WDW’s Renovated Resort Hotels vs. UOR’s Hotels

Edited: September 30, 2021, 9:34 AM

The recent renovations of Polynesian Village Resort and The Contemporary Resort have both been pleasant surprises as a result of WDW’s ongoing preparations for its 50th Anniversary Celebration. Both renovations are purposely recalling some of their original 1970s mid-century designs mixed with 21st century modern touches and a little bit of Disney IP folded in. I would argue that Polynesian Village Resort is now the best theme park resort hotel in the world. The Contemporary Resort is in the middle of its renovations but the changes completed so far have been significant and overall very positive. I personally prefer UOR resorts, but with the direction WDW is going with its hotel renovations, that may change.
So, just to butt some heads a little bit, which is better - WDW’s resort hotels or UOR’s hotels?

Replies (9)

September 26, 2021, 6:42 PM

Universal's big advantage over Disney traditionally has been price. I just priced hotels for next week, and found you could get Universal hotels at a comparable quality level for 30-50% less than Disney.

But being the best isn't just about value. Ultimate quality matters, so I would love to hear what people think about what Disney is doing with these refurbs.

Allow me to make a pitch for everyone to sign up for our newsletter (if you haven't already), because newsletter recipients will get links to vote for the upcoming Theme Park Insider Awards, including Best Hotel. Thanks.

September 27, 2021, 8:19 AM

For me, price is always the #1 consideration. When we're at a theme park destination, a hotel room is nothing more than a bed and a shower for us. I will say Pop Century is a lovely resort (and the recent renovations there are well done except eliminating the carpeting) that is even better now that it is connected to DHS and EPCOT with the Skyliner, but most of the Disney Deluxe resorts are just simply not worth the extra costs. The Universal deluxe results (Hard Rock, Royal Pacific, and Portofino Bay - we've stayed at all three) are pricey, but all include unlimited Universal Express (FOTL), and are within WALKING distance of the parks, so that extra cost is completely justified with a the UE perk that is worth $200/day or more for a family of 4.

September 27, 2021, 10:11 AM

WDW's hotels have generation after generation of families that visit them so there is that genetic vacation behavior that they benefit from a lot. They are more well known/famous because of their location, have more unique designs, and are marketed really well. They are mostly very nice to walk around and explore.

That being said when taking price into consideration there is no way in hell I would ever stay at one. Disney's fans are really bad at voting with their wallet, they keep complaining about the price increases but they still keep staying there, its like a drug addiction. I think a lot of people figure well my kids are only going to be kids once, so I have to pay what they charge to have the Disney experience I had with my parents when I was a kid, so they grudgingly bend over.

UO's hotels are all pretty nice but Portofino is waaaaay over rated on this website. I have no idea how or why it keeps winning best hotel on this site over and over again, other than getting to skip the lines at UO there is nothing about it that makes it worth the price. TBH its probably the worst themed of the UO resorts, when you get up close the exterior of the building looks tacky and cheap.

September 27, 2021, 10:42 AM

None of the Above:

Stay at the Sheraton Vistana Resorts #AD....hahahaha

But remember Disney gives you extra magic hours (wait they are getting rid of that). But Disney had the free bus from the Airport (Oh that's going away also)....

Sarcasm is the word of the day, try it like I did...

What the Heck is TBH?

September 27, 2021, 11:19 AM

@Brian Emery, TBH = to be honest

I agree with the above. Even though we've stayed only at value resorts at WDW and off site at UO, we'll definitely be looking into staying onsite next time, as the benefits and price outweigh Disney's now.

September 28, 2021, 11:26 AM

I always loved WDW more even though I acknowledge how great USO's are. Yet Disney just has a different feel and quality that can't be matched at other spots, even the value resorts. I loved the All-Stars are much as Contemporary or Coronado Springs and if I was going, likely the cheaper ones.

My family benefited from special deals to get to Dolphin a lot which meant great fun thanks to how close it was to Epcot and Studios. I guess depends on your personal tastes really but Disney World just feels better with the overall feel.

Edited: October 19, 2021, 6:08 AM

I like the way renovations are being made in the design of old Italian hotels. I like the hospitality industry changes, although recently there has been much less appealing in this area. I'm not a restorer, but I think it's a lot of work to change the designs of previous centuries. It is much more difficult to combine in one project what was then, what was valued and has survived to this day; with what one appreciates now. Values have changed, but I admire the work of people who see the beauty in modernity and appreciate the old design sketches embodied in beautiful ornaments and styles of architecture.

October 19, 2021, 6:00 PM

If someone is coming to Orlando and exclusively visiting the WDW parks, why would they stay at a UO resort?

And vice-versa.

October 20, 2021, 8:36 AM

TH - Because the UO resorts are cheaper for comparable quality. In fact, many of the rooms at the new Endless Summer Resort are comparable in quality and sometimes even cheaper than the big chain hotels in Orlando. If you're planning to visit WDW, you have to pay to park your car whether you're at a Disney resort or any off-site resort, so you can save the hassle of having to switch rooms by just staying at a Universal Resort (or other off-site resort) for the days you're visiting the WDW parks. I would say that it's probably silly to stay at one of Universal's deluxe hotels (Royal Pacific, Hard Rock, or Portofino Bay) and visit WDW parks, but I could definitely see guests staying at the Universal value hotels and just staying there when planning to visit the WDW parks.

For guests advocating to stay at a WDW resort while visiting Universal (or other local parks), that is a bit of a head scratcher unless you're a DVC member. Disney resort guests are paying for parking whether they're visiting WDW parks or anywhere else in Central Florida, so the only other reason I would see to stay in a WDW hotel would be that if you were only spending 1 (or maybe 2 non-consecutive) day(s) outside WDW and didn't want to deal with switching rooms/resorts.

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