Someone we know took their newborn children to a Disney theme park recently.
In their defense, it was also a wedding anniversary…and they’d gotten married at Disney.
So, I cannot blame them for wanting to celebrate at the Happiest Place on Earth.
One of them mentioned that Disneyland Resort’s hotels weren’t great for small children, though.
As resident in Orlando, they lamented the difference. And this caused me to wonder.
Which Walt Disney World hotels are the best for families with small children?
Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge
I write about the Disney Vacation Club for some publications. This program is generational in nature, as the contracts are deed-able.
In other words, a parent can purchase a DVC membership and then will it to the child.
Some of the contracts run into the 2070s, which is definitely longer than I plan to live.
Many DVC fanatics rave about Animal Kingdom Lodge, in particular.
Parents love the idea of the resort because they can watch their children study the animals from their hotel rooms.
Then, a quarter-century from now, their kids can do the same thing with the grandkids.
There’s something eternal about kids wanting to play with animals. At Animal Kingdom Lodge, the creatures live at the hotel.
So, they’re always available to watch. I mean, this place is a zoo. So, obviously, it’s the most family-friendly option on this list.
Disney’s Art of Animation Resort
As kids, we learn to love Disney animated stories. In fact, you can often tell someone’s age by their favorite Disney stories.
I mean, we’ve watched this phenomenon twice recently. First, the Frozen franchise dominated pop culture for several years.
Currently, Encanto is doing the same. Somewhere in there, Moana earned plenty of fans, too.
For parents, Disney’s animation renaissance holds a place near and dear to our hearts.
You probably love Beauty and the Beast and The Lion King no matter how old you are. I’ll throw The Little Mermaid in there as well because I adore it.
Well, at the Art of Animation, you’ll find loving tributes to these films throughout the resort.
The hotel lobby displays lithographs and animated cels from these classic stories. In fact, some of them are images that never made it into the stories!
Also, each hotel section comes with its own unique theming, including the pools and hotel suites.
You can stay in rooms themed to The Lion King, Finding Nemo, and others. Meanwhile, the pools celebrate stories like Cars and The Little Mermaid.
Disney’s Beach Club Resort
No matter where you say you’re going on vacation, your kids will expect to swim. Summer means two things to kids: no school and trips to the pool.
So, you might as well pick a resort that will keep your children happy about the swimming situation.
When it comes to pools, no hotel at Walt Disney World can compare with Beach Club. The only reasonable alternatives are the two actual water parks.
Ergo, your options are Typhoon Lagoon, Blizzard Beach, or Beach Club. I usually pick option #3.
Of course, Beach Club offers families more than just the massive pool, Stormalong Bay. There’s also a beach and a (fake) shipwreck on the other side.
Plus, you’re just a short walk (seriously, five minutes at most) from the International Gateway, the back entrance to EPCOT’s World Showcase!
This combination of convenience and amenities will make your life so much simpler during a family vacation!
Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort
Honestly, I wouldn’t have mentioned this one just a few years ago, but something has changed.
The Disney Skyliner now operates as a shiny way of attracting attention. Sure, it’s also an excellent transportation option, but that’s less relevant for kids.
They notice giant ships flying through the sky. So, they want to ride the Skyliner. It’ll allow them to feel like a bird and look down at all the small things.
Kids looooooove that stuff.
As for parents, you’re a gondola ride away from Disney’s Hollywood Studios and EPCOT. That’s half of Walt Disney World’s parks within 10 minutes of your hotel.
Even better, you’re not waiting on the randomness of a bus or a boat. The Skyliner runs continuously.
Parents with small children will cherish the certainty of knowing when the Disney Skyliner will arrive.
Also, the centralized location of shops and restaurants at Caribbean Beach will add to the convenience of a stay here.
Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort
I’ve had stars in my eyes about this place since the first time my sister and I walked into the lobby when I was like 7 years old.
This place felt different from the rest of the Disney campus, which I’ve since learned is the point.
At the time, my immature brain struggled to conceptualize how an exotic island getaway could reside so close to Mickey Mouse’s house.
Many years later, that same mystique permeates throughout the Polynesian’s hotel grounds.
This place just LOOKS different from the other resorts. Plus, it features sand where kids can take off their shoes and dig their toes in or build a sandcastle.
For parents, the place is an oasis in that everything is readily available.
The restaurants and shops here allow parents access to everything they might need in a centralized location, the Great Ceremonial House.
So, everyone loves the thrill of eating a Dole Whip at their hotel!
Disney’s Pop Century Resort
No matter how much you try to convince them otherwise, your children struggled to believe that you came from somewhere or were once a kid yourself.
To your kid, you’re nearly a deity, the all-powerful being who controls all their decisions. As such, they cannot envision you as a child.
At the Pop Century, you can plead your case, though. You can take a kid into the hotel lobby and show them the toys and collectibles that adorn the walls.
Then, you can describe that feeling you had the first time you played with the various gadgets and games on display.
Sure, your kids will still think you’re lying, but it’s a lovely way to pass an hour. Plus, the pool areas here come with excellent theming.
Good luck explaining what yuppies and valley girls are, though.