Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Kicking It Up A Notch: Moderate Resorts

Disney's Moderate Resorts are Port Orleans French Quarter, Port Orleans Riverside, Coronado Springs , and Caribbean Beach. These are priced in Disney's midrange, generally between $150 and $200 per night and up to $250 during high seasons. Discounts on these rooms can get as low as $110 or so. These prices are comparable to hotel rates in large cities around the country and you should find the amenities and grounds to meet your expectations for this price range.

As in our previous post on the Value Resorts (and in our future post on Deluxe Resorts) I will not cover basic amenities and room sizes for you. The official Disney site will give you a basic overview, and then can give you the finer details. If you prefer print, the Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World and the Passporter guide both have excellent resort overviews. Instead, let's once again look at the pros and cons of these resorts for families. Your "pro" may be my "con," so take them as the opinions they are and hopefully they will still help you decide if a Moderate Resort is best for you.

Pros To Staying At A Moderate Resort
  • Cost - The Value Resorts are cheaper, but the Moderates give you a good amount of bang for your buck. Whether or not it's $50-$100 worth is a question only you can really answer, but the cost is reasonable for a resort of this caliber.

  • Room Size - The rooms are spacious (though not over-sized by any stretch) and some have a trundle bed that allows you to sleep five in the room. The trundle is more of a cot and is designed for folks under five feet tall, so if your family of five include at least one smaller kid, this can be a huge benefit to these resorts. It's far cheaper to stay in one of these rooms than to have to get two rooms at the Value Resorts (with the exception of the Family Suites at All-Star Music).

  • Bed Size - Queen-size beds are standard in the Moderates (as opposed to double beds in the Value Resorts). This is simply more comfortable when you are sharing a bed and gives siblings less reason to jab and kick each other during the evening. Not that it will deter them completely, of course...

  • Refrigerators - Mini-fridges are standard in Moderate Resorts. If you don't use it for anything else, you will appreciate being able to use it for water. If you have an infant with you, it's a savior for your formula and you can also stash some milk and cheese in it for cereal and sandwiches respectively.

  • Sprawling Landscapes - All of these resorts are pretty large and spread out. It is easy to find yourself in a building quite some distance from the main building and/or the main pool. Prepare to walk. At Coronado Springs, we were directly across the lake from the main pool. But you have to walk AROUND the lake... there is no bridge. Which reminds me... don't forget to bring your diaper bag when you walk all the way around the lake to the pool. It's a long walk back... trust me.

  • Hot Tubs - Okay, maybe this isn't important to you, but it is to me. We really appreciate being able to soak in a hot tub after a day in the parks. One of us stays in the room with the sleeping kids while the other goes out to soak, and then we switch places. This is an amenity you will also get in the Deluxe resorts, but not in the Value category, so the Moderates are the cheapest way for you to have access to this feature.
Cons To Staying At A Moderate Resort
  • Outside Hallways - Just like the Value Resorts, Moderates have you enter rooms from exterior hallways. This feels less secure to me and I'm not wild about people passing by the window to my room constantly. With napping children, add the noise factor of that in.

  • Centrally Located Elevators - Here, I shall repeat exactly what I said about the Value Resorts: The elevators for each building are in the center. Your room, however, might not be. It might be just up from a stairwell, but if you have strollers... ugh. No fun. And if you request a room right by the elevator, you're going to get lots of foot traffic going right by your room. So add on even more walking around than you had before we started.

  • Food Choice - The food in these resorts is hit or miss. Coronado Springs has a great food court, but reviews of their Table Service restaurant are lukewarm. I'm not crazy about the food court at Port Orleans French Quarter. Generally, none of the choices at these resorts are widely regarded as excellent experiences.
It should be noted that the cabins at Fort Wilderness Campground are also considered Moderates. They accommodate six people and start at $265 in low season. I tend to consider them more in the Deluxe category due to cost and the fact they include an equipped kitchen. They are really more of a category unto themselves, as their amenities and features are so different from the other Moderates. The pros and cons above do not necessarily relate to them.

As for which Moderate is the best, that point is widely contested. There are many fans of Port Orleans French Quarter because of it's intimate size and great pool. Some like Port Orleans Riverside for it's sprawling mansions and nifty piano bar. Others prefer the Caribbean Beach Resort's tropical feel. Personally, Coronado Springs is my favorite. The pool is fantastic and the grounds are gorgeous. I'm a big fan of the hammocks around the lake as well.

The pool at Port Orleans Riverside

Which Moderate Resort is your favorite? Do you have pros or cons to these resorts that I haven't mentioned? Please share them with us as a comment!


Gator Chris said...

Port Orleans:French Quarter is our favorite "bang for the buck" resort in all of WDW.

We love the theming, the pool, and the intimate scale.

Although the dining options are limited, the fact that boat transportation is provided to Downtown Disney in the evenings makes up for it.

We like to take the boat to Downtown Disney, then grab a taxi back to the room at the end of the night.

disneynorth said...

Love, love, love Coronado Springs! Up until this year when we stayed at the Boardwalk Villas, Coronado was my favorite place to stay at WDW. Besides all the points you made above about the moderates, I have found that Coronado has always been quiet when I stayed there.

Karen from MA said...

My fave is Carribean Beach. I absolutely love the theming and the new pool! We request a preferred water view room near the food court/pool and it's very convenient.

That said, we stayed at Beach Club in April and the service/amenities/location were far superior there...of course you are paying for it. But, especially the service, was so noticably better, I think it may be worth it (for us) least for some trips. :-)

Aubrey Cooper said...

My family loves the atmosphere of Port Orleans French Quarter. However the busses are an issure for us at this resort. POFQ shares busses with PO Riverside, so it has a grand total of 4 stops. Other resorts share busses too, but the PO resorts are veeeerrrryyy spread out. We found the wait could be quite long. Also, it seemed that POFQ was always the last one to get dropped off.

I convinced my parents to stay at Coronado Springs at the end of this month and I can't wait to hear what they say. I will try Coronado on my next trip as well.

Anonymous said...

We have enjoyed both POFQ and Coronado Springs, though we are, admittedly, more likely to stay at a deluxe (and now DVC). A minus for each:

At POFQ's food court there are VERY large "Mardi Gras" masks on the ceiling, which freaked my kids out. We had to get our food/drinks and take them elsewhere.

Coronado Springs is HUGE. We got there at night and had to rely on the kindness of strangers to find our building. And then struggled the next day in the light. But awesome pool.

Anonymous said...

I love POR. I have stayed at many resorts but I always come back to POR. I love the sprawling scenery and walking around the resort. I love the boat ride to DTD. The food court has something for everyone and Boatwright sit down restaurant has great food.

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