The fireworks show at Disney's Boardwalk Resort near Disney World. (Photo: Matt Popovich on Unsplash)
Photo: Matt Popovich on Unsplash

The 13 Best Disney World Hotels for Families, Ranked by Age Groups and Interests

Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida, isn’t just the “happiest place on earth.” It’s also the ultimate vacation destination for families. But when it comes to choosing where to stay for your Disney vacation, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. When you’re trying to choose the best Disney World hotels, you have more than 30 options!

To help you narrow your search, we’ve ranked the best Disney World hotels for different age groups, family sizes, and vacation styles.

Best for Little Kids: Disney’s Art of Animation Resort

Ariel overlooks "The Little Mermaid" at Disney's Art of Animation Resort. (Photo: Matt Stroshane / Disney.)
Disney’s Art of Animation Resort (Photo: Matt Stroshane)

Animated movies spring to life at Disney’s Art of Animation Resort, a value-priced resort with four different wings themed around The Lion King, Cars, Finding Nemo, and The Little Mermaid. Choose from standard rooms with two queen-size beds that sleep four, or family suites with two bathrooms, a kitchenette, and three separate sleeping areas that sleep six. The pool is always one of the most important features for little kids, and Disney’s Art of Animation’s “Big Blue Pool” is the largest at any of the Disney World resort hotels.

Best for Families with Big Kids and Tweens: Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort

Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort (Photo: David Roark)

Island life meets pirate life at Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort, one of the best moderate-level Disney World hotels. Rooms are divided into clusters of bungalows themed for different Caribbean islands. Big kids will love the pirate-themed rooms with ship-shape beds and rum barrel nightstands. Parents will like the child-sized pull-down sleeper for children who no longer want to share a bed at night. Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort has a fantastic Fuentes del Morro pool themed like a Spanish fortress with a waterslide, shipwreck play area, and pirate water cannons.

Other activities for kids include bike rentals, a daytime pirate cruise for ages four to 12, and an evening mystery cruise for ages 10 to 16. Disney’s Skyliner gondola system provides easy access to Epcot and Hollywood Studios, and bus service provides transportation to the other theme parks. 

Best for Families with Teens: Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort

Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort (Photo: David Roark)

Great beach, cool theme, and quick and easy access to the theme parks makes Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort a fantastic pick for families with teenage kids. This deluxe-level resort sits on the Monorail loop, so independent teens can whisk off to the Magic Kingdom or Epcot when parents are done for the day.

The beach at the Polynesian Village Resort faces the Magic Kingdom for a view of the nighttime fireworks, and the resort even has its own Dole Whip stand to cool off by the South Pacific-themed pool (complete with volcano, of course). And, Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort has great restaurants that appeal to teens, including O’hana’s all-you-care-to-eat buffet (also with a fireworks view at night), Kona Café (home of the cult classic Tonga Toast), and Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto. For the ultimate splurge, spend a night in a two-bedroom overwater bungalow.

Best for Large Families: Cabins at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort

Private cabins at Disney’s Fort Wilderness (Photo: Disney)

For families who need more space than a typical hotel room provides, a cabin at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort may be the thing. These moderately priced cabins have plenty of room to spread out and feature a queen-size bed, bunk beds, and a double sleeper sofa. Cabins can easily sleep six, and also come with a fully equipped kitchen, small dining space, outdoor grill, picnic table, and private patio deck.

There are plenty of activities at Fort Wilderness, too, including horse-drawn carriage rides at the Tri-Circle-D Ranch, “Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue” dinner show, and campfire marshmallow roast with Disney characters and a movie each night.    

Best for Adults and Grown-Up Children: Disney’s Riviera Resort

Disney’s Riviera Resort (Photo: Dave Parfitt)

Inspired by the Mediterranean beach retreats of the French Riviera, Disney’s Riviera Resort embraces a casual elegance and leisure lifestyle. The swanky resort features chic, modern rooms filled with art and décor evoking European masters with subtle Disney touches. Balconies overlook the water, and the signature restaurant, Topolino’s Terrace, offers stunning views of Walt Disney World and the nighttime fireworks.

Transportation from this deluxe-level resort to Epcot and Hollywood Studios is provided by Disney’s Skyliner gondola system that guests get to by walking through a tunnel with grand mosaics murals of classic Disney scenes.

Best for Multigenerational Family Trips: Disney’s Beach Club Resort

Disney’s Beach Club Resort (Photo: Disney)

Families looking for a hotel that appeals to multiple generations should try Disney’s Beach Club Resort (or its neighbor, Disney’s Yacht Club Resort). This deluxe-level hotel has one of the best pools at Walt Disney World, Stormalong Bay, a sandy-bottom pool with three different lagoon areas, a waterslide, and a shipwreck. Disney’s Beach Club is inspired by 19th century New England beach cottages, and older generations will appreciate the one- and two-bedroom “home-away-from-home” vacation villas.

There’s easy theme park access to Epcot and Hollywood Studios by boat, as well as bus transportation to the Magic Kingdom and Disney’s Animal Kingdom. After a day at the theme park, indulge in a decadent treat at Beaches & Cream Soda Shop, where families can share the “Kitchen Sink,” eight scoops of ice cream smothered in every topping you can find.

Best for Theme Park Commandos: Disney’s Pop Century Resort

Disney’s Pop Century Resort (Photo: Disney)

For families who want to spend every minute of their Disney vacation inside a theme park, there’s no reason to spend extra on an expensive hotel room. Disney’s Pop Century Resort is a value-level hotel with easy access to the theme parks via Disney’s Skyliner gondola system. Disney’s Pop Century features over-the-top theming with larger-than-life icons from the 1950s to 1990s. Rooms are basic with one queen-size bed plus a second pull-down queen sleeper. This is a value-priced option for guests who are less interested in making the most of downtime at a Disney World hotel and would rather be at one of the parks.

Best of the Disney World Hotels to Savor and Splurge: Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World

Four Seasons Orlando (Photo: Four Seasons) 

Families looking to pamper themselves and indulge in luxury should head to the Four Seasons Orlando at Walt Disney World. This ultra-luxury resort hotel is located near the Fort Wilderness Campground inside the gated residential community of Golden Oak at Walt Disney World. The Four Seasons Orlando features a state-of-the-art spa with both indoor and outdoor treatments in 18 rooms and gardens.

There’s also a Tom Fazio-designed golf course on the property. Kids will enjoy the five-acre Explorer Island water park complete with a zero-entry family pool, waterslides, splash pad, rock climbing wall, and sand volleyball courts. At the end of the day, head to one of the Four Seasons Orlando’s three restaurants including a 17th floor rooftop steakhouse with views of the nightly fireworks at Magic Kingdom and Epcot.

Best of the Disney World Hotels to Transport You to a Far-Away Land: Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge and Villas

Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge (Photo: Disney)

With views of giraffes, gazelles, bongos, and tropical birds roaming the 46-acre savanna, Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge and Villas transports families to the middle of an African wildlife preserve. Ambassadors from countries throughout the African continent are on hand to help identify animals and answer questions. The immersion continues in the resort’s culinary offerings, with African-inspired dishes at restaurants including Boma – Flavors of Africa; Jiko – The Cooking Place; and Sanaa, featuring “the art of African cooking with Indian flavors.” These are truly some of the best dining experiences at any of the Disney World hotels.

The deluxe-level resort features African-inspired art and intricate hand-carved furniture throughout the lobby and accommodations. Uzima Pool is 11,000 square feet and includes a children’s wading pool, two whirlpool spas, and is themed like a watering hole on the savanna. There’s also a second pool area, Samawati Springs, that includes a waterslide and splash pad.

Best of the Disney World Hotels for a Unique Experience: Treehouse Villas at Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort

Treehouse Villas at Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa (Photo: Kent Phillips)

The Treehouse Villas are part of Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa located across the lake from Disney Springs. Each of the Treehouse Villas are perched on pedestals 10 feet above the ground in the canopy. The posh, woodsy, octagonal three-bedroom treehouses have room for nine people, and include two baths, an open kitchen with granite countertops, flat-panel TVs, a barbecue grill, and an elevated deck. Designed to blend into the natural wilderness environment, your treehouse deck will feel miles away from the hustle and bustle of the theme park on quiet starry nights.

Our All-Time Favorite among Disney World Hotels: Disney’s Wilderness Lodge

Disney’s Wilderness Lodge (Photo: Dave Parfitt)

Both rustic and luxurious, Disney’s Wilderness Lodge evokes the feelings of America’s most iconic national park lodges. Designed to emulate the “park-itecture” of national park lodges like Old Faithful Inn in Yellowstone, the Ahwahnee in Yosemite, and the Grand Canyon Lodge, this deluxe-level resort has all the benefits of a national park inside a theme park.

The expansive six-story lobby features hand-carved totem poles, teepee-topped chandeliers, and an 82-foot-tall stone fireplace that feels both impressive and homey all at once. Geyser Point Bar & Grill is one of the best spots to relax at Walt Disney World; here you can munch on charcuterie while sipping a craft beer and enjoying breezes off Bay Lake. The “geothermal geyser” that erupts hourly from a nearby rocky outcrop completes the experience.

Disney’s Wilderness Lodge has plenty of room options from standard guestrooms to studios, as well as one-, two-, and three-bedroom villas with full kitchens. For the ultimate “glamping” experience, reserve a private waterfront cabin. These two-bedroom cabins sleep eight and have two full bathrooms, a fully-equipped kitchen, double-sided fireplace, and built-in hot tub inside a screened-in porch. 

Best Non-Disney Resort Located on Disney Property: Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort

Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort (Photo: Dave Parfitt)

The Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort sits smack in the middle of Walt Disney World property, but is not a Disney-owned hotel. Therefore, families can sometimes find extremely good deals with special rates for teachers, nurses, and AAA members. The luxury resort has the world-class Mandara Spa, expansive grounds and beach, a fantastic pool (four pools actually) with a waterfall and slide, and complimentary swan boats for paddling in the lagoon.

Connected to Epcot, Hollywood Studios, and Disney’s Boardwalk via walking paths as well as boats, this is currently the closest you can get to Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. The property features 17 different restaurants and lounges including The Fountain, known for its over-the-top milkshake creations.

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Dave Parfitt
Dave Parfitt is a freelance travel writer interested in illuminating transformative family travel, multi-generational travel, inclusive and accessible travel, under-the-radar destinations, and immersive, authentic experiences. Dave's work has appeared in Lonely Planet, AAA, Fox News Travel, US News & World Report, TravelAge West, USA Today, and Family Circle, to name a few. An academic with a PhD in neuroscience, Dave also works as an educational developer at a four-year college in Western New York when not in a theme park, national park, or on a cruise or road trip with his family.