Best WDW Resorts for a Staycation

Share This!

Have you ever thought about going to Walt Disney World and NOT going to a theme park? Although the theme parks are a lot of fun, I’ve found that sometimes the best vacation is just staying put at a resort. Not all resorts are created equal, however. Although the All Star Resorts are a good option if you just need a place to rest your head in between hours in the parks, they don’t provide the best vacation experience in terms of things to do if you’re just staying put. My family tends to do one or two staycation trips a year at Walt Disney World, and over the years we’ve developed our favorites. Here’s our picks for the best Walt Disney World staycation resorts.

Art of Animation

Cozy Cone Motel

If you’re looking for a staycation on a budget, Art of Animation is a surprisingly good choice. Although it is classified in the value-ish category (and rooms like the Little Mermaid section scream “value-size”), if you can splurge a bit to go with the Cars suites, the rooms actually space that can make a staycation enjoyable. When it comes to dining, Landscape of Flavors has some really unique choices in food, and you get the benefit of being able to eat there or take a short walk across the way to Everything Pop at Disney’s Pop Century Resort. Resort activities are what you’d expect–mostly pool parties and movies under the stars. But what really takes this resort up a notch is the Big Blue Pool. Yes, there are other pools (and for a quiet swim, the pool in the Cars section is fantastic), but the Big Blue Pool complex is amazing. It is easy to spend hours at a time there. Dude.

Port Orleans

Port Orleans – French Quarter

At the moderate level, the Port Orleans complex has a lot to offer. For me personally, I prefer French Quarter because it feels more quiet, and the smaller size means less walking to get to key features, but you can’t go wrong with either one. Even if you’re skipping the theme parks, being able to take a boat to Disney Springs opens up a world of possibilities for things to do. There are also a variety of things to do at Port Orleans that you don’t find at other resorts, including bike rentals and fishing, plus the “usual” movies under the stars, pool time, and playground. Like Art of Animation, having the two resort areas together means double the choices for meals. Oh, and did I mention beignets?

Fort Wilderness Cabins

When you think of staycation, Fort Wilderness should immediately come to mind because it is literally designed for staycations–ask anyone who brings down their RV with its own golf cart to stay for a month or so. If you’re dipping your toe into the world of staycations, a cabin at Fort Wilderness provides an experience that is unique to Walt Disney World. First, the cabin is actually bigger than some people’s first apartments (or was that just me with the high price of DC rents?). There’s plenty of room to spread out, bring some cards or a board game, and just enjoy family time. Looking for other things to do? Take a walk, bike ride, or golf cart ride around the resort to look for animals. Deer, turkey, and all sorts of birds, reptiles, and other small animals can be spotted throughout the resort. Looking for more active adventures? Try your hand at archery or go for a horseback ride. The pool areas are great to cool off, and you will likely find other families who would love to just hang out and let the kids play.

Animal Kingdom Lodge and Villas (Jambo House and Kidani Village)

If time and finances permit, Animal Kingdom Lodge is my ultimate staycation resort choice. One complaint that comes up about Animal Kingdom Lodge is its remote location for getting to the theme parks. For a staycation, this not only is not a negative, it is a positive. You really feel like you are out away from it all. If you’re going to stay there, I highly, highly, HIGHLY recommend going the extra bit for a savanna view. There’s nothing like getting up, making a morning beverage of choice, and stepping out on your balcony to watch a giraffe walk by. For a lot of Disney’s promotional reels, what you see doesn’t always translate into reality. But for Animal Kingdom Lodge and Villas, the promotional shots you see are true to life. In addition, the restaurants on site are some of the best that Disney has to offer. The pool areas are spectacular. But aside from all of that (and that’s a lot just by itself), there are an insane amount of activities on a daily basis, either at your resort or accessible by a quick shuttle van ride or a brief walk. You can make animal enrichment feeders, learn about different cultures in Africa from people from different countries, take a culinary tour, or more. One favorite activity is animal viewing with night-vision goggles. If you’re staying over at Kidani, make sure to also check out what’s going on in the Community Hall. (You don’t need to be a DVC member to explore the amenities in the Community Hall, although some offerings may have additional fees for non-DVC members.)

So there you have my choices for the best places for a staycation at Walt Disney World. What are your thoughts? Have you ever done a staycation at any of these? Is there a resort you can’t believe I left off the list, or one you can’t believe I included? Let me know in the comments.

Julia Mascardo

Freelance writer and editor, living the dream in Central Florida with my husband, cats, and spirited eight-year-old daughter.

6 thoughts on “Best WDW Resorts for a Staycation

  • October 1, 2018 at 11:17 am
    Permalink

    OLD KEY WEST.

    Seriously, we just got back. It belongs on this list because:
    — Its laid-back atmosphere whispers relaxation.
    — The ease of access to Disney Springs is a huge bonus if you aren’t going to a park. Boat back and forth, plus a short bus trip or drive.
    — There are several pools besides the feature pool, if you prefer your quiet time.
    — Large (for Disney) rooms (especially 1 BR and higher).
    — Parking right outside your door.
    — Anecdotally, we think there are fewer children at OKW than other resorts. Makes for a quieter stay.

    The only downside – if our experience at Olivia’s this last time is typical of what it’s become of late, you’ll need to go somewhere else to eat most of your meals!

  • October 1, 2018 at 11:36 am
    Permalink

    They are not always available, but if you can find a date, the Treehouses at Saratoga Springs are great. They feel more isolated and calm than an lot of the larger resorts, but are just a short walk or bus ride away from all of the amenities of Saratoga Springs, and they have boat access to Disney Springs as well.

  • October 1, 2018 at 1:00 pm
    Permalink

    I’m surprised Yacht Club/Beach Club didn’t make the list: Best pool, beach campfire, walking distance to Boardwalk, walking distance to Fantasia Gardens, Echo Lake bike paths, excellent restaurants at both low and high end, close enough to see Epcot and DHS fireworks…

  • October 1, 2018 at 2:26 pm
    Permalink

    Just last week, we stayed at Polynesian and never went to a park.
    We watched a most incredible HalloWishes fireworks display (with the “HDTV” display over Bay Lake, I can’t imagine that any location would have a better view) and had a great time just lounging around the pool. We stayed for three days and never left the hotel except for one dinner at the Contemporary.

    I realize that not too many people would ever go to WDW with the express intent of only literally staying in one spot for three days; however, we found enough to keep us busy with the just the list of activities at one hotel. “So much to do; so little time.”

  • October 1, 2018 at 4:59 pm
    Permalink

    We’re planning our first resort-only stay for February and we’ve booked at Saratoga Springs. We were there last May and found the resort so relaxing and peaceful. On that trip, we spent some time wandering around the sprawling resort as well as just hanging out on our porch and soaking up the view across the water while we rested our feet!

    I also feel like the proximity to Disney Springs is a huge plus when doing a non-parks trip. Not only do you have three different ways (walking, boat, bus) to access a large number of dining options (and shopping!), but you can also use the Disney Springs buses to easily get to any other resort. We plan on visiting the Polynesian one night for the fireworks and we will probably visit Fort Wilderness and Wilderness Lodge, too.

  • October 7, 2018 at 8:43 am
    Permalink

    We have not been in a park for 1.5 years & have enjoyed getting to know Disney Springs with all of it’s newness & eateries! We will break that record soon though! Staycations are great for those who need a little Disney but don’t have enough time or money. There’s so much to do outside of the parks. Plus, when you have a husband that does not enjoy theme parks but likes food, it’s a win-win!

Comments are closed.