Do you know that Disney commercial where the kids and parents are so excited about their trip that they can’t sleep?? That’s totally us every time we have a Disney World vacation planned.
We know how much time and effort you spend on planning your visit. And, here at DFB, we think it’s essential that you know all your options — even the bad ones.
That’s why you NEED to know some of the biggest problems at Disney World resort hotels and how you can get around them before you arrive in the Most Magical Place on Earth.
Where Are the Elevators?!
While most multi-level hotels have elevators, there are a few Disney resorts that don’t (and you’ll definitely want to know which ones ahead of time, especially if you have a stroller in tow!). If you’re staying at Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside, the 2-story buildings in the Alligator Bayou area don’t have elevators. BUT, the neighboring 3-story “Mansions” do, so be sure to book your room accordingly!
While Disney’s Old Key West Resort is a relaxing and easy-going place to stay, it isn’t very elevator-friendly. Before you stay at the resort, call ahead of time to request a room in buildings 62, 63, or 64 since they are the only ones with elevators.
For any guests that need wheelchair assistance, who can’t climb the stairs, or who just have a lot of luggage, you might rethink that stay at Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort. There are NO elevators in most of the buildings.
You have no choice but to use the stairs to get to your room, which can be pretty frustrating after a long day on your feet — especially with a big ol’ stroller. However, you can note to your resort before you arrive that you would prefer or require access to a first-level room.
Internal Bus Loops
You know that feeling when you hop on a bus to Magic Kingdom, and it practically stops 10 times along the way? Yeah, not so magical. The internal bus system at several Disney World resorts can be really frustrating sometimes when you’re trying to just hop on a bus to the parks and GO.
We’ve been late many-a-time getting to our Disney World destination because of this situation. However, if you need to use the buses, try to give yourself extra time as a cushion for this system — meaning an extra half hour to an hour, depending on the time of day and how busy the parks will be.
You’ll also want to take into account what hotels have these internal bus loops before you book a room. The order that the buses pick up and drop off at the internal bus stops can vary as well, especially depending on the time of day or how busy it is in Disney World. The resorts that have internal bus loops include:
- Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge – 2 Internal Bus Stops
- Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort – 8 Internal Bus Stops
- Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort – 4 Internal Bus Stops
- Disney’s Old Key West Resort – 5 Internal Bus Stops
- Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort – 5 Internal Bus Stops
- Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort – 3 Internal Bus Loops
- Disney’s Port Orleans Resort Riverside — 4 Internal Bus Loops
There are also a few resorts that share bus loops, like either side of Disney’s Port Orleans Resort. There are four bus stops at the Riverside as opposed to one at the French Quarter, but they share buses. The Monorail Resorts, meaning Disney’s Grand Floridan Resort, Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort, and Disney’s Contemporary Resort, also connect together on a bus loop.
Since Disney’s Boardwalk Inn and Disney’s Yacht and Beach Club are in close proximity, they are set together on a bus loop as well (and there are times when Swan and Dolphin is added into that loop as well).
When in doubt, call the resort you’re interested in to get the full rundown on their bus transportation situation so you can make an informed decision about where you stay!
Florida weather can change in a New York minute! Whenever you’re in Disney World, it’s important to expect the unexpected — rain, cold weather, unrelenting heat, the occasional random snoap shower from time to time. 😉
That’s why the outdoor walkways between the rooms and main buildings at the Disney resorts can be very problematic when you’re at the mercy of unpredictable weather. When it’s extremely hot outside, you’re automatically sweating seconds after walking out of your room…or when it’s pouring rain, you’re immediately soaked and you haven’t even made it to a theme park yet!
This is primarily an issue at places like Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort and Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort because there are many rooms cut off from the lobby area (and you’ll have to walk unsheltered outside for a while to reach it).
However, there are plenty of Value and Moderate Disney resorts that have this issue as well. Disney’s Art of Animation Resort has all those REALLY cool photo-ops (LIGHTNING MCQUEEN, YOU GUYS), but there’s so much outdoor space to walk between buildings.
Disney’s Caribbean Beach, on the other hand, has a LOT of outdoor walking since the resort is so big. It takes a long time to walk anywhere on property, which is great for getting those steps in but rough when it’s raining. Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort is primarily a campground and nestled in the woods, making it very exposed to the elements.
The outdoor walkways at resorts can be especially problematic during hurricane season when it’s dangerous to go outside and your access to the main buildings and lobby are cut off.
If you’re going to be staying at the Disney World resorts during the peak of hurricane season (typically around September), we recommend considering one of Disney World’s more hurricane-ready resorts that are closer together and have indoor access to all the amenities you need. All Disney World hotels are quite safe in a hurricane, but some are more convenient than others!
LOOOONG Resort Hallways
While staying at a big hotel can be nice since there’s a lot to do, see, and eat when you’re outside of the parks, it can also be really tough to navigate.
Some of the WORST hallways in a Disney resort are at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge. If you’ve been to the Kidani Village part of this resort, you’ll know that the room at the end of the hall is your worst enemy. It feels like you have to walk 5,000 miles from the lobby to your room at this hotel! At the end of a long day when you just want to get off your feet, a looooong schlep to your room can be crushing.
BUT, there is a way around this. You can note on your reservation ahead of your trip that you’d like a room closer to the lobby. Often rooms in the same price category can have good and bad locations, so it never hurts to make a request for the best spot you can! Goodbye to long hallways and hello to shorter sprints back to our room!
Although we might not actually be going to the gym during our Disney vacations (hey, we’re walking MILES per day in the parks!), it’s important for many guests to have the option to use a fitness center. But, not all the Disney World resorts have them, so if this is a dealbreaker for you, know before you go!
Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort actually happens to be the only Deluxe resort without a fitness center. Guests actually have to use the gym at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort instead. It IS just a short walk over there, but for the price you’re shelling out to stay at a Deluxe resort, this is good to know before you book.
Value and Moderate resorts don’t have fitness centers at the hotels, aside from Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort..which has two.
When you’re staying at a hotel, it’s often a given that you’re looking for some great pool areas to kick back and relax while you’re watching the kiddos swim. However, the theme of a pool and its amenities can really make or break it, depending on where you’re staying. Some of our least favorite pool designs happen to be at some of the most popular resorts.
Disney’s Contemporary Resort is great for many reasons — there are great food options, direct access to the Monorail, and a beautiful view of Magic Kingdom. But, the pools?? They’re a little bit lacking! At the back of the resort, the pool overlooking Bay Lake might have a nice view, but it is so plain.
There is little to no theme for what you’re paying to stay there (and we think many Value and Moderate resorts have WAY better pools for a fraction of the cost). During certain times of the year, the Contemporary’s pool has also been known to attract gnats off the neighboring lake, which is not so pleasant when you’re trying to read that new book poolside. Bleh.
Disney’s BoardWalk Inn is one of our FAVORITE spots in all of Disney World. The Coney Island feel is just so magical, like you’re in a theme park away from the theme parks. But, the BoardWalk Inn also has a very dark secret — its pool features the most terrifying clown in existence (he might have you beat, Pennywise). 😉
Even though the roller coaster themed slide itself is nice AND the accompanying Leaping Horse Libations pool bar mixes up some great drinks, the clown IS kinda creepy. If you have a room overlooking the pool you might notice one more creepy detail — his eyes light up at night! If you weren’t afraid of clowns before, you might be now. 😉
While the Value resorts can be a fantastic option for different families, the pools can range from awesome to…meh. They are the only Disney resorts on property that do not have hot tubs, so you might also want to consider that if it’s a deal-breaker for you.
Although the Value resorts can have some pretty awesome pools, like the Hippy Dippy Pool at Disney’s Pop Century or the Big Blue Pool at Disney’s Art of Animation, Disney’s All-Star Sports Resort did not hit a home run with its pools. They are just blocks of water without any interactive elements whatsoever. There’s no major theming, no waterslides, no splash zones — nada, zip, zilch.
When you’re having to consider your budget for your Disney World trip, we think it’s important you know what you’re paying for BEFORE you visit the Disney hotels! Not all Disney Resorts are created equal. While one resort may offer the perfect options for one family, another family may not like it. Look at your family’s needs and keep these considerations in mind and we’re sure you’ll pick a winner! 🙂
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What is your favorite place to stay in Disney World? Let us know in the comments below!