There are over 20 resorts to choose from on Walt Disney World property. They are divided into a variety of categories - Value, Moderate, Deluxe and Disney Vacation Club (DVC) properties. Originally, DVC resorts were in the same category as Fort Wilderness, called Home Away from Home resorts. While Fort Wilderness has recently been put into the moderate category, I’m going to give that resort it’s own article. It’s not similar to any of the other moderate resorts.
That leaves 4 resorts in the Moderate category: Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort, Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside, Disney’s Port Orleans French Quarter and Disney's Caribbean Beach Resort. Each resort is unique, and I like each one for different reasons.
Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort is a convention hotel, and for that reason it offers features that no other moderate resort has. There is a fitness center, a beauty salon, and a nightclub (Rix Lounge). It was the first moderate resort to offer queen size beds. The Pepper Market food court has a wide variety of choices - it’s my favorite food court, though a little more expensive as well (and a terrific value on the dining plan). The Maya Grill restaurant is more upscale compared with the other moderate resorts, at least in part to appeal to convention goers. This is a very spread-out resort consisting of three unique areas - the Ranchos, the Cabanas, and Casitas. The buildings surround a lake, and as in all of the moderates, you can pay extra for a water view - but due to the exterior corridors, your view out the window also includes the outside walkway. The Dig Site pool area is very nicely themed with a Mayan pyramid, and includes a bar, a large jacuzzi and beach volleyball.
Credit: Denise Preskitt
Disney’s French Quarter Resort is a favorite of families in part due to it’s intimate size. The only resort of the four that doesn’t have multiple bus stops, nearly any room in the resort will be within a 5 or 6 minute walk of the main building. The Sassagoula Floatworks and Food Factory food court is Mardi Gras/New Orleans themed and one of my favorite treats on property is sold there - beignets! The rooms are the same size as Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort and Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort (about 314 square feet). The pool area is called Doubloon Lagoon, and with it’s giant sea serpent slide, seems to appeal more to kids than adults. However, guests of Disney’s Port Orleans French Quarter are able to use the pools and facilities of Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside and vice versa. In that same vein, Disney’s Port Orleans French Quarter does not offer a sit-down restaurant, but Riverside does. This Moderate resort is my favorite for landscaping and is in the process of switching to queen size beds (changing over from doubles, as Disney's Coronado Springs did a year or two back).
Credit: Denise Preskitt
Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside Traveling with a family that includes 3 young children? This is the only moderate resort that will sleep 5 in a standard room (with the 5th being a child under 10). Disney's Port Orleans Riverside is the sister resort to the Port Orleans French Quarter, and you'll find a terrific feature pool area called Ol' Man Island. All of the moderate resorts (and nearly all the deluxe resorts) have jacuzzis to enjoy after a long day at the parks, and Port Orleans Riverside is no exception. There are also 5 smaller quiet pools to enjoy around this resort. The Riverside Mill food court has a nice, relaxed atmosphere. There are two distinct sections to this resort - Magnolia Bend, and Alligator Bayou (the latter has the trundle beds). Boatwrights Dining Hall sit-down restaurant has a very down-home feel to it.
Disney's Caribbean Beach Resort I'm less likely to stay here than the other moderate resorts, but Disney's Caribbean Beach Resort still has many wonderful features. The main feature pool was upgraded and expanded a couple of years back and is uniquely themed as a pirate fort with water cannons. This pool area includes 2 water slides and 2 spas! There are also 5 quiet pools for guests to enjoy scattered throughout the resort. Disney's Caribbean Beach Resort is very spread out, it's my favorite walking area of all the moderate resorts - 1.4 miles around the beautiful and peaceful lake. And the resort boasts something that no other resort has - pirate themed rooms! These unique rooms are in limited quantities (there is an extra charge), and should be booked as early as possible. Disney's Caribbean Beach Resort was the first moderate resort built, and has larger rooms than the others - 340 square feet. I've had average meals at Shutters, the sit-down restaurant. The Old Port Royale food court offers pretty standard fare - pasta, pizza, burgers, etc.
This is by no means an exhaustive list of the features of each resort - but as a former Disney specialist, I always found it pretty easy to help guests decide where to stay based on the information found above. The wonderful thing about staying at Walt Disney World is that there is something for everyone!