✨5 Must See Rooms in the Middle of the Magic✨
Just being at Walt Disney World is magical enough, but sometimes you want to step it up a notch and book something especially unique that you can’t get anywhere else. Imagine delighting your own little princess with a stay in a Royal Guest room complete with illuminating fireworks headboards? Or maybe a multi-generational trip in your very own private treehouse at Saratoga Springs? Some of the rooms on this list are purely about the theming of the rooms themselves, while others are about unique views and settings (or maybe a bit of both). There are some surprisingly affordable choices as well as ultra-luxurious options that are guaranteed to give you a memorable vacation.
Royal Guest Rooms at Port Orleans Riverside
You’ll definitely get the royal treatment when you stay in the Royal Guest Rooms at Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside! The decor is themed with some subtle Disney princess touches, such as a golden Genie lamp shaped water faucet and “Sultan” footstool from Beauty and the Beast. Other princess decor elements are more overtly Disney, like the framed portraits of Aurora, Jasmine, Belle, and, of course, Tiana (Port Orleans Riverside is unofficially her resort, with its genteel bayou sensibilities). Both of these design elements come together to create a room that is uniquely royal and unmistakably Disney!
The biggest “wow factor” of the Royal Guest Rooms is the light-up headboards. With the simple push of a button, watch the portrait on the headboard come alive with LED “fireworks”! Word of caution, if you have kids, they will want to do this over and over… and over again. And who can blame them? Adults will be equally dazzled by this effect. It’s a nice touch and the sort of thing you come to Disney World to see!
Port Orleans Riverside is a beautiful yet casual resort. It technically falls into the “Moderate” category by Disney, meaning it is a step up in amenities and price from it’s Value resorts but a notch below it’s Deluxe options. For a first time Disney visitor (or even for a seasoned Disney veteran) I truly think it is the best of both worlds: enough amenities to keep the family happy and stay within budget.
Pirate Rooms at Caribbean Beach
Argggh, matey! Swashbucklers of all ages will delight in the theming of the Pirate Rooms at Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort. Who wouldn’t want to have a bed shaped like a pirate ship, at least for a few nights? The appeal of these rooms is huge, as the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise still holds a lot of appeal with both kids and kids at heart. And, much like Port Orleans Riverside, Caribbean Beach falls into the Moderate category, making it both a unique and affordable option.
Caribbean Beach had a major overhaul a couple of years ago and the Pirate Rooms saw some nice new decor elements as a result: the carpeting looks like an Old World pirate map and the mini-fridge is housed in what looks like an aged barrel (how cool is that?!). A couple of things to keep in mind: some folks aren’t huge fans of the pirate beds themselves since the mattress feels different (think less plush) than the typical Disney mattress. If you’re anything like me, I would hardly notice this since I sleep like a log while I’m at Disney. But, if you’re super sensitive to this sort of thing, it could potentially make a difference to you. The other issue being that these rooms are not close to the “front” of the resort or Old Port Royale. This could be the bigger issue if being close to the pool, Centertown Market and dining locations are of utmost importance. If not, then “Yo ho, yo ho, it’s a pirates life” for you!
Savanna View Rooms at Animal Kingdom Lodge
I’ll try to not show favoritism to this entry on the list, but it’s hard not to love the Savanna View Rooms at Animal Kingdom Lodge! The showstopper here is not so much the room itself (although they are very comfortable and well appointed) but the ability to watch animals graze right from your balcony. Trust me, you’ll want to give yourself plenty of downtime to enjoy animal watching and to take advantage of this resort’s truly unique attractions, like it’s authentic art and cultural displays. There’s a lot you won’t want to miss here, like spending some time watching flamingos by the pool (yes, real, live flamingos!). Or treating yourself to a hidden gem of a restaurant, like Sanaa, where you can watch animals graze the savanna while you dine.
As I mentioned above, there’s no shortage of things to do or animal viewing areas around the resort. However, there’s something ✨extra magical✨ about being able to step out onto your own private balcony and watch animals such as giraffes, zebras, impalas, and ostriches. It really is an amazing experience that I strongly recommend if it’s within your budget. We’ve always thought of Animal Kingdom Lodge as our “special occasion splurge” and have stayed here for anniversaries and our son’s first visit. During one stay, we even got to watch baby giraffes! Not only is this a unique Disney World resort it’s also a unique resort, period.
For the next two entries on this list, they aren’t necessarily considered rooms per se, but entire villas! Great for larger families with all the comforts of home. Let’s dig a little deeper…
Treehouse Villas at Saratoga Springs
Saratoga Springs Resort and Spa is one of Disney Vacation Club’s villa properties, but you don’t have to be a DVC member to stay there as stays are welcome to everyone. This resort is themed around the horse racing and spa culture of Saratoga Springs, New York with a Victorian style. I’ve always thought that the lobby and buildings at Saratoga Springs are like a “lite” version of Disney’s flagship resort, the Grand Floridian. Both resorts have luxurious amenities, including the two spas you can find owned and operated by Disney.
Most of the studios and villas are themed around Disney horses, like Tangled’s Maximus and Mulan’s Khan. You’ll see this decor influence around the resort, but less so in Saratoga Springs unique treehouses. The treehouses are located in a separate, more remote area of the resort and is so tranquil and relaxing, you’ll almost forget you’re on vacation in Disney World!
The Treehouse Villas have what I call “refined rustic” theming with lots of natural wood and stone accents. It’s luxurious enough to make you feel special and pampered, but casual enough to be comfortable (a quality I think it has in common with the Wilderness Lodge). These Treehouse Villas are super spacious and sleep up to 9 guests, making it a great choice for larger families or two smaller groups traveling together. You’ll have access to all the comforts of home and can prepare meals in the fully-equipped kitchen, if you choose. I normally don’t plan on cooking while on vacation, but I did find it surprisingly convenient to make a decent breakfast in the mornings or for the occasional quick meal before heading back out to the parks.
One thing to think about is transportation: this is the one resort I recommend having your own car above any other resort. Or at least have a solid understanding of the bus system at Saratoga Springs. Uber and Lyft aren’t accessible in this part of the resort, but if you can work out the transportation arrangement this is a really great–and often overlooked Disney World resort. Not to mention it’s a short boat ride to Disney Springs for awesome dining choices, shopping, and nightlife.
Bungalows at Disney’s Polynesian Resort
You need not go to Fiji for an over the water bungalow: you can have your own bungalow complete with a view of Disney’s Magic Kingdom at the Polynesian Resort and Villas! These South Pacific-themed bungalows have unique amenities and views, making it a Disney bucket list item for many guests (including myself). Located on Seven Seas Lagoon, you can have your own private view of the Electrical Water Pageant AND the Happily Ever After fireworks show! You’ll even get the music from Happily Ever After piped into the decks surrounding your bungalow. How’s that for some Disney magic?
The Bora Bora Bungalows have a decidedly laidback, beach vibe with beautiful details throughout and sleep up to 8 guests. The main buildings of the Polynesian Village resort and hotel rooms will be undergoing a massive refurbishment from now until mid-2021. Disney has said the refurbishment will include Moana theming, so that should be interesting. For now, though, the Villas and Bungalows will remain the same.
The “tiki man” statue that adorns the Polynesian resort’s lobby can also be found in the decor in the Bungalows, along with other tiki-themed art and decor. The wooden bed headboards are shaped like surfboards and, if you look closely, can see that the center surfboard says “7 Seas Surf Co.” It’s little touches like these that really add to the subtle Disney theming, tying it together with the existing Polynesian resort hotel.
The bathrooms are also well-appointed with wooden and stone accents that look as luxurious as they feel. Tastefully done, yet casual. That pretty much sums up the whole aesthetic of Disney’s Polynesian resort, but they really bump that factor up a notch in the Bora Bora Bungalows.
A few other touches really take the Bora Bora Bungalows to the next level. For one, the outdoor decks have hanging bamboo chairs for taking in the views of the lagoon. The other feature is a real show stopper: your own private plunge pool! That’s a feature straight out of a 5-star tropical resort.
The Bora Bora Bungalows boast a heftier price tag, but that’s to be expected, I think. Not even the actual over the water bungalows in Bora Bora have their own view of Space Mountain, right?
Have you stayed in any of these unique Disney World rooms? Which one is on YOUR Disney bucket list?