirstvisit.… […]

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