by Disney Magic Diva
You’ve decided to take a trip to Walt Disney World Resort, and now a big question is – “Where should we stay?” Choosing a resort involves balancing your family’s size, budget, and park touring preferences. With dozens of Disney resorts (not to mention hundreds of choices for staying off-property!) it can be a big decision.
For our family, it makes sense to stay at a Disney resort. We love the convenience and extra perks, and can even find deals at value resorts when the budget is tight. But when we are ready to splurge, we love staying at the deluxe resorts. The additional space and amenities make it an extra magical vacation. And the location of the deluxe resorts generally means we can be at the parks even faster. (If you rent Disney Vacation Club points, it can even be much more budget friendly than you might think! Check it out!)
When we travel with the grandkids, we often spend most of our time at Magic Kingdom. So, we’ve tried almost all of the deluxe resorts close to Magic Kingdom – only Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort remains on our bucket list. All of these resorts have a Disney Vacation Club (DVC) component and if you’re traveling later this summer as Walt Disney World reopens, resort options are relatively limited to DVC properties. So, if you’re trying to decide on a deluxe resort close to Magic Kingdom here’s a brief summary of our experiences.
Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
As the flagship resort, this is the choice for those who want the ultimate in elegance and proximity to Magic Kingdom. The seaside Victorian theme is both stunning and relaxing. Live music in the lobby; views of Cinderella Castle and Seven Seas Lagoon; monorail, boat, AND bus transportation all available (and soon a walking path to Magic Kingdom); an on-site spa and Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique; five-star restaurants – Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa has so many advantages.
Looking for afternoon tea? It’s here. Want to parade with princesses? You can do that. Need a fun character meal? Try 1900 Park Fare to meet Cinderella, Prince Charming, Anastasia and Drizella OR you can have a Supercalifragilistic breakfast with Mary Poppins, Alice, Mad Hatter, Tigger and Winnie the Pooh. (*Note: dining reservations and character interactions may be unavailable due to COVID-19 safety limitations)
If you’re traveling during the holidays, you’ll be able to enjoy the life-size gingerbread house in the lobby. As soon as you walk in, you can’t miss the scrumptious aroma. And inside the gingerbread house is a store where you can buy delectable sweets and treats to take home. Even if you don’t stay at the Grand Floridian, it’s worth a trip here to see the gingerbread house during the holiday season.
We’ve stayed here twice – once with our young grandchildren and once with our adult children. Both times were fabulous and so memorable. Every time we’d walk into the lobby I’d be struck with an overwhelming sense of calm and awe. I felt pampered. I loved it!
Disney’s Contemporary Resort
As the original Disney hotel, the Disney’s Contemporary Resort is an iconic symbol of Walt Disney World. We’ve even spotted it from the air a couple of times as we’ve flown in or out of Orlando.
One of the big advantages of staying at the Contemporary is walking access to Magic Kingdom. Just a short 5-8 minute walk from the lobby, and you’re in the park! It’s so convenient to be able to go from your room to the park so quickly. And whether it’s to escape the midday heat, get some rest for a sleepy child, or even beat an approaching afternoon thunderstorm, getting back to your room quickly is a tremendous advantage.
Another huge perk of the Contemporary is watching fireworks over Cinderella Castle from the rooftop. If you’ve never experienced this, you should absolutely put it on your “to do” list for your next Disney trip. Naturally dining at Chef Mickey’s and watching the monorail roll by is always a top choice, and when you’re staying at the Contemporary, it’s so convenient.
The Contemporary, like the Grand Floridian, has multiple buildings – a main building and several smaller buildings surrounding it. We stayed in a theme park view room of the main building at the Contemporary, and the views were spectacular! Laying in bed while and having Cinderella Castle be the last thing you see before you drift off to dreamland was an experience we’ll never forget. (Read my review here.)
While the views were extremely magical, the décor was not really suited to a family with young children. The modern, upscale furnishings were beautiful, but not especially kid friendly. If you have little ones, you may want to look for a different resort. We’ve stayed with the grandkids at several different deluxe resorts, and this was the least accommodating in terms of space for them to play in the room and practical spaces for storage.
Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
Another deluxe resort close to Magic Kingdom, Disney’s Wilderness Lodge has been a favorite for our grandkids. (It’s the one resort they’ve requested when given a choice!) It’s rustic Pacific Northwest/National Park theme evokes feelings of adventure, nature and just plain fun! Of course, the bunk beds in the rooms were a big hit too! (Read my full review here.)
Wilderness Lodge is a huge resort. It is adjacent to Disney Vacation Club properties Copper Creek Villas and Boulder Ridge Villas – in fact it’s sometimes hard to distinguish one property from another. (See Pixie Dusted Diva’s review of Copper Creek here.) It’s also easily confused with Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground, although they are distinct properties. Be sure you don’t confuse them when using Disney transportation, or you’ll end up at the wrong resort! And speaking of transportation, we loved that Wilderness Lodge has boat transportation to Magic Kingdom. It’s so wonderful to just roll your stroller on and off the boat, and not bother with waking a sleeping child.
We also loved the handy boat transportation to the Contemporary and Fort Wilderness. Easy access to other resorts makes dining and activity choices so much more convenient. We loved having breakfast at Chef Mickey’s then just walking to Magic Kingdom. Or pop over to the Contemporary to set sail with Captain Hook and Smee on the Pirates and Pals Fireworks Dessert Voyage. (Tinker Belle Diva tells you why you should!) And going for a pony ride at Fort Wilderness was a big highlight for my grandson. Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue at Fort Wilderness is a family favorite. When we stay at Wilderness Lodge, all these activities are easy to do!
Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort
The one deluxe resort near Magic Kingdom we still need to visit is Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort. We’ve come close – we had reservations once then changed them at the last minute – but we still haven’t actually been overnight guests. But that doesn’t mean we haven’t explored the resort! (You can read Fairy Diva’s review here though).
O’hana, another iconic restaurant, is found at “the Poly.” It took an extraordinarily long time before we found ourselves dining here, but we finally got to enjoy breakfast with Lilo and Stitch. Of course the Spirit of Aloha dinner show is famous as well – you can read Tangled Diva’s review here. Capt. Cook’s is a great quick service choice when you just have to get Tonga Toast, and if you’re in need of Dole Whip you can always stop by Pineapple Lanai.
When you’re ready to travel again and want to book a deluxe resort near Magic Kingdom (or any resort for that matter!) be sure to contact Patricia at All for Dreams Travel for expert, FREE help in planning your vacation!
*This article was written before COVID, not all the restaurants or activities are currently open. Please check the Walt Disney World website for the most up to date experience updates.
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