Mommy Frog's Note: We know these are trying times. Some of us are facing major challenges, whether they be from illness, the economy or simply the unknown. All of us are living under a new normal. While the parks are currently closed, they will reopen soon. In the meantime, we're looking for ways to help keep the magic hoppening at home. One of the ways we're doing that is by helping you plan our next trip!
As we've talked about a time or two, all of the Walt Disney World Resort hotels offer a little something for everyone. While the Disney moderate resorts offer most of the same benefits and amenities, each one has its own unique theme. Whether you’re looking for a frogtastic pool for the tadpoles or a room that’s big enough to fit your entire frog family, we’re here to break down these family-friendly resorts and lay out your options. The Disney moderate resort hotels offer a good blend of amenities and affordability that makes sense for many families. And these hotels have as many (or more) rooms per hotel than the value resorts (minus Disney's Port Orleans Resort - French Quarter), so they often have more availability.
If you're looking at the moderate hotels on our handy-dandy Disney World hotel decision matrix, you may have noticed that we have three Frog Family Favorites. After all, we frogs love each one for different reasons! But which one is right for your family? And what's the overall best Disney moderate resort? We'll tackle each of these questions!
We're taking a closer look at each of the moderates so that you can make the very best decision for your family. We'll be looking at a few key areas: overall theming, rooms, dining and amenities, the pool and transportation and distance to the parks.
Overall Disney Moderate Resort Hotel Theming
The theming is quite different for each of the Disney moderate resort hotels; however, there is some overlap between Disney's Caribbean Beach and Disney's Coronado Springs.
- Disney's Caribbean Beach Resort — Beach
- Disney's Coronado Springs Resort — Mexico, Spain and the Southwest
- Disney's Port Orleans Resort - French Quarter — New Orleans
- Disney's Port Orleans Resort - Riverside — Old South (plantations and bayous)
The theming at Disney's Coronado Springs is easily the most diverse. The resort rooms are divided into three main standard room sections — Casitas, Ranchos and Cabanas — each with its own flavor of external architecture. All of the room interiors are exactly alike. Inspired by Spanish art by Salvador Dali, the new Gran Destino Tower added 545 rooms with additional square footage (including 50 suites), a club-level lounge and rooftop dining.
Disney's Caribbean Beach is divided into five island-themed "villages" — Aruba, Martinique, Barbados, Trinidad and Jamaica — that form a tropical paradise around a lake, complete with their own sandy beaches and private pools.
Our Pick: Disney's Port Orleans. When it comes to children, it's hard to go wrong with the beach theme, which makes Caribbean Beach a popular choice. But the picturesque waterways, working water mill, magnolias and poplars make Port Orleans - Riverside a resort unlike any other. You can follow the Sassagoula River by foot or boat down to Port Orleans - French Quarter. You'll feel as though you're in the middle of The Big Easy because of the cobblestone streets and wrought-iron balconies. To top it all off, it's the only place you can find Mickey beignets at Disney World!
Disney Moderate Resort Hotel Rooms
All of the Disney moderate hotels offer queen beds in their standard rooms. At Disney's Caribbean Beach, the tropical theming is carried inside the rooms, which feature dark, carved headboards. Disney's Coronado Springs has more of an Aztec theme, with blues and browns as the dominant colors. Disney's Port Orleans - French Quarter features both Southern plantation-style theming and bayou-theming inside its rooms. Look for some hidden "Princess and the Frog" gems in the bathroom at French Quarter!
Many of the rooms at Disney's Caribbean Beach and Disney's Port Orleans - Riverside will sleep up to five adults, which makes them a better choice for larger families (the fifth sleeper gets a fold-down Murphy bed, which reveals fun, themed artwork). It's important to note that there are no elevators at Caribbean Beach, which offers two stories. At Port Orleans - Riverside, elevators are only offered for the three-story Magnolia Bend section of rooms. If you’re bringing along a furry friend, Port Orleans - Riverside is the only dog-friendly moderate resort.
Disney's Caribbean Beach and Disney's Port Orleans - Riverside offer more elaborately-themed rooms — pirate rooms and royal rooms, respectively. The intricately-carved pirate ship beds will only accommodate doubles, so these rooms sleep up to four adults. The royal rooms, featuring Tiana and her princess pals, are fit for your own princess and offer light-up headboards and dark, royal colors.
Our Pick: Disney's Port Orleans - Riverside and Disney's Caribbean Beach Resort. We know — a tie?! But with the ability to sleep five and recent renovations leaving things fresh and clean, both resorts get our nod for the best rooms.
Disney Moderate Resort Hotel Dining & Amenities
When it comes to amenities, the Disney moderate resort hotels all offer a step up from the value resorts. Each of the Disney moderate hotels have a playground, a jogging trail, an arcade, a gift shop, one feature pool with a slide, a quick-service restaurant and a table-service restaurant. (The waterslide and playground alone are a huge deal for tadpoles!) Port Orleans - French Quarter is the one exception and does not offer a table-service restaurant (though it's a short walk to the table-service restaurant at Port Orleans - Riverside, Boatwright's Dining Hall). French Quarter is also a short boat ride away to Disney Springs, where there are tons of great table-service options!
Each of the Disney moderate hotels offer movies under the stars, bike rentals and lots of poolside activities. Additionally, both Disney's Port Orleans Resorts offer horse-drawn carriage rides, campfire activities and catch-and-release fishing. Disney's Caribbean Beach offers a pirate adventure cruise, campfire activities, sand volleyball and catch-and-release fishing.
Our Pick: Disney's Coronado Springs Resort. Because Coronado Springs also has a convention center, it offers additional amenities that the other moderates do not. They include two table-service restaurants, additional bars, a salon, spa and fitness center and suites. Additionally, Gran Destino Tower offers a rooftop restaurant, Toledo - Tapas, Steak & Seafood, and a coffee lounge that turns into a bar at night. Not only does the new Villa del Lago serve up even more dining options, but also provides a shortcut through the middle of the lake.
Disney Moderate Resort Hotel Pools
The moderates have more elaborately-themed pools that include waterslides and hot tubs (while the values do not). Because of the pool's importance — it's often a primary reason why we choose one hotel over another — we're breaking this out into its own category outside of amenities.
Each of the moderates offers a feature pool and at least one hot tub. The larger resorts also have non-themed "quiet" pools closer to the rooms (Port Orleans - French Quarter is the exception since it's a smaller resort overall). The pool at Port Orleans - Riverside — set on Ol' Man Island — has the feel of a swimmin' hole and includes a sawmill slide.
Disney's Caribbean Beach Resort offers a pirate's paradise in Fuentes del Morro pool, with its colonial Spanish fortress theming, two slides and pirate ship water play area. The Dig Site at Disney's Coronado Springs is home to the Lost City of Cibola pool, with its 50-foot pyramid and 123-foot water slide, giant hot tub, sand volleyball court and sand play area. Port Orleans - French Quarter is perhaps the least themed, but includes a 51-foot long sea serpent slide, hot tub and water play area.
Our Pick: Disney's Coronado Springs Resort. Because of its grand size and elaborate theming, we choose Disney's Coronado Springs as our top pool pick. To see how it ranks against all of the other Disney Resort pools, check out our list of the top pools on Disney World property.
Disney Moderate Hotel Size, Transportation & Distance to the Parks
With the exception of Port Orleans - French Quarter, which is the smallest resort on property, the Disney moderate hotels are among the largest on property in terms of sheer acreage and number of rooms. This is an important consideration and makes room location a bigger deal. After a long day in the parks, do you potentially want to have to walk another 10 minutes to get to the main pool or to grab a bite to eat? In most cases, you will pay a premium for the rooms closest to the lobby, dining and feature pools.
Like the values, the moderates all offer bus transportation to the theme parks. They are all about the same distance to Magic Kingdom. Disney's Caribbean Beach is closest to EPCOT, and Disney's Coronado Springs is closest to Disney's Animal Kingdom and Disney's Hollywood Studios. All of them, except for Port Orleans - French Quarter, have multiple bus stops around the resort itself. French Quarter does, at times, share bus service with Riverside. However, the opening of Disney Skyliner, which has direct access to EPCOT and Hollywood Studios, is a game-changer for Caribbean Beach Resort.
Additionally, both of the Port Orleans resorts offer boat transportation to Disney Springs, which is a nice option for families who want to do more shopping and dining (nothing gets Leap excited like a boat ride)!
Our Pick: Disney's Caribbean Beach Resort. Disney's Caribbean Beach Resort has direct access to EPCOT and Disney's Hollywood Studios thanks to the new Disney Skyliner gondola system. Because the station also acts as the main Skyliner hub, you could even use it to pop over to Disney's Riviera Resort or Disney's Pop Century and Art of Animation Resorts if you want a change of scenery or to take advantage of dining options at those hotels.
So, What's the Best Overall Moderate Disney Resort?
Drumroll, please ... It's very close, but because of the latest refurbishments and its access to Disney Skyliner, Disney's Caribbean Beach is our overall favorite. It's centrally located, so it's a short distance away from all the theme parks and Disney Springs. Which is your family's favorite Disney moderate resort hotel?
Have you booked a room at any of Disney's moderate resorts? For more tips to help you decide, check out the Where to Stay in Orlando page inside our Orlando Planning Timeline! Don't froget to book your favorite Disney moderate hotel now!
Related: The Very Best Disney World Pools