Best Disney Moderate Resorts
Disney Moderate Resorts are the mid-tier hotel option at Disney World. While Disney Deluxe resorts offer more in terms of luxury and convenience – and Disney Value resorts offer great kid-friendly theming at a low price – Disney’s Moderate resorts offer just the right combination of affordability, amenities, and ambiance. As such, they provide a great middle ground option for both young families and adults without kids. Let’s review some of the key features of these Disney World hotels, and then reveal our Top 5 best Disney Moderate resorts list.
As you decide which resort to book for your Walt Disney World vacation, your decision will really come down to what compromises you are willing to make. If you must have the lowest cost vacation possible – or you are just trying to save money to spend elsewhere on your trip – a Disney Value Resort may be your best option. If you are willing to pay significantly more for superior rooms, amenities, and transportation options, then a Deluxe resort is your obvious choice. However, most people come down somewhere in the middle. Moderate Resorts tends to have more variety in terms of amenities, layout, dining, and transportation options in comparison to Value resorts, but certainly, don’t have all the bells and whistles of Deluxe resorts. As the saying goes, “you get what you pay for.” Moderates resorts are a great middle-ground.
There are 5 Disney Moderate Resorts: Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort, Coronado Springs Resort, The Cabins at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort, Port Orleans Resort – Riverside, and Port Orleans Resort – French Quarter. Each has its own distinctive character and amenities. Let’s take a look at some of the attributes of these Disney Moderate resorts.
(Note: Several Disney Moderate resorts are undergoing refurbishment and expansion projects, so you may encounter some construction-related inconveniences. Check with your Disney World travel planner for more information.)
Here is our list of the top 5 best Disney Moderate Resorts. We consider such factors as value, amenities (pools, dining, rooms), themes, and so forth.
This Moderate resort is comprised of free-standing rustic cabins set on 750 acres inside Fort Wilderness’ “frontier.” Each cabin features a full-sized kitchen, a queen bed, bunk beds, and a double-sized sleeper sofa. Since each cabin comfortably sleeps 6, this type of lodging would be great for a large family or group. The layout of the resort makes you feel separated from other guests, so its a nice retreat after a day at the park. It is also a great resort for kids; they can ride bikes around the campground and enjoy playing out in nature.
Due to the size of the resort, internal buses can be slow, despite the numerous bus stops throughout the resort. Some guests may opt to rent golf carts to get around the expansive grounds. There is also a boat launch that will take you to the Magic Kingdom.
Key features of the Cabins at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort include the Meadow Swimmin’ Pool with corkscrew water slide and whirlpool spa, the ever popular country-themed show Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue, dog-friendly lodging, and the ability to pre-order a pantry full of fresh groceries for your kitchenette. Additionally, the rustic Trail’s End restaurant serves buffet-style breakfast and dinner, and lunch à la carte menu at lunchtime.
Bottom Line: The Cabins at Fort Wilderness are certainly unique and quite different from all other Moderate resorts. This can be a good or bad thing, depending on your preference. The cabins are comparable to a 1-bedroom suite at other resorts. They accommodate up to 6 guests, and you do get some nice features like a kitchen to do your own cooking. Since the resort is so spread out, transportation can be slow. The biggest downside is that Fort Wilderness Cabins are much more expensive than other Disney Moderate Resorts. They are certainly less than Deluxe Resorts, but staying here may not be worth the extra money when other Moderates are more affordable and less rustic.
Resort: The Cabins at Disney Fort Wilderness Lodge
Location: Magic Kingdom Resort Area
Opened: Nov. 19, 1971
Theme: Rustic Frontier Cabins
Rooms: 409 cabins
- 1 Queen Bed and 1 Bunk Bed and 1 Double-Size Sleeper Sofa
- Sleeps up to 6 Adults
(This is a dog-friendly resort)
Disney’s Coronado Springs is themed around colonial Mexico and the American Southwest. Each of its three sections —Casitas, Ranchos, and Cabanas—has its own Spanish architectural flare which incorporates bright colors, interesting designs, and stucco exteriors. Coronado Springs Resort is unique in that it has its own convention center. This is probably the only area within Disney World where its commonplace to see people dressed in business suits.
Coronado Spring is often referred to as a “Moderate Deluxe” resort because it offers some nice amenities which other Moderates don’t offer. Key among them is a full-service spa, salon, and 24-hr gym (La Vida Health Club). Other notable features include the Lost City of Cibola Pool (built around a splendid 50-foot Mayan pyramid replica), the Latin fusion cuisine of Mayan Grill, and a 22-person hot tub (the largest of its kind at Disney World).
Bottom Line: The southwestern architecture dazzles, the pool is magnificent, the 24-hour health club is great for fitness junkies, and the spa/salon provides offers an opportunity to splurge. As far as negatives, standard rooms at Coronado Springs are priced slightly higher than other Disney Moderate Resorts (with the exception of the Cabins at Fort Wilderness). Some feel the price difference is justified due to the Deluxe-like amenities. However, if the health club/spa doesn’t interest you, then this resort might not be worth the extra money. Another negative is the number of convention people staying at the resort. Some guests may feel like they are staying in Las Vegas – not Disney World. That said, if you are looking for a large, spread out resort – with great architecture, water features, and amenities – then Coronado Springs fits the bill.
Resort: Coronado Springs
Location: Animal Kingdom Resort Area
Opened: Aug. 1, 1997
Theme: Colonial and Ancient Mexico
Suites: 2 bay, 3 bay, and 5 bay suites
Disney’s Port Orleans Resort Riverside reflects a southern antebellum along the Mississippi River. Built in 1992, the resort initially opened the Alligator Bayou section, and later added the Magnolia Bend section a short time after. Each section has 1,024 guest rooms, with Alligator Bayou’s featuring rustic, weathered lodges and Magnolia Bend styled with building to mimic the grand manor homes of southern plantations.
Some notable features of Port Orleans Resort Riverside include the Riverside Mill Food Court (a quick service restaurant), Boatwright’s Dining Hall (casual table service), the Ol’ Man Island pool, and 5 smaller leisure pools scattered about the property. Guest can take buses to/from the theme parks, or take the Sassagoula River Cruise boat to Disney Springs (the major shopping and dining area of Disney World).
Bottom Line: Port Orleans – Riverside’s theming is spectacular, particularly if you are an adult. There are quiet and scenic pathways stretching through the bayou wilderness along the banks of the Sassagoula River. You really feel like you are in a Louisiana port city instead of inside Disney World. The manicured grounds – with the mansions as a backdrop – are also a sight to behold. We also love the riverboat access to Disney Springs. We don’t recommend this resort for small children. However – for couples, adults, and possibly teenagers – both Port Orleans-Riverside (and French Quarter) resorts are a fantastic option.
Resort: Port Orleans – Riverside
Location: Disney Springs Resort Area
Opened: Dixie Landings: February 2, 1992
Theme: Antebellum South
Areas: Magnolia Bend, Alligator Bayou
Suites: Royal Guest Rooms in Magnolia Bend
Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort is a tropical paradise. Located near Typhoon Lagoon water park in the Epcot area of Disney World, this resort has 6 villages with names to match Caribbean islands – Aruba, Barbados, Jamaica, Martinique, Trinidad North, and Trinidad South. In total, the area comprises 33 2-story building and surrounds the centerpiece of the resort, a 45-acre lake known as Barefoot Bay. The promenade around the lake provides plenty of leisurely activities like walking, jogging, and biking. In the center of Barefoot Bay lies Caribbean Cay, an island accessible by a footbridge. There you will find a children’s playground and a family picnic area.
Caribbean Beach Resort offers plenty of actives to keep you entertained. Guests have an opportunity to relax along the sandy shores of the lake, play beach volleyball, rent watercraft, grab a drink at the Banana Cabana pool bar, enjoy a quick service meal at Old Port Royale Food Court, or the Caribbean influenced cuisine of Shutter’s at Old Port Royale. The resort’s feature pool – Old Port Royale – is a teaming with it waterfalls, water slides, and shooting cannons. In addition, each of the 6 villages has its own swimming pool (and most have playgrounds). So, as you can see, there is plenty of fun to be had. Kids will never run out of activities to keep them occupied after the theme parks close, and the relaxed Caribbean island theming makes everyone just want to kick off their shoes and soak up the sun.
Bottom Line: While Coronado Springs is a top-notch Disney Moderate resort, we rank Caribbean Beach Resort higher for a few different reasons. When it comes to family vacations, you are bound to have some different personalities. Kids may like one thing and adults prefer something entirely different. At Caribbean Beach, there really is something for everyone to enjoy. Plus, who doesn’t like a laid-back Caribbean/pirate theme? Kids love the water features – like the water slides and the pirate ship splash pad – while adults love the relaxed vibe and island theme. Coronado Springs may have a few nicer upgrades, but Caribbean Beach is also slightly less expensive. Plus, you won’t have to deal with the convention center crowds. If you looking for a family resort that is fun and affordable – but not as noisy or as “motel-like” as the inexpensive Value Resorts – you really can’t go wrong with Caribbean Beach.
Resort: Caribbean Beach Resort
Location: Epcot Resort Area
Opened: Oct. 1, 1988
Theme: Tropical Islands
Areas: Aruba, Barbados, Jamaica, Martinique, Trinidad North, Trinidad South
Port Orleans – French Quarter is one of Disney’s smallest resorts. It is highly sought after for its quaint ambiance and quiet surroundings. Themed around the pageantry and romance of New Orlean’s French Quarter, this Moderate resort is situated along the lush landscaping of Sassagoula River. While much of the theming may be lost on children, adults will be charmed by the magnolia trees, cobblestone streets, gas lamps, and wrought-iron fences. There are jazz elements and colorful Mardi Gras icons throughout to contrast the romantic with the lively playfulness of New Orleans.
Some of the key features of Port Orleans – French Quarter include the Doubloon Lagoon 225,000-gallon swimming pool with sea-serpent themed water slide, the Sassagoula River path (great for quiet evening strolls), a riverboat ferry to Disney Springs, Scat Cat’s Lounge jazz club, a food court, and it’s close proximity to Port Orleans – River’s fabulous table service restaurant – The Boatwright.
Bottom Line: In our opinion, the Port Orleans resorts are the best moderate option for couples and other adults. While Port Orleans – Riverside has equally fantastic amenities, we really like the quiet charm of the smaller French Quarter. A lot of the quaint features are lost on children. Besides the playground and pool areas, there isn’t the same level of kid-friendly features that resort’s like Caribbean Beach offer. But for adults, the leisurely pace, architecture, and ambiance make this a top pick.
Resort: Port Orleans – French Quarter
Location: Disney Springs Resort Area
Opened: May 17, 1991
Theme: Quaint New Orleans/Mardi Gras
Areas: French Quarter