Disney’s value resorts are great for the budget conscious traveler. But, did you know that Disney World offers travelers another affordable option? Disney’s moderate resorts are ideal for families, young couples or seasoned citizens who are on a budget but desire a more refined atmosphere and a few more amenities than the value resorts offer.
At Disney World you will find five ‘moderate’ resort options: Disney’s Caribbean Resort, Coronado Springs, Port Orleans Riverside, and Port Orleans French Quarter. Just like at the values, Disney offers guests staying at these resorts free transportation from their resort to various locations throughout Walt Disney World via air conditioned busses. Port Orleans Riverside and Port Orleans French Quarter have an additional option of boat transportation to Downtown Disney from the resorts.
So, what makes these resorts different than the values, other than price? The moderate resorts are slightly larger than the values at 314 square feet with Caribbean Beach Resort having rooms slightly larger at 340 square feet. Rooms at the moderates have queen size beds rather than full size beds, again with the exception of the Caribbean Beach Resort which still has full size beds. Unique to the Port Orleans Riverside, the standard rooms in the Alligator Bayou section have a small single murphy bed allowing for a maximum occupancy of five plus one baby under the age of three. Standard rooms at the other moderates sleep four people plus one baby under the age of three. There are king beds available at all four resorts, for an extra charge.
Similar to the value resorts, the moderates have exterior corridors. But, in the opinion of many, they offer an upscale feel both inside the room in terms of decor and outside in the building architecture and the landscaping. The rooms, although basic, are themed nicely. All the moderate resorts offer high speed internet in the rooms.
Each of Disney’s moderate resorts were developed around a theme. Disney’s Caribbean Beach resort has over 2100 rooms and is divided into villages. Each of these villages represents an area of the Caribbean: Jamaica, Martinique, Barbados, Trinidad and Aruba. The resort has a 45 acre lake. The main pool area as well as the gift shop, arcade and dining options are found in the area called Old Port Royale. All the rooms have flat screen televisions, a mini-fridge and single serve coffee maker. A curtain divides the main sleep area in the room from what is considered the bathroom area with the two sinks being outside the separate room with the toilet and shower. The resort also offers guests themed pirate rooms. These feature headboards that look like with pirate ships and a nightstand that resembles a wood barrel. Disney charges extra for these rooms as well as rooms they considered preferred locations.
Disney’s Coronado Spring Resorts is the newest of the moderate resorts and classified as a moderate family/convention center resort. The theme, as the name would suggest, is a mix between the Southwest and Colonial Mexico. For those living in the Southwest, this resort’s theme will make you feel right at home. For a getaway vacation, you may want to select one of the other three resorts, to give you something new.
The resort is divided into three villages: the Casitas, the Ranchos and the Cabanas. The architecture features stucco buildings as well as Mexican-style bungalows. Guests will find fountains and courtyards throughout the resort. There is a food court and a sit down restaurant located in the main building called El Centro. The ‘Dig Site’ is the main pool area and themed around an archaeological dig site. Guests will find a 50-foot Mayan pyramid at the center of the pool. A 123-foot slide twists out from behind the pyramid.
Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside shares its’ name with the Port Orleans French Quarter. At one time they were two different resorts but Disney has since combined the management team and brought them under the Port Orleans’ banner. The Port Orleans Riverside is themed around the south and uses the Mississippi river as a central part of the theme. The resort is divided into two sections: Magnolia Bend and the Alligator Bayou. Both have completely different slants on They share a main pool area, food court, and restaurants (sit-down and quick service). The two sections several quiet pools.
Magnolia Bend is designed around the ‘elegant’ side of the south with two and three story plantation-style mansions. The Alligator Bayou is much more rustic and consists of 16 two-story Cajun style buildings. Both sections of the resort host over 2000 rooms on nearly 200 acres. The Sassagoula River runs through the resort and guests are able to take boat transportation to the Port Orleans French Quarter as well as Downtown Disney.
A unique feature at this moderate is Rustlers Roost which offers appetizers and features live entertainment by Bob Jackson. Bob is known by many Disney World veterans. Typically he entertains Wednesday through Saturday evenings. He has become so popular doing his piano sing-a-long and comedy show that the lounge area fills quickly. Many guests add this to their ‘must do’ list when they are at Disney World. We thoroughly enjoyed his enthusiasm and his energy. Kids of all ages love to see him perform.
Rooms here and at the Port Orleans French Quarter are 314 square feet and have queen size beds as well as flat screen TVs and a mini-refrigerator. A coffee maker, iron/ironing board and hair dryer are also found in the room. The resort, keeping true to theme, has a swimming hole with rushing waterfalls for their main pool area. Those young at heart will find a 95-foot waterslide fashioned after an old mill.
The Port Orleans French Quarter is my favorite moderate resort. It is themed around New Orleans’ historic French Quarter. You will find cobblestone streets, gas lamps, wrought-iron balconies and landscaping that is amazing. A wealth of Mardi Gras characters and jazz music can be found throughout the resort area. Disney has done an outstanding job of incorporating the theme into the Doubloon Lagoon pool area. Kids seem to really enjoy swimming under the water coming from the huge clam shell or sliding out of ‘Scales’ the local sea serpent’s mouth on the 51-foot- slide. Unique to this resort and the Port Orleans Riverside is the fact that they are ‘sister’ resorts so guests can choose to also use the pools at either resort.
One of the reasons we like this resort is because it is smaller. It is about half the size (1000+ rooms) of the other three moderate resorts. For us, it did not feel as ‘busy’ as the other moderate resorts. Fewer rooms equal fewer people. Also, Port Orleans Riverside and French Quarter often share bus transportation to the theme parks. The French Quarter is typically the first stop for getting on the bus to go to the parks (it then visits the four stops at Riverside) and the first stop to get off the bus, when coming back to the resorts. With young children we found this an added bonus. Plus, we enjoy jazz music and Scats Lounge located at the French Quarter. Scats is a nice place to unwind at the end of a long day. If this theme isn’t quite for you, then I strongly recommend Port Orleans Riverside.
One thing not to miss while staying at either Port Orleans resort is the horse drawn carriage rides. For young couples or families, the atmosphere at night really lends itself to these carriage rides. If you prefer a faster moving mode of transportation you can also rent bikes at the Port Orleans Riverside Marina and make good use of the paths that run through both resorts. Or you can rent a boat to explore the Sassagoula River on your own.
Why a moderate over a value? First, if you are on a tight budget, the value hotels are your best option. They put you in the middle of the magic and provide you the basics with a Disney flare. If you have a little extra to spend I would definitely recommend that you look into one of the moderate resorts. The theming and touches associated with the moderates definitely do take the lodging experience to the next level. The increased room size and queen beds are also a big draw for our family. Every little bit of space helps. Plus, we like having a ‘sit-down’ restaurant as well as a food court and a lounge at the resort.
If you still are not sure what lodging option is best for you, then I highly recommend you work with a travel agent that specializes in Disney. Castle Dreams Travel™ can help you evaluate exactly what it is you are looking for in terms of your lodging as well as help you with advanced dining reservations and special event tickets. Having made over 30 trips, myself, to Disney World, as an agent I am able to offer my clients hints and tips that can save you time planning your trip and help to make your trip truly magical once you are there.
Thanks, Debbie, for a great article!