Disney World Moderate Resorts
There are 4 different Disney World Moderate Resorts that guests can choose from. These resorts are a step up from the value in terms of luxuries and theming, and they aren’t nearly as expensive as the Deluxe resorts. For resort guests that aren’t looking for the cheapest possible hotel, yet don’t want to pay an arm and a leg, moderate resorts are a great choice.
As mentioned, there are 4 different Moderate Resorts: Port Orleans - Riverside, Coronado Springs, Caribbean Beach, and Port Orleans - French Quarter. Before we break down these 4 resorts, let’s first discuss the pros and cons of moderate resorts as a whole.
Moderate Resorts vs Value - Advantages
Moderate resorts offer Disney guests a great balance of features at a cost that doesn’t break the bank. All of the normal perks that you’ll get at a Value resort are available at Moderate Resorts. A moderate resort is usually about $100 more expensive, per night, than a value resort. We are going to discuss 3 areas where Moderate Resorts really shine when going up against Value Resorts. Theming, Resort Amenities and Guest Rooms. Then we’ll discuss 2 areas where I feel Moderate Resorts are at an extreme disadvantage: Transportation and resort size.
Moderate resorts are large and give guests the feeling that they’ve stepped into another world. These resorts have excellent theming and are great for guests who like to get away from the insanity of the theme parks. Whereas all value resorts have a very similar feel, the moderate resorts are all completely different in their overall ambiance and character.
A stay at Caribbean Beach is a totally different experience than a trip to Coronado Springs. These different themes can provide vacations that feel completely different to those that you’ve taken in the past. Disney World, as always, knocks the details out of the park.
Kids will love the pools at moderate resorts, as they have water slides and hot tubs. This makes a huge difference. I know that when we’ve stayed at moderate resorts, the presence of a water slide would make the pool a highlight of the trip. You’ll end up spending more time at your resorts, and the outdoor bars and overall theming will make your relaxation more enjoyable.
All moderates aside from the French Quarter have table-service restaurants. This means that if you’ve had a long day at the park, or just decided to have a resort day, you can sit down for a nice meal without having to worry about travelling to another park. While the cafeteria areas in moderate resorts have a very similar look to those in the value resorts, you’ll find that the enhanced theming provides for a much wider selection of food, much of it appropriately themed around the resort in which you are located.
Guests at moderate resorts will LOVE the additional space. Value rooms are 260 square feet and have double beds. But at a moderate resort, rooms are 314 square feet and feature queen beds! For two adults or adult-sized teens, the difference in a double and a queen is huge.
Two moderate resorts, Port Orleans - Riverside and Coronado Springs, actually offer pull-out beds for children! For a family of 5, these two resorts can save guests a lot of money. Value resorts don’t offer any normal room options for 5 people so these families will have to upgrade to the significantly more expensive family suites.
Moderate Resorts vs Value - Disadvantages
Many of the Moderate Resorts are very spread out and so will offer multiple bus stops around the resort. While some might list the “short walk” as a feature of moderate resorts, the multiple bus stops are actually extremely annoying. As an example, Caribbean Beach has SIX DIFFERENT BUS STOPS. While that might save you some walking time, you may sit on that bus for 30 minutes before you actually leave the park. If you’ve ever waited at a bus stop, you know all the different time delays that will happen. The loading/unloading of handicapped passengers can take a long time. I can promise you that if you are staying at Caribbean Beach, you’ll consider taking an Uber or driving after you’ve spent an hour on a bus waiting to get to a park.
Some of the moderate resorts are absolutely huge. I see very little upside in staying at a huge resort. I’m not opposed to walking, that’s fine. But it’s very inconvenient to spend 10-15 minutes walking to breakfast, wait in line and then spend 10-15 minutes walking back. The Caribbean Beach has an internal bus system, but waiting on a bus is just another wait and may not save you any time.
This sprawl might be beautiful but it can also be a huge pain-in-the-neck. This sprawl will definitely show up when we rank the best moderate resorts. Long walks, multiple bus stops and long distances between resort amenities are a nuisance, and a major annoyance in your vacation.
I’m going to get into the pros and cons of each Moderate Resort down below. There are a couple resorts that I highly recommend, and there are a few that I will not recommend. If you can get into an ideal moderate resort, it’s a great way to really enjoy your Disney vacation, without completely breaking the bank. But if you’re not careful, your move to a moderate resort will add price and frustration to your vacation. To make sure that doesn’t happen, let’s look at each moderate resort.
Pros and Cons of Each Disney World Moderate Resort
Caribbean Beach resort is the largest of all the moderate resorts. There are 6 different villages, each one with it’s own unique style and flavor. This resort is cheery and bright, with a unique feel that differs from any of the other moderate resorts. While you may fall in love with this resort, there are a few things that can make this resort an absolute nightmare.
Pros to Caribbean Beach
The beauty of this resort is a definite pro. Even when you get inside the cafeteria, the theming is spectacular. Most of the counter service restaurants are located in “Market Street” which is themed brilliantly.
The pool is tremendous and this resort also has a rooming section that is themed around Pirates of the Caribbean. These rooms are fantastic.
Disney’s new Skyliner system is coming to the Caribbean Beach resort in 2019. This will give the Caribbean Beach resort a massive upgrade. This resort is close to Hollywood Studios and will be one of the best resorts for guests headed to that park. Guests will also be a gondola ride away from the International Gateway at Epcot.
Cons to Caribbean Beach
The downside to Caribbean Beach is that the resort is extremely large and spread out. More than any other resort, you can waste a lot of time on the bus system, and you can waste a lot of time walking to and from the main lobby. For my family, time is at a premium in the morning, especially if we are trying to get to rope drop. When you have a room that’s located a long way from the front, now you’ve got to build in even more morning time to account for the walk to and from breakfast, and the long commute with the bus system.
Did I mention the bus system? :) There are 6 bus stops. You can waste a lot of time waiting. Even once you get on the bus, you may be forced to wait through multiple bus stops. As we mentioned above, each stop at a bus stop can take a long time.
Despite the fantastic overall ambiance and feel of the food court area, I didn’t enjoy the food as much as I did in the other Moderate Resorts.
Our Recommendation: More than any other resort, I’d recommend Preferred Rooms for Caribbean Beach. This should get you closer to the front and cut out long and time-consuming walks. But it will do nothing to cut down on the long bus rides to the Magic Kingdom and the Animal Kingdom. Before the Skyliner system, this was my least favorite moderate resort due to the transportation issues. Until we see the Skyliner system in action, it’s difficult to get a feel for how much of a benefit this will be.
Port Orleans - French Quarter
Port Orleans French Quarter puts you in the heart of New Orleans. This is a unique resort with a different style and feel. This resort is also very small, much smaller than the other moderate resorts. This gives the French Quarter some major advantages over the other moderates.
Pros to French Quarter
As mentioned, the small size of the French Quarter means you’ll be walking a lot less in this resort than in the other moderates. The food is excellent, with excellent baked goods and creole-inspired dishes. Due to the small size, there is only one bus stop! This is definitely a big benefit as you don’t have to spend a lot of time waiting for your bus to go to multiple bus stops.
The French Quarter also has a ferry that goes to Disney Springs! While this is a really relaxing ferry ride, the ferry takes a long time and can eat up a big chunk of your day. It’s definitely not recommended for guests that are in a hurry.
Cons to French Quarter
The smaller size of this resort applies to many of the amenities. The arcade is smaller, the pool is smaller and the food court area is smaller. This resort is also the only moderate resort that lacks a table-service restaurant. But you can walk to Port Orleans - Riverside to eat at their table-service restaurant, Boatwrights.
As mentioned, the pool area is smaller and my kids definitely enjoyed it the least of all of the resorts they’ve been to. Overall, this is a much quieter resort, and so while kids will enjoy it, there are many others that they’d find far more enjoyable.
Finally, there are no rooms at the French Quarter that accommodate 5 guests. If you are a family of 5, you’ll need to stay at a different Disney resort.
Our Recommendation: In certain situations, the French Quarter is my most recommended moderate resort. If you want to step up to a nicer resort experience, but are still planning to spend the majority of your time at the parks, this is the moderate choice that I’d recommend. The pool has a slide, the food is good, the rooms are nice and the size is small, so you won’t waste a lot of time on transportation. For guests that want to really take advantage of their resort, they may find the French Quarter a bit boring.
Port Orleans - Riverside
Port Orleans Riverside is the sister resort to the previously reviewed French Quarter resort. This is a sprawling resort built around a river that winds it’s way through the resort. This resort definitely has it’s own feel, as well as it’s own strengths and weaknesses.
Pros to Riverside
The pool area in this resort is fantastic, among the best of all the moderate resorts. Large and spacious, this pool has a nice slide that is a huge upgrade to the pool at it’s sister resort. The food court is also large and full of variety. Riverside has a table-service restaurant named Boatwrights. This restaurant is rarely crowded and has mixed reviews. The menu looks awesome, but it frequently seems to disappoint.
Riverside has the ability to handle 5 people in one standard room. This can save a lot of money as most resorts will require family suites, which are far more expensive than the 5th sleeper rooms.
Cons to Riverside
Riverside is large and sprawling with 4 bus stops and long walks from one side of the resort to the other. This can lead to very long walks to the food area and long travel times to the parks. This is also a very popular resort and can seem quite crowded when it is full.
Our Recommendation: This is a great resort and many people rank it as the best moderate. I suppose in certain situations it is. But my issue with this resort is that it’s huge, there are long walks, and there are 4 bus stops. With the Skyliner system, the Caribbean Beach resort could be a better alternative, in terms of travel.
If I were choosing the Riverside resort, I’d make sure that I got a preferred room to cut down on all the time-consuming back and forth to the front. I’d also make sure I had a car. If that’s not an option for you, you will grow frustrated with the bus system as this is a crowded resort, and the bus is the only non-uber option for guests without cars.
For families with 5 people, you’ll definitely enjoy the ability to stay at Riverside without paying for a suite. That’s a big advantage for a family in this situation.
Coronado Springs is another large moderate resort that wraps around a huge lake. This is a resort with a Southwestern flavor. This shows up in the decor, the food and the overall ambiance of Coronado Springs. The ups and downs of this resort are perhaps the most dramatic of all moderate resorts
Pros to Coronado Springs
Everything is themed wonderfully. The rooms are really nice and the resort is beautiful. The food at Coronado Springs is definitely the most unique, and probably the best food of any moderate resort. Both the counter-service and table-service options are excellent and all Southwestern themed.
This resort is home to a convention center, so there are some amenities that you won’t find at the other moderate resorts. There is a nice gym, a massage parlor, a salon, and a business center.
The Dig Site pool is generally considered to be one of the best resort pools at Disney. It also boasts the largest hot tub of all resorts.
After that group of positives, why wouldn’t anyone want to stay here?
Cons to Coronado Springs
Coronado Springs is absolutely huge. Some of the walking distances to the front lobby are just absurd. Look, walking is healthy, it’s fun and the resort is beautiful. But it’s also extremely time-consuming. One way to cut this out is by spending the extra money on a preferred room. I recommend that Coronado Springs guests spend that extra money.
As is the case with Caribbean Beach and Riverside, there are a lot of bus stops and this again makes for really long commute times when you utilize the bus system. The bus system is the only way to get to the Disney parks for guests without cars.
The convention center means you’ll have a lot of business guests. Personally I don’t think this is a big deal. Business guests are easy and rarely take advantage of many of the amenities, such as the pool area. But for some reason many guests don’t like the feel of a Disney resort with a lot of business guests.
Our Recommendation: This is an incredible resort, with one major drawback, the massive size. If you stay here, you definitely need to pay for preferred rooms and stay as close to the front as possible. A week-long vacation in a room with an inconvenient location is a nightmare. Don’t let this mistake happen. But on the other hand, if you can get a great room, it’s the best possible moderate resort.
Next, let’s take a look at Disney’s Deluxe resorts.