The Walt Disney World Resort covers almost 25,000 acres of land. For comparison, the Disneyland Resort is just over 500 acres. When planning a vacation, you want to take the time to decide where to stay at Disney World.
Depending on the location you choose, you may have better access to the Disney theme parks and transportation options. In addition to the on-site Walt Disney World Resort hotels, there are hundreds of hotels and resorts around the Disney Resort and throughout Orlando.
As an Orlando native and a former Disney cast member, I’ve figured out all the best places to stay at Walt Disney World. Typically, I recommend staying at one of the Walt Disney World Resort hotels, but I also include the best off-site and non-Disney-owned hotels in this article.
Table of Contents
- Best Places to Stay at Disney World
- 6 Best Areas to Stay at Walt Disney World
- Tips for Staying at Walt Disney World
- FAQs About Where to Stay at Walt Disney World
Disclosure: Travel Lemming is an independent reader-supported blog. You can support us by purchasing via the affiliate links on this page, which may earn us commissions when you make a purchase or hotel reservation through one of our affiliate partners. Note that this site has no affiliation with The Walt Disney Company or its subsidiaries. The opinions expressed are those of the author.
Best Places to Stay at Disney World
Just looking for a quick answer on the best places to stay at Walt Disney World? Here are my top picks:
- 🏆 Best Overall Hotel – Walt Disney World Dolphin
- 🍸 Best Luxury Hotel – Four Seasons Resort Orlando
- 👪 Best for Families – Disney’s Art of Animation Resort
- 👔 Best for Business – Signia by Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek
- 🛎️ Best Boutique – Bohemian Hotel Celebration
- 🌎 Best to Visit Universal – Melia Orlando Celebration
- 💵 Best Budget – SpringHill Suites by Marriott at Flamingo Crossings
Ok, let’s do a deep dive into the best areas at and near Walt Disney World:
6 Best Areas to Stay at Walt Disney World
The Walt Disney Company organizes its Disney resorts into “areas” around the property. Flamingo Crossings, a new development district, has hotels, restaurants, and shops along SR 429 on the west side of Walt Disney World.
To the south, you will find Celebration and Kissimmee. Lake Buena Vista is to the east of Disney World. By heading northeast up the I-4 highway, you can get to the Universal Orlando Resort and International Drive.
Magic Kingdom Resort Area
For the ultimate Walt Disney World vacation, you need to stay in the Magic Kingdom resort area. Three hotels are located on the monorail loop with the theme park: Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort, Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort, and Disney’s Contemporary Resort. This area also includes the Four Seasons Resort Orlando, Disney’s Fort Wilderness Campground and Cabins, and (one of my favorites) Disney’s Wilderness Lodge.
These hotels put you in the best locations to head to the parks using the fun monorail and boat transportation options. It is also easy to get to nearby resorts to enjoy dining and recreation offerings.
Pros of Staying in the Magic Kingdom Area:
- Nightly Magic Kingdom fireworks views
- Easy transportation to the Magic Kingdom, Epcot, and nearby resorts
- Tons of restaurant and bar locations
Cons of Staying in the Magic Kingdom Area:
- No Disney value resorts
- Longer bus rides to Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Animal Kingdom, and the water parks
📚 Magic Kingdom Area Mini Guide 📚
Best Area to Stay for Families
- ✨ Best Hotels – Four Seasons Resort Orlando • Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort • Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
- 🍽️ Where to Eat – Ohana ($$$), California Grill ($$$$), Grand Floridian Cafe ($$)
- 🍸 Where to Drink – Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto, Capa Bar, California Grill Lounge
- 🎟️ Top Attractions – Magic Kingdom, Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue, Horse Trail Rides
Epcot Resort Area
The Epcot resort area is located between Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Most of the deluxe resorts are located around Disney’s Boardwalk.
One of the best perks of this location is walking to the back entrance of Epcot (formally known as the International Gateway). This entrance can even be used to take advantage of the early theme park entry that comes with Epcot area hotels. You are also within walking distance of several restaurants and bars at the nearby hotels.
I have had the pleasure of staying at Disney’s Beach Club Resort, Disney’s Boardwalk Inn, Disney’s Yacht Club Resort, and the Walt Disney World Swan. Without a doubt, I would highly recommend all of these resorts for anyone’s Disney World vacation. Adults looking to “drink around the world” at Epcot are particularly well-suited for this location.
👉 Pro Tip: Epcot’s International Gateway entrance is located between the United Kingdom and France pavilions in World Showcase. This is the perfect place to enjoy “drinking around the world.” One of my best Disney World tips is to stay hydrated and eat along the way.
Pros of Staying in the Epcot Area:
- Lots of delicious restaurants and bars
- Walking access to Epcot and boat transportation to Hollywood Studios
- Centrally located within the Walt Disney World Resort
Cons of Staying in Epcot Area:
- These deluxe resorts are pricey
📚 Epcot Area Mini Guide 📚
Best Area to Stay for Adults
- ✨ Best Hotels – Walt Disney World Dolphin • Disney’s Boardwalk Inn • Disney’s Yacht Club Resort
- 🍽️ Where to Eat – Todd English’s Bluezoo ($$$), Trattoria al Forno ($$), Cape May Cafe ($$$)
- 🍸 Where to Drink – Jellyrolls, AbracadaBar, Big River Grille & Brewing Works
- 🎟️ Top Attractions – Epcot, Hollywood Studios, Fantasia Gardens Miniature Golf
Bonnet Creek is a resort area that is so close to the Disney World property that you have to drive on Disney roads to reach it. The Waldorf Astoria Orlando, Signia by Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek, Wyndham Grand Orlando, and JW Marriott Orlando Bonnet Creek are located in this area.
Since the hotels here are operated by Wyndham, Hilton, and Marriott, guests can earn points and use rewards for booking these Disney World accommodations.
These hotels do not connect to Disney transportation, but they all offer shuttles to the theme parks at scheduled times. Families or couples who are looking for a vacation that is less 24/7 Disney and more upscale should consider staying in this area.
Pros of Staying in Bonnet Creek:
- Can use rewards points to book hotel stays
- Great location connected to Walt Disney World
- Guests get the privilege of early theme park entry
Cons of Staying in Bonnet Creek:
- Shuttles to theme parks are scheduled and not continuously running
- All hotels charge resort fees
📚 Bonnet Creek Mini Guide 📚
Best Area to Stay for Everyone
- ✨ Best Hotels – Signia by Hilton • Waldorf Astoria • Wyndham Grand
- 🏠 Apartments – Browse Top Rentals in Bonnet Creek
- 🍽️ Where to Eat – deep blu ($$$), Bull & Bear ($$$$), illume ($$$)
- 🍸 Where to Drink – Bar 1521, Sir Harry’s Lounge, Sear + Sea Lobby Bar
- 🎟️ Top Attractions – Hollywood Studios, Typhoon Lagoon
Animal Kingdom Resort Area / Flamingo Crossings
Disney World’s Animal Kingdom Resort Area includes Animal Kingdom Lodge, the All-Star Resorts, and Coronado Springs Resort, so there is a range of value resorts to deluxe resorts. Nearby, Flamingo Crossings has several affordable hotels. Many of the hotels here have suites for larger families. These accommodations are more affordable than the comparable family suites at Disney’s Art of Animation Resort.
The Flamingo Crossings hotels and the Disney World resorts in this area are located on the west side of the Walt Disney World Resort. It makes transportation to the other theme parks a bit longer. If you are also spending time at Legoland or taking a day trip from Orlando to Tampa, this area has easy access to highways.
Pros of Staying in Animal Kingdom Area:
- Wide range of hotels for every budget
- Brand new hotels available
Cons of Staying in Animal Kingdom Area:
- Long distance to other Disney parks
- Disney parks shuttles cost extra (Flamingo Crossing hotels)
📚 Animal Kingdom Area Mini Guide 📚
Best Area to Stay for Roadtrippers
- ✨ Best Hotels – Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge • Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort • SpringHill Suites by Marriott
- 🍽️ Where to Eat – Boma – Flavors of Africa ($$$), Toledo ($$$), Three Bridges Bar & Grill ($$)
- 🍸 Where to Drink – Dahlia Lounge, Persimmon Hollow Brewing Co., Victoria Falls Lounge
- 🎟️ Top Attractions – Animal Kingdom, animal viewing at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge
Lake Buena Vista / Disney Springs Area
If the Disney resorts are out of your budget, take a look at the Disney partner hotels in Lake Buena Vista. There are several hotel brands and price ranges to choose from. A theme park shuttle services this area. Guests staying at one of the partner hotels can easily walk to the Springs for shopping and dining.
Off of Disney property, there are several hotels in Lake Buena Vista. If you plan to visit Universal Orlando Resort and other parts of Orlando, consider staying at a hotel here. One of the best is the Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress Resort. If you enjoy spending time at your hotel and enjoying the amenities, this is the place to stay for your Disney World vacation.
Several Disney World resorts connect to Disney Springs by boat. Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort and Old Key West Resort are Disney Vacation Club properties. Port Orleans Riverside and French Quarter are two of the best Disney World resorts for a moderate budget.
Pros of Staying in Lake Buena Vista:
- Easy access to dining and shopping at Disney Springs
- Several hotel brands to choose from
Cons of Staying in the Lake Buena Vista:
- Disney parks shuttles require advanced reservations
- Long commute to Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom
📚 Lake Buena Vista Mini Guide 📚
Best Area to Stay for Visiting All of Orlando
- ✨ Best Hotels – Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress Resort • Drury Plaza Hotel Orlando • Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort
- 🏠 Apartments – Browse Top Rentals in Lake Buena Vista
- 🍽️ Where to Eat – Raglan Road Irish Pub and Restaurant ($$), Susuru ($), The Boathouse ($$$)
- 🍸 Where to Drink – Player 1 Video Game Bar, Wine Bar George, Dockside Margaritas
- 🎟️ Top Attractions – Disney Springs, Orlando Vineland Premium Outlets, Typhoon Lagoon
- 📚Related Reading: If you want to visit Orlando outside of Disney, Lake Buena Vista is just one of my recommended places to stay in Orlando.
Celebration / Kissimmee
Large families or groups should consider staying in Kissimmee instead of staying at one of the Walt Disney World resorts. There are plenty of rental homes that are more affordable than booking several guest rooms at a Disney hotel. You’ll find plenty of restaurant and entertainment options throughout Kissimmee.
Next to Kissimmee, you can also stay in Celebration. This town was originally developed by Disney so it is picturesque and well-kept. There are a couple of hotels that put you close to downtown Celebration for dining and shopping.
You can easily travel to the theme parks from here thanks to highways and backroads. Thanks to SR 417, this area is less than 30 minutes from Orlando International Airport.
Pros of Staying in Celebration/Kissimmee:
- Several budget-friendly hotels just off the Disney property
- Tons of restaurants and entertainment options
- Lots of affordable rental homes
Cons of Staying in Celebration/Kissimmee:
- Kissimmee is considered “run down” by many
- There can be lots of traffic driving to the theme parks
📚 Celebration/Kissimmee Mini Guide 📚
Best Area to Stay for Affordable Accommodations
- ✨ Best Hotels – Melia Orlando Celebration • Bohemian Hotel Celebration • Galleria Palms Hotel
- 🏠 Apartments – Browse Top Rentals in Celebration
- 🍽️ Where to Eat – Columbia Restaurant ($$), The Wharf ($$), The Pizza Press ($)
- 🍸 Where to Drink – Celebration Town Tavern, Rock & Brews, Bobby’s Garage Bar
- 🎟️ Top Attractions – Animal Kingdom, Old Town, ESPN Wide World of Sports
- 📚Related Reading: Once you choose where to stay, you’ll need to get started on your Disney packing list. Make sure you’re prepared for the best vacation ever!
Tips for Staying at Walt Disney World
Stay at a Walt Disney World Resort Hotel
If you plan on spending your entire Orlando vacation at Disney World, you’ll probably get the most for your money by staying at one of the Walt Disney World hotels. Not only do you get to stay immersed in Disney theming and decor, but you can utilize Disney transportation to save time and money.
For example, if you stay at Disney’s Contemporary Resort, you can walk to the Magic Kingdom, take the monorail to Epcot, and enjoy nightly fireworks views.
When you add in the perks of advanced dining reservations, early theme park entry and extended evening hours, early Genie+ and Lightning Lane access, and daily recreation activities, staying at a Disney World hotel is a no-brainer.
Look for Perks and Amenities
If you are looking at Disney resort hotels, a deluxe resort will come with the best amenities. These hotels typically have awesome pools and several dining options. I always recommend looking at which hotels have direct access or transportation to the Disney parks.
At off-site hotels, you may also be able to find free breakfast included. Set to open in October 2022, Drury Plaza Hotel Orlando will also offer an evening “kickback” with food and drinks. Several hotels near the Disney resort have theme park shuttles, but the schedule and cost vary by location.
Use Disney Transportation
To save time and money, try to utilize Walt Disney World’s transportation as much as possible. All of the Disney hotels have buses that run to the theme parks, water parks, and Disney Springs.
Even though they are running continuously, the buses are typically the slowest mode of Disney transportation. Also, the buses do not run between the Disney World hotels, so you’ll need to find alternate transportation if you are going to another hotel for dining or recreation.
The monorail is the most iconic vehicle at Disney. It runs to three Disney World hotels (Disney’s Contemporary Resort, Polynesian Village Resort, and Grand Floridian Resort), the Ticket and Transportation Center, Magic Kingdom, and Epcot.
All of the hotels and parks near a body of water offer boat transportation. You can catch a boat from any of the Magic Kingdom area hotels to the park. Port Orleans Riverside, French Quarter, Old Key West, and Saratoga Springs all have boat transportation to Disney Springs. All the hotels along the boardwalk can utilize a boat to get to Epcot and Hollywood Studios.
The newest mode of transportation at Walt Disney World is the Skyliner, which opened in 2019. These gondolas take up high up for excellent views of the area. The Skyliner connects Epcot, Hollywood Studios, Disney’s Riviera Resort, Caribbean Beach Resort, Disney’s Art of Animation Resort, and Disney’s Pop Century Resort.
👉 Pro Tip: Art of Animation and Pop Century are the only value resorts that have direct transportation to other hotels and theme parks. Usually, you need to stay at a deluxe resort to get those perks. Find out which hotels have the best perks in my breakdown of the Best Disney World Hotels.
Plan Your Itinerary Ahead of Time
When visiting Walt Disney World, I always recommend planning. Knowing which parks and restaurants you want to visit each day can help you choose the best place to stay at Disney World. For example, let’s say you have dining reservations at the Riviera Resort and you plan to visit Epcot for at least two days. Caribbean Beach is a great moderate location and Art of Animation is the perfect value resort for easy access and quick transportation.
There are ways to visit Disney World on a budget, but you’ll most likely be spending a good amount of money on your vacation. That means that you’ll want to maximize your time at the parks and activities instead of commuting around. Simple planning, like choosing a restaurant in the theme park you’re visiting that day or a nearby hotel, can allow you to have as much fun as possible.
Need help planning your itinerary? Check out all my Disney World touring plans:
- 6-Day Disney World Itinerary
- 1-Day Magic Kingdom Itinerary
- 1-Day Epcot Itinerary
- 1-Day Animal Kingdom Itinerary
- 1-Day Hollywood Studios Itinerary
Shop Around for Deals
Since nearby hotels know that many people enjoy the perks of staying at a Disney resort, they are constantly trying to compete for your business. Throughout the year, you can find deals during low seasons and special events.
Disney also runs specials from time to time. Usually, you can get the highest discount percentage off of a deluxe resort stay. Occasionally, Disney has discounts that make a value resort cost less than $100 per night.
Larger families should definitely consider rental homes or off-site hotels with suites if they want to save money. Off-site hotels, like SpringHill Suites by Marriott, have large guest rooms at prices much lower than Disney Vacation Club villas or family suites.
👉 Pro Tip: When you plan to stay at the Walt Disney World Resort will have a huge impact on the price you pay for accommodations. I recommend September as the best time to visit Disney World for fewer crowds and lower prices.
FAQs About Where to Stay at Walt Disney World
Does it matter where you stay at Disney World?
All Disney resorts come with free transportation and perks. However, some resorts have better locations and theme park access than others. For example, from Disney’s Beach Club Resort, you can walk to Epcot and the Boardwalk, take a boat to Hollywood Studios, and ride the Skyliner to several other hotels.
Is it worth the cost to stay at a Disney resort?
Disney resorts are generally more expensive than comparable hotels nearby. The additional cost gets you top-notch Disney service, free transportation around the Walt Disney World resort, and other perks. If you are only visiting Disney during your Orlando vacation, it is usually worth the additional cost to stay at a Disney resort.
Which Disney resort is the best?
There is no one “best” Disney resort. To give guests plenty of options to choose from, Disney World has more than 30 resorts at various price points to choose from. Some of the top-rated Disney World resorts are Polynesian Village Resort, Yacht Club Resort, Caribbean Beach Resort, and Art of Animation Resort.
Is it worth camping at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort?
It is worth camping at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort. If you are an avid camper, you will notice that the cost of a campsite at Fort Wilderness is much higher than most (if not all) campgrounds. When you stay at Fort Wilderness, you get complimentary transportation to the theme parks, the ability to make advanced dining and Lightning Lane reservations, and access to tons of recreation activities at the resort. Instead of just roasting marshmallows at your campsite, you can enjoy a campfire sing-a-long with some of your favorite Disney characters.
What is the cheapest deluxe resort at Disney World?
Animal Kingdom Lodge is the cheapest deluxe resort at Disney. Even though this is an amazing resort with wild animals outside your window, Animal Kingdom Lodge does not connect to any theme parks or specialty transportation options. This means that you’ll need to take a bus or drive your car to get anywhere else.
Every area around Walt Disney World has its perks, so you just need to pick the right location and accommodations for your group. Whether you want to be able to walk into a theme park or fit a family of 10, there is something for everyone.
I hope I’ve helped you find out where to stay at Disney World!
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