This week I’ll continue with my Disney World Resort Series and venture into the world of moderate resorts. Moderate resorts are like the best of both worlds, you get more sophisticated theming and decorating but have many great amenities that value resorts possess. There are four moderate resorts on property, Caribbean Beach, Coronado Springs, Port Orleans Riverside, and Port Orleans French Quarter (I’ve decided not to include the Fort Wilderness since they are kind of in their own category). I have now stayed at all 4 of these resorts and have enjoyed myself immensely at all of them. Here are some reasons why moderate resorts are the best. Some of my pros might be cons for other families in different situations so take these with a grain of salt. These resorts are very similar in what they provide and in the end, it might come down to theming preference for your family.
A similarity that I put into the pro category are the quick service food courts. Like I had mentioned in my Value Resort post, I like having the option of a food court. I don’t always want a sit down restaurant when I’m on the go or trying to save a buck. The moderate food courts have more themed specific options so you feel even more immersed, such as the French pastry beignets at Port Orleans French Quarter, jerk chicken at Caribbean Beach, or nachos at Coronado Springs.
While these moderate resorts are pretty large, they all have very beautiful grounds and walking paths for their guests. If you enjoy leisurely walks or like to run on your vacation, the moderates are an excellent choice for you. These hotels are so big that they allow for great walking paths. At the Port Orleans resorts, you can walk over bridges, cut through beautifully manicured lawns, and stroll down the rivers path. At Caribbean beach and Coronado springs, you can enjoy paths that take you around a giant lake, great for a morning of quiet reflection before the bustle of a Disney park. All of the moderates also have boat rental options for some added fun.
Now to get a little more in depth about each resort.
Caribbean Beach has that island flair with a tropical, laid back feeling. Buildings are named after the Caribbean Islands: Aruba, Jamaica, North Trinidad, South Trinidad, Barbados, and Martinique. This resort is perfect for families that enjoy the feel of a beach vacation or pirate theme. Speaking of pirates, you have the option to stay in a pirate themed room and sleep inside a pirate ship bed. Keep in mind, these rooms are an added upgrade and they are the furthest away from the food court. The main pool is also pirate themed. This is my favorite pool of all the moderates partially because I’m a pirate fan but also because there were a lot of neat nooks and crannies to explore. Caribbean beach also has it’s own restaurant, Shutters, which can be used as a table service option if you are on the dining plan.
For most guests staying in Barbados, Aruba, or Jamaica, you will need to cross 2 bridges separated by a tiny island named Caribbean Cay to get to the food court and pool. This island is a great spot for kids to explore, but it can also make a long walk to the food court and pool. Keep in mind at most of the moderate resorts, if walking is difficult or you are trying to reserve as much energy as you possibly can for the parks, you should think about possibly reserving a preferred room. If you’re unsure which room to reserve or you find the walk to be long, there is an internal shuttle at the Caribbean beach.
The shuttle moves in a circle around the resort stopping at all the “islands,” food court, and check in building. If the treck to the main pool is too long, all the islands also have their own quiet pools. They are not themed, but they are less crowded and will still feel great on a hot day. The buses for the parks also stop at all of islands. This at times can make travel time longer so plan accordingly. For me, one of the negatives of this resort is the room. I did not find it to be decorated as nicely as the other moderate resorts, however the rooms are currently undergoing a room renovation, and the updated rooms are quite lovely.
Coronado Springs has a Southwest/Mexican Theme. The themed buildings at this resort include Casitas, Ranchos, and Cabanas. This is also the only moderate resort that houses a convention center and they have expanded their room options to include business levels and suites. This is a great option for someone looking for more amenities but not quite ready to pay deluxe level pricing. Coronado Springs also boasts an internal shuttle that runs throughout the resort. There are three quite pools in addition to the Mayan Temple themed main pool.
You will definitely be able to grab some Mexican food at the Pepper Market food court, or grab a bite by the pool. The grounds are very beautiful here. Again, this is great hotel to walk around the lake, a little under half a mile to go all the way around. I have to say that even though out of all the moderate resorts, this theme least appealed to me, I thought the room was beautifully decorated. It seemed so modern and less “Disnified.” Same as Caribbean Beach, buses to the park will make a bunch of stops before they head out. Try to give yourself plenty of time.
Port Orleans French Quarter:
Port Orleans French Quarter offers quaint New Orleans style building and a Mardi Gras themed atmosphere. You will see a lot of rod iron and filigree all over the place. This is by far the smallest of the moderate resorts, but a perfect option if you want the moderate price without the moderate size. There is no internal shuttle here, there is only one bus stop, and only one pool. This hotel has a lot of charm and its smaller size makes it a great choice for families of any size, age, or ability.
French Quarter has a nice food quart, although many people have mentioned they are creeped out by the larger than life Mardi Gras props hanging from the ceiling. I’m usually too hungry to notice such a thing. I’ll admit I was a bit more freaked out by the giant serpent trying to swallow me whole at the pool. One of my favorite things about French Quarter is that along with its sister resort, Riverside, both resorts are along a river. This adds some excellent walking paths (you can stroll back and forth between resorts giving you some more dining options) and the boat to Downtown Disney.
This is a huge perk. It’s like its own little ride down the river, past the Disney Treehouses, offering amazing views of Downtown Disney. Just an FYI, even though this resort is smaller, the theme park buses will make stops at Riverside so again, this will tack on some time. Plan accordingly.
Port Orleans Riverside:
Port Orleans Riverside is the sister resort to Port Orleans French Quarter. River side is divided into the Magnolia Bend Plantation style building and the more rustic Alligator Bayou. Some of the Magnolia Bend buildings have been renovated into new Royal rooms. If you use your imagination, you can pretend you are in a secret guest room of Cinderellas castle. Riverside has 5 quiet pools along with their main pool themed kind of like a fishing hole. The pool is on its own island and is just a short walk to the food court and table service restaurant, Boatwright’s. One of the cool things about the Alligator Bayou rooms is they all have a drop down murphy bed that could sleep a kid or very small adult. This is the only moderate resort that can sleep 5 people and that could be a huge money saving option that will allow you to enjoy more turkey legs in the park. Just like its sister resort, Riverside has beautiful grounds, paths, bridges, gardens and more. You will also be able to grab a boat down to Downtown Disney.
Overall, you can’t go wrong with a moderate. They tend to have very similar prices and are a great option for families looking for a little more peace and quiet than a value but are not ready to plunge deep into their pockets for a deluxe. Moderates can get down to $169 per night depending on when you choose to visit. Pick your perfect theme and you can’t go wrong. These 4 resorts offer Disney charm at an affordable rate. If you have any more questions on moderate resorts, please feel free to contact me.