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Disney Resorts That Celebrate Disney

6. Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa

Image: DisneyOut of all the Deluxe Tier hotels at Walt Disney World, only two have even the slightest connection to Disney character theming. And one of these is hidden in plain sight. Oh, and it’s a fairly recent addition, too.

When Disney added Disney Vacation Club villas to the Grand Floridian, they built a new lobby. The centerpiece of this lobby is a fountain, one themed after a Disney classic. The penguins from Mary Poppins frolic happily in this fountain, and people tend to smile when they see it. Since the villa building houses only about 100 rooms, however, it’s a very small part of the hotel, a lobby that regular guests must go out of the way to notice.

I give the Grand Floridian bonus points for one other overt Disney connection. The live jazz band that often plays in the lobby here, the Grand Floridian Society Orchestra, embraces classic Disney music. Their sets are largely comprised of Disney favorites. When you enter the main lobby, you will usually hear something that reminds you of Disney movies, even if you don’t see anything. So, that’s something.

5. Disney’s All-Star Sports Resort

Image: DisneyOkay, now we’re starting to do a bit better. The lobby is this resort is almost identical to All-Star Music, with athletes replacing musicians on the walls. The rest of the campus has several recognizable Disney characters, though. Donald Duck angrily plays tennis, Goofy fires oversized baseballs out of a cannon-like pitching machine, and the baby ducks take a few swings in the batter’s box.

Disney hosts a slew of athletic competitions at the ESPN Wide World of Sports facility. Many of the guests at these tournaments stay at All-Star Sports. They’ll always know where they’re staying because this is truly the first of the resorts listed here that celebrates the true nature of Disney. Yes, there are only five such official hotels in my estimation and, yes, Disney needs to do better.

4. Disney’s Pop Century Resort

Image: DisneyPop Century Resort almost seems like the Toy Story Hotel of Walt Disney World. It’s just that the toys here aren’t characters from the movie. Instead, it’s a list of the various entertainment items and technologies that people have loved over the past 50 years. The lobby has everything from flip phones to 1950s malt shop images. It is all things pop culture, and that philosophy permeates throughout the campus.

Disney characters are on full display, though. The 1950s area is more than just malt shops. A classic 1950s film, Lady and the Tramp, is omnipresent in this section. A statue of Lady even looks down on a doghouse where some of her puppies sleep. The Tramp mirrors her by standing in a protective position, albeit while looking quite content. Fatherhood suits him.

The 1960s section is all about the Jungle Hunt, with a giant statue of Baloo and towering over his young human friends. Computers and Play-Doh are the epicenter of other areas, but a Mickey Phone will warm the hearts of Disney fans of a certain age, as well. And Roger Rabbit even appears in the 1980s section. Pop Century is delightfully Disney…but it’s only the third-best Value Tier resort for Disney theming.

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