ResortsWalt Disney World (FL)

Which Disney Moderate Resort Should You Pick?

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Disney’s Moderate resorts are a great middle ground for travelers who want more than basic accommodations, but don’t want or need the Deluxe experience. All Disney’s moderates are heavily themed and provide a very real sense of place, but they each have their own unique vibe. So, which one is right for you? Read on, and we’ll help you decide!

Overview and Similarities

There are five Moderate resorts at Walt Disney World: Coronado Springs, Caribbean Beach, two Port Orleans resorts, and the Cabins at Fort Wilderness. The two Port Orleans resorts are next to one another and have two different but related themes, French Quarter and Riverside.

The French Quarter side is themed in the style of, you guessed it, New Orleans’ French Quarter. Port Orleans Riverside has more of a natural, bayou feel. They are two different resorts for booking purposes, and they each have their own check-in, pools, and restaurants. They are next door to one another, and will be treated as one resort complex for the purposes of this article.

The Cabins at Fort Wilderness is a bit of an outlier in this category. As discussed in more detail below, the rooms are much larger than the other resorts, there are far fewer of these rooms, and they cost a fair amount more.

As to the other three, cost is not a major distinguishing factor, and neither is room size. Additionally, all of these resorts have a large footprint, and utilize buses to transport people around the property. You can expect the baseline experience to be pretty similar, so your decision should rest on preferences when it comes to the theme or special features at each resort.

Caribbean Beach – Skyliner Access

Caribbean Beach is — surprise! — themed to the Caribbean, with bright, tropical colors and lots of natural wood. The grounds are very lush, and it’s one of the prettier resorts on property in any category.

Aruba Village at Caribbean Beach

The resort received a significant boost in convenience with the addition of the Disney Skyliner gondola system. Caribbean Beach is the hub for the system, which takes guests directly to Epcot and Hollywood Studios. In fact, it is the ONLY hotel in any category to hold this distinction – other properties serviced by the Skyliner need a transfer to get to at least one of the parks. It’s a huge perk, and is enough of a reason to favor it over other moderates all by itself.

Another nice thing about the Caribbean Beach Resort is that it shares a footprint with the Riviera. To be frank, the food at Caribbean Beach is fine, but it’s hardly destination dining. Being able to walk or take the Skyliner over to enjoy the far better offerings at Riviera is a really nice feature.

More on Caribbean Beach:

Coronado Springs – Moderate Plus

The addition of the Gran Destino Tower at Coronado Springs brought extra amenities, and the combination of it all results in a resort that feels somewhere between a Moderate and a Deluxe. The tower rooms are about 20% larger than the legacy rooms, and feel a bit nicer. They are also a bit more expensive – expect to spend $80-120 more for a Tower room. They are still quite a bit cheaper than a Deluxe resort, although the 375 square foot rooms compare favorably in size.

Dining is a true selling point at Coronado Springs. It has four full-service restaurants, including Toledo atop the Gran Destino Tower, and Three Bridges. Three Bridges sits in the middle of the lake in the center of the property, and the views, breeze, and fare are wonderful. It’s an underrated dining destination at Disney World.

Coronado Springs has a couple of Deluxe-level amenities that the other Moderate resorts do not have, like a fitness center. It is also the only Moderate to have club-level rooms. Rooms on the club (concierge) level, which give you access to the Chronos Club lounge, are a cost-effective way to get club access without paying Deluxe prices.

Coronado Springs is a convention resort, and you may encounter large groups of people on business together. Perhaps for this reason, the southwestern-themed decor is a bit more subdued than at other Disney properties. It remains very picturesque, however, and the resort as a whole feels more high-end than the other properties in this category. This is particularly true when staying in the Tower rooms.

More on Coronado Springs:

Port Orleans – Disney Springs Access

If you’re the sort of person that likes to go to Disney Springs for a nice dinner in the evenings, the Port Orleans resorts will be a great fit for you. Both provide direct access via water taxis on the Sassagoula River (French Quarter is the closer of the two). While there are deluxe resorts with water access to Springs, the Port Orleans resorts are the only Moderate resorts to provide this service. In addition to the convenience, it’s also a very pleasant ride.

Whether you prefer the natural, bayou theme of Riverside or the architectural detail of the French Quarter is a matter of personal preference, but they are both very well done, and really take you down south. Riverside is quite a bit larger, with more than twice as many rooms and a much more spread-out layout.

Riverside also has 6 pools to French Quarter’s one, and the feature pool, Ol’ Man Island, is regarded as the better feature pool of the two resorts. With that said, guests are free to pool-hop between the two properties, so guests at Riverside can still pop over to French Quarter to try its sea serpent slide.

The pool at Port Orleans French Quarter.

Boatwright’s Dining Hall is the only table service offering for both Port Orleans resorts, and it is located at Riverside. Generally speaking, food at the Port Orleans resorts is fine, but unremarkable. This is fairly easy to overlook, however, given the easy access to the more varied selections at Disney Springs

More on the Port Orleans Resorts:

Cabins at Fort Wilderness – A True Getaway

While characterized as a Moderate, the Cabins at Fort Wilderness are really sort of a category of their own. The cabins have a separate living area and a small kitchen, and they are far larger than other moderate rooms – at 504 square feet, they are nearly 200 square feet larger.

They are the most expensive Moderate rooms, and you can expect to spend between $470-$650 most nights. For a room that sleeps 6, however, it’s a great option for families who can’t fit into a traditional hotel room. Even on the high end, it’s still far cheaper than a DVC villa or Deluxe Suite. They’re often comparable in price to the Family Suites at the Value resorts.

The setting at Fort Wilderness also bears special mention. You’ll literally be in a log cabin in the woods, and there is no other moderate resort that feels as remote and “away from it all” as the Cabins. You’ll have full access to Fort Wilderness and all of its amenities, and it’s the perfect place for long walks, bike rides, and the like.

As the name would suggest, the Cabins are not a standalone resort. They’re a component of Fort Wilderness, which also has campsites. Fort Wilderness as a whole is BIG, so the footprint of the resort where the Cabins are located is far larger than the other Moderate properties. While you’ll have boat access to the Magic Kingdom, the Cabins are not particularly close to the dock. That means you’ll likely have to rely upon buses to get there, and to get to other parts of the resort. Having a car makes a huge difference at Fort Wilderness, so if you don’t have one, make sure you keep transit in mind when budgeting your time.

More on the Cabins at Fort Wilderness:

Where do you stay when staying at the moderate resorts? Let us know in the comments!


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Jamie Rosemergy

When not planning for or traveling to Walt Disney World with his beautiful wife and impossibly adorable child, James practices law in St. Louis. He also really likes cheese -- and loathes kale. He can be found on twitter at @jrtoastyman.

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