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

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Do you choose your resort based on proximity to your favorite parks? Or the comfort level of the bed that you collapse into after a long day walking thousands of steps? Would you hate to get stuck at a resort where you wander aimlessly in the dark trying to find your room after you watch the fireworks? Good news! We have the data to match you with the right resort. Or at least tell you which resorts to definitely avoid. We’ve already answered a lot of personalized resort-choosing questions in Part One and Part Two of this series. Today we wrap things up by looking at satisfaction with wayfinding, beds and pillows, recreation opportunities, and transportation to the parks.

Explain the Math

In addition to rating satisfaction with their resort overall, TouringPlans users rate their stay on a variety of factors. Today we’re looking at four of those factors. And for each one we can calculate a factor average. That gives us a way to compare results across multiple resorts. If Resort A has a higher average than Resort B, it probably performs better in general. But we can also calculate the standard deviation, a measure of variance. If the standard deviation of Resort A is high, people had really different experiences depending on when or where they stayed. If the standard deviation of Resort B is low, people had very similar experiences, no matter the circumstances.

  • In every graph, the dots will always mean the same thing:
    • Blue = Deluxe Villa
    • Yellow = Deluxe
    • Purple = Moderate
    • Orange = Value
  • The graphs will be organized so that the resort with the highest average is on top. And as you go to the right, the average will decrease.
  • The gray bars represent the 95% confidence interval around the average. Resort 1 has the smallest gray bar – the least variance. Resort 2 has the largest gray bar – the most variance.

Which Resort is Easiest to Navigate?

Average satisfaction rating for “Wayfinding” at each WDW resort
  • In the game of navigating resorts, there is one clear winner. Port Orleans – French Quarter gets the highest score and has an almost invisible gray bar. If you want a resort that easy to get around, stay at French Quarter. You know, when it opens.
  • It’s interesting that the big winner is a moderate resort. Because literally every other Moderate resort falls almost at the very bottom of the rankings. Unless you’re staying at French Quarter, avoid Moderates at all cost if easy navigation is important to you.
  • The bottom four resorts here are clearly worse than all of the rest. Those are Caribbean Beach, Cabins at Fort Wilderness, Dolphin, and Saratoga Springs. Don’t stay there if you get lost easily. Or, look at the bright side and organize a wicked game of hide and seek.

Where are the Best Beds?

Average satisfaction rating for “Beds/Pillows” at each WDW resort
  • This may be the most color-coordinated graph we’ve seen so far. All 5 Value resorts cluster together at the very bottom. The Moderates stick to the middle along with the Villas. And most of the Deluxe resorts make up the top tier of bed comfort.
  • The beds at the Values are not all equal. Usually we see Pop Century and Art of Animation floating above the All-Stars in most factor-specific (and overall) graphs. But in this case, Pop is joined by All-Star Movies. This is almost definitely because of the replacement of double beds with queens at these two resorts specifically. I’m not sure that I know anyone that misses the doubles.
  • Also unlike most comparisons, there is no clear winner here. No secret resort with the best beds known to man. Grand Floridian and its DVC counterpart take the two top spots, but several other resorts have overlapping gray bars, including Swan and Dolphin. That is probably the very first time they’ve landed in the top tier of any factor!

Which Resort has the Best Recreation?

Average satisfaction rating for “Recreation/Amenities” at each WDW resort
  • Another beautiful color-coordinated graph! Overall, if you’re looking for recreation and amenities, don’t stay at any of the Value resorts. But if Value is all that’s in your budget, it looks like Art of Animation is clearly your best bet.
  • This factor does have a clear winner – The Cabins at Fort Wilderness. That one isn’t a surprise at all, with so much to do and see at For Wilderness. A lot of the other Deluxe and Deluxe Villas also have additional recreation options too.
  • Port Orleans – Riverside is the only other Moderate to not be in the very bottom. You can bike or fish there, plus take part in campfires among other things.

Which Park has the Best Transportation to the Parks?

Average satisfaction rating for “Park Shuttle” at each WDW resort
  • Lots of interesting results to unpack here! First, the two Port Orleans resorts are not at all comparable. French Quarter appears very high in the list, while Riverside is almost at the bottom. Riverside is very spread out with multiple bus stops. And French Quarter is compact and with dedicated buses at the parks. Easy win if you’re choosing between the two.
  • The monorail resorts make a strong showing, with the Polynesian and Grand Floridian in the top with their DVC counterparts. Contemporary and Bay Lake Tower fall more to the middle of the pack, though.
  • Wilderness Lodge and its DVC counterparts all perform very similarly, as do Swan and Dolphin. The other EPCOT-area deluxe resorts don’t perform very well at all. While they are within walking distance of two parks, they sometimes share buses to the other parks, and that can feel crowded and not great.
  • Caribbean Beach languishes at the bottom here with the least satisfying parks transportation. And it has the Skyliner! I pulled the scores and plotted them by time to see if the Skyliner made a difference. And it did, a little, but probably not to lift it out of the bottom tier any time soon.

What Does This Mean For You?

  1. If you tend to get lost, Port Orleans – French Quarter might be the spot for you. Just definitely don’t get lost in the labyrinth of Caribbean Beach, Saratoga Springs, Dolphin, or the Cabins at Fort Wilderness.
  2. Big comfortable beds important to you? Stay away from the Value resorts! Your best be are probably the Deluxe resorts.
  3. Want recreational activities at your resort? Fort Wilderness is a great place to stay. The Value resorts will have fewer ways to spend your time than anywhere else.
  4. If the resort is just an easy way for you to get to the parks, a monorail resort will meet those needs. A Skyliner resort won’t necessarily yield the same results.

Have you ever gotten lost when trying to find your room at a resort? Or have a transportation horror story? Do you have other ways you’d like to analyze how resorts differ? Let us 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

3 thoughts on “Using Data to Choose the Best WDW Resort for You – Part Three

  • Caribbean Beach, Coronado Springs and Riverside are all quite spread out. Choose your room carefully to minimize navigation concerns. All have lots of bus stops making transportation a bit of a pain. The skyliner is nice at CB but the stations are not very convenient so I can see why it doesn’t help the satisfaction rating much. Note that Riverside and French Quarter sometimes share buses and both would take a hit at those times. As for beds, I’m OK as long as I don’t have to sleep on the floor.

  • Zeenat Kwon

    It’s funny how across all 3 articles, CBR gets a bad rap. I hope that’s where we get to stay!

    • I like Caribbean Beach, though it is spread out. Try for Jamaica or Barbados. Both are reasonably close to Centertown Market and the CB Skyliner. Aruba is OK but nearer the Riviera Skyliner and not quite as close to the Market.


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