Which Walt Disney World Resorts Get Repeat Visitors?

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Do you have a favorite Walt Disney World resort? One that you visit over and over again? Mine is Animal Kingdom Lodge. I don’t care if it’s Jambo or Kidani. We rent points and stay at whichever one has the best deal or availability. I know a lot of people that have other favorite resorts too. Those that once you go, you know it’s the place for you and you just want to keep going back. We’ve been looking at lots of ways to figure out which resorts are great over the past few weeks. I think this is an interesting lens to look through. Ignoring satisfaction scores and price and view and all of those numbers that data folk like myself love, which resorts to visitors go back to? Which resorts have the most return business? Because if a lot of other people are willing to stay somewhere twice in a row, maybe I will too.

My happy place – the back porch at AKL. On a slow morning before EPCOT opens, on a resort day, or during an afternoon rainstorm while the little one naps in the room.

Explain the Math!

Each time a TouringPlans user submits a post-visit survey, we capture their user id (just a number) along with the survey results. By looking across the history of all surveys we’ve received, and tying those to a specific user, I can figure out the order of visits they’ve taken. I can then pair up any visit with the one immediately following it – if one exists.

We could go really crazy and find the most popular paths for folks that have something like 5 … or 28 … different submitted surveys. But to make things easy for a first pass, I’m going to treat each pair of visits as independent from any others. So if you’ve taken 4 trips and submitted 4 surveys, your first and second visits are a pair. Your second and third visits are a pair. And your third and fourth visits are a pair. There are pros and cons to this approach, but it’s a good starting point.

Once I have all of this data, I can ask/answer a few questions:

  • If I stay at Resort X, what is the chance that my next visit will also be at Resort X?
  • If I stay at Resort X, does that make me more likely to visit Resort Y next?
  • If I stay at Resort X, does that make me less likely to visit Resort Y next?

We’ll explore all of these through conditional probabilities. (Google that if you want. Or throw it in a conversation to impress your friends.) But basically it means “Knowing that I’ve done something specific (step 1), how does that impact my chances of doing something else (step 2), compared to the base case of not knowing what step 1 was?” For example, 14.5% of all “second visits” are at Pop Century. How does that number change, up or down, if I know something about the “first visit”? Will it go down if my first visit was at a DVC resort? Will it go up if I stayed at Pop Century for my first visit?

As always, this comes with asterisks. We only know about TouringPlans users, not the general WDW-visiting population. And we only know about visits where surveys were submitted. So there is the possibility that someone visited a resort in between the “pair” that I’m analyzing.

Which Resorts Have the Most Repeat Visitors?

If your first stay is at a specific resort, what is the chance that you’ll stay there on your very next trip?
  • In this graph: orange = value, purple = moderate, gold = deluxe, and blue = DVC.
  • SO much to unpack here. Pop Century has the highest repeat rate of any resort. If you stay at Pop Century, there’s a 42% chance your next stay will also be at Pop Century. Holy moly! LOTS of repeat visitors there. At the very least we can say that Pop Century doesn’t seem to be scaring people away.
  • My AKL-loving heart is broken. Maybe I just have rare taste. Jambo and Kidani easily secure the bottom two spots here, with only 12 and 15% repeat visit rates. So if 10 people stay at Jambo, during the next visit only one of them will stay there again. Oh well, more rooms for me.
  • No matter what you can, or want to, pay for a room, there are resorts that have high and low repeat rates. I’ll admit that I expected DVC resorts to take all of the top spots. Because of the way that home resorts work, people are essentially encouraged to book at their home resort over and over. But only BoardWalk Villas makes it into the top 4 of repeat visiting out of the DVC crowd.
  • All-Star Sports is also surprising to me. It could be the competition crowd fueling that repeat rate. Over half of the repeat pairs were both in the same month, but different years. So either folks there have a very set visiting cadence where they like visiting the same week or month ever year, or they’re returning for a competition that follows a regular schedule.

If I Stay at Resort X, Where Will I Stay Next?

  • Anyone who stays at a value resort inevitably gets drawn to ride the giant Big Wheel on their next visit.

    No need for a fancy graphic here. The vast majority of the time, where you stay for this visit is the most likely candidate for where you stay your second visit. Even at Jambo, with its pitiful 12% revisit rate. No other resort takes more than 12% of Jambo visitors, so it’s still the “most likely”.

  • The only exception is Value resorts. No matter which value resort you choose (All-Star Movies/Music/Sports, Art of Animation, or Pop Century), you are most likely to end up at Pop Century for your next visit. 25-30% of All-Star visitors end up at Pop Century on their next stay. 23% of AOA visitors end up at Pop Century on their next stay. It seems to be the clear winner for those that want to stay at a value resort.

If I Stay at Resort X, Am I More Likely to Stay at Resort Y?

  • For each resort, I pulled the resort that sees the biggest bump in chance to stay there for the second stay. This isn’t the same thing as being most likely for a second stay. It still might not be the most likely, but it sees the biggest percentage increase. You’re statistically more likely to stay there than you otherwise would be.
  • If you stay at Jambo or a Polynesian Villa, you may feel led to try a Treehouse next!

    The vast majority of the time, the resort with the biggest positive bump is the resort you’re staying at now. For example, if you stay at the Swan, on you’re next visit you’re 25 times more likely to stay at the Swan than the average WDW visitor.

  • The only two resorts that saw the biggest positive bump at a different resort both seemed to push people positively to the Treehouses at Saratoga Springs. Weird, right? If you stay at Jambo for your first stay, you’re 5 time more likely to book a Treehouse for your next trip than the average visitor. And if you stay at the Polynesian Villas for your first stay, you’re over 8 times more likely to book a Treehouse for your next trip.

If I Stay at Resort X, Am I Less Likely to Stay at Resort Y?

  • Similar to the positive bump, I pulled the resort that sees the biggest negative push in chance to stay there for the second stay. Sort of a “if you stayed here, you definitely aren’t going to want to stay there” type of analysis. You’re statistically less likely to stay there than you otherwise would be.
  • If you like DVC in the wilderness, Pop Century probably isn’t for you.

    The most negative correlation is found if you stay at Boulder Ridge. On your second stay, you’d be 10 times less likely to stay at Pop Century than the average visitor. So there you go, Pop Century has a weakness. Interestingly, the only other resort that had the largest negative correlation with Pop was Copper Creek. If you stay at Copper Creek, you’d be 7 times less likely to stay at Pop Century on your second stay compared to the average visitor.

  • The next-largest negative correlation is found if you stay at Kidani. Then you’re 8 times less likely to stay at Beach Club Resort on your next stay.

What Does This Mean For You?

  1. If you’re looking for a resort that people are likely to revisit, Pop Century is overall your best bet. For moderates, check out the Cabins at Fort Wilderness. Looking into the Contemporary for a deluxe resort or BowardWalk Villas for DVC.
  2. If your stay is at a value resort, you’re always going to be most likely to stay at Pop Century for your next visit. It makes sense – it has convenient transportation and nicer rooms than other value resorts.
  3. The only way you’re significantly less likely to stay at Pop Century than the average visitor is if you stay at Boulder Ridge or Copper Creek.

Did any of the results this week interest or surprise you? What’s your favorite resort to visit again and again? 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/ or instagram @raisingminniemes

15 thoughts on “Which Walt Disney World Resorts Get Repeat Visitors?

  • June 19, 2021 at 2:13 pm
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    I’m very surprised at the results. I would have thought the classic original monorail resorts would have been a lot higher up on that list. I know a lot of my friends always stay at the Poly — always, always. And I’m very surprised the Cabins at Fort Wilderness beat POFQ in the moderates range. On the other hand, there’s more room in a cabin, and you can cook in a cabin, so maybe its “moderate” tag is alluring — you’re getting a pseudo-studio villa without the scary price tag that comes with DVC. But c’mon, the French Quarter is just so pretty and small! I would love to stay there again.

    As for the Pop Century, well, I have stayed there 3 times already and will be there again for one night in September, so yeah — it’s a fun repeat experience for our family. I get it. No matter where else I stay for most of my vacation, the Pop Century is a good way to start getting into the Disney spirit for our first night in Orlando. And it’s a value resort, so we don’t break the bank.

    Oh, such a thought-provoking article! This is going to stick with me for a while!

    Reply
    • June 20, 2021 at 10:29 am
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      I was surprised too! Especially that each resort category was spread out from top to bottom of the results. Thanks for the thoughtful follow-up!

      Reply
  • June 20, 2021 at 8:33 am
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    This is a really interesting article! You’ll be happy to know that my family loves Jambo House & Kidani, but I know a lot of visitors feel like those properties are too far away from the parks & unless you have your own car….those horrible Disney buses are your only transportation option. I’ve also heard people complain about how far you have to walk to your room…..guess those folks have never been to Vegas!
    I’m not surprised about the low position on the list of some of the smaller resorts that I think are impossible to get into. We’ve been trying to get into Boardwalk villas and Beach club for YEARS, so the opportunity to repeat stay might be challenging.
    As far as All Star resorts go….I don’t love them, but I’ve stayed there many times. My kid loved the pools there AND it get were an affordable choice for a last minute weekend trip when we were AP and lived a lot closer than we do now.
    We also like to try new resorts as often as possible, but always find ourselves returning to AK, Old Key West, and Poly Villas.

    Reply
    • June 20, 2021 at 10:30 am
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      Good to know I’m not the only AKL fan, Kathleen! And I hadn’t thought about your point about some resorts being so popular that they’re difficult to repeat at. Very interesting.

      Reply
  • June 20, 2021 at 9:53 am
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    Interesting. The only place we’ve stayed twice in a row is Coronado Springs, because we wanted and couldn’t get Caribbean Beach. Both times. Cheer competitions or some such. Ended in POR once for the same reason. We love AKL but it’s usually out of our price range.

    Reply
    • June 20, 2021 at 10:31 am
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      AKL is also out of my price range Len. Ha! But we only stay there by renting DVC points. I know that’s not for everyone, but we’ve had very good experiences, and it generally ends up being less expensive than booking a Moderate resort through Disney (even with any relevant promotions).

      Reply
  • June 20, 2021 at 10:01 am
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    Just want to say how much I enjoy your articles. Not only are they informative and really well-researched, but they’re enjoyable reading. Thanks much for your contributions to this blog!

    Reply
    • June 20, 2021 at 10:32 am
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      Thank you, Bob, for your kind comment. You made my day!

      Reply
  • June 20, 2021 at 10:18 am
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    Pop Century isn’t surprising. With the updated rooms and Skyliner it’s almost the perfect combination of value and convenience. I stayed at AKL on my last trip and fell head over heels in love with it. I had no problems with the buses(I was probably lucky or I’m just more patient than most). I’m planning my next trip now that things are hopefully heading back to some kind of normal and AKL is top of my list but it’ll probably come down to money. I can stay longer at Pop or Port Orleans.

    Reply
    • June 20, 2021 at 10:35 am
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      I like the thoughtful balance of time vs money, Scott. I’ve been considering doing an updated version of “same cost, different vacations” where I take a budget and play around with the different experiences you can have. Since I’m not local and generally can’t be away from home for long periods of time due to work, my family opts for making the most of our “short” time at WDW. The most we’ve done at one time is 5 nights.

      I’m also interested to see as demand rises at Pop (and therefore cost rises at Pop), if it continues to be the optimal choice that it seems to be for now.

      Reply
  • June 20, 2021 at 4:53 pm
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    We love staying in the Contemporary or Bay Lake Tower. We’ve stayed in one or the other 10X! We stayed once at the Grand Floridian, but I was extremely disappointed with the quality of the room for what I was paying to stay there. On our most recent trip, we stayed at the Dolphin. My entire family didn’t like it, because we didn’t like the customer service & missed the Disney vibe. We like being able to walk to MK!

    Reply
    • June 20, 2021 at 9:26 pm
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      Glad you know what you like, Shan! I know a few folks that always stay at Swan or Dolphin for the convenience of using Marriott points. But it is very different than a Disney resort.

      Reply
  • June 26, 2021 at 8:25 pm
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    Supremely surprised that pop century gets the most repeats. I think costs need to be taken into account here and demographics because its one of the cheapest rooms as well as super kid friendly with its colors. Visual design here is good but I found pop century to be the most uncomfortable poorly designed room experience. With the rooms opening directly outside its impossible to get humidity to a comfortable level and the retro room design is great for 2 but any more in a single room and it’ll get super small superfast. Food court is nice though. But thats a stupid reason to choose a resort.

    Reply
    • June 26, 2021 at 9:29 pm
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      I think you’re right, Michael – cost certainly must be a factor there. I’m sure people calculate how frequently they could visit if they’re paying for Pop versus paying out of pock for a deluxe resort. There are always trade-offs to be made.

      Reply
  • July 12, 2021 at 9:32 am
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    Fort Wilderness Campground not factored in this. I always heard it had the highest return. Likely because it is Disney’s only campground. Camping options outside of the park continue to shrink.

    Reply

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