At over $300 per night, villas contain more apartment-like amenities, such as microwaves and coffee makers. Most are part of Disney’s Vacation Club, which is Mickey’s version of a timeshare. If Disney offers a Vacation Club unit via its hotel reservation system, it means no Vacation Club member booked it that week. Families with kids, especially, find them convenient, and preparing breakfasts and a few meals can offset some of the costs. Many villas are attached to existing hotels and can by found by Animal Kingdom Lodge, the Beach Club, the Boardwalk, Wilderness Lodge, Animal Kingdom Lodge, and the Contemporary. Stand-alone villas include Saratoga Springs and Old Key West. If located by a resort, guests use the same transportation system and have easy access to nearby restaurants. Bay Lake Tower guests (attached to the Contemporary Resort and the latest addition) have access to the Magic Kingdom monorail, though it’s a bit of a walk.
Swan and Dolphin
These are non-Disney-owned hotels close to Epcot and Hollywood Studios, and neighbors of Disney’s Boardwalk and the Yacht and Beach Club. Prices vary more than Disney hotels, and many travelers use them to cash in frequent flyer/traveler points since they’re owned by Starwood, which operates Sheratons and Westins. While each Disney hotel picks a theme – Victorian, New Orleans, national parks, etc. – the Swan and Dolphin do not. Instead, they’re called “entertainment architecture,” which means bright colors, big décor and bold construction. Rooms, though, reflect a “normal” hotel more than rooms at other Disney resorts.
Campground cabins (trailers)
Disney’s Fort Wilderness campground has campsites for RVs and tents, but it also has wood-themed trailers, so guests who want a camping experience can stay in Fort Wilderness and still avoid the dirty, inconvenient aspects of camping. The cabins are similar to the villas in amenities (including cooking appliances), making their in-the-woods location a bit of a family get-away while still on Disney property. Compared to other resorts, the campground feels more like a destination unto itself. Cabins cost close to $300 per night.
Shades of Green
Close to the Magic Kingdom, Shades of Green is owned and operated by the armed services and offers special rates to veterans and those currently serving in the U.S. military. Rooms are cheaper if you qualify, with the price structure depending on military rank, running around $95 for a room to $275 for a suite.
Non-Disney Disney hotels
When Walt Disney World opened, Disney relied on a handful of non-Disney hotels located on the northeast corner of its property near Downtown Disney to house guests. (It saved the company money at a point when money was tight.) While the hotels still sit on Disney property, however, they’ve become less Disney-like and more independent over the years. A few perks are unique to these hotels compared to offsite properties; some are not. They generally include transportation to the parks, advanced tee times, in-house theme park ticket purchase, and in some, but not all, Extra Magic Hours (early/late admission to a specific park). Each hotel operator has a unique contract with Disney, so ask lots of questions if booking. Hotels in the system include: Best Western, Holiday Inn, Doubletree Guest Suites, Regal Sun Resort, Hilton, Royal Plaza and the Buena Vista Palace Hotel & Spa. As with the Swan and Dolphin, a lot of guests stay here because they can cash in frequent flyer/traveler points.