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Sue Holland

Pools & Recreation at Disney's Moderate Resorts

Mid-level hotels provide special touches

Friday, June 25, 2004
By Sue Holland , staff writer

Photo by Sue Holland.

Disney's “moderate” resorts fill the gap between their traditional “deluxe” resorts that come with many amenities and a price tag higher than most hotels and resorts in the area, and the “value” resorts that compete with the cheaper motels found offsite. While there are more similarities to the value resorts than the deluxe resorts, this moderate class does have some amenities not found at the All-Stars and Pop Century.

There are four moderate resorts—Caribbean Beach Resort, Port Orleans French Quarter, Port Orleans Riverside and Coronado Springs. French Quarter has approximately 1,000 guest rooms, while the other three have approximately 2,000 rooms. As a comparison, the All-Stars have 2,000 rooms each, Pop Century has 2,500, and the deluxe resorts each have approximately 1,000 rooms.

The main pool at Caribbean Beach Resort. Photo by Sue Holland.

One feature that sets these resorts apart from the value resorts is the addition of a water slide at the main swimming pools. At Caribbean Beach Resort the main pool area is themed as a pirate's fort, complete with cannons. The pool itself is large and sprawling, with waterfalls as well as a short water slide that is popular with both children and adults. The water slide at all of these resorts is only open while the lifeguards are on duty, but for most of the year those hours are quite extensive. This main pool area is also home to the kiddie pool, a pool bar, and a whirlpool spa.

Quiet pool in the Martinique section of Caribbean Beach Resort. Photo by Sue Holland.

At Caribbean Beach Resort, the rooms are separated into six distinct villages, each named for a different Caribbean island. Each village has its own quiet pool with no lifeguard or slide, a beach for sunning but not swimming, and, in half of the villages, a playground set up right on the beach. Although Parrot Cay Island, in the center of the resort, is no longer home for several birds, it is still a pleasant place to walk today.

Port Orleans French Quarter pool. Photo by Sue Holland.

Port Orleans French Quarter is unique in that it is the smallest resort of the group, and is not augmented with any quiet pools. However, the pool area here is quite large, and seems to accommodate guests well. Anyone staying at French Quarter is also free to use the several pools at Port Orleans Riverside, which is not quite as convenient as being at the other resorts but is a nice compromise.

Port Orleans French Quarter is home to the most unusual pool of the group, with a large sea serpent extending throughout the area. The water slide is actually the serpent's tongue, and is quite popular with children. This slide is also the shortest of the four, so true thrillseekers may be disappointed. There are Mardi Gras-themed statues located throughout the pool area, making it all very attractive and festive. However, it's large enough that a quiet spot can be found. A playground is located right near the pool, just past the pool bar and guest laundry buildings.

Port Orleans Riverside main pool. Photo by Sue Holland.

Just up the river a short distance is Port Orleans Riverside, which was formerly named Dixie Landings. Here the main pool area is on an island at the center of the resort, and is named Ole Man Island. It is themed to be fairly rustic, with a wooden bridge, water slide and a free-form shape. There are lots of trees here, making shade a possibility. The Muddy Rivers Pool Bar is nearby and has a number of nice wooden rocking chairs on a shaded deck. The playground and kiddie pool are nearby, and Ole Man Island is fairly convenient to all rooms due to its central location. The food court is not far away, making lunch by the pool quite easy.

One of the quiet pools at Port Orleans Riverside. Photo by Sue Holland.

In addition to the main pool, Port Orleans Riverside is also home to five more quiet pools. The Magnolia Bend section consists of four large buildings, and there is a nice pool located between the first two and the last two. The Alligator Bayou section consists of several smaller buildings and is home to three smaller and more rustic pools. All of the pools are attractive, and can be a great place to escape to with a good book if you are looking for a break from the hectic pace of the theme parks.

At Port Orleans Riverside and Port Orleans French Quarter it is possible to rent a horse-drawn carriage for a ride around the resorts in the evening. This is also available at the Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground. The two Port Orleans resorts also share boat transportation between each other and to Downtown Disney, on what's called the Sassagoula River. Disney buses are also available, but the boat always feels more fun!

Coronado Springs main pool. Photo by Sue Holland.

Coronado Springs is the newest of the moderate resorts and has a few amenities not found at the others. This resort has a large convention center and as such, needs to compete for business in that market. Coronado Springs is the only moderate resort with a fitness center, beauty salon, and room service (beyond pizza). It is also home to the pool with the longest water slide of the four moderates, and the largest whirlpool spa whirlpool on Disney property.

Located in the center of the lake, the main pool area is named the Dig Site. In addition to the very large main pool featuring water running down the side of a pyramid, there is also a large playground, pool bar that also serves food, a second arcade, volleyball court, and a nature trail. The whirlpool spa seats 22 people at a time, and is worth seeing. Use of the pools and spa are limited to those registered guests staying at Coronado Springs.

Quiet pool in the Casitas section of Coronado Springs Resort. Photo by Sue Holland.

Coronado Springs has three distinct sections, each with its own theme. Casitas is the urban area, with mostly four-story buildings and good proximity to the convention center. Ranchos is furthest away, with two-story buildings and an arid desert theme. Cabanas are the beach/coastal lodgings, located near the main pool and the main building as well. While the building exteriors vary, the rooms and amenities do not.

Disney used to provide bus transportation between Coronado Springs and the Boardwalk, but that has been discontinued. To get there now will require a bus transfer at one of the theme parks or Downtown Disney.

Beaches can be found at Caribbean Beach and Coronado Springs. Photo by Sue Holland.

Each moderate resort has at least one playground for young children, either located on a beach or near the main pool. At all four moderate resorts there is at least one video arcade, and room service that is limited to mostly pizza delivery (except at Coronado Springs). Each resort has a marina with several types of boats available for rental by the hour or half-hour. Guests do not need to be staying at the particular resort in order rent these items, but a resort identification card or driver's license will be required. Bicycles can also be rented, along with complimentary helmets for the children, and infant seats if needed. Surrey bikes seating four to six passengers are always popular, and since the moderate resorts tend to be built along or around water, a network of paved paths provides enough distance to cover in a rental period.

Surrey bikes can be rented at Coronado Springs and the other moderate resorts. Photo by Sue Holland.

Unlike the value resorts, each moderate has an indoor cocktail lounge, which may include live entertainment in the evenings. With the exception of Port Orleans French Quarter, they each also have a full-service restaurant that is open for breakfast and dinner. Having an option besides the food court can come in handy, especially without a car to travel easily to the deluxe resorts. Prices at the full-service restaurants here tend to be lower than those at the deluxe resorts as well.

While the moderate resorts may not have all the amenities found at the other resorts, they tend to have more than would be found at non-Disney hotels in the area, and they are a bit nicer than Disney's value resorts. Whichever one you choose, you can count on it being clean, attractive and full of Disney details and theming.

Thoughts, questions, or comments? Contact Sue here.


Sue has been hooked on Walt Disney World since her first visit in 1972 with her parents and younger brother. She kept returning more frequently until she moved to Florida in 1986.

After joining the Disney Vacation Club (DVC) in 1997, she now visits almost monthly. She also spends time at the DVC's non-WDW locations, and is experienced with the Disney cruise ships.

She takes many of these trips on her own, but she's also toured WDW with large groups of people, including families, the elderly, and people with disabilities.

She works as the Administrative Services Division Head for a large residential facility administered by the Florida Department of Children and Families. She currently resides in Southwest Florida with her teenage son.

Sue is one of our most prolific trip report writers. Read her trip report archive here.

You can contact Sue here.

Get the latest info about the resort at “Park Update: Walt Disney World.”


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MousePlanet® is not associated in any official way with the Walt Disney Company, its subsidiaries, or its affiliates. The official Disney site is available at www.disney.com. This MousePlanet Web site provides independent news articles, commentary, editorials, reviews, and guides primarily about the theme park resorts of the Walt Disney Co. All information on this site is subject to change. Please call destinations in advance to confirm the most up-to-date information.