Currently, there are five different moderate resort options (though not all are reopened at this time), including Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort, Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort, Disney’s Port Orleans Resort — French Quarter, Disney’s Port Orleans Resort — Riverside, and The Cabins at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort. And, while there are a lot of things that make these resorts worth checking out, you might stumble upon some BIG problems that you don’t expect. So, instead of wishing you knew these things before you booked your stay, we’re breaking them down for ya!
They Are GIANT
First up, we need to talk about the literal elephant in the room — these hotels are HUGE. Each moderate resort is made up of separate buildings that are scattered throughout the resort area. Some are around a big lake and there’s even one in the woods, so, though it may look like you’re not staying with thousands of your new best friends, you totally are.
Normally value resorts are associated with large crowds and they do technically have more rooms than Disney’s moderate resorts, but that doesn’t mean you’re escaping the crowds. Moderate Resorts do still have a HUGE capacity ability and lots of rooms — they’re just a bit more spread out (more on that later).
And, Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort is actually home to a conference center, so you’re not only staying with all the Disney vacationers, but it also attracts a lot of business travelers.
So, you’re not necessarily “beating the crowds” by paying the higher price for a moderate resort.
Amenities Are a LONG Walk Away
Speaking of how big these resorts are and how much land they span, you might find yourself in a room that is a LONG walk from resort amenities like the pool, dining options, and the front desk. And, if you’ve ever checked into your hotel just to walk all the way to your room and find that your MagicBand won’t work to get you into your room you’ll know how not-fun that walk back can be at a moderate resort. In many cases, you could be looking at a 15+ minute walk.
Over at Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort, one of the coolest room options are the pirate-themed rooms. These come decked out with pirate ship beds, a compass carpet, a skull and crossbones bathroom curtain, and more (AKA a DREAM for little pirates), but what Disney won’t tell you is that these are actually located in some of the furthest buildings from Old Port Royale (the main building with the big pirate-themed pool those same lil’ pirates will likely be begging to swim in!). And, if you’re wondering just how far we’re talking — it can easily take you 15 minutes to walk between the two.
The long walk from your room to the main building with amenities is especially problematic when it’s super hot outside or when it’s a rainy, or worse, hurricane season in Florida. Both ways you’re stuck getting wet (either from sweat or rain) or going without food. Remember, this is alllll exposed walking, friends. No covered walkways or indoor hallways here.
Now, you can try to avoid this big issue with Disney’s moderate resorts by calling ahead and requesting a room that is closer to the main building. It won’t guarantee that you’ll be placed in a closer room, but it’s worth a shot!
Internal Bus Loop
By now you might be thinking “we get it, moderate resorts are huge,” but there’s yet another problem with the sheer amount of land that these resorts span. Instead of one centralized bus stop, moderate resorts are home to MANY bus stops around the resort area. And, while it does help to eliminate some steps to the main building, you can spend a lot of your precious Disney time circling the resort instead of enjoying the parks.
The order that the buses pick up and drop off in the loop can vary based on the time of day or how busy it is in Disney World and each resort differs on how many bus stops there are. Here’s a quick overview of the stops for each Moderate Resort:
- Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort: 7 Internal Bus Stops
- Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort: 4 Internal Bus Stops
- Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort: 3 Internal Bus Stops
- Disney’s Port Orleans Resort — Riverside: 4 Internal Bus Stops
- Disney’s Port Orleans Resort — French Quarter: 1 stop but it shares buses with its sister resort, Riverside
What can be particularly nasty here with loads of bus stops (we find this especially true at Caribbean Beach) is if your stop is at the beginning or end of the line. At the early stops? You get on the bus no problem but you’re waiting probably half an hour on the bus traveling around the resort before you ever even head to the parks. At the end of the line? You’re crossing your fingers that bus isn’t full by the time it finally gets to you and then also waiting while you drive allllll around the resort to get OFF at the end of the day! Because it can take you longer than you’d expect to get to and from the parks, we suggest adding about 30-minutes to an hour to your travel time just to be sure you get to all your Fastpasses, dining reservations, and plans on time!
The Skyliner Problem
The new hotness in terms of Disney World transportation is the Disney Skyliner. Only ONE Moderate resort has access to this though — Caribbean Beach Resort. All other moderates rely on bus transportation to all the parks. Caribbean Beach is actually the hub of the Skyliner, giving you great access to all routes in one spot. Sounds awesome, right? Well, kinda. Remember that “you’re gonna be walking a LOT” tip we mentioned? Rings true here big time.
Get a room near the Skyliner hub, you’re golden. A quick walk and you’ll be zipping to the parks in no time. But the vast majority of rooms are a SCHLEP from the Skyliner. In fact, some of the buildings are SO far away, you’d be better off walking to the nearby Riviera Resort and hopping on the Skyliner THERE!
Some Are Missing Elevators
While long walks and bus waits are an inconvenience that most people can handle, one pitfall of select moderate resorts is that some of the buildings do not have elevators. For example, at Disney’s Port Orleans Resort — Riverside, the 2-story buildings in the Alligator Bayou area don’t have elevators. BUT, the neighboring 3-story “Mansions” do.
And, at Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort, there aren’t elevators in ANY of the buildings.
But, this doesn’t necessarily rule these resorts out when deciding where you’ll stay during your Disney World trip, you’ll just want to be sure you contact Disney ahead of time to request a ground floor room or a building with an elevator if you need it.
Limited Dining Options
Now, because these resorts are somewhere in between value resorts and deluxe resorts, you’ll find that the dining options are a bit limited. Generally, you can expect moderate resorts have a Table Service restaurant, a Quick Service restaurant, and a poolside bar that offers a limited menu.
That being said, we’re going to start off with the anomaly of the group — The Cabins at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort. The cabins are actually the only part of the resort that is considered “moderate” and the campsites at Disney’s Fort Wilderness are considered in the “value” resort category. So, as you might expect, the dining options here are a bit of a mix.
Meal-wise there is no food court, but you can grab breakfast, lunch, and dinner from the takeout restaurant called P & J’s Southern Takeout. There is also one Table Service restaurant that opens for dinner and brunch on the weekends called Trail’s End Restaurant. Otherwise, it’s mostly snacking that you can do at this resort — The Chuck Wagon is an RV-style snack kiosk and Meadow Snack Bar is a great place for drinks and a snack poolside.
Though, there is one extra standout dining experience at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort — Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue. This comedic dinner show serves up southern-style dishes and is definitely worth checking out! (Note this experience remains closed at this time!)
Over at Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort, you’ve got three solid options for dining. Centertown Market is a food court-style Quick Service location, there’s a poolside bar (Banana Cabana) and a neighboring walk-up smaller quicker service/bar type combo counter (Spyglass Grill), and the resort’s Table Service option is Sebastian’s Bistro (which is a gem).
At Disney’s Port Orlean’s Resort — French Quarter, you’ve also got three solid options including Sassagoula Floatworks and Food Factory which is a Quick Service restaurant, Scat Cat’s Club which has a cafe and a lounge, and Mardi Grogs Pool Bar which is another spot to grab drinks. So, there’s no Table Service restaurant here.
And, Disney’s Port Orleans Resort — Riverside also has some limited options including Boatwright’s Dining Hall (which only opens for dinner), Riverside Mill Food Court, and two bars — River Roost Lounge and Muddy Rivers Pool Bar.
Now, the major exception to this moderate resort pitfall is Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort. Because this hotel has a conference center and attracts more business-minded guests there are A LOT of dining locations — 10 to be exact!
So, though Disney World’s moderate resorts may have some pitfalls, they still can be a really great option for families vacationing in the parks! And, if you’re thinking about planning a vacation to Disney this year, you can check out the BEST hotels below!
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Are the Moderate resorts a favorite of yours? Let us know in the comments!