By Carlye Wisel
Updated January 07, 2020
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Credit: Courtesy of Disney Parks

With dozens of hotels on Walt Disney World property — and endless options surrounding the resort — it can be nearly impossible to sort out which hotel is best suited for your theme park vacation.

Walt Disney World Resort Hotels, which are operated by the resort itself, include MagicBand compatibility and perks like free airport transportation, but plenty of other hotels now feature key benefits too, including the most important one: early access to Fastpass+ booking. As Disney regulars know, selecting the right Fastpasses means less time wasted in line — a must when it comes to planning your trip.

If you’re trying to decide where to stay on your next Disney vacation, these staff-approved options are perfect picks no matter your budget, family size, or travel style. Whether you’re in search of a luxury property with a relaxing pool or a well-priced escape just steps from Disney’s bustling nightlife — yes, there’s plenty of nightlife — this selection serves as the ideal jumping-off point to plan your dream Disney World vacation.

From island-inspired retreats to cinematic escapes, these are the best Disney World hotels for every budget.

Disney’s Beach Club Resort

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Despite Disney World’s massive scale, this resort comes with a feeling of intimacy and warmth, like staying at a Cape Cod lodge that just happens to be at the center of the action. Home to iconic ice creamery Beaches & Cream and character dining at Cape May Café, this resort is located within walking distance from Epcot’s World Showcase and a short boat ride away from Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Still, the small collection of pools — both standard and sand-bottomed — and iconic pirate ship water slide that comprise Stormalong Bay are so enticing, it’s recommended that hotel guests allot a half-day to enjoy it fully. Beach Club’s sister resort, Disney’s Yacht Club, offers shared amenities and similar charm, but Disney fans often have a predilection towards one over the other; we often prefer Beach Club for its warm-toned decor and coastal vibe.

Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort

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From the moment you’re given a floral lei at check-in, it’s clear this hotel means vacation. It’s got something for everyone — a grotto pool for kids, a window serving pineapple Dole Whips, and Disney’s only tiki bar, Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto. The Polynesian’s location across from Disney’s Magic Kingdom provides Cinderella Castle views and a wide-open beach ideal for fireworks viewing, but there’s also plenty of cult favorite foods across its iconic eateries. Don’t miss the Tonga Toast and macadamia nut pancakes at Kona Cafe or the bread pudding at ‘Ohana, both crowd favorites.

The Grove Resort Orlando

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Apartment-style living at a wallet-friendly price is the highlight of The Grove Resort Orlando. This resort's multi-bedroom suites make it easy to travel with large groups without paying for multiple hotel rooms, packing a punch for its price point. With Flip Flop’s Game Room offering the latest and greatest in arcade entertainment, Surfari Water Park boasting FlowRider surf machines, dueling water slides, and a 700-foot lazy river, and even lakeside amenities for canoeing, kayaking or simply taking in the views, this resort's benefits rival on-property Disney hotels. It’s a short drive to Walt Disney World, and though transportation is offered, we find it's best to use your own car while at The Grove Resort Orlando. An attached multi-level lot makes it seamless to come and go as you please, no matter what floor you reside on — just one of the many conveniences of this worthy multi-bedroom escape.

Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resorts

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This salmon and mint-colored Michael Graves structure is impossible to miss, yet it remains one of the greatest under-the-radar Disney resorts. That’s because the Walt Disney World Swan & Dolphin Resort, which participates in the Marriott Bonvoy rewards program, can often be more budget-friendly than Walt Disney World’s own hotels while offering identical theme park transportation and key benefits, including Extra Magic Hours, extended Fastpass+ booking, and complimentary parking at all 4 parks. With a walking path to both Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios, its very own food festival, and dining options including Shula’s Steak House, Il Mulino, and two newly-opened grab-and-go markets, it’s remarkable that this hotel offers guests the best of Disney World for hundreds less than other on-property resorts.

Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa

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As the crown jewel of Disney World properties, this palatial Victorian resort is nothing short of majestic. Disney’s Grand Floridian is iconic for much more than its maroon-turreted exterior, particularly because its grand lobby is so welcoming, offering live jazz and, at Christmastime, a full-scale gingerbread house that sells “shingles” from within its candied walls. The proximity to Magic Kingdom can’t be beat — it’s just one monorail stop away, bringing you into the magic in just a few minute’s time — but between upscale eateries like Victoria & Albert’s, princess experiences, and character dining with Mary Poppins, it’s a resort fit for royalty.

Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World Resort

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With its elegant rooms and upscale design, this AAA Five Diamond Resort is a veritable oasis from the busy theme parks. Packed with amenities including an indulgent on-site spa, golf course that doubles as an Audubon Sanctuary, and complimentary Kids For All Seasons programming, the hotel could stand on its own as a worthy destination beyond the parks, but it just happens to be in Disney’s backyard. Upscale dining at Capa and a distinguished Disney character breakfast make it equally grand for couples or families with children, as an expansive water play area with the Explorer Island splash zone, lush lazy river, and multiple water slides perfectly counterbalance the serene adults-only pool. Don’t miss the boutique, which offers upscale items with distinctly Disney touches — perfect, given that your stay comes with theme park benefits like Extra Magic Hours and extended Fastpass+ booking windows.

Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort

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Though the entire resort was recently refurbished, it’s the Gran Destino Tower at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort that deserves top marks for offering a top-tier experience while being well within Disney’s moderate price point. With sleek bathrooms and modern furnishings intended for business travelers, the tower rooms are also ideal for families who prefer stylish digs over character theming, along with a super-sleek lobby and somewhat of a view. Quick-service and upscale dining options as well as an imaginative pool modeled after Mayan ruins make it a reliable choice for families looking for a little something special.

Waldorf Astoria Orlando

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This Bonnet Creek resort boasts a golf club, on-site spa, kid’s club, and multiple stunning pools, but it remains a luxury retreat at an affordable price. Attached to the Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek, the Waldorf Astoria Orlando offers double the amenities and loads of dining, including Bull & Bear, a low-key favorite among Disney fans. Plan your vacation with ease knowing that Waldorf Astoria Orlando rooms include select Disney benefits, including Extra Magic Hours and 60-day Fastpass+ booking, through 2020.

Hilton Orlando Buena Vista Palace

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With complimentary daily breakfast and expansive outdoor amenities, including multiple heated pools, a zero-entry kid’s pool, and an on-site lazy river, Hilton Orlando Buena Vista Palace is a reliable, budget-friendly option — but it’s the pedestrian bridge to Disney Springs that seals the deal. Character breakfast each weekend at Letterpress and that short walk to Disney shopping, dining, and entertainment make for an ideal lower-cost alternative while maintaining a close-to-Disney feel. And, as one of the seven Disney Springs Resort Area hotels, guests will receive perks including 60-day Fastpass+ booking windows. Nearby properties, including B Resort & Spa and DoubleTree Suites by Hilton Orlando, are worthy choices as well.

Disney’s Art of Animation Resort

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This hotel themed to Disney’s film repertoire leans towards the higher end of value-priced properties, but with good reason. Themed character suites are instant crowd-pleasers, outshined only by the larger-than-life character sculptures outside each room. With a Finding Nemo pool, eye-popping The Lion King and Cars decor, and access to attractions like Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge and Toy Story Land via the Disney Skyliner, it offers an immersive plunge into Disney and Pixar’s most popular films with familiar faces around every turn.