What Is The Best Moderate Resort at Walt Disney World?


Hi everyone, I’m back with another look at some of the best resorts at WDW!  Last time, we talked about the best value resorts at Disney, but now it’s time to give some love to one of my favorite resort categories at Disney, the moderates.  The moderates are great because they really do offer a nice blend between the value and deluxe resorts –  it’s at a slightly higher price point than value resorts but you also get elaborately themed pools (which include water slides!), table service restaurants, and depending on the resort you go to, you may have some additional recreational activities, in-room food delivery, and pool bars.

In many ways, it’s tough to make a call on which moderate resort is the best, because they share many similar qualities.  For example, all the moderates have been upgraded to have queen beds (with some exceptions here and there, which I’ll note later) and the theming in all the resorts are top notch in their own right.  I think what will determine the best moderate resort is what feature is the most important to you.  If there are specific aspects that are non-negotiable for you, like the specific theme, distance to the main resort areas, transportation, or size of the resort, then the choice might be a little bit simpler.  So let’s go on a tour, shall we?

Our first stop is Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort, where the theme is a blend of the American Southwest and Mexico.  This sprawling convention resort has 1,921 rooms on property.  Most rooms can have a maximum of 4 guests, but there are certain suites that can have up to a maximum of 6 guests.  The grounds are tailored to three different regions all circling a 15-acre lake.  The Casitas buildings will treat guests to more of a city feel and is the closest to the common areas and the convention center.  The Ranchos buildings have a more rural setting complete with desert-like landscaping.  Finally, the Cabanas buildings are meant to reflect the coastal regions of Mexico.

Here are some additional features of Coronado Springs Resort:

  • It is the only moderate resort that has a convention center attached to it.  While business travelers typically stay within the convention center areas, there can be a noticeably higher number of guests in common areas like the pools and Pepper Market.
  • It features the La Vida Health Club, the only health club on any moderate property at Disney.
  • The La Vida Health Club also offers spa services, including massages and facials.
  • There is an onsite salon, Casa de Belleza, located in the Casitas section.
  • It’s main feature pool is called the Dig Site.  Themed after the Lost City of Cibola, it really is one of the more impressive pools at Disney, with a 50-food pyramid as its centerpiece and a 123-foot water slide entertaining guests.
  • There is a nice playground area for kids next to the Dig Site.
  • Coronado Springs does not share a bus with another resort, but there are several stops within the property.
  • Animal Kingdom is the closest park to this resort, with Magic Kingdom being the furthest.

The nice thing about Coronado Springs is that it has more amenities compared to other moderates, including a health club and salon.  Pepper Market, arguably one of the best quick service resort restaurants in all of Disney, is also a big plus.  However, a big negative is the size of the resort.  Since there is a lake in the middle of the property, you have to make your way around the lake to get to the resort’s common areas.  Another negative may be that this resort is a convention resort, which can add volume you wouldn’t necessarily see at other moderates.

Our next stop is Caribbean Beach Resort, which is themed after the beautiful islands of the Caribbean.  There are six themed areas around the resort, Trinidad North, Trinidad South, Martinique, Barbados, Aruba and Jamaica.  Similar to Coronado Springs Resort, the six regions are also spread around a body of water called Barefoot Bay.  Rooms have a maximum capacity of 4 or 5 guests, unless you are booking a King room, which can fit 2 guests.

Here are some additional features of Caribbean Beach Resort:

  • The property has over 2,100 rooms – it takes the prize for the most number of rooms at any moderate property at Disney.
  • Caribbean Beach Resort recently refurbished its rooms to include queen beds, but the pirate-themed rooms still have double beds.
  • Special pirate-themed rooms can be found in Trinidad South, but guests should also be aware that Trinidad South is the furthest building from Old Port Royale, the resort’s main center that has dining and shops.
  • The resort’s feature pool, the Fuentes del Morro Pool, has zero-depth entry and features two water slides and water cannons.
  • There is also fantastic kids’ water play area complete with water slides and a barrel that dumps water to all below.
  • Epcot is the closest park to this resort, with Animal Kingdom being the furthest.
  • Due to the size of the resort, there are two buses that circle the property.  One bus loop goes to all the different parks, while another bus loop only makes a continuous circle around the property all day.

So here are the pluses: Caribbean Beach Resort is gorgeous and seeing hammocks scattered all across the beach areas will make you feel like you are on an island getaway.  The pirate-themed rooms cannot be found anywhere else at Disney, and the Fuentes del Morro Pool is my favorite moderate resort pool.  But a big drawback is just how large this property is.  It will take some time to find your way around the property, and it will take a little longer for transportation to circle through all the different buildings/stops to finally get out to the parks.

Our next stop are the sister resorts of Port Orleans – Riverside and Port Orleans – French Quarter.  These resorts give you a taste of New Orleans and the Old South.  You can stay at the beautiful mansions on Magnolia Bend, watch the streams flow by in Alligator Bayou, or celebrate in the spirit of Mardi Gras at French Quarter.  Riverside and French Quarter are two distinct resorts, but also have some shared services like boat rides to Disney Springs.

Here are some additional features of Port Orleans – Riverside and Port Orleans – French Quarter:

  • There are themed Royal Guest Rooms at Riverside, complete with fiber optic fireworks embedded in the headboards.
  • The Sassagoula River Cruise takes guests of Riverside and French Quarter to Disney Springs.
  • Horse-drawn carriage rides take guests through a scenic tour of both properties.
  • Port Orleans – French Quarter is the smallest moderate resort, making all common areas easily accessible from any room on property.
  • Most rooms will fit a family of 4, but there are select rooms at Alligator Bayou that can have a maximum of 5 guests.
  • The feature pool at Port Orleans – French Quarter is called Doubloon Lagoon, and it is well-known for it’s sea serpent water slide.  The serpent’s tongue is the actual slide!
  • The feature pool at Port Orleans – Riverside is Ol’ Man Island, which also has its own water slide.  There is also a Fishin’ Hole for fishing aficionados out there who want to try their luck at catching some catfish.  Just remember it’s Disney so you get to put the fish back!
  • The Riverside Mill is Riverside’s quick service restaurant.  I’m not sure what they do to make their create-your-own-pasta station so delicious, but I have never been able to find the same pasta in other resorts.  (I would say I ordered the same pasta for dinner three nights in a row during our last vacation, but it’s possible it was actually 4 or 5 nights.  That good.)
  • The Sassagoula Floatworks and Food Factory is French Quarter’s quick service restaurant, and serves made-to-order beignets.  Remember my obsession with tie-dye cheesecake at Pop Century?   My version of that for the moderates is the beignet.

Finally, let’s get in touch with nature and make a stop at The Cabins at Fort Wilderness Resort.  The Cabins are considered moderates, and can sleep up to a maximum of 6 guests.  The cabins have a separate bedroom area, a fully equipped kitchen and a deck with a charcoal grill to boot.  It’s a great option for larger groups, particularly because of the separate sleeping area.  Because of its capacity and special features, the Cabins are the most expensive of the moderates.  While it still has modern creature comforts, the surroundings are what you would expect of living in a cabin.  You can channel your inner Snow White and make friends with lots of animals!

Here are some additional features of The Cabins at Fort Wilderness Resort:

  • The largest pool at Fort Wilderness is called Meadow Swimmin’ Pool.  It has a water slide and a hot tub as well.
  • There is a kiddie pool and a water play area for the little ones.
  • The resort is home to the Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Review.
  • It is also home to Mickey’s Backyard BBQ!
  • There is boat transportation from Fort Wilderness directly to the Magic Kingdom.

There are different reasons why I would give the top prize to these different resorts, but overall, I am going to give our Best Moderate Resort Award to Port Orleans – French Quarter.  There are several reasons for this selection.  First, this is the most compact moderate resort, making it incredibly easy to get to the main areas of the resort.  (It’s nice not to have to trek for five minutes in my pajamas to get my RFID mug refilled!)  Second, the transportation is convenient.  Bus rides are quick, and there’s that special boat ride to Disney Springs.  Third, Port Orleans – Riverside is so close that many of Riverside’s amenities can be used by guests of its sister property.  And finally, and most importantly, let’s not forget those fantastic beignets.

So now let me turn it over to you, dear Addicts: what is your favorite Walt Disney World Moderate Resort?  Sound off in the comments!

Hi, I’m Myra and I’m a huge Disney nerd and addict!  I’m also an independent travel agent at World of Magic Travel, the preferred agency of Chip and Co. and Disney Addicts.  If you have any questions regarding your upcoming vacation, or if there’s anything I can do to help you book and plan your trip, visit my page or send me an email at myra@worldofmagictravel.com.  My services are always free!

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