Which Walt Disney World Resort Buildings are Winners and Losers?

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For our first two trips to Walt Disney World with kids, my family stayed at Animal Kingdom Lodge, so we didn’t have to think about which building that we wanted to stay in. I still made room requests so that we wouldn’t have a marathon of walking to/from our room throughout the course of our trip. But in January 2021, DVC rental rates were so low that we took advantage of an opportunity and made a semi-impromptu trip to the Polynesian. Suddenly … I was lost. I had no idea what or where to request! And there were so many different buildings, all with different views and walking distances. Did I want to be close to the pool or the main building or the TTC (since the monorail was down) or the boat dock? I did what any good planning nerd does and used the Room Finder to make some educated guesses. But what I really wanted to know was where guests have been most satisfied. Because I trust the math, if other folks are happy on average, I know I probably will be too.

We ended up with a standard view in Tokelau, which was perfectly situated for us.

So in this post let’s look at the best (and worst) buildings on WDW property. That way you can figure out how to find or avoid certain buildings on your next trip without having to repeat my guessing game.

Explain the Math!

To judge satisfaction within a building overall, we need to know that satisfaction. After any WDW resort stay, TouringPlans users can submit a survey that asks them for a bunch of information. One of those pieces of information is overall hotel satisfaction, so that’s what we’re using for the base of our analysis today. They can also submit their room number, which is how I figure out which building they were in.

To make sure we don’t accidentally crown a building the winner if only one person has ever stayed there, I had to set some rules.

  • I only included survey results from the past 3 years. This way, we more accurately reflect recent truth.
  • I only included buildings that had at least 25 submitted surveys in that time. That still gives us 98 different buildings to compare across property.
  • Then I needed a way to account for buildings that have wildly different satisfaction scores. This could be because of a refurbishment that drastically changed satisfaction in the middle of the three years. Or just because … people are weird and have different tastes. Regardless, I want buildings that are more universally accepted as being great (or terrible). So I only included buildings with a 95% confidence interval width of 0.45 or less from low to high. That left me with 86 buildings to compare.

From that sample of 86 buildings, we’re going to look at the 4 highest and 4 lowest satisfaction averages to see who wins and who loses.

What are the 4 Best Buildings at WDW?

4. Polynesian – Niue

Niue at the Polynesian nabs the number 4 spot in the list of best WDW resort buildings.

With its almost-perfectly-centered location within the Polynesian, maybe it shouldn’t come as a surprise to see Niue with an average satisfaction of 4.85. You’re basically as close as possible to the Great Ceremonial House. There aren’t many neighbors since the building only has 22 rooms. You have very quick access to two great pools. And you can easily make it to the boat dock, monorail (when it opens back up) and bus stop. You won’t have many room type options though. Two rooms technically have pool views, and one is a king bed that is wheelchair accessible. But the rest are garden view rooms with 2 queens and a daybed.

3. Old Key West – Building 62

Building 62 at Old Key West nabs the number 3 spot in the list of best WDW resort buildings.

Building 62 at Old Key West is another example of an almost-perfectly-situated building. It has an overall satisfaction score of 4.87. In this case, it’s one of only three buildings at the resort that have elevators, which can be a big deal with strollers or tired knees. It’s far enough from road noise (don’t let this map fool you – if you pull up Google maps you’ll see how all of the buildings along the south and west sides are very close to busy roads). And it’s very close to the Hospitality House. Off of your back porch you’re likely to have a nice fountain view. All in all, a great choice.

2. Old Key West – Building 45

Building 45 at Old Key West nabs the number 2 spot in the list of best WDW resort buildings.

For the second-best building on WDW property, we’re staying at Old Key West. But this result might be a little more surprising. Building 45 beats out Building 62 with an average satisfaction score of 4.88. But it doesn’t have the elevator that Building 62 has, and it’s not near the Hospitality House. But it is very secluded while still having convenient access to transportation and a pool. The views off of the pack porches are of a river with a forest behind it. You aren’t near roads. And the 1-bedroom villas in this building have access to the bathroom from the bedroom and from the living area (which only happens in buildings numbered higher than 30). So the quiet, relaxing location must make people very happy.

1. Villas at Grand Floridian

The Villas at Grand Floridian earn the top spot in the list of best WDW resort buildings.

Now the time comes to crown the winner, which does turn out to be an entire resort. The DVC portion of the Grand Floridian is (currently) only one building. And that one building has an average satisfaction score of 4.90. If you’ve got the points to spend, this is certainly the place to be. Even standard view rooms have gorgeous scenery to look at. The location is removed from any hustle and bustle of the main resort. And you have quick access to the Magic Kingdom. It comes as no surprise that DVC recently announced the expansion of this resort by taking over the Big Pine Key building. Time will tell if those rooms end up being just as popular.

What are the 4 Worst Buildings at WDW?

83. Caribbean Beach – Aruba Section

The Aruba section of Caribbean Beach nabs the number 4 spot in the list of the worst WDW resort buildings.

I’ll admit – for the 4 worst buildings, I’m cheating. They’ll all be sections rather than specific buildings. But … I have your best interest at heart. I wanted to be as specific as possible when telling you which buildings are best. For the worst, I’d rather you know more to avoid than less. And so, at fourth-worst, we have the Aruba section of Caribbean Beach, with an average satisfaction of 4.23. Buildings 54 and 56 in particular have the lowest scores. Some of the timeframe when we were pulling these surveys includes Skyliner construction, so that may impact the scores slightly. But I looked at the scores across all time and there weren’t big differences.

84. All-Star Music – Broadway Hotel

The Broadway Hotel section of All-Star Music nabs the number 3 spot in the list of the worst WDW resort buildings.

Don’t let this nice, compact-looking map fool you. These All-Star buildings are HUGE and walking from the back of the resort to the lobby and transportation will kill your legs and feet. 8 of the 10 buildings at All-Star Music share closest access to a single pool – and it’s the smaller of the two pools. Ouch. Not much redeeming to say about this location, with its average satisfaction score of 4.19.

85. All-Star Music – Rock Inn

The Rock Inn section of All-Star Music nabs the number 2 spot in the list of the worst WDW resort buildings.

Just like Old Key West earned the number 2 and 3 spots for the best buildings at WDW, All-Star Music gets the dubious honor of having the 2nd-worst and 3rd-worst sections on property. Yay? Rock Inn’s average satisfaction is 4.18, just so slightly worse than Broadway. The same problems still exist here. No close access to anything. Not particularly great rooms. Small, crowded pool. Plus, who listens to rock music anyway? Maybe they can re-theme this section to The Rock after the Jungle Cruise movie comes out and is a smashing success. He proved he can rap (kinda) in Moana, so it fits the music theme.

86. All-Star Movies – Mighty Ducks

The Mighty Ducks section of All-Star Movies “earns” the bottom spot in the list of the worst WDW resort buildings.

You’ve made it! To the worst of the worst! The Mighty Ducks buildings at All-Star Movies flop to the bottom of the resort building rankings with an average satisfaction score of 4.13. Maybe it’s the the psychological torture of being so much closer to the lobby of a different resort than your own. Or the taunting of an icy theme when you walk through triple-digit temperatures for 15 minutes to get to your room. It could be that your toddlers were terrified by the creepy-looking duck-shaped masks. Regardless, this looks like the most certain spot to avoid on property.

What Does This Mean For You?

  1. If you want a beautiful and satisfying room, your best bet is the Villas at Grand Floridian. Or, at a cheaper point cost, Old Key West buildings 62 (for proximity and convenience) and 45 (for seclusion and peace).
  2. If you don’t own or want to rent DVC points, your next best bet is paying to stay at the Polynesian and requesting a room in Niue. Its convenient location gets you quick access to a lot of great things (like Dole Whip)!
  3. On the other end of the spectrum, be very careful when staying at the All-Star resorts. Make sure you know what you’re getting into as far as walking is concerned, and try to request buildings close to the lobby and transportation (or book a Preferred room).

 

Have you been fortunate enough to stay in one of the top buildings? Or do you think another location deserves to be in that top 4? Have you gotten stuck in Broadway or Mighty Ducks? Was it awful? Or not as bad as the numbers make it seem? 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: https://www.linkedin.com/in/becky-gandillon/

12 thoughts on “Which Walt Disney World Resort Buildings are Winners and Losers?

  • June 13, 2021 at 11:43 am
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    Hah! I was surprised to see that my favourite All-Star Movies building is ranked the worst! We are 80s kids so the Mighty Ducks theming has a lot of pull – but actually we purposefully put ourselves as close to All-Star Music as possible so we could rely on their busses (which usually are shared with Movies but pick up and drop off at Music first). Having an always-empty “private pool” was great too. For anyone on a budget looking to maximize in-park time, I’d recommend!

    Reply
    • June 13, 2021 at 1:36 pm
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      You bring up a good point, Kat. Everything is relative, right? The average at Mighty Ducks is still 4.13 …. which means it’s above “somewhat satisfied”. So there are plenty of people that still really like it there!

      Reply
    • June 15, 2021 at 9:03 am
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      Thanks for this comment. I was disappointed in the list. There is no way we could ever afford to stay at the so called top 4. We have had many happy vacations over the years at the All Star resorts. Our favorite was the All Star Movies. It’s very fortunate if you can afford to stay at the Grand Floridian.

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      • June 15, 2021 at 2:36 pm
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        Thanks for calling this out, Melissa. Usually in my posts I’ll call out winners and losers from each category type. And deviating from that does mean that some categories aren’t represented in the overall. I’ll dig back into the data and see if I can do best/worst at each category, or maybe even at each resort …

  • June 13, 2021 at 5:09 pm
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    I have the feeling this is called “torturing the data”. The one thing that should be considered and hasn’t been in any of your analyses so far is cost, that is, ROI. If you’re paying Grand Floridian prices you darn well better get Grand Floridian levels of satisfaction. Over the years we’ve stayed at All Star Music, Caribbean Beach (Jamaica, Trinidad ), Animal Kingdom Lodge (Jambo), Port Orleans Riverside (Magnolia Bend), Ft. Wilderness (campsites and cabins), Pop Century and Coronado Springs. For my money, CB is the most satisfying of those. AKL has the advantage of the savanna view and a great lobby but otherwise? In the end it comes down to whether the perceived increase in value is worth the actual increase in price.

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      • June 13, 2021 at 10:41 pm
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        I had seen those. You would have to somehow compare pre-arrival/expected satisfaction vs. departure/actual satisfaction. One thing I noted from your graph is that price increases faster than satisfaction. The point really is you simply can’t directly compare a $200/night room to a $600/night room.

    • June 15, 2021 at 9:42 am
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      One thing I’d say is that our readers generally add “…for the money I paid” to any question we ask, so ROI is implicit in most people’s answer. That is, they’re grading on a scale.

      You can see this explicitly in, for example, Trip Advisor’s user ratings of the Disney hotels. Those folks rank Pop Century ahead of the Grand Flo Villas and Polynesian. Objectively, there’s no way that Pop Century is a better resort than either of those. So the users are taking price into account when they answer questions about satisfaction.

      Reply
  • June 21, 2021 at 4:19 pm
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    Having just stayed in Building 51 in Aruba at CBR, I have to say I was a bit surprised to see that section as one of the worst 4 “buildings” on property. It was almost baffling to me. The Aruba section has quick access to the Skyliner station at the Riviera and to the Riviera itself. The bridge that runs from the main pool and the lobby of CBR runs directly to building 51 in Aruba. So, for a standard view price, Aruba sits between both Skyliner stations and is a quick scenic walk across Caribbean Cay from most of the resort amenities. Having previously stayed at Boardwalk Villas, ASMu, Pop, Poly, Wilderness Lodge and PORS, I’d have to say that Aruba, and Building 51, specifically, was, for a standard view room, one of the most conveniently located I’ve had.

    Reply
  • July 6, 2021 at 8:50 pm
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    I just watched a you-tube video where the room was 1200.00 a night. Now that was a one bedroom at GF, but really! We have stayed at ASMu suites, Port Orleans, Beach Club, Contemporary, Movies and Caribbean Beach. Our favorite by far is Caribbean Beach. It will be even better now with the skylines. Loved the theme and the beauty of the grounds. Going in Oct, staying at POP for the first time because no military discount rooms left at CBR.

    Reply
  • July 10, 2021 at 7:19 pm
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    Just to let you know we stayed at old key west in building 13 and it was wonderful. Short walk to everything, food, busses, drinks it was probably the most convenient room we stayed in of all the resorts we have stayed in….. but I do appreciate the article

    Reply
    • July 10, 2021 at 7:28 pm
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      You’re on to something, Dan! Building 13 actually scores very highly – it has an average satisfaction of 4.875. But it has very few reviews, so it didn’t qualify to show up in the top or bottom here. Maybe if we can convince a few more people to stay there, it’ll get more credit for being a good spot.

      Reply

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