So you know that you want to stay in a moderate WDW resort hotel – you want to spend a little more on your hotel so that you have more space in your guest room, a resort atmosphere that makes you feel like you’re somewhere else, and has a more relaxed feel compared to a Value resort, you like the idea of having the option to dine in a full-service restaurant on your doorstep, and you welcome the idea of additional transportation available to use to another area of the WDW Resort. But which one to choose?
I’m lucky enough to have stayed in all but one of the Moderate Resorts, and I do have a favourite (and one that very much rivals my favourite Deluxe resorts to stay in), but my aim is not to be biased here, but celebrate all that each of the resorts has to offer and why if might take your fancy over the others.
What General Features do Moderate Resorts Have?
Ok so each of my blog posts relating to choosing a Walt Disney World Hotel Resort follow on from one another, so to try to avoid you re-reading something, and in case you need a refresh of what the Value resorts include, please check back to my previous post. I say this because each of the Moderate resorts include the features of a Value Resort and more, including:
- Multiple bus stops (with the exception of French Quarter), due to the size of the resort
- Internal resort bus service
- Full-service restaurant in addition to a quick service restaurant and pizza delivery service
- Larger guest room, with some, if not all bathrooms, holding 2 sinks
- Option to select Garden (or other) View when booking, at an additional cost
- Deluxe-style or themed rooms available to select when booking, at an additional cost
- One main themed pool where daily entertainment takes place, and additional smaller, quiet pools around resort (with the exception of French Quarter)
Now let’s explore each resort…
Fort Wilderness Cabins
These are a tricky one, as speaking for the point of booking during the WDW Dining Plan offer, the Cabins at Fort Wilderness class as a Value Resort however you will find that when pricing up this resort, this sits amongst some the cheaper Deluxe resorts in terms of the cost to stay there, so it sits somewhere in the middle of Value and Deluxe, hence the Moderate classification. There are reasons, though, that warrant the additional cost that this resort brings.
As, quite possibly, the largest hotel resort on WDW property, you will have an abundance of activities right on your doorstep whilst staying in a cabin. You will have the opportunity to rent your very own golf cart to help you navigate your way around the resort; and which may come in handy given the size of the resort. This does also mean that there are multiple bus stops around the resort to allow you to travel between your accommodation and the Disney Parks. This resort is the Moderate resort that boasts a considerable amount of additional offerings: it holds one full-service restaurant; one dinner show, the Hoop-De-Doo Revue; the Tri-Circle D Ranch, where you can book a horse-back riding adventure; cycle hire; opportunities to take a Horse & Carriage or Wagon ride; 2 pools, including one with a waterslide; sports areas where you can take part in sports such as volleyball and basketball; plenty of jogging trails for any avid runners in your party; a nightly Campfire Sing-a-long with Chip and Dale; movies under the stars (and amongst the trees); the opportunity to canoe or kayak just around the river bend, like Pocahontas; take a fishing tour; and also rent SeaRacers to explore Bay Lake and Seven Seas Lagoon. This is the place to also take a Segway ride for an additional cost. Fort Wilderness is also just a boat ride away from Magic Kingdom, and if you make your way down to the beach front of an evening, you may be lucky enough to see some fireworks over the Contemporary from Happily Ever After.
The Cabins are as their name suggests, and include a living room, fully-functional kitchen, bedroom, full bathroom, private patio and charcoal grill. Staying in one of these in this beautiful resort will absolutely give you the feeling that you are living that Pioneer life in the American Frontier. Imagine evenings, having a barbecue on your own patio, amongst the trees, after a day playing in the Disney Parks. This resort will certainly be a perfect choice if you are wanting something a little different, maybe trying your hand at glamping, but still being within the heart of the Disney magic. Of course, you could even take it one step further and hire a motor home from external companies, and book a stay at the Campground site of Fort Wilderness!
If you have always wanted to visit Mexico, or if it’s one of your favourite destinations to visit, then Coronado Springs could be the perfect choice for you. From a Mayan-themed water slide and pool, to restaurants offering delicious Mexican dishes and beautiful court yards to sit and watch the world go by, you really will feel like you are in Mexico. This is another large resort, so there are multiple bus stops around the site to catch the Disney Transportation buses. This resort is close to Blizzard Beach and Animal Kingdom, so will only be a short bus ride away from those two parks. This does mean that it is a little further out from the other Disney Parks and Disney Springs, but it means that you have some time to rest any tired legs or feet on the buses to and from those areas.
If you choose to stay in Coronado, you will also have the new Gran Destino Tower on your doorstep, or you may even choose to stay in a room here, at an additional cost. Recently built, this part of the resort offers Club-Level rooms if you want a bit more luxury within your stay. It also houses one of WDW’s newest restaurants, Toledo, where you can dine on Tapas, Steak and Seafood. This means that this resort has 2 full-service restaurants as well as its quick-service restaurant, El Mercado de Coronado, which is known to have some of the best value quick-service meals on property. You will also find a collection of bars and cafe’s at the resort, to get drinks and snacks. The resort also has a selection of recreational activities that you can enjoy during your stay, such as movies under the stars and campfire activities 2/3 times per week, poolside entertainment, a large children’s play area, a fitness centre with fitness classes including Rise & Shine Yoga and Outdoor Fitness Blast a couple of times a week (and even personal training sessions, at an additional cost!), running trails and a weekly running eventful members of your party who want to keep up their fitness whilst away, and a painting experience that you can enjoy for an additional cost.
Please be aware that this resort also has a conference centre joined to it, so you may want to bear this in mind when making a reservation, as it can mean that it may have a lot of conference guests staying resulting in a busier resort than usual. Because of this, you may want to request a room that is in a quieter area of the resort, or an area that is further away from the conference area.
If you’d like a little slice of the Caribbean as part of your vacation to WDW, then this would be the perfect resort for you! With Caribbean islands as the names of different room areas, palm trees surrounding the resort and beautiful beach areas with hammocks to relax in, you will certainly feel like ‘home’ is the Caribbean whilst in WDW. This resort is also on the Skyliner, making it easier for you to get to Epcot and Hollywood Studios. Being fairly centrally located in WDW, this means that this resort is great for accessing all areas within a short timeframe, so generally you won’t have too lengthy bus rides to and from the parks. Depending on the area of the resort that your room is in, you may also be within 10 minutes walk of the brand-new Disney’s Riviera Resort , giving you even more dining options than just what Caribbean Beach has to offer. Having said that, Caribbean Beach has great choices on offer to you, with a large quick-service restaurant and in-room dining service available, you also have the recently opened Sebastian’s Bistro which is the resort’s full-service restaurant; and this restaurant is known to serve great Caribbean and seafood inspired dishes. The resort also has a great bar to offer, where you can order lighter meal options and sharing plates to enjoy when you aren’t quite hungry enough for a big meal or you’re in the mood to pick at a bit of everything!
Caribbean Beach is set out with a central hub in mind, known as Old Port Royale. where you will find check-in, concierge, the restaurants, gift shop, main pool area and water slide where daily poolside entertainment takes place, bike and boat rentals, the campfire, and a bus stop to make it easy to access Old Port Royale if your room is in one of the outer areas of the resort. From Old Port Royale, you can stroll across some little islands and bridges, that allow you to navigate to the other side of the lake to the beach areas and some room areas. On these islands you will find beautiful seating spots to sit and watch the sunset from, as well as the children’s play area. There are also several quiet pools around the resort to make it easier for you to get some chill-by-the-pool time after a busy day galavanting round WDW or the Orlando area. Other activities to offer at Caribbean Beach include: running trail, hair wrap station, pirate cruises or bass fishing, both at an additional cost; volleyball, movies under the stars every night; s’mores at the campfire; a resort scavenger hunt; and trivia and bingo night at Banana Cabana. The room areas that you may be lucky enough to stay in are Aruba, Jamaica, Martinique, Trinidad and Barbados. There is also an option, when booking, to book a pirate room which will be ideal if you have any little buccaneers in your party! It is worth noting though that the pirate rooms are located in Trinidad, the furthest area from Old Port Royale, but one of the closest to the Skyliner station.
Port Orleans French Quarter
Ok, so if Mardi Gras and New Orlean’s vibes take your fancy then you’ll definitely want to stay in Port Orleans French Quarter; think beautiful garden, cobbled streets, horse-carriage rides, This is the smallest of the moderate resorts, and quite possibly, the smallest WDW hotel resort too, but it absolutely works given the theme, and certainly makes you feel like you are wandering the streets of New Orleans. This resort only has one bus stop, which can bring about lines for the buses at peak times, however due to the size of the resort this does make sense. There are 7 blocks of rooms that make up this resort, some closer to the river, others situated around the pool area or next to the resort check-in, shop and quick-service restaurant and bar, and others surrounding beautiful gardens. You won’t find a full-service restaurant at this resort however this is due to the resort being so close to its sister resort, Riverside which does have a full-service restaurant. Whilst it may be lacking a full-service restaurant, the Sassagoula Floatworks is a must-visit quick-service restaurant as it is here that you will find WDW famous Mickey Beignets, and Beignet Sundae – even when I’m nit staying at this resort, you can bet I’ll be visiting at least once on my vacation, just to enjoy those Beignets with caramel dipping sauce! The resort has one pool, which is the themed pool with waterslide and daily poolside entertainment, and also a children’s water play area. Look out for the alligator band who lead the way to the pool area from the lobby of the hotel.
Being located on the Sassagoula River means that you are just a boat ride away from Disney Springs, where there are an abundance of restaurants to eat at should you want a full-service meal. The boat ride is also a perfect way to start or end a trip to Disney Springs, feeling the warm breeze on your face whilst under the shelter of the boat hood, and giving you a view of that Disney Springs skyline that you can only see from certain areas of the WDW resort. The Scat Cat’s Club is also a lovely bar to enjoy a drink or two in at the end of a busy day, and maybe even to the sounds of some jazz being played live. Other resort activities include: the Beignet Dash Fun Run, which takes place weekly for a small fee (but does include your own helping of Beignets!); resort scavenger hunt (usually seasonally themed); movie under the stars several nights a week; the cajun campfire where you can toast marshmallows around the campfire on several nights a week; and Painting on De’ Bayou for an additional cost.
Speaking from experience, this is one of the most ideal resorts to stay at on WDW for its location – based on the bus rides to each of the Disney Parks, it is of equal distance to Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios and Typhoon Lagoon, meaning that it is a little further away from Blizzard Beach and Animal Kingdom.
Port Orleans Riverside
Here we are the – the final moderate resort, and you could say that I’ve saved the best til last! Riverside – if New Orleans vibes takes your fancy, but your’d rather feel like you were staying amongst the posh side of town with grand mansions, beautiful waterfalls and gardens, or maybe down in the bayou, where the buildings have more of a cottage feel, as though you are in the swamplands, then this is where you need to stay. The two different themes of this resort make for a beautiful stroll around the resort whilst you’re on the way to refill your drink cups or take a little detour on the way for breakfast or lunch, and of course it’s likely you are walking alongside the Sassagoula River on your explore. The resort features a couple of smaller, quiet pools, but the main pool is certainly one that you should visit at least once in your visit – Ol’ Man Island, is at the centre of the resort on its own little island. It features a beautiful pool with waterslide, waterfalls, jacuzzi and small children’s pool. There is also a poolside bar, where you can get alcoholic (their frozen drinks are delicious!) and non-alcoholic beverages and sip on them whilst sitting on the porch. Ol’ Man Island is also home to the campfire, children’s play area, fishin’ hole, and if you look amongst the trees, you’ll also find hammocks to relax in. Across from the Island, and on the other side of the river to the resort rooms, you will find the Sassagoula Steamboat Co. – Riverside’s main desk area, with large gift shop, quick-service and full-service restaurants, bar, marina with boats to Disney Springs, bike rental to explore the resort, and the place to pick up your horse and carriage ride if you’d like to take in the beauty of both Port Orleans Resort this way.
The rooms in Riverside are beautifully themed, and a must for any Princess & The Frog fans out there, as every room has features from the film itself. When booking, you will also have the option to select a garden or river view for an additional cost. This resort also has an extra feature to select when booking your stay, and that is to select a Royal Room – think Disney princess artwork, genie lamp taps, your own magic carpet, and even firework headboards. These rooms really are something else, and absolutely worth the extra cost if your budget allows for it. The resort features 4 bus stops – North, South, East and West, making it easier for you to access the WDW Transportation System from your hotel room, without having to make your way to the main entrance of the hotel every time. This resort also shares the perfect location to WDW as French Quarter does – you really aren’t too far away from 3 of the 4 Disney Parks, making for only a longer one to Animal Kingdom. Being able to catch the boat to Disney Springs is also ideal, and makes for a scenic and relaxing journey to Disney Springs before you shop till you drop! If you’d rather stay in the resort, and take advantage of the activities offered, you could enjoy: movies under the stars most nights per week; Selfie scavenger hunt; back porch games; dockside drawing where you can learn to draw some of your favourite Disney characters; glow pool party one night per week; a weekly quiz in the bar with prizes up for grabs; and maybe even yoga by the pool on some mornings.
So there we have it, a summary of the WDW moderate resorts. Hopefully, there’s one resort that is jumping out at you as the resort for you, or maybe you’re now considering more than one hotel (I hope I haven’t swayed you!)… If you have narrowed down your choice to two though, my advice would be to look at photos of the resorts and their location within WDW, and use those to help you make your final decision. Whichever that is, I’m pretty sure you won’t be disappointed in your choice! My final piece of advice is to try and enjoy as much of your resort as you can – it’s very easy to let the Parks and the Orlando area dominate your vacation, but you will thank yourself for the time you choose to relax and soak in your surroundings and the wonderful offerings your hotel has!
Have a magical day, and see ya real soon!
Guest Post: @disneytoria