Walt Disney World has long since been known as the vacation destination for families. Drawing in over 50 million annual visitors from across the globe, this Florida resort mecca boasts four theme parks, two waterpark, 140+ restaurants, shopping, nightlife, and a multitude of leisurely activities to suit every age bracket and sensibility.
Disney World owns and operates over 25 in-park resort hotels. Each has its own distinctive theme and characteristics, and all have at least a few aspects geared towards children (this is Disney World after all). However, some resorts are clearly more oriented towards kids than others.
Of the three resort tiers at Disney World ( Value, Moderate, and Deluxe), Value resorts tend to be both the most affordable and the most kid-friendly. This is welcome news, no doubt! But nearly all resorts at Disney World - regardless of tier - have playgrounds, arcades, a diverse array of swimming pools and kiddie pools, restaurant options (most with children’s menus), and resort activities specifically designed for children. Boredom is never an option at Disney World - especially for kids!
Below I have narrowed down the top 5 best Disney resorts for kids. I have included three Value resorts, one Moderate resort, and one Deluxe resort to give you a wider selection to consider. I hope this list will help you craft a Disney World family vacation that is magical and memorable for every member of your family.
(Note: Please see my Disney World Transportation Map for resort locations and transportation option)
All-Star Movies Resort
Value Resort - $ - Photo Credit: Lara Danielle
Disney’s All-Star Movies resort has several things going for it. For one, it is among the least expensive lodging options on Disney World property. This alone may be a selling point for vacationers on a shoestring budget, but there is more to love about the resort than just price. All-Star Movies will appeal to Disney movie buffs because it's loaded with Disney movie references throughout the property. But possibility of most importance (especially for those with children) is that the resort is filled with a bevy of playful, larger-than-life Disney character icons throughout the property. Kids just love the cartoonish feel of the resort!
Disney’s All Star Movies resort features five distinct buildings, each themed around a beloved Disney movie: Fantasia, Toy Story, 101 Dalmatians, Mighty Ducks and The Love Bug. The exteriors of the building are embellished with huge, over-the-top Disney movie character icons to match the respective theme of the wing/building. Besides the playful aesthetics, other notable features include the movie theater-inspired “World Premiere Food Court,” a Fantasia-themed pool (where “Sorcerer Mickey” sprays water at guests), and “Movies Under the Stars,” a nightly outdoor screening of classic Disney movies.
As far as the rooms go, they are admittedly basic and no-frills. All guest rooms have either 2 double beds or one king sized bed (sleeps 4, plus 1 baby under the age of 3). Overall, All-Star Movies offers young families plenty of fun elements, leisurely activities, basic accommodations, and adequate bus transportation to/from the theme parks...all at a very affordable price.
All-Star Sports Resort
Value Resort - $ - Photo Credit: Brian Marshall
Like its sister resort All-Star Movies, All-Star Sports is inexpensive and a good choice for families with active kids. Opening in 1994, All-Star Sports become Disney first resort in the Value category and is themed around the world of competitive sports. There are sporty elements throughout the property and each building is individually themed around a particular sport - baseball, basketball, football, tennis, and surfing. Kids especially love the statues of famous Disney characters striking a pose (a great opportunity for a selfie) and giant icons of sporting equipment like footballs, baseball bats, basketball hoops, helmets, and so forth.
Among the resort’s notable features are the surfing-themed Surfboard Bay pool, the casual End Zone Food Court (serving burgers, pizza, hot dogs, pasta throughout the day), Game Point Arcade, jogging trails, a kid’s playground, and the nightly screening of “Movies Under the Stars” by the pool.
All rooms are standard size with 2 double beds or 1 king size bed (sleeping up to 4 people, plus a baby under 3). Although bus transportation to and from all the theme parks is shared with other All-Star Resorts, All-Star Sports has a noteworthy advantage over the others. Sports is the first All-Star resort to get picked up on the bus route in the morning, and the first resort to get dropped off on the return in the afternoon. So, like All-Star Movies, All-Star Sports is an inexpensive, no-frills Value resort with a clear bias towards kids. To me, the low price and the fact it has the best transportation of the All-Star Resorts are its strongest selling points (although I do like the theming of All-Star Movies more).
Art of Animation Resort
Value Resort - $$ - Photo Credit: Gardener41
Disney’s Art of Animation is the newest resort at Disney World and the only Value resort to offer both standard rooms and family suites. The family suites are priced considerably higher than standard rooms, but they do offer two bathrooms, kitchenettes, and enough space to sleep 6 guests,. The suites are themed around three of Disney’s most famous animated films: Cars, Finding Nemo, and The Lion King. The standard rooms have a sea-inspired, Little Mermaid theme.
Some of the perk of Art of Animation include 3 swimming pools (including swim areas for toddlers, and the largest pool at Disney - The Big Blue Pool), The Landscape of Flavor food court (one of the best food courts at Disney), an arcade, and free drawing classes for both kids and adults. Art of Animation also benefits from having its own dedicated bus transportation to and from the theme parks (not shared with other resorts). As far as Value resorts go, Art of Animation offers better rooms, transportation, and amenities than the others in its category. However, the nightly room rates are considerably higher than other Values, especially the All-Star resorts. But for some, nicer amenities are worth the extra cost.
Caribbean Beach Resort
Moderate - $$$ - Photo Credit: D.K. Peterson
Situated near Epcot and the Typhoon Lagoon water park, Caribbean Beach is an sprawling Disney Moderate resort with a laid-back, tropical island/pirate theme. Guests stay at one of six “villages,” each named after a Caribbean island: Aruba, Barbados, Jamaica, Martinique, Trinidad North, and Trinidad South. The centerpiece of Caribbean Beach resort is a 45-acre lake - Barefoot Bay - where guests can to walk, jog, or bike around the extensive promenade, or cross a footbridge to Caribbean Cay, an island with a children’s playground and family picnic area.
Caribbean Beach resort is all about leisurely activities. The pirate-themed pool - Old Port Royale - features waterfalls, water slides, and shooting cannons, while each of the six villages have their own low-key pools and playground areas. Guests also have the opportunity to rent watercraft, play beach volleyball, or relax in a beach chair or hammock along the shores of Barefoot Bay. As for dining options, Old Port Royale Food Court offers excellent quick service meals, while Shutter’s at Old Port Royale serves caribbean-influenced table service meals. Most rooms at Caribbean Beach sleep 5 guests and are 54 square feet larger than rooms at Value resorts.
When it comes to family vacations, there is really something for everyone to like at Caribbean Beach Resort. It offers lush surrounding, convenience to theme parks, pools and water activities galore, and plenty of opportunities to have fun for both kids and adults. The resort has good transportation options and is even walkable to Epcot and Hollywood Studios. Caribbean Beach is more quiet and relaxed than any resort in the Value tier, which makes it an excellent choice for families with older kids.
Polynesian Village Resort
Deluxe - $$$$ - Photo Credit: Jared Lee
Generally speaking, Disney Deluxe resorts have bigger rooms, better transportation, more dining and on-site recreational options, and upscale decor in comparison to Value and Moderate resorts. The obvious downside is higher room rates. While the Polynesian Village resort certainly isn't the cheapest resort at Disney World, it isn't the most expensive Deluxe resort either. What it does have going for it is lush landscaping, wonderful amenities, and excellent transportation. Unlike the other resorts featured on our list, the Polynesian Village Resort is situated on the monorail line and in the Magic Kingdom area of the park. And of the four monorail resorts, Polynesian Village is - without a doubt - the most kid-friendly.
Polynesian Village has a tropical South Pacific Island theme, and its grounds are teaming with palm trees, lush landscaping, beautiful lakeside beaches, and winding walkways throughout. The resort home to several casual eateries and buffets, pool bars and lounges, and the critically acclaimed ‘Ohana restaurant (all-you-can-eat character dining) and the polynesian-themed “Spirit of Aloha” dinner show. The resort’s main pool (Lava Pool) features an erupting volcano and a thrilling 142-foot long water slide. Other highlights include nightly “Movies Under the Stars,” kids activities at Lilo’s Playhouse, campfires, beach volleyball, and more. If you have the budget for a Disney Deluxe resort, the Polynesian Village resort won’t disappoint any member of your family!
Bottom Line - I hope you have found one of these resorts to be a suitable fit for your family vacation. Have a magical Disney World vacation... and don't forget to pack your Trunki! .
A Guest Publication from - Jonathan de Araujo, from MagicGuides
MagicGuides was born of the idea that Disney and Universal vacations have become very complex to book & plan, and their crowds have become overwhelming, to the point that planning tools are needed to get the most out of your trip!