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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My Favorite Walt Disney World Resort Hotel

By Dave Shute

(This is an entry in a series on personal favorites)


Welcome to those coming from Capturing Magical Memories!  Enjoy the ride as this month Magical Blogorail Teal discusses our favorite Walt Disney World resorts!


One of the earliest notes about this site elsewhere on the internet was from an appalled blogger.

In the summer of 2008 she wrote (I can’t find the link, but hey, I didn’t try very hard!) that she was stunned by what to her seemed the lack of logic in my notes on rides that might be skipped.

What made her head explode was that I noted that some rides that could be skipped by first time family visitors, like Carousel of Progress, were also among my personal favorites.

Well, I have no trouble holding two contradictory ideas in my mind at the same time!

The recommendations on this site come from principles, not personal taste, with the principles chosen to apply to as many first time visitors as possible. They are based on a combination of facts, analysis, inference and judgment about what would be best for such families.

My personal taste can lead to very different conclusions.

This is particularly clear when it comes to the Disney World resort hotels.

I recommend hotels for first-time visitors who may never return (among price classes) based first on their kid appeal, and then (as a tie-breaker) on their convenience in carrying out this site’s itineraries.

My personal favorites are very different than the resulting recommendations.  The list below has, by price class, my top-ranked resort for first-time family visitors as well as my personal favorite.  In only one case are they the same!


Value Resorts

Standard 4-person rooms:

Six-person “Family Suites”

Moderate Resorts

Deluxe Resorts 

Disney Vacation Club Resorts


So ignoring price, which among these personal favorites do I like the best?  Well, that’s easy. It’s  Old Key West.  

The reason is simple: one and two bedroom villas at Old Key West are by far the most livable spaces at Walt Disney World.

They are so large and homelike that they provide a wonderful respite for the family.

The living  dining, kitchen  and balcony spaces at Old Key West are so much larger and more home-like than the other Disney Vacation Club Resorts that it’s almost like Old Key West villas should be a separate resort class.

And they are the same price, or cheaper, than the other DVC villas as well!

There are some real issues with Old Key West. Dining is weak and limited, and the resort is so spread out that I wouldn’t even consider staying there without a rental car.

But for us, it’s our favorite. We stayed there just last week, and found plenty of room for a Christmas tree!


Thank you for joining me today. Your next stop on the Magical Blogorail Loop is Jenn’s Disney Babies Blog.

Here is the map of our Magical Blogorail Teal loop should you happen to have to make a stop along the way and want to reboard:

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1 DisneyBabies Jenn { 12.17.12 at 8:19 am }

You really are quite a contradiction in terms! I would never recommend CBR to anyone – had a terrible stay there in 2010, but I know so many that love it… We’re staying at OKW in a 2 bedroom in February. It will be amazing after my parents leave and 4 of us (including a 3 year old and 10 month old) are splitting all that room!

2 Dave { 12.17.12 at 4:44 pm }

Jenn, ranking the moderates is the second toughest thing I’ve done on this site! I do think CB, wiht its colors, beaches, Nemo or Pirate theming in all its rooms, etc., has a tad more kid appeal and that’s what puts it ahead of the rest…

3 Capturing Magical Memories - Mary { 12.17.12 at 8:38 am }

Like you the resorts I prefer and then recommend are different. This year I have become a HUGE fan of All Star Sports.

4 Dave { 12.17.12 at 4:45 pm }

So you cause brains to explode as well!

5 Beth D. { 12.17.12 at 10:32 am }

I haven’t stayed at Old Key West but I have floated past it on the boats from Port Orleans to Downtown Disney. It looks so quaint and relaxing. I think we need to plan a stay there one of these visits!

6 Dave { 12.17.12 at 4:45 pm }

Check it out Beth! If you rent points, it can be surprisingly affordable…

7 Heidi { 12.17.12 at 10:38 am }

OKW is one that we’ve never even stopped to visit. We’ll have to take a closer look next time we’re in the area.

8 Jennifer { 12.18.12 at 8:40 am }

Okay, I’m curious. Why Port Orleans French Quarter and not Riverside? We stayed at POR this past spring and just fell in love with it, and it seemed a bit more well-appointed than POFQ.

BTW, although you’d recommended CBR and I’d made reservations there for us for next year, I decided to switch back to POR after reading more about the bus issue (my kiddo has the patience of a gnat), and a surprising number of complaints about the rooms themselves. Plus, we really loved having access to Downtown via the ferry, and being able to go exploring in the SeaRays.

9 Dave { 12.18.12 at 6:25 pm }

Hi Jennifer! The reasons why it’s my personal favorite are here: But tons of people have POR as their personal favorite, so you aren’t alone in your skepticism!

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10 Jennifer { 12.19.12 at 9:07 am }

Your reasons made VERY good sense! Then again, your advice always does!!! Thanks again for this fabulous site!!!

11 Dave { 12.19.12 at 10:34 am }

🙂 Jennifer

12 KenR { 11.06.18 at 11:22 pm }

The songs I would pick for a high school dance would be different than my personal favorite songs so it makes complete sense that number one picks for a first time visitor to WDW would be different than a frequent visitor and DVC owner like me. I always tell people that the resort your at sets a tone for the type of vacation you’ll have. My favorites: Old Key West (building 56 to be exact) POR (love the many fountains and pools), All Star Music. I just stayed at ASM and Pop Century and the contrast is striking. ASM has pretty, mature foliage and tres. The resort is pretty at night. While staying in the 80s section and swimming in the computer pool, my 23 year old son and I commented how the concrete and buildings reminded us of a security compound of some kind. We own at the Polynesian and I almost equally love staying there, the Contemporary, and Beach Club. Nothing is better than being able to walk to the MK or Epcot.

13 Dave { 11.08.18 at 7:16 am }

KenR, you are a very sensible person! Thanks for the comment. A question, though–the Port Orleans with the most fountains is POFQ (image of one below)–is that what you were thinking of?

Fountain Disney's Port Orleans French Quarter Resort from

14 KenR { 09.29.20 at 12:39 pm }

My reply is only two years later. LOL But the fountains at Port Orleans Riverside were the ones on Magnolia Bend near the mansion buildings. There was a long rectangular fountain that lit up in pretty colors at night and in the early morning hours. I love walking that resort at night and think it is stunning. I feel that All Star Music is also pretty when it is lit up at night. While I have not stayed at every resort or at WDW anywhere close to the many times you have, I can reaffirm that my wife and I favor Old Key West as our top choice for a longer stay. We never have a car and don’t mind a short walk to a quite pool or a 10-15 minute walk to the main pool, bar, and restaurant. When we want to be somewhere quickly I call a taxi or take one back to the building we are in. Some of my favorite memories is waking up early with my son (24yrs) and walking from our room to the quick serve, eating breakfast together when hardly anyone is up, and then bringing breakfast back to the rest of our group who were just waking up and getting ready. If we are at WDW for only a few days, we would choose the Port Orleans Riverside or the Contemporary/Bay Lake Tower depending on our budget that trip. I cannot overstate how wonderful it is to be able to walk to the Magic Kingdom especially at closing time. I have never stayed at French Quarter but staying there is high up on my bucket list. On a side note, after we were done at OKW, we spent a night at Gran Destino. I enjoyed it and loved the main pool with the cool pyramid, but could not help but feel sad that we may not see resorts built that are highly themed and spread out like Port Orleans, Grand Floridian, Polynesian, Saratoga Springs and of course Old Key West. From the cost perspective of having centralized housekeeping, security, pools, etc. I understand why they are building these towers (Riviera and Gran Destino). Having read that famous 840 page book and other blogs (yours excluded), I think that these experts perpetuate the problem by getting first time visitors worked up about what room, view or building is best. Many of the questions from readers are “what is the best building at the Polynesian, POR, OKW, etc. I admittedly used to do it too, but now we make bets on where we think we will be placed, and make it a fun game. We choose “first available” as being at WDW is great in and of itself and I cant see myself having a terrible time in any building. But with so many people calling and trying to get buildings close to the lobby, pool or bus stop, it makes sense that Disney management is eliminating these types of requests, complaints, etc., by building uninspiring towers with little theming. Now everyone can be an elevator ride to the coveted lobby.

15 Dave { 09.29.20 at 2:29 pm }

Lotsa thoughtful points, Ken. On the “why towers” though, I think I disagree. A building that’s ten or fifteen stories high is more expensive to construct than a two or three story building, as the savings in systems and footprint are overwhelmed by the costs of making the structure strong enough to support its upper floors (in hurricane winds…). Riviera and GDT, I think, went up because of unique site factors–in both cases, there was no place else to go. In the concept art for the since-delayed (maybe cancelled) Reflection resort, the buildings look to be 5-6 stories tall instead…

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