April 2013: While Disney’s economy resorts are identical, the moderate resorts are merely similar. Basic rooms in each have roughly the same amount of space and layout, with prices based on view; and none have the easy-park access of those on the monorail system. But the park commute from moderate resorts is, in general, shorter than from the economy resorts. Rates start at slightly less than $200 per night most time and less during the off season.
Unlike the economy hotels, moderate resort themes recreate actual geographic areas. That recreation extends to restaurants and at least some food selection, as well as landscaping. There are good reasons to stay at Disney’s top-of-the-line resorts – easier access to parks, larger rooms, etc. – but the moderate resorts are a legitimate choice for vacationers who want to enjoy the Disney experience while still saving some money for nice meals and a few souvenirs.
Moderate resorts also offer more food options, generally with a cafeteria-style area along with a separate moderately upscale restaurant.
Disney’s moderate resorts include:
The original moderate resort (though it started out as Disney’s version of an economy resort), Caribbean Beach surrounds a huge lake, with sections recreating different islands of the Caribbean, though each “island” bears a close resemblance to every other island. Busses circle the resort and pick up guests at different stops along the way, so it’s not difficult to commute to parks and other Disney destinations – but it can be a long walk to the central restaurant if you’re staying along the fringe. If important, ask when you book. A pirate theme in one of the distant “islands” attracts families with young ocean-going pillagers.
Port Orleans: The French Quarter and Riverside:
Disney combined two moderate resorts into a single resort under the “Port Orleans” moniker, so this single resort has two related, yet separate, themes. The French Quarter replicates New Orleans, and the buildings sit close together with wrought iron railings and Victorian-style architecture. Some areas, like the pool, celebrate Mardi Gras. It’s the best moderate resort for those who want to minimize walking from room to restaurant and gift shop.
The Riverside section harkens to the Deep South, with mansion-styled buildings close to the central restaurant, and po’ boy, Southern styling farther out. (No difference in size, cleanliness, etc. It’s not a true class system.) In Riverside, busses make multiple stops, but request a room close to the central restaurant and gift shop if planning to make multiple trips there. The resort is close to Epcot and Hollywood Studios by bus, and a kinda cool boat trip connects both resorts to Disney Springs (Downtown Disney – the mega-shopping area).
The newest moderate resort, Coronado Springs recreates the feel of Mexico and the American Southwest. Buildings surround a large lake, and buses circle the buildings with multiple stops along the way. If planning to commute often to the central restaurant, request a room nearby.
Unlike the other moderate resorts, Coronado Springs also has convention facilities and sometimes books a lot of rooms to groups. That can be bad if a large convention is in town, notably if they’re vacuum cleaner salesmen that tend to get worked up over new sales quotas and create a lot of hoopla. In most cases, it’s not a problem. Conventions book years ahead of time, so ask for details when you make a reservation. All connecting transportation is by bus.