Picking a Disney resort is a huge part of the Disney vacation planning experience, especially for those of us who are not local. However, the planning process shouldn’t be dominated by a set “must do everything” mentality, but rather a more relaxed journey planning your way through the parks. I understand that statement in itself sounds contradictory to just about everything on this site, but the best way to describe my frame of thought is to recommend that you plan only what’s absolutely necessary. Plan your resort accommodations, buy your tickets well in advance, and make your dining reservations. With the exception of the last one of the pieces of the puzzle listed, these things are pieces of the vacation that you really can’t do at the last minute. Dining is an exception if you’re willing to be a little less stringent about where you want to eat and when. If you’re not looking to catch Be Our Guest or Cinderellas Royal Table (and even sometimes if you are), dont worry about booking them at the beginning of the 180 day reservation window. For many, that type of planning gets them excited for their vacation and I can appreciate that, but it’s not always necessary.
I’ve personally seen reservations for Be Our Guest and many other hard to get reservations pop up on the dining app the day before, or even the day of, your planned time in the parks. However, Disney resorts aren’t quite that way. Last minute reservations are certainly doable at times in regards to resorts, but it’s not the ideal way to plan your accommodations. Personally, I don’t recommend trying to book a stay (without flexible dates) less that 2 months out. The suggested booking window will vary for peak seasons and special events but if you’re looking for a particular resort, the earlier you book, the better off you’ll be. (If you are booking last minute, I highly recommend an authorized Disney travel planner to help you find any last minute possibilities)
So, to get to what you probably came for in the first place, we’re taking a look at the resorts as a whole and diving into what we see as the very best resorts for adult trips. Of course, kids and adults are welcome at any and all resorts on property at any time but a few select options stand out to me as the best case scenario for an adult getaway.
We’ll start out with our suggestions at the value tier and work up from there to the deluxe category of resort accommodations. Honestly, we tend to stay deluxe simply because that’s what works for us, but we also tend to avoid the dining plan because that also works for us. There’s no perfect way to do Disney, and I’m sure many opinions will differ from mine, but we’ll jump right into it and see what we come up with!
1. Pop Century
The value tier is a bit unique in the world of Disney accommodations. The hotels are great and remain incredibly clean, but many guests down play them simply because of the other top tier options on property. Personally, I don’t see why. A value resort is every bit as “Magical” as any other Disney resort and I’d go as far as to say that any Disney value resort would stack up to any major hotel chains typical accommodations anywhere in the country. The values are great for what they are. They’re not going to have the most elaborate theming thats deep with little hidden details like the Wilderness Lodge, but you still get that Disney flair that sets them apart from all other vacation destinations.
If you’re taking that into consideration, I recommend Pop Century as the best value resort. Not only does it feature a more “Disney” inspired theme in a round about way, but it’s also separated from the hustle and bustle of the dance teams, cheerleaders, and sports teams which typically reside at the three All-Star resorts. For adults in particular, it features a great food court, an excellent pool, and some of the better transportation options of it’s tier.
Last, but certainly not least, you have the fact of it’s price point. Pop Century, while typically a touch more expensive that the All-Stars remains quite budget friendly throughout the year, and even at peak times. For adult only trips, it’s probably your best option of the value tier.
1. Caribbean Beach
The moderate resorts are a unique blend of deluxe theming combined with value transportation. For years, we vacationed almost exclusively at Caribbean Beach. We loved the resort (especially when we scored a great room location) and the pool area and all encompassing theming gave us an experience we couldn’t get anywhere else. The bus situation isn’t perfect, and the pool can be a bit of a walk from your resort room, depending on where you get placed, but the little communities allow you to spread out more and avoid a cramped feeling some guests experinece when staying in the value tier.
For adults in particular, the pool area is excellent, the youngest children have their own area to play in, the food and drinks are a few steps away from the pool, and the theming of the rooms is more subtle in regards to the character presence. I’ll readily admit I’m a bit nostalgic about Caribbean Beach, and while it is an excellent resort if you can handle a resort with multiple bus stops, it’s not my top pick for a moderate resort, but Port Orleans is!
2. Port Orleans French Quarter
Port Orleans French Quarter has earned an impressive place in the realm of Disney resorts for me and I even went as far as to call it “One of the Best Moderate Resorts” in a recent article here on the site. In my humble opinion, it’s the best bang for your buck on property. Now, that stament may change over the next few years as changes develop at Caribbean Beach and Coronado Springs so we’ll have to wait and see how that plays out in the end, but at the time being I’d recommend Port Orleans to any guest headed to the parks.
To me, this resort is the ultimate hidden gem. The resort is small, and rooms are never a far walk from the main lobby area, food court, or pool area. The main refillable mug station is just steps away from the main pool and the guest rooms vastly out rank their price level. The counter service food here is some of the best on property. The main dining location is called Floatworks and not only can you purchase the typical cheeseburger and fries, but you can get a little adventurous and try a Po’ Boy Sandwich or even a piece of prime rib! For me, it’s a highlight of any trip and a place we typically stop in even if we’re not staying at that particular resort. We even added it to Our Top 5 Quick Service Dining Options at Walt Disney World!
Another bright spot for French Quarter is it’s transportation. Featuring an easily accessible bus stop that only stops at that particular resort rather that making multiple stops to pick up additional guests at other resorts or at four or five additional stops within your resort. I completely understand that seems trivial but after a long day in the park, the last thing you want to do is stop multiple times before arriving at your destination.
1. Wilderness Lodge
Inevitably, deluxe resorts come with a higher price tag that all of the aforementioned resorts, but that price comes with some impressive benefits, especially for an adults only adventure. Wilderness Lodge is a prime example of a resort that offers more that you may expect going in. From the moment you walk in the lobby, the inevitable “wow factor” pops out to you. The large, vastly encompassing high ceilings welcome you from the moment you walk in the door. The level of theming is beyond what you may expect. Not only in the realm of theming but also in the realm of dining. At Wilderness Lodge, you have a few excellent dining opportunities including one of the latest and greatest counter service locations on property in my opinion, Geyser Point. The food is excellent and one of the best Disney cheeseburgers I’ve ever had (even though they offer other items). While providing great food, it also provides an excellent outdoor seating environment that welcomes a casual get together with friends or a simple place to hang out after many hours in the park to unwind and share some stories with friends.
In a similar yet different way, you have the Carolwood Room which is an impressively themed and historically accurate representation of a passion of the man who started it all. For more on that, feel free to check out in our Outstanding Disney History Hiding in Plain Sight: The Carolwood Room post.
I could go on and share any number of deluxe accommodations that are truly wonderful places to stay and unlike anything you’ll experience anywhere else in the world. They honestly can be that impressive, but all things considered, you cannot go wrong in the deluxe tier of resorts. For a typical guest though, they may not be the best option for you. They’re very expensive, even on discounted rates (Disney Discounts Are Here For Spring and Early Summer – Up To 20%), and are far from the most economical way to travel in the long run, but do certainly have their perks. It’s all about what works for you and what you want out of a resort stay.