Disney 101~Accomodations Part 3


Welcome back to Disney 101! Now that you are an expert on the HOT Special Events around Walt Disney World you may start to have an idea of what time of year you would like to travel to Disney. The next step in planning your Disney vacation is picking where you would like to stay.

* To see all Disney 101 posts click here.

This choice is going to impact your trip tremendously, from cost to size to proximity to comfort. While both Jenn and I feel that cost is a HUGE deciding factor as to where families stay when they travel to Disney World that information is generic because people really want to know the value of each resorts as well as  the proximity of the resorts. Together, Jenn and I have broken up the resorts by area. It is our hope that based on proximity and value you will be able to pick an accommodation that fits the needs of your family.

Magic Kingdom Resort Area

Staying near the Magic Kingdom is a magical experience for Disney guests.  These resorts are almost all deluxe level and deliver in terms of amenities and services.  Each resort has its own character providing a unique experience for guests.  While many guests call these “monorail hotels,” Disney doesn’t categorize them as such.  Not every Magic Kingdom Area resort has access to the monorail.  Let’s explore this wonderful area.

Disney’s Contemporary Resort – This resort lives up to its name.  The 15 story A-Frame building is one of the original hotels built on the WDW property.  It is sleek and modern in its construction and decor.  Rooms are updated often to maintain a clean, fresh look.  These are some of the most sound proof rooms as they were built off site first and slid into the frame of the building.  There is a three story garden wing located next to the main building if you desire a more serene area.  Bay Lake Tower next door is a Vacation Club property offering some exclusive amenities.  Members use points to reserve villas but non-members are welcome to reserve as well.


  • Closest resort to the Magic Kingdom.  You can walk right over.
  • Monorail line runs right through the center of the building
  • 3 table service restaurants offering great food and atmosphere
  • 2 pools and a kids water area
  • 4 lounges offering light fare and libations
  • Olympiad fitness center, salon and arcade

Room type:

  • Rooms accommodate up to five guests, plus one child under three in a crib
  • All rooms have two queen size beds or one king size bed and a day bed

Best area of the resort

The fourth floor viewing area for Wishes.  The doorway is located behind Fantasia Market.  There are several views available at varying room rates.  Magic Kingdom view is magical to see the castle lit up at night as you go to bed.  A bay view is great to see all the watercraft in use.


  • Walk to the Magic Kingdom.  Take the monorail back.
  • Get an early reservation for Chef Mickey’s before a day at the Magic Kingdom for the best use of time.
  • If you are looking for a heavily-themed hotel, this should not be your first choice.  It is more like an upscale metropolitan hotel than a vacation getaway resort.
Distance from the Parks:
Magic Kingdom: 1 mile
Epcot: 6 miles
Hollywood Studios: 6 miles
Animal Kingdom: 10 miles

Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa

This is by far the most grand and luxurious resort on Disney property.  The hotel  was inspired by the Victorian era beach resorts built along Florida’s east coast during the late 19th century and early 20th century.  This hotel is breathtakingly beautiful.  The Grand Lobby has marble floors, stained glass skylights, grand staircases and an air of elegance unmatched in a Disney hotel.  Rooms are available in the Grand Lobby and five lodge buildings named after islands in the Florida Keys: Sago Cay, Sugarloaf Key, Conch Key, Boca Chica and Big Pine Key.


  • Three signature dining experiences – Victoria and Albert’s, Citricos and Naroossee’s.
  • Two table service restaurants – 1900 Park Fare and Grand Floridian Cafe
  • 24 hour quick service restaurants and several lounges
  • Themed zero-entry pool and a leisure pool with hot tub
  • Arcade and outdoor playground for children
  • Grand Floridian Spa and Health Club is a full-service spa facility
  • Monorail access from Grand Lobby.
  • Resort Launch boats to Magic Kingdom.
  • Next location for Vacation Club Villas.

Room type

  • Rooms can accommodate up to five guests plus one child under the age of 3 in a crib.
  • All rooms have two queen beds or one king size bed and a day bed.
  • Special rooms include: Lodge Tower Room offering separate sitting area, extra TV and phone, and 5 windows.  Concierge rooms offer personalized services, continental breakfast, evening refreshments and a private elevator.  Turret rooms have wet bars and windows all around.  Honeymoon suites have whirlpool tubs.

Best Area of the Resort

The white beaches are beautiful at this resort.  It’s a great place to watch the Electrical Water Pageant on the Seven Seas Lagoon.  Watching the Magic Kingdom Fireworks from a Lagoon View room is truly magical.


  • Sugar Loaf Key is the closest lodge to the Grand Lobby but it also sees the most traffic and hears the most noise.
  • Theme park view rooms of Sago Cay and Conch Key offer the best views of Cinderella Castle.
  • Big Pine Key is near the beach and its lagoon-view rooms offer picturesque vistas.
  • This resort does tend to give off a snobby vibe.  No cast member ever makes you feel this way, but I always feel under-dressed when I enter this resort.
  • Check attire expectations at table service restaurants before making reservations.
Distance from the Parks:
Magic Kingdom: 2 miles
Epcot: 6 miles
Hollywood Studios: 5 miles
Animal Kingdom: 9 miles

Disney’s Polynesian Resort

If you truly want to feel like you’re on vacation, The Polynesian is the place to be.  The Great Ceremonial House is lush and tropical by design.  Rooms are located in 11 different longhouses.  The entire resort feels like a south seas getaway.  Tiki torches light winding pathways that meander through this island paradise.


  • Walking distance from the Transportation and Ticket Center.
  • Table service restaurants – Kona Cafe, ‘Ohana and Kona Island and a 24 hour quick service restaurant.
  • Luau Cove offers a traditional Polynesian dinner show.
  • Nanea Volcano theme pool, kid’s play fountain, sunbathing beach, leisure pool.
  • Neverland Club and Moana Mickey’s Arcade is available.
  • Marina for watercraft rental.

Room type

  • Rooms can accommodate up to five guests plus one child under the age of 3 in a crib.
  • All rooms have two queen beds or one king size bed and a day bed.
  • Club level accommodations add personalized concierge service, lounge with continental breakfast, midday snacks, evening wine and desserts.

Best Area of the Resort

The beach area is hands down the highlight of this resort.  Hammocks and swings are welcome respits after a long day in the parks.


  • Rapa Nui and Tahiti buildings are closest to the walkway to the Transportation and Ticket Center.
  • First and Third floor rooms have balconies/patios.
  • Captain Cook’s Snack Company has a Dole Whip machine!
  • ‘Ohana offers an amazing selection of tropical drinks during dinner – the lapu lapu is quite delicious.
  • Resort boat launches are available to the Magic Kingdom.
  • Bus routes are shared with the Grand Floridian and the Contemporary.
Distance from Parks:
Magic Kingdom: 2 miles
Epcot: 5 miles
Hollywood Studios: 5 miles
Animal Kingdom: 9 miles

Disney’s Wilderness Lodge

Nestled in the trees behind Bay Lake is the Wilderness Lodge.  The Lodge was inspired by the US National Park Lodges built in the 1900s.  You feel like you’re in the Pacific Northwest – not central Florida.  The huge pine trees frame the main lobby lodge building.  Huge totem poles adorn the atrium lobby.


  • Artist Point signature dining available.  Whispering Canyon table service restaurant available.
  • Quick service and lounges available.
  • Two pools, children’s water area, health club, marina available.
  • Cub’s Den – supervised children’s club.
  • Bike rental available to explore the resort.

Room Type

  • Rooms accommodate up to four guests plus one child under the age of 3 in a crib.
  • Rooms have two queen size beds, or one queen size bed and bunk beds, or one king size bed.
  • Rooms have a private balcony or patio.

Best Area of the Resort

  • Take time to explore the resort.  Follow Silver Creek from its indoor origin as a hot spring and onward outside as a bibbling brook and waterfall, eventually making its way to Bay Lake.
  • Fire Rock Geyser (modeled after Old Faithful)


  • Take the “Wonders of the Lodge” tour.  This walking tour explores the treasures of this ornate lobby.  Tours are offered Wednesdays-Saturdays at 9:00 am.
  • Ask at the front desk to be a “Flag Family.”  Each morning, a family helps raise the American Flag atop the resort.
  • Courtyard view rooms can be noisy so request a Lodge view if noise is a concern.
  • Rooms with king beds double as handicap rooms so they won’t have a tub.
Distance from the Parks:
Magic Kingdom: 1 miles
Epcot: 6 mile
Hollywood Studios: 6 miles
Animal Kingdom: 10 miles


Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground

This is the only moderate resort in the Magic Kingdom area.  All types of camping is available here: tent, pop-up, trailer and RV motor home.  All conveniences are available on a 700 acre campground.  Cabins are available for guests who still want to have a camping experience.


  • More economical way to stay on property.
  • Nightly campfire with characters.
  • Two swimming pools, children’s pool and water play area.
  • Electric cart rentals available to navigate the resort.
  • Home of the Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue, Mickey’s Backyard BBQ, Trail’s End Restaurant and Crockett’s Tavern.
  • Lots of recreation opportunities: canoeing, fishing, arcade, shuffleboard and marina for watercraft rental.


  • Cabins accommodate up to six guests, plus one child under the age of 3 in a crib.
  • Cabins feature a double bed, bunk beds and a pull down bed.
  • Cabins have a fully equipped kitchen.
  • Campsites can accommodate everything from a pop up tent to a big rig RV.
  • There are dog friendly areas.

Best Area of the Resort

Each night, the campground features Campfire Sing-Along with Chip ‘n’ Dale. A Disney Cast Member leads songs in an outdoor amphitheater, while Chip and Dale approach seated audience members, signing autographs and posing for photos. Two firepits are available for roasting marshmallows and making s’mores.


  • Cabins are a nice option for larger families.
  • While you can take a boat to the Magic Kingdom, bus will be your main mode of transport to the parks.

Distance from the Parks:

Magic Kingdom: 2 miles
Epcot: 6 mile
Hollywood Studios: 7 miles
Animal Kingdom: 11 miles


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Disney 101~ Accommodations Part 2
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Disney 101~Accommodations Part 4


  • I think the Poly might be my dream resort. I’d love to stay there at least once. My husband would love to stay at Fort Wilderness…I’m thinking that would be a great stay once we have children.

  • Marine Mom Jenny
    June 14, 2012 10:35 am

    My dream would be to stay at the Contemporary. Really, any of the deluxe would be great! 🙂

  • We stayed at the Wilderness Lodge and it is beautiful, especially at Christmastime. The boat ride made for very easy transportation to/from Magic Kingdom.

  • We just stayed at Wilderness Lodge for the first time and it was truly beautiful. Nothing like watching the sunrise through all the trees!

  • *sigh* I would love to stay at any of these! Perhaps someday when the hubby is all finished with school we can manage it.

  • We stayed at the Wilderness Lodge during this last Christmas season and the decorations were absolutely beautiful! The Christmas Tree in the main lodge is definitely a must see! We stayed in the villas and loved how quiet the lodge was.

  • Mark Cothern
    June 15, 2012 9:34 am

    A few years ago we stayed at the Wilderness Lodge for the first time. Imagine my surprise, when we were upgraded to Concierge Level upon check-in!!!! That was completely unexpected. The Contemporary is next on the bucket list.

  • Michelle Atkinson
    June 15, 2012 2:22 pm

    We’ve never stayed at any of the MK resorts. I’m not sure why, but I might want to try it one day.

  • The Grand Floridian is our favorite and we stay there as often as our finances allow!! 🙂

  • I love the looks of the GF, but I agree that it does give off a bit of a snobby vibe, not that you would ever be made to feel that way. I, too feel underdressed when I go in. It is a stunning place.

  • As a young child I stayed at Ft. Wilderness-in a tent I think but I don’t remember a bit of it. My husband would love to camp there but I can’t help but think of how much longer it would take to get ready in the morning! We walked through the Poly when we were staying at SOG and it’s amazing! I would love to spend some time at the other ones also!

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