Our family has visited Disney World countless times, and with an annual pass for over 10 years, we have made it a point to stay at every Disney property at least once. Deciding which resort to call your home base throughout your Disney vacation is no small task. My hope is to make your decision a little easier by narrowing down the pros and cons of why you should stay at a Disney Moderate Resort. Let me start off with the basics… the Disney Moderate Resorts are the perfect balance between the budget and luxurious. If you are looking to do Disney on a budget, and save on hotel costs, then the Disney Value Resorts could be for you. With the Disney Deluxe hotels, guests receive larger rooms, luxurious decor, more amenities, transportation, and dining options. The five Disney Moderate Resorts are the perfect middle ground.
Disney Moderate Resorts Features
The five Disney Moderate Resorts are the Caribbean Beach, Coronado Springs, French Quarter, Port Orleans Riverside, and the Cabins at Fort Wilderness. Here are the major features and amenities of these hotels:
Guests staying at any of the five Disney moderate hotels receive complimentary:
- Disney transportation to/from the airport
- Fastpass+ reservation access 60 days prior to your arrival date
- Bus service to the parks
- Magic bands
- Extra Magic Hours
- Hotel parking
- Parking at the theme parks
- Package delivery from Disney stores to the gift shop of your hotel
- Dining plan purchase option
- Advanced dining reservation options 180 days prior to your arrival date
Location and Theming
The Moderates are not as far away, nor as crowed as the Value Resorts and, to me, they feel like a nice escape from the hustle and bustle. You will not find large character statues or too many whimsical art displays at these resorts. The decor of the Disney Moderate Resorts are more upscale and tend to focus on the details associated with the particular theme of the hotel.
- Caribbean Beach: Caribbean Islands beach theme/pirate decor
- Coronado Springs: Spanish, Mexico, and the American Southwest
- Port Orleans – French Quarter: New Orleans
- Port Orleans – Riverside: Louisiana plantation style, on the bayou
- The Cabins at Fort Wilderness: rustic frontier log cabin
Room size at the Disney moderate hotels are about 50 sq ft larger than the value rooms and offer two queen beds or a king bed. They also offer a child-size pull out bed, which makes the Disney Moderate Resorts a better option for families of 5. The Fort Wilderness cabins are unique in that they can sleep up to 6 guests and have a full-size kitchen. Due to this, the room sizes are much bigger than the standard moderate room of 314 sq ft.
Pools at the Disney Moderate Resorts are beautifully themed and all have a water slide and hot tubs. This is a missing feature at the Disney Value Resorts and a deal-breaker for my family when we visit in the summer. Because my kids love the pool waterslides, and we choose to take a mid-day break when we visit during the warmer months, we decide between moderates and deluxe options only.
Each of the Disney Moderate resorts has at least two dining options: a quick service and a table service. The French Quarter does not have a table service, but guests can walk next door to the Port Orleans Riverside restaurant. Another added benefit is that French Quarter and Riverside guests can take a riverboat to Disney Springs, which has a plethora of dining and shopping options for everyone. At Fort Wilderness, a dinner show is also an option.
All Disney Moderate Resorts offer bus transportation to the parks. The Caribbean Beach offers the Disney Skyliner gondolas which take you to Epcot and Hollywood Studios. Fort Wilderness also offers guests the option of a ferry to Magic Kingdom.
Disney Moderate Resorts: Ranked and Rated
Here are my rankings for my favorite to least favorite of the Disney Moderate Resorts and why. Hopefully, this will help you decide which resort to choose from or if you should upgrade to a Deluxe or downgrade to a Value:
Port Orleans French Quarter
I love this hotel! Ok, so I’m a little biased because one of my favorite cities is New Orleans. The magnolia trees, cobblestone streets, gas lamps, iron fences, and jazz music are tough to top. We recently shared our love for this city with our children when we visited New Orleans on our summer 2019 road trip. This hotel sure does capture the spirit of the Big Easy.
Besides its French Quarter charm, the next best part about this hotel is that it is the smallest of the Disney Moderate Resorts. This means two things – one, there are fewer people staying at the hotel, and two – there is only one bus stop and the buses are rarely full. If you have ever used the Disney transportation buses, then you know that this is a huge perk! I also love the food options here too.
- Cajun cuisine like jambalaya at the quick-service restaurant
- Lounge jazz club with live music nightly
- Small resort (quaint and quiet atmosphere)
- One bus stop (rarely full)
- Boat service to Disney Springs next door at Port Orleans
- Not much “kid-friendly” theming
- The pool is not as big as other resorts (small water slide)
- Rates are usually on the higher end for Moderates
- No 5th child sleeper bed option
This resort has been dealing with room upgrades and refurbishments to their spaces since 2017, and most recently, the construction of the Disney Skyliner transportation system. I would have to say that it has been worthwhile because the improvements make this the best family-friendly Disney Moderate Hotel. This is our “go-to” summertime resort.
Their pirate-themed splash pad and Spanish fortress water slide, cannons, and waterfalls are a huge hit. The rooms have also been upgraded and their quick service and casual restaurant are solid options. Room rates are also on the lower end of the Disney Moderate Resorts, as this is a huge property with about 2,000 rooms and 6 areas. Also, I have a special place in my heart for this resort because they brought out characters to interact with the guests during a thunderstorm on our “pool day”. It turned an otherwise miserable waiting experience into laughs and dancing for the kids.
- The pool area and splash pad are perfect for families
- Each village area also has a playground and pool
- Disney Skyliner transportation to Hollywood Studios and Epcot right on property
- Food options are very good
- Preferred rooms are pirate-themed
- Most rooms have a 3rd bed option for families of 5
- Bus service stops multiple times at different villages within the resort
- Huge property – very long walk to the main pool and restaurant if your room is far
Port Orleans Riverside
This Disney Moderate hotel has the southern plantation style, Royal Guest rooms, bayou lodges, and antebellum charm. They have a spectacular table service restaurant called Boatwright’s Dining Hall, a lounge with live music, a dockside area where you can rent bicycles and Surrey bikes, fishing, and a feature pool with a waterslide, waterfalls, and unique sawmill decor. You can also catch the water ferry to Disney Springs from here which is very convenient.
Overall, I like this Disney property, but it doesn’t have anything over the top for me or my family. There are some nice amenities, but I usually won’t book this hotel unless the price is deeply discounted or the French Quarter and Caribbean are unavailable or too pricey. If you’re deciding between booking the Riverside or French Quarter or would like more detailed information about the two Disney Moderate Resorts, check out this resort guide.
- Boatwright’s Dining Hall has great food
- Boat service to Disney Springs right on property
- The main pool has a sawmill waterslide, waterfalls, and a playground
- Preferred rooms are called the Royal Guest rooms
- Alligator Bayou rooms have a 3rd bed option for families of 5
- You can go fishing here off the dock
- Bus service stops multiple times at different sections within the resort
- Large property – very long walk to the main pool and restaurant if your room is far
I have to admit, I do not love this hotel. I stayed here once and whatever I ate or drank for dinner one night made both my husband and I very sick and put a damper on our weekend. That being said, it could have been a fluke. I hear many positive things about this resort and many people I know have been very happy with their stay.
Coronado Springs is also a conference center, so it tends to be a crowded hotel. They also have a full-service spa, a 24-hour gym, multiple restaurants, and a fantastic pool area highlighted by a Mayan pyramid and waterslide. The colonial Mexico/Southwest decor is also very nice, and it is located pretty close to the water parks and Epcot.
- Love the Mexican and Southwest decor
- The Mayan ruins themed pool is excellent
- Huge hot tub (up to 22 people)
- Multiple table service restaurants
- Has some deluxe amenities
- The only Disney Moderate hotel that only has bus service
- Very crowded due to the conference center
- Spanish, Mexican, Southwest decor is “drab” in certain areas
- I got sick at the Mayan Grill
The Cabins at Fort Wilderness
The cabins at Fort Wilderness are not the typical accommodation for a Disney Moderate Resort. They are the largest room option for a moderate at 504 sq ft and come equipped with a full-sized kitchen, a queen bed, bunk beds, and a double-sized sleeper sofa. They are indeed cabin accommodations located in Fort Wilderness, which is hit or miss with people.
I love staying in Fort Wilderness when traveling with a larger group and when the weather is cooler. The cabins offer a family glamping style that mixes the outdoor camping mixed with Disney amenities. The drawbacks are that these cabins are a bit isolated and you will have to walk quite far to get around Fort Wilderness. This is why many families rent golf carts when staying here. Prices are also on the steep side, as they sleep up to 6.
- Largest sleeping accommodations
- Full size kitchen to prepare meals
- Ferry service to Magic Kingdom
- You can often see deer, squirrels, ducks, and other animals on the campground
- Campground vibe with unique recreation options
- Several dining options including a dinner show
- Bus stops are frequent due to the size of the campground
- Main pool with waterslide is standard looking
- Getting around the property is difficult due to how spread out the campground is (many people rent bikes or a golf cart)
- In the summer, the heat is brutal
The Disney Moderate Resorts are a great option for families or couples who are not willing to splurge for a Deluxe Resort but want a little more than the Value Resorts can provide. If you can get a good price on one of these resorts, I would recommend staying at a Moderate over a Value because the hotels are more upscale, there are more dining options, and it is much less hectic than the Values.
If you are visiting Disney for the first time, then you’ll need to know what to pack for Disney World and about these Disney Fastpass Secrets. I also share my strategies for using the child swap and which fast pass to reserve at all four parks: Hollywood Studios, Magic Kingdom, Epcot, and Animal Kingdom.
Related Reading: How Much Does a Disney Cruise Cost?
Staying On-Site or Off-Site?
I believe that staying on-site at Disney World gives you more for your money. Besides the obvious Disney perks and free transportation, you never have to leave the magical world of Disney if you stay on property. I enjoy the feeling of being surrounded by Disney magic 24 hours a day, but I know that not everyone shares my sentiments.
While I have stayed off-site on occasion, I know many families prefer staying outside of Disney due to budget, family size, or because they also want a middle point when visiting other Orlando attractions. One benefit of this is that if you are a loyalty member of a Marriott, IHG, Hilton, or other brands, you could use rewards credit cards to get free hotel stays. Here is a list of 15 of the best family resorts in Orlando that are not in Disney World.
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