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2022 Awards: Best Of Resorts

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2022 is wrapping up (can I get a “thank goodness”?), and that means that we have lots of data to review, and lots of recommendations to make for those of you considering 2023 Walt Disney World vacations. Over the next few days, I’ll be reviewing results from our post-visit surveys that we received this year, and helping you interpret what they should mean for your next vacation. Today we’re going over all of the satisfaction data from our resort surveys. Which resorts got the best overall scores? Which have the best food? Or the rooms with the least noise?

This serves as your obligatory reminder that the accuracy of these results fully depends on the number of people that are willing to fill out post-visit surveys after their Walt Disney World vacations. Make sure to submit your thoughts after your WDW vacations so that we can continue providing meaningful insights!

Overall Satisfaction

We received over 4500 unique resort surveys so far in 2022. That gives us a lot of information to slice and dice, but the number that we most frequently pay attention to is overall satisfaction. Each survey respondent is asked to rate their resort stay as “very satisfied,” “somewhat satisfied,” “neither,” “somewhat dissatisfied,” or “very dissatisfied.” I take each of these responses and convert them to a 5-point scale. Very Satisfied = 5 points, Very Dissatisfied = 1 point, and so on. Then I can average the responses to get an approximation for the overall satisfaction at each resort.

Average satisfaction at each WDW resort, along with 95% confidence intervals

First, let’s talk about the graph here. Each color corresponds to a specific resort tier:

  • Blue = DVC Resort
  • Green = Deluxe Resort
  • Yellow = Moderate Resort
  • Red = Value Resort

Plus, we have two bonus colors – gray for the Galactic Starcruiser, and purple for Shades of Green. I treat these slightly differently than any other resort.

The colored box shows the average overall satisfaction for each resort, and the lines to each side represent the 95% confidence interval. Even though we get a lot of surveys, we’re obviously not surveying the entire population of people that stayed at these resorts. So based on the number of surveys we get, and how different they are from one another, the “real” satisfaction at each resort could actually be anywhere along these lines. At least we’re statistically 95% confident the “real” satisfaction is along that line.

So who are the big winners here?

Best Overall DVC Resort: Riviera Resort

Best Overall Deluxe Resort: Yacht Club

Best Overall Moderate Resort: Coronado Springs

Best Overall Value Resort: Fort Wilderness – Campsites

Honorable Mentions: Galactic Starcruiser and Shades of Green, which have great showings

*Keep in mind that these “bests” are somewhat misleading. Those 95% lines overlap A LOT, which means that although Yacht Club, for example, edged out other deluxe resorts, its confidence lines overlap with literally every other deluxe resort too. It has the highest average, but the real winner could technically be any of those other resorts too. Things we can say for certain are along the lines of “Pop Century is definitely less satisfactory than the Riviera Resort” because those lines don’t overlap.

Another note – every single resort has an average satisfaction that is over 4.2 on a scale of 5. And the vast majority are above 4.5. That means more people respond “Very Satisfied” than “Somewhat Satisfied”. The bar is set really really high for WDW resorts.

Spoiler Alert: Get ready to see lots of mentions of Riviera in this post.

Overall Repeatability

For a slightly different look at similar data, we ask how likely each respondent stay again at this resort during a future stay.

Average “repeatability” rating for each WDW resort

Galactic Starcruiser drops from the top of the satisfaction ratings all of the way to the bottom of the repeatability scale. On one hand, this makes sense. It’s a hugely expensive experience. On the other hand, 80% of people that have paid for that experience respond that they’d do it again. I honestly wouldn’t have expected it to be that high!

Most Repeatable DVC Resort: Treehouse Villas at Saratoga Springs

Most Repeatable Deluxe Resort: Yacht Club

Most Repeatable Moderate Resort: Port Orleans – French Quarter

Most Repeatable Value Resort: Fort Wilderness – Campsites

So we have a couple of repeats from the satisfaction results, and some new winners. More interestingly, we get more red and yellow results higher up in the rankings for repeatability than we do for satisfaction. That means, relatively speaking, while Value and Moderate resorts may not be quite as satisfactory as Deluxe and DVC resorts, they are sometimes more repeatable. Aka – just fine, thank you. Would stay again.

One of the “most-improved” resorts from satisfaction to repeatability is Pop Century. So it doesn’t technically rate highly in overall satisfaction (although, let’s face it, 4.62 isn’t exactly slacking), but it comes all the way up to 8th place on overall repeatability – 96% of people that stayed there would stay again. Hard to argue with those numbers.

Best Resort Food

We’ll be going over awards for all dining locations later this week, but for now, let’s look at which resorts are rated most highly for their dining options.

Quick Service/Food Court

  1. Riviera
  2. Fort Wilderness – Campsites
  3. Villas at Grand Floridian
  4. Polynesian Villas & Bungalows
  5. Caribbean Beach

Primo Piatto at Riviera is amazing, or so my family tells me. They ate dinner there one evening while I was dining at Victoria & Albert’s. Yes, I will mention that experience as often as possible. P & J’s Southern Takeout at Fort Wilderness offers unique options like family meals, full of good barbecue. I’m intrigued to find the Villas at Grand Floridian here. I don’t know of anything particularly amazing about Gasparilla Island Grill, so if you know something, please enlighten me. Captain Cook’s at the Polynesian certainly has some fun and delicious items along with a great location. Centertown Market at Caribbean Beach also seems to be on a recent upswing, and is what I’d call our first real “food court” to make it onto the list.

Just look at the adorable surroundings by Primo Piatto

Table Service Dining

  1. Galactic Starcruiser
  2. Animal Kingdom Lodge (Jambo)
  3. Riviera
  4. Animal Kingdom Lodge (Kidani)
  5. Bay Lay Tower

Yeah yeah yeah, the Starcruiser has fun and amazing food. I don’t think the food is going to be the deciding factor in whether or not you decide to embark on that experience. So let’s move along to the rest of the list. Both portions of Animal Kingdom make the list, and you all know I’m biased on that front. Jiko + Boma + Sanaa is a formidable foodie line-up. I could do a long weekend at Animal Kingdom Lodge, and never set foot at any dining location outside of the lodge and be a perfectly happy camper. Riviera is also a slam dunk here, with Topolino’s Terrace. It’s one of the hardest reservations to get on-property for a reason. Bay Lake Tower is the weird entry here. I mean … there’s no dining in Bay Lake Tower. But we’ll assume folks are trekking over to Contemporary, which actually comes in 7th place here. Steakhouse 71 and California Grill help anchor this line-up to make it another dining powerhouse.

Excellent food, and views of the savannah? That’s what makes Animal Kingdom Lodge dining so unbeatable.

Best Resort Rooms

Is the most important part of a resort the rooms themselves? Do you need a lot of space, or quiet rooms for resting? These will be the important categories for you to pay attention to.

Room Cleanliness

  1. Galactic Starcruiser
  2. Riviera
  3. Swan Reserve
  4. Wilderness Lodge
  5. Grand Floridian

In general, it seems as though room cleanliness seems to track closely with recently-built or recently-renovated rooms. That’s not 100% true, but it’s a good generalization through the entire list. This makes sense especially for the top three entries in this year’s list, all of which either opened this year, or right before the pandemic. Nice new shiny rooms come across as being more clean.

Oh, look at that spectacularly clean room!

Best for Room Size

  1. Shades of Green
  2. Old Key West
  3. Riviera
  4. Fort Wilderness – Campsites
  5. Saratoga Springs

Shades of Green earns its rightful top spot here. Not that it will matter unless you qualify to stay there, but even the standard rooms are 450 square feet – bigger than any of the standard rooms at any of the other Disney resorts! We get more surveys from larger room types at Old Key West and Saratoga Springs than other resorts, so it makes sense that those folks would be more pleased with their room size. Riviera is an interesting entry here – what with the teeny tiny tower studios as an option. And the campsites are funny – your “room” size depends entirely on the size of your tent or camper. So I guess that can be pretty roomy indeed.

The Shades of Green Resort is a set of tan-colored, low, two- and three-story buildings surrounded by lots of green landscaping.
Want lots of room for activities? Shades of Green is your choice, assuming that you’re eligible. And if you are, you shouldn’t really be looking anywhere else anyway. (Image © Shades of Green)

Best for Quiet Rooms

  1. Galactic Starcruiser
  2. Fort Wilderness – Cabins
  3. Riviera Resort
  4. Bay Lake Tower
  5. Animal Kingdom Lodge – Kidani Village

Oh, Starcruiser. Where Force-noise-shielding keeps everything quiet. I kid. But really, everyone is paying so much here to be immersed in the storyline that they’re never just hanging out being loud in the room. They’re either out doing something that keeps them out of rooms or hallways, or they’re passed out in bed. The Cabins at Fort Wilderness are spread out enough that things stay quiet enough there, as long as your cabinmates are calm and considerate. Like room size, I’m not sure that Riviera makes a lot of sense here, other than the hallways are really designed to just get you to your room and not for a lot of traipsing back and forth. Bay Lake Tower and Kidani Village are somewhat similar. Lots of long hallways and people just wanting to sleep – or watch animals in peace.

All of the loud parties happen far away from the rooms, and you’ll be so danced out that you just collapse into bed.

Best Pools

Do your kids just want to play in a pool all day? Or do you enjoy taking a midday break with lounging and swimming? Then these are the categories for you!

Pool Size

  1. Beach Club Villas
  2. Beach Club Resort
  3. Yacht Club Resort
  4. Boulder Ridge Villas
  5. Polynesian Village Resort

We don’t have a category for pool theme, otherwise this list might have the same top three and a little bit of some interest in the other two spots. Still, the top three here deserve their spots. Stormalong Bay, which is shared by the top three resorts, is THE Walt Disney World pool. If you can afford it, and pool time is important to you, it’s the obvious choice. Boulder Ridge is a fun entry here and not one that was immediately intuitive to me. But the Villas have their own pool that is roughly the same size as the feature pool for Wilderness Lodge, shared by the Lodge at the Copper Creek guests. The Polynesian also has a rather large feature pool, as well as a decent-sized secondary pool. Lots of space to swim.

Disney's Yacht & Beach Club Resort Stormalong Bay
If you’re all about that pool life, look no further.

Pool Crowds

  1. Shades of Green
  2. Riviera
  3. Grand Floridian
  4. Contemporary
  5. Boulder Ridge Villas

So here’s the thing. Big, popular pools are still … popular pools. Which means that they get crowded with lots and lots of humans. If you don’t necessarily care about how large the pool is, and instead you just want some space to yourself, this is the more important list. The pool at the Riviera doesn’t get very crowded because folks are to busy enjoying other areas of the resort or taking the Skyliner to the two easily accessible parks. Grand Floridian also has several pools to choose from and not many people that are staying there to use the pools. The Contemporary is odd here because the pools are small. I guess people avoid them. And once again, we’ve got Boulder Ridge, our only pool repeat. If you want a large, uncrowded pool that appears to be your best option.

Disney's Riviera Resort Main Pool
Look at that gorgeous, uncrowded pool!

Best for Wayfinding

Is just stumbling back to your room at the end of a long park day without getting lost your top priority? Here are the resorts for you:

  1. Port Orleans – French Quarter
  2. Bay Lake Tower
  3. Swan Reserve
  4. Galactic Starcruiser
  5. Boulder Ridge Villas

No big surprises here, as these are all small locations with relatively straight-forward layouts. In fact, only French Quarter even has multiple buildings. But there are so few of them, and they are so close together that it doesn’t matter much.

Want to be able to find your room easily? Try the small French Quarter resort. Bonus – if you guess wrong, chances are you’ll still end up with beignets.

Best Staff

Do you want to be well cared for by the best cast members? You really can’t go wrong with any on-property resorts, but let’s find the best of the best for the sake of rounding out our 2022 awards.

  1. Galactic Starcruiser
  2. Beach Club Villas
  3. Wilderness Lodge
  4. Riviera
  5. Old Key West

You want cast members who will believe anything you tell them about your alternate personality? Who trust you enough to give you important quests? Who artfully master the blend of acting and customer service without ever breaking character? Go to the Starcruiser. Otherwise, for those on the lookout for more “normal” WDW vacations, it looks like the folks at Beach Club Villas, Wilderness Lodge, Riviera and Old Key West are especially helpful.

What Does This Mean For You?

  1. If money is no object, the Riviera is the clear winner for overall satisfaction. It also ranks highly for room size and quietness, as well as quick service and table service dining. It also has highly-rated staff and uncrowded pools. Lots to recommend it.
  2. Unsurprisingly, a lot of the “best of” lists are filled with Deluxe and DVC entries. But that doesn’t mean that you have to pay a lot of money to find something that will suit your needs. French Quarter rates as highly repeatable, as well as easy to find your way around. Caribbean Beach scores well for quick-service dining. And the Cabins at Fort Wilderness are secluded and quiet.
  3. Every WDW resort has high satisfaction by any sort of real-world measure. No resort has a repeatability score of less than 82%, and no resort has overall satisfaction lower than 4.2. These are all really high scores, and anything above that is almost just nitpicking. Find the aspects that are important to you, and make your decisions based on those.

Did any of the 2022 winners surprise you? Would you have ranked anything differently? Is there somewhere you’re looking forward to staying in 2023? Let me know in the comments!

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Becky Gandillon

Becky Gandillon was trained in biomedical engineering, but is now a full-time data and analytics nerd. She loves problem solving and travelling. She and her husband, Jeff, live in St. Louis with their two daughters and they have Disney family movie night every Saturday. You can follow her on LinkedIn: or instagram @raisingminniemes

18 thoughts on “2022 Awards: Best Of Resorts

  • I’m just getting around to reading this, but you asked about food at GF and I think you might be looking in the wrong direction.

    VGF is closer in location to both of GF’s pool bars than to Gasparilla Grill. And, both of those pool bars have unique menus. The Beaches menu, in particular, is classed up – lobster sliders, a jerk chicken salad, etc. – and happens to be closest to VGF.

    So – three CS options instead of one, and more interesting offerings at the closest CS to the rooms, may play a role. Especially if VGF gets notably higher dining reviews than standard hotel rooms there.

  • I always find it surprising that Port Orleans Riverside is so low. I’ve been staying there since it was Dixie Landings and still love staying there. I don’t mind having to take the bus and the boat ride to Disney Springs is so relaxing. It may be quite spread out, but I have always found it quite peaceful staying there.

  • I enjoyed the article, your analysis, and your writing style. Thanks for the fun read!

  • Since I am probably going to skip WDW in 2023, (really disliked having my face in my phone so much of the time) and go to Universal instead, I’d love some of these stats reported for Universal Orlando, especially the hotels. If that’s possible, thanks Becky!

    • I believe plans are in the works for similar analyses for Universal and Disneyland – I’ll pull some of the stats and leave the commentary on those to the other experts on our team 🙂

  • We splashed out and stayed at the Riviera last February because it was the first time (and probably the last time) we were in WDW for my birthday. It was an amazing hotel with great staff who went the extra mile for us.

    • Oh I’m so glad you enjoyed it! It’s high on my must-try list for a future trip.

  • I’m honestly surprised that Caribbean Beach didn’t score higher based on the Skyliner alone. It is hands down the best way to travel to Epcot/Boardwalk and Hollywood Studios.

    • Well, pre-Skyliner, it was reliably the lowest-rated Moderate resort. So it’s definitely doing some climbing.

  • I wonder if there are campsite size differences at the campgrounds. Yes, the size of your ‘room’ is based on the trailer/motorhome/tent you use. But what about the size of the pad/site that you camp on? They often seem kind of stacked in there.

    The cabins on the other hand are pretty spacious.

    • We camp every year at FW. There are several categories of campsites based on size of site, size of pad, proximity to Meadows area, and amenities (full hookup or water/electric only). FW campsites are larger than sites at many privately owned campgrounds but smaller than many public campgrounds (e.g. state parks).

      Regarding ‘room’ size our 32 foot fifth wheel has more square footage than a value resort. We love staying there but it is the one of the most, if not the most, expensive campground in the country. Definitely not a value.

      • Even though things are categorized as “value” resorts doesn’t necessarily make them a good value 😉 For example, for a lot of parties, the family suites at Art of Animation aren’t a good value compared to other options either. But … they are technical “value resort” rooms.

  • Appreciate this very much. A couple of critiques:

    The Campsites are not a “value resort.” They really need their own separate color.

    Saratoga Springs has among the smallest rooms in every villa type except the Treehouses, which have no real comparators.

    • Appreciate that feedback, Dave

    • The campsites can’t be rated for size either since you bring your own RV/tent. Was this a mistake for the cabins which are spacious?

      • I don’t think it’s a mistake – it’s presented purposefully, and received many ratings. Many folks prefer the space of their RVs to typical resort rooms, so this factors in to the rating.

    • I agree with Dave. Love the way this is laid out and I’m always glad to see where things fall (and how my survey results impact the chart – go Starcruiser!) But families looking to book a value resort probably aren’t thinking about a campground.

      • Thankfully, that’s why the whole graph is included. Those families can see that Pop Century is the next-highest resort in the value category 🙂

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