ResortsWalt Disney World (FL)

Using Data to Choose the Best WDW Resort for You – Part One

Share This!

Which resort is the quietest? Or has the best staff? Or the biggest rooms? Where might check-in be the smoothest? To find out the answers you could Google. Or you could post on Facebook. Or, you know, ask your friend who’s been once and has it all figured out. But I have a better idea. Data! In post-visit surveys, Touring Plans users submit their satisfaction with their hotel/resort overall. But they also rate their resort in many specific areas – like the pool, the beds, the staff, or the dining. There is a wealth of data for us to explore. So let’s use that data to choose the best WDW resort for you, depending on which factors are most important for you.

Explain the Math!

Each individual factor rating is on a scale of 1 to 5, just like the overall rating. This immediately gives us an average that is easy to calculate, as well as a standard deviation – a measure of variance. Average allows us to compare across all resorts, while standard deviation can tell us about how something varies within a resort. High variance means that people answered very differently, and small variance means that people answer pretty much the same. We can learn a lot from just these two things. All of the graphs in today’s post will look something like this:

  • The dots will always be colored as: Blue = Deluxe Villas, Gold = Deluxe, Purple = Moderate, and Orange = Value
  • The dots are the average. I will organize all graphs so that the highest average is on the left and the averages decrease as you move to the right. So in this example, Resort 1 has the highest average and Resort 8 has the lowest average.
  • The gray bars behind every dot represent the 95% confidence interval of that average. High standard deviations = big confidence interval = long gray bar. So in this example, Resort 1 has a really small gray bar. That means everyone at Resort 1 answered pretty similarly. But Resort 2 has a really long gray bar. That means people at Resort 2 had different experiences from one another and rated things pretty differently.

Which Rooms are the Quietest?

Average satisfaction rating for “Quiet” at each WDW resort
  • If the level of noise in your room matters a lot to you, DON’T STAY AT POP CENTURY. Sorry. Sometimes data yells at me, so I’m translating that for you. Not only is its average the lowest, the variance is tiny. That means Pop Century is universally accepted as being loud pretty much everywhere.
  • The resorts with the biggest gray bars are Riviera, Copper Creek, and the Swan (followed by Villas at Grand Floridian and Dolphin). So in these spots it may be that there are some very quiet rooms and some very loud ones. You could use the TouringPlans Room Finder and Room Request tool (here are a blog post and video describing how to use it) to do your part in helping to ensure you get a more peaceful location.
  • Blue and purple dots seem to cluster to the left of the graph, and gold and orange dots stick more to the right. This was an interesting result to me, because that means Moderate resorts are generally more quiet than Deluxe resorts. But the DVC resorts have less noise than their Deluxe counterparts.
  • In the past few posts we’ve regularly seen that satisfaction is generally pretty low (overall, relatively speaking) at Saratoga Springs, but it’s easily one of the 4 quietest resorts, if that’s important to you.

Which Rooms Feel the Biggest?

Average satisfaction rating for “Room Size” at each WDW resort
  • Hey, look at that. Value resorts feel the smallest (other than Art of Animation, which is an anomaly with its suites). No surprise here.
  • Similarly, all of Moderate resorts (other than the Cabins, which are a different thing) wind up grouped together. What is interesting is that the Dolphin, Jambo House, and Wilderness Lodge all show up in between the Moderate and Value resorts. So don’t assume that by just staying at any Deluxe resort you’ll feel like you have more space to enjoy.
  • Biggest gray bar, by far, belongs to Riviera Resort. My personal guess here is that people staying in the teeny tiny Tower Studio Room probably aren’t impressed by their room size, given the price. But everyone else might be okay, so that generates variance.
  • Old Key West has some of the biggest rooms on property, and that shows up in the survey results too. Very little variance and very high average. If having space in your room is important, Old Key West is a safe bet.

Which Rooms are the Cleanest?

Average satisfaction rating for “Room Cleanliness” at each WDW resort
  • Lots of long gray bars all over the board here. So one main takeaway could be that how clean your room is could depend highly on which room you get. Or even how much attention you pay to it.
  • That being said, Riviera is the big winner for clean rooms. No other gray bars touch it. It also has a lot of new rooms, so perhaps survey takers are conflating worn-down with dirty. Either way, if having a clean room in decent shape is important to you, Riviera is your best bet.
  • This is the first chart we’ve seen where all averages and gray bars have stayed above the 4.0 threshold. So it’s not like you’re going to be walking into a cockroach-infested motel with dust and hair everywhere, no matter where you choose to stay on property.

Where are Check-In and Check-Out Smoothest?

Average satisfaction rating for “Check In/Out” at each WDW resort
  • The big outliers here are Swan and Dolphin. This makes sense, because they’re the only resorts not owned and run by Disney. Processes might be bumpier.
  • There are a few interesting pairs of “sibling” resorts here. Kidani and Jambo have almost identical check in/out results. But Port Orleans – French Quarter looks significantly better than Port Orleans – Riverside. Wilderness Lodge and its DVC counterparts are all pretty highly rated together, but the DVC counterparts have much more variance.
  • I was surprised that the value resorts that are constantly a sea of people checking in aren’t at the bottom here. They’re in the bottom half, but other resorts are “just as bad”.

Which Resort has the Best Staff?

Average satisfaction rating for “Staff” at each WDW resort
  • Just like the last section, Swan and Dolphin drop out at the bottom. Probably no surprises there.
  • I was surprised that Riviera popped up above everyone else, with no other gray bars overlapping it. That means that staff at Riviera are viewed as significantly “better” than anywhere else.
  • All other on-property resorts land in the 4.3 – 4.6 range and overlap with each other a lot. But Wilderness Lodge and its DVC counterparts lead the pack.
  • Value and Moderate resorts are all clustered to the right of the graph, other than Port Orleans – French Quarter, where the staff beat out a lot of Deluxe and Deluxe Villa resorts.

What Does This Mean For You?

  1. If a quiet room is important to you, avoid Pop Century and consider the Cabins at Fort Wilderness or Saratoga Springs.
  2. If having a lot of space in your room is important to you, look at options in Old Key West or the Cabins at Fort Wilderness (again). Avoid the values and some sneaky Deluxes like Jambo House and the Polynesian.
  3. Clean rooms probably equal new-ish rooms in general. So Riviera is a good choice if you want to be guaranteed a room that is in good shape.
  4. If having friendly and helpful staff is most important to you, it looks like Riviera is once again the place to go. Otherwise, sticking to the Deluxe and Deluxe Villa resorts or Port Orleans – French Quarter will probably give you the best results.


Which factors are most important to you when deciding where to stay? Did any of the results surprise you? Or did you spot any trends that I didn’t? 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: or instagram @raisingminniemes

8 thoughts on “Using Data to Choose the Best WDW Resort for You – Part One

  • Our family trip is check-in July 29, check-out August 2. My son Trevin Bernarding and family r staying at Dolphin.My husband and I r staying at the Hilton Orlando Buena Vista Palace. This is a gift from our other son. This is our itinerary 7/30-Magic Kingdom, 7/31-Epcot, 8/1-Hollywood studios, 8/2 checkout. We have tickets for first day but with need tickets for 7/31,and 8/1. Can u help us. E-mail: We r over 70 years. Thank u

  • Great article! Other factors to consider might be location, theming, recreational opportunities, and dining.

    • You must’ve gotten a sneak peek at Parts Two and Three 🙂 Pools and Dining were lined up for part two, and location/theme/transportation/recreation for part three. Looking forward to seeing what the data tells us!

  • The pictures are tiny and I’m not able to click to see a better view. Would be great if this could be resolved. Chrome 90 Windows 10

    • Brent, thanks for the heads up. I’ve had a couple of people test with the same configuration with no issues on photo sizing. For future articles I’ll make the photos zoom to fill the screen when you click on them to hopefully avoid issues.

  • AKL Jambo and Wilderness Lodge have the smallest standard room size in the Deluxe category (around 344 sf), compared to 260 at most values and around 314 at many moderates.

  • The cleanliness category is somewhat surprising. I’ve seen dirty bed liners at All Star Movies, but the Contemporary also had the dirtiest carpet I’ve ever seen in any hotel room. It immediately triggered dust allergies that is almost never an issue anywhere. Crumbs, hair pins, and other random debris scattered throughout the room. To this day I regret not having said something to management.
    Never had any issues with Beach Club Villas, and we are pretty detail oriented. The bunk bed had a stained sheet once and mousekeeping tripped over themselves with effort to make it right. No complaints whatsoever.

    • Please use the same scale on the y-axis for all graphs (e.g. 3.8 to 5.0 rating) so that the reader can more easily compare which parameters are different/same for the resorts. Also don’t forget to label the units of the y-axis as well.


Leave a Reply

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