Walt Disney World (FL)

Should You Avoid Monorail Loop Resorts in 2024?

Share This!

When planning a vacation at Walt Disney World, many guests are drawn to the convenience, theming, and luxury of the monorail loop resorts. These iconic properties—the Polynesian Resort, Contemporary Resort, Grand Floridian Resort, and their associated Disney Vacation Club properties—offer unparalleled access to Magic Kingdom and stunning views of the park. Their location, however, comes with a very high price tag. That makes these resorts aspirational “someday” resorts for many Disney vacationers. Unfortunately, recent satisfaction scores indicate a significant decline in guest satisfaction from 2023 to 2024. Should you avoid the monorail loop resorts this year? Let’s dive into the data and find out.

Explain the Math

Before we delve into the specifics of each resort, it’s important to understand the numbers behind the guest satisfaction scores. These scores, on a scale of 1 to 5, are derived from post-visit surveys completed by guests who have recently stayed at these resorts. We have over 4000 of these reviews since the beginning of 2023. A score of 5 indicates that they were “very satisfied” with their stay, while a score of 1 suggests they were “very dissatisfied”.

To analyze the changes, we’ll look at the average overall satisfaction scores from 2023 and 2024 for each resort. The goal is to identify trends and potential reasons behind these shifts, and then to use the results to help you inform planning for your next Walt Disney World vacation.

Polynesian Resort

The Polynesian Resort experienced the largest drop in overall satisfaction – from 4.76 in 2023 to 4.16 in 2024. This large decrease is also among the easiest to explain among all of the monorail loop resorts.

The Great Ceremonial House is still a respite from the construction noise, but otherwise the Polynesian resort is something of a mess this year.

Throughout 2024, ongoing construction on the new DVC tower has generated noise throughout the day, and may cause other inconveniences based on traffic. This includes the closure of the walkway to the Grand Floridian, making a (rather long) walk to the Magic Kingdom impossible, and also impacting guests ability to easily access the great dining options at the Grand Floridian.

Combine the construction disrupting this resort’s usually serene atmosphere with the high average cost of rooms, and you have a recipe for disappointment. And the results are so impactful that the Polynesian is currently the second-lowest-rated resort in all of Walt Disney World. The only resort that scores worse is All-Star Movies. So, statistically, you’re better off staying almost anywhere else compared to the Polynesian this year. Expect these results to continue at least until the end of the year, when the new Tower opens.

Contemporary Resort

The Contemporary Resort has the second-largest drop in satisfaction this year, going from 4.66 in 2023 to 4.24 in 2024, a decrease of 0.42 points.

Special displays like the holiday gingerbread house draw more people to the Contemporary

In survey comments, many guests cite the “half-hearted” retheming of the resort’s rooms with the addition of several elements inspired by the Incredibles. But this theming isn’t something new for 2024 – rooms have had these features since 2021. Instead, new comments that have appeared in 2024 consider more frequent monorail breakdowns, crowds surrounding the gingerbread display during the winter holiday season, and the expensive but disappointing onsite restaurants and lounges.

Still, the Contemporary is the most easily walkable resort to the Magic Kingdom if the monorail is down. And it’s also the resort that is furthest away from construction on the new Polynesian tower. But it has some of the most-expensive rooms on property that are categorized as theme park views but mostly show off a large parking lot.

Polynesian Villas & Bungalows

The Polynesian Villas & Bungalows are slightly less impacted by the construction than their Deluxe counterpart. The DVC villas only saw their satisfaction score decline from 4.74 in 2023 to 4.45 in 2024, a decrease of 0.29 points.

The Bora Bora bungalows have great views, but come with unique maintenance problems and a lot of noise

Similar to the Polynesian resort, the Villas & Bungalows are still near the construction noise and traffic thanks to the building of the new tower. But thankfully, most of the villas are located on the opposite side of the resort to the construction, so the noise is less noticeable. Still, there is some impact. Additionally, guests in the bungalows note an increase in maintenance issues – especially the air conditioning and some malfunctioning fixtures. For the amount of money they spend on a bungalow, guests expect perfection, and the experience this year is far from perfect.

Villas at the Grand Floridian

The Villas at the Grand Floridian experienced a drop in overall satisfaction from 4.66 in 2023 to 4.37 in 2024, a decrease of 0.29 points. Way back in 2022, the Villas at Grand Floridian were the highest-rated rooms in all of Walt Disney World. Things started slipping in 2023, but the resort was still pretty well-rated. But in 2024, the Villas are now in the bottom third of WDW resorts.

The best feature of the Grand Floridian Villas, and you can’t convince me otherwise ©Disney

The main contributing factor to the decreased scores? That same Polynesian tower construction. In fact, the new tower is closer to the original Grand Floridian Villas building than it is to many of the Polynesian buildings. So while you try to relax and enjoy that glorious penguin fountain in the lobby, you’re likely to hear moving vehicles and active construction. Additionally, these villas are some of the most expensive accommodations you’ll find on property. For that price, you don’t expect to deal with the construction of a new building, plus even more construction around the resort, and some restaurant unavailability.

Bay Lake Tower

Bay Lake Tower’s satisfaction score decreased slightly (but still statistically significantly) from 4.63 in 2023 to 4.49 in 2024, a decline of 0.14 points.

Rooms at Bay Lake Tower are starting to show their age

Thankfully, Bay Lake Tower is easily walkable to and from the Magic Kingdom, so monorail breakdowns or traffic don’t impact it as much as the other monorail loop resorts. And it’s the furthest possible away from the construction of the Polynesian tower. But, an increasing number of comments mention that the rooms in Bay Lake Tower are showing their age – with worn furniture and decor that feels outdated. Bay Lake Tower is slated to get a refurbishment beginning in September of this year, and gradually working its way through the resort until September 2025. That means updated rooms … but also more noise in the resort, and other potential inconveniences.

Grand Floridian Resort

Finally, the Grand Floridian Resort is the only monorail loop resort where the satisfaction score remained steady at 4.44 in both 2023 and 2024.

You won’t often see the lobby this uncrowded, thanks to many popular restaurants and displays like the gingerbread house or easter eggs.

The Grand Floridian’s reputation as Disney’s flagship resort continues to attract guests who appreciate its theming and high-end amenities and dining options. Thankfully, it has been able to maintain a consistent level of service and quality that meets guest expectations. Rooms were being refurbished in 2023, and some dining locations were still closed. Thankfully, these projects are mostly wrapped up, which should boost satisfaction scores. Unfortunately, some of that benefit is wiped out so far this year by increased crowds in the lobby, in restaurants, and utilizing the monorail station, yielding the steady score.

Overall WDW Resort Scores in 2024

Average overall satisfaction at each WDW resort in 2024

In the chart above, you can see the average overall satisfaction at every Walt Disney World resort in 2, as of early June. Monorail loop resorts are highlighted in gold. There are 16 resorts that currently score better than any of the monorail loop options, including Deluxe, DVC, and even Moderate resorts.

If you’d like to stay near Magic Kingdom, Wilderness Lodge and its two DVC counterparts (Copper Creek and Boulder Ridge) all score highly. They are just a boat ride away from the Magic Kingdom, but aren’t impacted by any of the construction or crowds at the monorail loop resorts.

In 2023, the only monorail loop resort in the bottom half of the overall satisfaction scores was Grand Floridian. This year, almost all monorail loop resorts are in the bottom half. The Polynesian Resort had the third-highest overall satisfaction in 2023, and has dropped all of the way to second-lowest in 2024.

What Does This Mean for You?

Should you avoid the monorail loop resorts this year? The answer depends on your priorities and what you value most in a Disney resort stay. Here are some practical tips based on the data:

  1. Consider the Timing: If you’re planning a stay at the Polynesian Resort or Polynesian Villas & Bungalows, be aware of ongoing construction and how it might impact your experience throughout the rest of 2024. Check reviews of other stays during construction to see if you would be okay with a similar experience.
  2. Service Expectations: With reported service issues across several resorts, consider managing your expectations or choosing times when staffing levels might be more stable compared to guest crowds, such as outside of peak holiday seasons.
  3. Value for Money: If cost is a concern, compare the prices of these premium resorts with other Disney accommodations. And if you’re determined to stay on the monorail loop, consider renting DVC points to cut down on the cost of your room.
  4. Stay Informed: Regularly check reviews and updates from recent guests. Resort conditions and service levels can change, and staying informed can help you choose the best option for your stay.

Have you stayed on the monorail loop this year? Or do you prefer other WDW resorts? Let us know in the comments!

You May Also Like...

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: https://www.linkedin.com/in/becky-gandillon/ or instagram @raisingminniemes

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *