If you’ve been a fan of Disney’s value resorts, it might be time to consider an upgrade. Coronado Springs, Caribbean Beach, and the two Port Orleans resorts have a lot to offer for a relatively “moderate” additional cost.
The Top 5 Reasons to stay in a Walt Disney World Moderate Resort
1. Beautiful, immersive environments
You’re at Port Orleans – the gentle clop-clop of a horse-drawn carriage echoes from along the river where the reflected lamp posts seem to dance in the water. Or maybe you’ve paused on a bridge at Caribbean Beach and are watching the sun go down over Barefoot Bay. You might be lying in a hammock on the white sand beaches at Coronado Springs. At a moderate resort, you feel transported by the many layers of details in the theming around you. The main buildings, public areas, landscaping, and winding walkways at moderate resorts are truly beautiful. Additionally, your room won’t just be in a giant concrete hotel rectangle — it will be in a graceful mansion, in a New Orleans townhouse with curling wrought iron, in a pastel, red-roofed Caribbean village, or in tile-roofed ranchos from old Mexico.
2. Themed Rooms
The Royal Guestrooms in the Magnolia Bend section of Port Orleans Riverside are so richly furnished, you’ll feel you’re at a deluxe resort – though no deluxe rooms offer this level of Disney theming. The bathroom fittings are gleaming gold with faucets shaped like the golden genie lamp from ALADDIN. The large luggage stand is a replica of the “footstool” dog in Beast’s Castle from BEAUTY AND THE BEAST. Cinderella’s coach is featured on a rack with coat hooks, and in front of the dresser, look down at your feet to see the magic carpet from ALADDIN. There are portraits of the Disney princesses and silhouettes of their princes. The crowning glory of the rooms is the private fireworks show in the headboards. The push of a button will send up showers of fiber optic magic over a bayou scene from PRINCESS AND THE FROG. You really will feel like royalty as you walk up the sweeping staircase of your mansion into a royal room fit for a prince or princess.
Pirate rooms are featured at the Caribbean Beach Resort in the Trinidad South section. Here the full-sized beds are shaped like pirate boats complete with wheel, sail, and ships lanterns in the rigging. The bedside table is shaped like a barrel (and equipped with USB power points!). The mini fridge is also encased in a barrel while the dresser is formed of what looks like stacked up crates of ships stores. The luggage rack looks like a mysterious oak treasure chest. Pirates of the Caribbean fans will be happy to find artwork depicting scenes from the ride on the walls and curtains.
3. The Restaurants
Unlike the value resorts, moderates have their own excellent table service restaurants. At Coronado Springs you might start your day at Las Ventanas with sourdough French toast or a Chorizo Skillet for breakfast. You might dress up for dinner and stroll over to enjoy a gourmet meal in a Mayan temple at the Maya Grill (save room for the Chocolate Abuelita Panna Cotta). Dinner at Boatright’s at Port Orleans Riverside might include House-made Pimiento Cheese Fritters with Pepper Jelly or Voodoo Chicken with Doubloon Bread Pudding or Bourbon Street Pecan Pie for dessert. Over at Caribbean Beach, Shutters might be serving up their Pepperberry-rubbed Caribbean Pork Ribs with Chocolate-Orange Cake to follow. While Port Orleans French Quarter doesn’t have a table service restaurant, it is a short walk or boat ride over to Port Orleans Riverside’s Shutters.
The moderate food courts are excellent, too. They also enjoy a lot more theming than their value brethren. The Riverside Mill at Port Orleans Riverside has a working water wheel while the Sassagoula Floatworks and Food Factory at Port Orleans French Quarter is themed as a warehouse storing Mardi Gras parade components. (Beignets are served here with Chicory Coffee Ganache, Raspberry, or Caramel dipping sauce!) At Caribbean Beach’s Old Port Royale, you’ll stroll along a little Caribbean “street” with lamps strung overhead, discovering a wide choice of menus including their popular Cuban Sandwich. The Calypso rhythms of the Caribbean music and the brightly painted tables and chairs create a colorful tropical atmosphere. At Coronado Springs, the Pepper Market is also bursting with vibrant color … and flavor! They offer Mexican specialties such as empanadas, enchiladas, and Yucatan Roasted Chicken.
4. The Pools
Moderate resort recreation has distinct advantages – water slides, theming, quiet pools, and pool towels!
Port Orleans French Quarter has one of the most beloved pools on Disney property, Doubloon Lagoon. The “lagoon” is presided over (and encoiled in!) “Scales,” the aqua sea serpent. A 50-foot pool slide sends you out his fanged mouth and down his curling pink tongue! You’ll spot sea serpent coils emerging largely from the pavement across the whole pool area. The end of his tail winds up not far from Mardi Grogs Pool Bar where adults can order up a variety of cocktails (including a Hurricane) in a souvenir hurricane glass.
Ol’ Man Island (really an island — accessed by a trio of wooden bridges) is the Port Orleans Riverside pool. Here a pool slide, almost 100 feet long, has been created out of an abandoned saw mill with unexpected water falls to dodge. Adults might enjoy an Abita Turbodog at Muddy Rivers (be sure to check out the unique bar lights after dark). If you happen to be staying at either of the Port Orleans Resorts, you are also allowed to pool hop and use any of the pools at either of the resorts.
Caribbean Beach’s pool, Fuentes del Morro, is themed to represent a colonial Spanish fortress. Pirates beware — those powerful cannons shoot water! There are two water slides and an elaborate shipwreck play area for little ones.
At Coronado Springs, the Lost City of Cibola Pool includes an impressive 50-foot-tall Mayan pyramid, its crumbling steps wrapped in thick jungle vines. Even the adjacent playground is themed around Mayan ruins. A spitting jaguar guards the 120-foot water slide, while a twenty-two person hot tub is the largest on Disney property.
In addition to the amazing themed pools, the moderates have a whole lot of quiet pools. Port Orleans Riverside alone has five while Caribbean Beach has six. Here you can sit by the pool and get away from it all.
You’ll inevitably feel a bit more pampered and a lot more vacation magic when you don’t have to lug your room towels to the pool, as you do at a value resort. At moderate pools, large barges full of fluffy white towels are waiting for your convenience. Help yourself to as many as your family needs. It’s a simple amenity, but makes for a much nicer pool experience.
A Bunch of Little Things That May Feel Like Big Things
- 60 square feet may not be a lot, but it can make a moderate guest room feel quite a bit roomier than a value room.
- A room that sleeps five guests without investing in a family suite can make a moderate less expensive than a value. At Port Orleans Riverside, there are Alligator Bayou rooms that sleep a fifth person in a pull-down bed while many rooms at Caribbean Beach have a pull-down bunk to sleep a fifth person. Please note, if you have 5 people that are three and older on your reservation, you will be given a room that sleeps 5.
- Bigger beds. For the most part, moderate resorts have queen sized beds whereas value resorts have double beds.
- Boat transportation! Guests at Port Orleans Riverside and Port Orleans French Quarter can travel to Disney Springs via the Sassagoula River. This is very convenient and a lot of fun.
- Bike rentals, marshmallow roasts, Disney movies under the stars, fishing, and volleyball are some of the activities you’ll find at a moderate resort.
- Moderate resorts offer so much more fun, more theming, more food, more choices – that some guests might choose to forego a park day in order to soak up all the Disney at their resort. Depending on your vacation style and the amount of time you plan to spend at your resort, a moderate resort might be the best fit for your next Disney trip.
Have you ever stayed at Walt Disney World Moderate resort?