I’ve been going to Disney World for over 30 years, and I’ve been a travel planner for over 10.
After staying at all the Disney World hotels, I love the Polynesian and Beach Club resorts.
If you’re traveling with kids on a budget, you can’t go wrong with Art of Animation or Pop Century.
With more than 30 Disney-owned properties to choose from, you may find it hard to narrow down the options, but here are my top picks:
The Polynesian will always be my No. 1 choice — it’s where my love for Disney World began when I was 12 years old. After walking onto the beach and seeing Cinderella Castle in the distance, I was hooked.
One big perk is that it’s located on the monorail line, making getting to Magic Kingdom and Epcot a breeze.
It’s also home to Ohana, where you can enjoy a family-style dinner, and Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto, perfect for late-night drinks.
When you need a break from the Florida heat, the zero-entry Lava Pool features a waterslide, a kid splash area, and a hot tub with an infinity edge.
It’s my second-favorite pool at Disney World, after another entry on this list.
When you stay at the Polynesian, you can watch the Magic Kingdom fireworks from your room (if it has a theme-park view) or out on the beach. The resort even plays the soundtrack for the nightly show.
After the fireworks, don’t miss the nightly Electrical Water Pageant along the Seven Seas Lagoon.
Art of Animation is the perfect choice for families with little ones — as well as families of five or more because it offers suites that won’t break the bank.
The resort offers easy transportation to Hollywood Studios and Epcot via the Disney Skyliner.
Family suites feature “Finding Nemo,” “Cars,” and “Lion King” themes, and standard rooms take inspiration from “The Little Mermaid.”
I love the family suites because they have two bathrooms and a kitchenette area. When I travel with both of my daughters, having two bathrooms is a must.
The Big Blue Pool is the largest pool at Disney World. And when you go underwater, you can hear music and sounds inspired by “Finding Nemo.”
I also love the Landscape of Flavors food court, where you can enjoy Walt’s Favorite Chili in a bread bowl.
I don’t know why Caribbean Beach gets a bad rap from Disney fans. It’s beautiful and offers great amenities. Plus, it’s a Skyliner resort, which makes getting to Epcot and Hollywood Studios simple.
Since the resort property is large, I suggest booking a preferred room so you’re close to the main hub, Old Port Royal.
If you’re a family or party of five, Caribbean Beach is a nice option because you don’t have to spring for a suite. The standard rooms have two queen beds and a Murphy bed.
Dining at Sebastian’s Bistro is a personal favorite. It serves Caribbean-inspired dishes family-style in big skillets. There are also two spots for grab-and-go meals: Spyglass Grill and Centertown Market.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Banana Cabana, one of the best pool bars on the property. My go-to here is the chilled seafood salad and a Banana Cabana cocktail.
Even if I’m not staying at the resort, I always make my way over to the pool bar.
If you love Epcot, Beach Club is just steps from the International Gateway entrance in the World Showcase.
It’s perfect for a girls’ getaway, family vacay, or couple’s trip, especially during the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival.
It’s also home to my favorite pool in Disney World, Stormalong Bay, which it shares with the Yacht Club Resort.
It’s 3 acres large and features a lazy river, two slides, a sand-bottom pool, and a giant pirate ship.
If you want to really experience a deluxe stay, club-level rooms come with access to the Stone Harbor Club. From 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., you can enjoy concierge services and various foods and drinks.
This is a great treat if you’re planning on spending more time at the resort than at the parks.
No visit to the Beach Club Resort is complete without a Kitchen Sink Sundae from Beaches and Cream. The shareable treat includes eight scoops of ice cream and an entire can of whipped cream.
In addition to being within walking distance of Epcot, the resort also has easy transportation to Hollywood Studios via the Friendship Boats.
Pop Century is perfect for anyone on a budget. It’s also on the Skyliner, making Epcot and Hollywood Studios days more convenient.
We often stay here for quick weekend trips when we won’t be spending a ton of time in the rooms.
The standard rooms sleep four max, with a queen bed and a full-size Murphy bed that transforms into a table.
I love the theme, which celebrates pop-culture phenomena throughout the decades. Each area has life-size toys or movie characters that you can grab fun photos with.
No trip here is complete for me without a stop in Everything Pop food court for some tie-dye cheesecake.
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