We live in California, but go to Disney World at least 5 times a year (I’m a runDisney addicted). As a disclaimer I have not stayed at every single hotel, but I would just like to share some of my opinions.
Disney World offers regular hotel rooms and also what they call “villas”. Villas come in studios, 1 bedroom, 2 bedroom and 3 bedroom grand villas. Studios don’t have a full kitchen, but the rest do. I LOVE having the kitchen when we are staying for longer than a weekend. First, I get tired of eating Disney food all the time and second it is hard with a toddler to get her to eat at restaurants all the time. It also saves money cooking meals at the villa. I also like having the extra space of a living room than just a normal hotel room.
With that said, not all villas are created equal. The villas at Old Key West were the first, so they are also the largest in square footage. They were also recently updated and I really like them. They are not walking distance to anything, but they do have a really nice boat service to go to Downtown Disney. Old Key West is large and spread out. One down fall is they don’t have elevators if your villa is on second floor. My husband has back issues so I always request a ground floor.
Beach Club is definitely one of my favorite places to stay. The villas are the run of the mill normal size villas, BUT the pool at Beach Club is hands down the best pool at Disney World. They have a great pirate ship water slide, a small lazy river with tubes, and a sand bottom pool perfect for kids of all ages. Beach club is also the place where Beaches ‘N Cream is located. A fun ice cream parlor that also serves food. They have “Frozen Sunshine” which is a blended orange sherbet wanna be milkshake without milk. They also have “The Kitchen Sink”. A ginourmous ice cream sundy served in a huge bowl that looks like a kitchen sink. The 3 of us can never even finish close to half of it, but super fun treat and activity for the family. I also like that at Beach Club you are right next to Epcot and can walk right in the back entrance that puts you in between England and France at World Showcase.
A couple highlights of other resorts:
Bay Lake Villas and Contemporary Resort are nice because you can either walk or take the monorail straight to the Magic Kingdom. They are the only resort with walking abilities to the Magic Kingdom.
Boardwalk has fun entertainment and shops. You can also easily walk or take the boat to Epcot and Hollywood Studios.
Swan and Dolphin are right by Boardwalk and Beach Club and are on Disney property, but the only hotels that aren’t booked by Disney. They offer the same services as on property, i.e. bus and boat service, but if you want to stay there you need to book through them and not from Disney.
If you stay on property you get certain days extra magic hours, which is certain days at certain theme parks they offer hours in the morning or evening just for resort guests. I love the evening extra magic hours. We are from the west coast, so with the time difference and the evening magic hours work very well for us to get on rides with very little to no lines.
The value resorts, I feel, are all very good quality for the money. They are definitely nicer than a Motel 6 and are still themed Disney style. With that said, the deluxe hotels are of course very very nice. Most are in need of a little furniture refinishing or new carpet, but they are not the equivalent of a 5 star hotel. Often they have a very steep price tag, which you pay for Disney, but normally would not pay at another location for the same quality.
I have never stayed at a Disney hotel and had a bad experience, so you can’t go wrong with any of them. I just suggest figuring out what is most important to you and booking the hotel that best fits your top priorities, whether that is proximity to an area, or a pool, or budget. If you don’t plan to be in your hotel much a value hotel might be the best choice. If you want to enjoy the hotel than maybe pick one based on the amenities you want.