Disney World does an excellent job of making its hotels appealing to kids of all ages, but there are a few that stand out as great picks for families traveling with toddlers or preschoolers, ages 5 and under. The best Disney resorts for toddlers and preschoolers have easily accessible rooms that don’t require too many stairs or long rides in cramped elevators, tot-sized play areas, and kid-friendly swimming pools. Of course, a fun and easily understood theme and proximity to the parks is important, too.
The following list features the best Disney hotels for toddlers, with suggestions for value, moderate, and deluxe accommodations, so you can find the right hotel to suit your needs and budget.
Animal Kingdom Lodge
If your toddler adores wildlife, then the deluxe Animal Kingdom Lodge is an ideal pick. This is the only resort on Disney property that allows you to get an up-close look at some of the animals featured at the nearby Animal Kingdom Disney theme park. If you choose a "Savannah View" room, you will be able to see an assortment of animals right from your balcony, including giraffes, ostriches, and antelopes.
There are also several poolside viewing areas, and the Lodge offers free educational activities throughout the day. Amenities include a zero-entry pool with fun but gentle slide, playground, daily crafts and storytelling, childcare center, multiple dining options, and convenient transportation options.
Tip: Enjoy a night out without the kids by taking advantage of the in-room babysitting available here as well. Reservations are required, so plan ahead.
Disney’s Contemporary Resort
Although Disney’s Contemporary Resort is a bit on the pricier end, with rooms starting in the $400 a night range, its proximity to the Magic Kingdom can’t be beat — which is why the price tag may be worth it. The hotel itself is about a ten-minute walk away from the park, although with little kids even that can seem like too long. So, to make it even easier, the monorail stops inside the hotel lobby. You literally can stroll out of your suite and hop on the train — it doesn’t get any easier than that.
The resort of course offers all the other Disney-style amenities, too. A large pool with waterslide, a Pixar movies themed play zone, and some of the best dining in the area. Chef Mickey’s, located right by the monorail stop, is a guest favorite. American cuisine is offered all day long and the best part is, Chef Mickey makes appearances often!
Tip: Although Chef Mickey’s is a buffet style restaurant, reservations are strongly recommended — this place fills up fast.
Port Orleans Riverside
The Port Orleans Riverside is a great resort for kids and features an old fashioned swimming hole complete with a water slide. Preschoolers will loved spending the day at the resort’s Doubloon Lagoon, which includes a splash pad, kiddie pool, and giant sea serpent slide.
This resort also has a full-sized playground and quiet walking paths if you need a mid-day break. The Port Orleans Riverside offers both fine dining and "food court" style restaurants, so there is something for even the pickiest of appetites. Choose the Port Orleans Riverside if you want high style accommodations at a moderate price and want convenient boat transportation to Downtown Disney.
Tip: Ask for a room near the pool and main building so you won't have to walk too far to see all this resort has to offer.
All-Star Movies Resort
While any of the All-Star Disney resorts are great for kids, the All-Star Movies is most likely to be a hit with toddlers. Each hotel building is embellished with giant, two story statues of classic Disney movie characters, like Perdita and Pongo from 101 Dalmatians, the toys of Toy Story, and Mickey and his dancing broomsticks from Fantasia. This resort offers two movie themed pools, convenient bus transportation, and the newly-renovated World Premiere Food Court which is loaded with food choices geared to young kids. The All-Star Movies Resort is also a great choice for families traveling on a budget with rooms starting as low as $99 per night.
Tip: Ask for a first-floor room or one near an elevator to avoid long walks with your toddler after a long day of activities.
Disney’s Polynesian Resort
The Polynesian is one of the first resorts ever opened at Disney World and it has stayed a family-friendly staple ever since. As part of the monorail loop, it is also in close proximity to the Magic Kingdom and offers luxury accommodations for larger groups — two-bedroom villas and bungalows can sleep up to eight people.
The resort’s famous Lava Pool is another reason your preschool will have the time of their life. This zero-entry pool is built around a massive volcano that features a waterslide, waterfalls and hidden grottos. A splash pad for younger children is located right next door. If you’re looking to relax, the resort also features a smaller pool that has been dubbed a quiet zone.
Tip: Keep in mind that although the guest rooms are located in various buildings on the grounds, the resort’s lobby can be crowded with non-hotel guests eating at the various restaurants or just checking out the hotel.
Cabins at Fort Wilderness
If you’re planning an extended stay at Disney, this may be your best bet. The Cabins at Fort Wilderness are fully furnished and include a full-kitchen, living and dining area, patio, and parking spot. The resort also offers a pre-ordering service, where guests can send their grocery list up to three days before their arrival and the resort will stock your cabin pantries for you!
The Cabins at Fort Wilderness are also located a bit further from all the hustle and bustle, which is probably better for getting your kids to bed at a decent hour. The pools at Fort Wilderness aren’t much to write home about, but the resort offers a lot of other unique amenities you won’t find anywhere else like archery, wagon and pony rides, and fishing tours.
Tip: Like most of the Disney properties, this is a really large resort so if you don’t have a car, we recommend renting a golf cart for the time you’re there. It will make getting around a lot easier.
Art of Animation Resort
If your toddler loves Disney's The Little Mermaid or Disney-Pixar's Cars animated films, the Art of Animation Resort is a perfect choice. Whether you book a standard room or family suite, your little ones will enjoy all the many themed spaces this resort has to offer, and parents will especially appreciate the roomy family suites that sleep up to six and include the convenience of a refrigerator and microwave. The resort offers a fun underwater themed playground, convenient bus transportation, and a food court. The resort also has three different themed water and pool areas that your toddler will enjoy. The most famous, Big Blue Pool, has music playing under water, a detail little kids just can’t get enough of.
Tip: Parents be aware that standard rooms lack certain amenities, including a coffee maker.
Pop Century Resort
Budget and kid-friend, the Pop Century is a popular pick with many family. The hotel is exploding with bright colors and enticing themes that toddlers will love and has enough onsite entertainment to keep your preschooler busy. The resort has three pools, the largest being the 60’s themed Hippy Dippy pool features a splash pad, as well. The resort also offers a lot of onsite daily activities that kids will love like, poolside dance parties, trivia and bingo games, and a Name That Tune tournament. There is also a 70’s themed playground on the property.
Pop Century is one of Disney’s “value” resorts but don’t think that takes away from the quality. The food court at Pop Century is known to be one of the best around and is open practically all day, from 6 a.m. to midnight. The rooms are a bit plain compared to some other Disney resorts, but when you’re traveling with a child, you’re not in the room that much anyway.
Tip: To make getting around the resort easier, rent a beach cruiser or surrey bike available at guest relations.