Best Disney World Moderate Resort Hotel

Updated 6/16/15

Quick Introduction to the Disney World Moderate Resorts

There’s a bit more variety in amenities, transportation efficiency, theme, layout, and dining options at the Moderates than with the Values. You may have to make some compromises and decide what features are most important. For example, French Quarter has the best transportation and the smallest footprint, but the worst restaurant choices and pool. Luckily, the Moderates are all priced the same, except for Coronado Springs which is about $6 more per night, so differences in cost won’t be a major concern. Room quality and furnishings are also nearly identical among the four resorts, with a recent refurbishment at Caribbean Beach Resort bringing queen beds and a wood door separating the sleep and vanity areas. Take a look at the following ratings to identify which Moderate is the best fit for your group and be sure to read the full review of the resorts you’re interested in to make the most informed decision. Like with the other resorts on property, all are run by Disney with similar standards of quality. To a point, the following could be considered splitting hairs and it’s likely that you’ll be pleased with whatever resort you choose.

Best Theme/Landscaping

  1. Port Orleans Riverside
  2. Coronado Springs
  3. Caribbean Beach
  4. Port Orleans French Quarter

This is the most arbitrary category because the theme that appeals to you and your group may be different than what appeals to others, but we’ll try to take an unbiased look at each.

Port Orleans Riverside arrives in first, with its lush landscaping, picturesque setting on the Sassagoula River, and the working 35-foot water wheel helping to elevate its ranking. Alligator Bayou and Magnolia Bend, the two distinct areas that make up Riverside, are visually interesting and provide two different interpretations of the Louisiana Bayou.

Coronado Springs Resort, with its Spanish-colonial theme, is a beautiful resort that encircles the 22-acre Lago Dorado. The resort features three different villages with unique architecture that all sit on the lake, which is surrounded by white sand beaches, hammocks, and benches.

Caribbean Beach is a bright, whimsical resort. While guest buildings are painted different colors, the architecture of the 50+ guest buildings is mostly the same. Caribbean Beach also features a lake prominently in the center of the resort and is surrounded by the same kinds of beaches that you’ll find at Coronado Springs.

Port Orleans French Quarter drops to last place. Many of its decorations appear cheap, especially in the food court and main building where New Orleans paraphernalia merely hangs from the ceiling on strings. While Disney will tell you that they purchased “some” of the memorabilia directly from New Orleans, it still isn’t that impressive. French Quarter also appears darker and less airy than the other, larger resorts. On the plus side, French Quarter does open up on occasion with some pretty courtyards.

As far as landscaping is concerned, all of the Moderate resorts are on a level well above the Value resorts and only a small step down from the Deluxes. Chances are high that you will enjoy your surroundings no matter which Moderate resort you choose.

Best Layout

  1. Port Orleans French Quarter Resort
  2. Port Orleans Riverside Resort
  3. Coronado Springs Resort
  4. Caribbean Beach Resort

French Quarter is the smallest Moderate resort with the fewest rooms and the lowest overall square acreage. This means that your room won’t be more than a five minute walk away from the food court, bus stop, pool, main building, or boat dock regardless of which building Disney assigns. This is a huge advantage, especially in times of suffocating heat or torrential downpour. It also makes it much more convenient to refill a mug or get a snack. The rest of the Moderate resorts are large and spread out and it’s more important to take heed of the “best rooms” section of the full resort reviews and consider paying extra for a “Preferred” location.

The map below illustrates how much smaller French Quarter (at the bottom of the map) is compared to Riverside (sprawling on top).

The full PDF map:

Port Orleans Riverside is slightly ahead of the other two due to the fact that most of the rooms are close to something of interest, whether it be the feature pool, main building, or food court. Unlike Coronado and Caribbean, there isn’t a gigantic lake in the middle of Riverside that you have to maneuver around, though the Sassagoula River necessitates the need to use one of several bridges from certain rooms. Some buildings, particularly in the Alligator Bayou section, are remote. Some guests may prefer the peace and quiet, particularly with a car to drive to the main building and/or the theme parks.

The full PDF map:

It’s as much as a mile from the main building to the most remote rooms at the Coronado and Caribbean Beach resorts, which can be a significant hassle with children or those who have trouble walking. Luckily, Caribbean Beach has an internal bus that travels around the resort’s exterior and employees of Coronado Springs will drive you around the resort in golf carts if necessary. While both of those methods may be convenient once you board them, it’s not always easy to hunt down interior transportation.

The full PDF map:

Caribbean Beach is even more sprawling than Coronado Springs and requires guests to visit a separate remote building to check in, which is why it falls to last place. There’s also just one bridge across Barefoot Bay, which increases average walking times to points of interest. You can minimize this inconvenient by requesting a room close to Jamaica buildings 45 or 51 or by paying more for a room with a Preferred location.

Best Dining

  1. Port Orleans Riverside Resort (Boatwright’s, River Roost, Riverside Mill Food Court)
  2. Coronado Springs Resort (Maya Grill, Las Ventanas, Cafe Rix, Pepper Market, Siestas Cantina)
  3. Caribbean Beach Resort (Shutters, Old Port Royale Food Court)
  4. Port Orleans French Quarter Resort (Scat Cat’s Club, Sassagoula Floatworks and Food Factory)

Port Orleans Riverside has the best quick service location with a wide variety of high quality, varied offerings and plentiful, air-conditioned seating. Boatwright’s is the table service restaurant, offering a nice selection of Louisiana favorites like Jambalaya and Crawfish Etouffee, in addition to pot roast and other comfort foods. Service is among the friendliest you’ll find on property and it’s hard to beat beginning the meal with a basket of freshly baked corn bread. Finally, River Roost is one of the only resorts on property that offers live entertainment, unique food, and Abita beer on draft. Riverside’s pool also offers food and beverage service at Muddy Rivers.

Coronado Springs Resort comes in second, with a variety of quick service and table service options, in addition to an upscale lounge area and outdoor bar. Pepper Market is the major quick service and while it operated differently than most for years, now follows the same guidelines as most resort quick services. There is no mandatory tip and guests seat themselves. Las Ventanas is a relatively new addition to the resort, offering casual breakfast, lunch, and dinner options with menus that shy away from the south-of-the-border focus found elsewhere. Maya Grill has improved in recent years, upping quality and variety at a lower price point. I don’t have any qualms about recommending it for guests looking for a leisurely dinner at their resort. Food is also available at the casual Cafe Rix and more interesting fare than you might expect is available at the main pool bar. With the addition of Las Venetanas and improvements in other areas, Coronado is very close to offering some of the best food at the Moderate level, but inconsistent quality and service remain a concern.

Caribbean Beach Resort features a quick service location by the name of Old Port Royale and Shutters, the dinner-only Caribbean themed full service restaurant. While the food at Old Port Royale is good and the setting is pleasant, the space is too small to handle the amount of people that fill it during peak times. Fortunately, Shutters has improved immensely with the arrival of a new chef and is a convenient spot for dinner if you find yourself back at the resort. Food is largely unavailable at the pool and there is no dedicated lounge, which drops the resort to third place.

Finally, Port Orleans French Quarter drops to last because it doesn’t have a full service restaurant. Guests staying at French Quarter are invited to walk, bus, or boat over to Boatwright’s at the Riverside. It’s an additional hassle and it’s unfortunate that the small number of guests staying at the resort can’t support their own restaurant. French Quarter’s quick service location is also lacking, with a small capacity and a limited selection of food. It will suffice if you’re not in the mood to travel elsewhere, but don’t expect to be impressed by the quality, prices, or selection. On the positive side, the beignets are excellent and several of the options are unique and served in large quantities. Scat Cat’s Lounge in the main building serves a few nice selections like a Chicken Alfredo Flatbread and Pimiento Cheese Fritters with Pepper Jelly in the evening, in addition to offering live music most nights.

For the most part, the table service restaurants at the Mods should satisfy for a convenient meal away from the Parks, or should you find yourself unexpectedly back due to weather or other unforeseen circumstances. They are certainly not destination restaurants like Citricos or California Grill. Quick service food is above average for the most part with more choices than the Deluxes.

Best Transportation

  1. Port Orleans French Quarter Resort
  2. Port Orleans Riverside Resort
  3. Coronado Springs Resort
  4. Caribbean Beach Resort

French Quarter and Riverside sometimes share buses, particularly to Parks other than Magic Kingdom in the afternoon when demand is lower. French Quarter has the advantage because it is picked up and dropped off first for all destinations other than Downtown Disney. This usually guarantees French Quarter guests a seat on the bus and the the resort only has one bus stop, which makes it easy to navigate to the correct line.

Despite being picked up and dropped off after French Quarter, Riverside benefits from having above-average bus service. Waits are usually shorter at both Port Orleans resorts than they would be at the other Moderates. The Port Orleans Moderates are also somewhat centrally located, which means relatively short bus rides. Finally, the Port Orleans resorts both have a dock with boat service to Downtown Disney. The ride is scenic and it is the preferred transportation method when heading Downtown.

Both Coronado Springs Resort and Caribbean Beach Resort have 5+ individual bus stops. If you get on at one of the early stops, you’ll be more likely to get a seat (rather than stand), but you’ll also have to wait for the bus to circle the resort as it stops at the other six-or-so stops. Getting on at the final stop will lessen your transit time on the way to the Park, but will also result in you standing more often than not due to people boarding on previous stops taking the seats. On the return trip, you’ll also have to wait for the bus to stop and let off guests at all the preceding stops as well. With no watercraft transportation, it’s easy to rank it below the Port Orleans properties.

Coronado Springs Resort comes in third because the buses are usually empty if the resort is full of conventioneers who aren’t visiting the theme parks. The problem is that the conventioneers will probably go to the Parks at least one day and Disney isn’t that quick in upping the amount of buses necessary to service all the additional riders. This can lead to long waits and crowded buses, particularly to Downtown Disney in the evening. Coronado is also a bit more remote with longer transit times to Epcot, Hollywood Studios, and Magic Kingdom.

Caribbean Beach has the worst transportation of the bunch. Waits tend to be the longest of the Moderates and it also takes the longest for the buses to circle the resort to pick up and drop off guests.

Best Rooms

  1. Caribbean Beach Resort
  2. Coronado Springs Resort
  3. Port Orleans Riverside
  4. Port Orleans French Quarter

With a massive refurbishment that began in 2014 and ended in 2015, Caribbean Beach’s standard rooms are the nicest Moderate rooms on property with new furnishings, queen beds, and a wooden divider between the sleep and vanity areas. Almost all standard rooms sleep a fifth person on a murphy bed, which gives families of five with at least one small child more economical options. Riverside’s Alligator Bayou’s rooms are the only other Moderate that sleep five at this price point. Caribbean Beach’s rooms are newer and brighter than Coronado’s, which is why it sees an advantage.

Caribbean Beach also offers higher-priced pirate-themed rooms in the distant Trinidad South buildings. Because the upcharge is so high and the rooms so distant from the main building, I don’t usually recommend them, particularly because they’re older and have double beds instead of queens.

Coronado Springs Resort  receives a small bonus for the wood divider between the vanity area and the sleeping area, which keeps much more of the light and noise out compared to the cloth divider found at the Port Orleans properties. Because it’s a major convention resort, Disney seems to pay more attention to the rooms, replacing aging pieces of furniture before they would make a move at other properties. Another extensive refurbishment is expected in 2015 and 2016.

Port Orleans Riverside joins Caribbean Beach Resort as the only Moderate Resort that can officially sleep five people, this time just in the Alligator Bayou section, thanks to the addition of a fold down bed. While the fold-down bed is designed to sleep a small child under the age of nine or so, it may offer a cheaper alternative to one of the family suites. All rooms were refurbished throughout 2011 and 2012 and now feature nice queen size beds and new furnishings.

All rooms in the Oak Manor and Parterre Place sections of Magnolia Bend were converted to Royal Guest rooms at that time and offer a third unique theme.

Port Orleans French Quarter underwent a serious refurbishment in early 2011. Resort rooms now feature two queen-size beds, flat-screen televisions, and all new furniture, but lack the door separating the vanity and sleep area.

There are no longer major differences between the rooms and layouts at the various Moderates, save for the murphy bed that sleeps a fifth, small person and the wooden dividers between the sleeping and vanity areas at Coronado and Caribbean Beach Resort. Regardless of which resort you pick, the amenities will be very similar.

Best Price Per Square Foot

Larger: or as a PDF:

There is not much difference in room sizes or the price per square foot at the Moderate level, but the charts should help offer an idea about room types and prices throughout the year. The best price may come down to what type of accommodations are available at the time of booking, particularly if you’re looking at using a discount with limited availability. 314 square foot Standard View rooms at Coronado run 61.4 cents per square foot, which is ever-so-slightly higher than the other choices.

Larger: or as a PDF:

314 square foot Caribbean Beach rooms come in at 59.9 cents per square foot during a weekday in Regular Season.

Larger or as a PDF:

Standard Room rates during Regular Season are the same at both Port Orleans resorts, which are in turn the same as Caribbean Beach for the same amount of space – 59.9 cents per square foot.

Best Pool

  1. Caribbean Beach Resort
  2. Coronado Springs Resort
  3. Port Orleans Riverside
  4. Port Orleans French Quarter

The Caribbean Beach’s feature pool, designed to look like the famous Fuentes del Morro Fort, comes in first place. There is also a quiet pool in each of the Caribbean Beach’s sections – six in total.

Kids also love the pirate-themed splash area.

Featuring a 50-foot tall Mayan Temple, 123-foot long water slide, and 272,000 gallons of water, Coronado Springs boasts an impressive feature pool in the form of The Dig Site. Each of the Coronado’s three sections has a convenient quiet pool as well.

Riverside has decent pools, but they’re a significant step down from the top two choices. The feature pool at Riverside is 158,000 gallons, more than 100,000 smaller than The Dig Site, and features a 95-foot slide. There are also five quiet pools located throughout the resort.

Coming in last is Port Orleans French Quarter, which only has one swimming pool and one small hot tub. Guests staying at the French Quarter are welcome to use the pools at Riverside, but it isn’t ideal to have to walk the ten or so minutes both ways to enjoy a good swim.

Best Disney World Moderate Resort Overall

  1. Port Orleans French Quarter Resort
  2. Port Orleans Riverside Resort
  3. Coronado Springs Resort
  4. Caribbean Beach Resort

Considering that French Quarter comes in dead last in three of the six categories, this may seem like a surprising conclusion. Let me explain. Arguably, the two most important categories are transportation and layout. The bottom line is that a stay at French Quarter will allow you to spend more time where you want to be – the theme parks. First, French Quarter is the smallest of the Moderates, which means rooms are close to points of interest. If you’re placed in the Ranchos section at Coronado Springs or Trinidad South buildings at Caribbean Beach, you can expect to have to walk about one mile each way from your room to the food court, main building, or feature pool. That’s at least a 20 minute walk, round-trip. This makes it difficult to refill a refillable mug, get a quick bite to eat, ask the front desk a question in person, or transport your luggage after check-in. At the French Quarter, you’re only a few minutes away from everything.

Second, transportation is key. You don’t want to spend any more time on Disney buses than you have to and the French Quarter is by far the best in the transportation category. During peak times, the resort will have dedicated bus transportation and won’t have to share with Riverside, which is another plus. Considering the amount of walking you’ll be doing or have already done, it’s nice to be able to sit down and relax on the bus rather than have to hold on to a bar and hope the bus doesn’t make a tight turn or go over a bump. The scenic boat ride to Downtown Disney is also a nice bonus.

The major downsides to the French Quarter are its pool and dining options. You’re not necessarily missing much in the dining category, considering none of the Moderate resorts’ table service restaurants are particularly memorable, but it’s always nice to have the option of a convenient and relaxing full service meal. Luckily, Riverside is just a few minutes away and offers the best table service restaurant of any of the Moderates.

With recent refurbishments to the Port Orleans properties, all of the Disney Moderate resorts have similarly high quality rooms with virtually identical amenities. Your in-room experience will be similar regardless of which property you ultimately select.

Unfortunately, the French Quarter may not always be the best choice for your group. If swimming is important, you’re on the Disney Dining Plan, and you plan to eat some of your meals at the resort, then Coronado Springs Resort may be the best choice. If you have five people in your group, don’t want to book two rooms, and want to stay in a relatively inexpensive room, then the Port Orleans Riverside or Caribbean Beach may be your only options. You’ll have to look over the ratings and reviews and decide which resort features are the most important. There’s no one-size-fits-all answer, which is why each of the resorts is favored by different subsets of fans.


  1. MIKE says

    thanks josh i still say i like the cbr the best you have a internal bus so there is no more walking than you want to do. it is very close to my favorite theme park in hollywood studios and i think shutters is the best moderate table service restaurant out there. maybe i am not in the norm on this. i dont really use the counter service restaurant though as i am in the parks very early and eat most of my counter service there. i do usually eat at the table service though and am not a big fan of mexican food(dont care for cheese). and am not a very big jambolaya fan. other than that love the post and always appreciate everything you do. by the way when is your next book coming out

  2. BDUB32 says

    Darn, the updated rooms at CBR didn’t move it up the coveted best overall resort rankings. Here’s to hoping Mrs. BDUB32 doesn’t walk out on me when we visit in August.


  3. Sarah says

    We stayed at French Quarter last year and loved it. Definitely the least crowded I ever felt in a Disney resort. It was so nice having that short walk between our room and all of the amenities, and we did take advantage of its proximity to Riverside. All boats from Downtown Disney stop at French Quarter before heading to Riverside, and they come pretty often, so the wait was minimal. The ride itself was nice as well. Because of this I wouldn’t let lack of dining options deter anyone from French Quarter.

  4. Paul says

    Love it Josh! We stayed at PO Riverside a few years ago and LOVED IT! But the long walks to everything was a real downer especially after a long day in the parks. We now can’t wait for our next trip and experience French Quarter. We’re soooo looking forward to spending time adventuring, shopping, and dining instead of walking.

  5. keri says

    I’m surprised about Coronado being ever-so-slightly more expensive. Whenever I go to make my annual reservations, it generally has the lowest price options. Perhaps it’s because standard views of the other resorts sell out much more quickly?

  6. Dan says

    POFQ is our “home” resort. We have stayed at CSR in the Casitas 5 building which was nice but the size of the resort is what turned us off. POFQ is exactly as you put it. Small and easy transportation access. Our favorite part of POFQ is the short bus ride to Epcot during the Food & Wine Festival. Roughly 10 minutes once on the bus to the drop off point at Epcot. Can’t beat that.

  7. Tia says

    Thanks for the info! I keep looking for a reason to stay at another resort instead of POFQ, but I haven’t found one yet. I’d be interested in trying one of the deluxes someday, but I’m afraid that I’ll end up being mad that I didn’t stay at POFQ! :)

  8. Frank says

    I pretty much agree with your weightings. We stayed at POFQ recently and had one day where we shared a bus with POR for DHS. It took us about the same time to hit all of the POR bus stops as it took us to get to DHS.

  9. John says

    Thanks Josh! As usual this was a great blog on the moderate resorts at WDW. We have loved staying ay Port Orleans French Quarter. Being from Louisiana it reminds us of home.

  10. Ed says

    Josh, please don’t tell everyone how great POFQ. Then they’ll want to stay there. We like it the way it is. LOL. Thanks for the review.

  11. Steve B says

    I’m glad CBR is in last place. It’ll mean less people will be tempted to visit next year when we’ll be staying there. Should be quieter then. 😉

  12. Sonja says

    We have stayed at POFQ, CSR, and CBR (just returned from there). CSR is our family favorite. We have also stayed at WL, BWV (40% off in 2010), YC (30% off), and Pop. I really prefer the moderates because we travel in peak seasons and the deluxe resorts are too expensive. My thoughts:
    CSR- we love Pepper Market and the main pool. I love the resort’s theme and layout which is basically the same as CBR. We stayed in Ranchos once and preferred room once and relied on WDW transportation. It was fine.
    POFQ- the only thing we loved about this resort was the boat to DTD. We were there the week after Christmas and we did stop at POR at least a few times.
    CBR-I loved the resort’s theme and layout. I did not like the separate check in/ME building. The food court was good but the lines were long which meant cold food (a big perk of the CSR system). We have older teens and this resort seemed to attract young families. We were there the first week of June and the main pool was packed from open to close. It was the first time I didn’t use the main pool at a resort. We were given a complimentary upgrade to a preferred room which was nice since we had the dining plan. (Trinidad North Bldg 31). I’m glad we tried the resort and we didn’t dislike it but wouldn’t stay again. We also like to stay at new resorts. Next time, per my husband, we will stay at AKL.

    I don’t think the multiple bus stops are that big of a deal. The busing at deluxe resort is far worse due to shared busing.

  13. jill says

    Hi Josh, We’ll be staying at CBR in a pirate room due to the Free Dining deal. Is there any chance that we could move resorts or get an upgraded closer room in CBR but keep the free dining plan? Thanks, Jill

  14. Jeff says

    We have stayed at all 4. We love CB. Transportation is not an issue for us because we have a car. The walk to the food can be long, but I usually do this early morning or late evening. It is quiet and peaceful, a good way to end or start the day.

    We love the smaller pools and have found the ones at CB to be better than some of the others, sometimes even being the only ones there.

    I will say, one of the best things about POR is Yee-ha Bob. Even when not staying there, a trip there to see him is a must.

  15. Sharon R says

    Great post!!
    Our favorite is Riverside, in all the categories.
    I see boats in your waterfront photo, I thought they stopped boat rental. Have they resumed?

  16. Rachelle says

    I haven’t stayed at Coronado but I’ve stayed at the other three. To me, Caribbean Beach blew both POs out of the water. Yeah, it’s big and spread out but I watched the fireworks from the pool! That’s not happening at Riverside! The new rooms are so pretty and felt more upscale than a moderate “should be”. The staff was above and beyond… and seriously. the beaches. I could have stayed in my hammock on the beach for the entire day.

    Also, a random tidbit that we liked. At POFQ and POR if you have pizza delivered from off property, you have to meet them at the lobby. At CBR, they are allowed to come to your door (at least Dominos was). this was a nice little unexpected thing that made life a little easier.

    I know it’s subjective but I expected to hate CBR and now it easily outranks all the other places we’ve stayed… including Contemporary and Art of ANimation…

    • Rachelle says

      I have to add… my kids used to ask “When can we go to Disney World again?” and now all they ask is “When can we go to Caribbean Beach again?”

    • Rachael says

      Which pool did you see fireworks in? and which fireworks do you think they were…..we are traveling as a large group of friends with kids and we may do this if we hit a sleepy/lazy night

  17. Rachael says

    really looking forward to taking our son ( he will be two and a bit) in Oct….staying at CBR , hoping to have some great insite to add to this already fabulous site!!:)

  18. Brian Langston says

    It is now January and I am wondering if you will be posting the new Room Rate Information guides for 2016.

  19. Sadie says

    Recommendations for best place with a 3 year old. Despite the long walks to everywhere and transportation time, the pool is attractive for the times we need to hang back and do less theme park visiting. Thoughts?

  20. Clare says

    I’m guessing things have changed since written, but as of August 2016, CSR has only 4 bus stops, not 5+! :) Service around the resort very quick really!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *