My wife and I visited the Walt Disney World resort for a long weekend. Although I’d been to the Magic Kingdom many times, this was only my second time staying overnight on Disney property. Disney ranks their hotel resorts by different categories from cheapest to most expensive: value, moderate, deluxe, deluxe villas. The first time we stayed at one of the All-Star hotels, a value resort not directly connected to anything. This time we opted for a moderate resort, Port Orleans Riverside, connected to Downtown Disney via a half hour boat ride down a winding river (relaxing but feels like it takes forever).
I thought the moderate hotel was a huge step up from the value resort. The interior of the room was wonderfully themed. The pool and lobby areas were also well done. I recommend staying in a Disney resort, especially if you have kids, for all the little things they do that you don’t expect that add up to make your stay more memorable, such as arranging the towels in the shapes of Mickey or other animals, giving you pins to wear that say “Happy Birthday” or “Happy Anniversary”, and so on.
The biggest complaint about staying on property is the buses. It’s really hit or miss - sometimes you get right on and go and other times you may wait up to a half an hour only to have to stand the entire trip next to some sweaty, over-weight tourist who keeps bumping into you. I guess it does beat having to drive a car around yourself though. Oh, and they should have more or larger hot tubs!
Next time I think I would much prefer to stay at the Yacht or Beach Club resort, not because it is a deluxe resort, but mostly because of its superb location: Epcot is walking distance, you can take a short boat ride to the Studios, a monorail ride to the Magic Kingdom, and you’ve got Boardwalk and Fantasia golf in walking distance for nighttime entertainment (meaning you only would have to take a bus to get to Animal Kingdom or Downtown Disney).
We also did the dining plan for the first time. Price wise it was probably a wash but it was really awesome not to have to take out my credit card once during the trip (everything was paid for before we left) we just used our hotel room keys to use the meal plan. You also get a refillable mug to get unlimited free drinks in the food court at the hotel.
Pictured below is the Port Orleans Riverside map.