I've only stayed in a regular "old" standard room, not the Tower. Yes, the Tower is closer to food and buses, etc.
But one thing I noticed is the bathroom setup at the Tower is not ideal for families. The glass shower, commode and sink are all in the bathroom together. In the standard rooms, the sink/vanity area is outside the bathroom - so a better setup for families in my opinion.
Agree with above poster. The Tower is incredible. Not only is it our favorite Moderate on property, we prefer it to many of the Deluxe resorts. The decor feels so "happy" - it's colorful, clean, lots of natural lighting. You don't have to go outside (in the case of bad weather) to get food. We have a trip planned for August - fingers crossed!
As a solo - I prefer Tower. Closer to quick service, gift shop and restaurants, inside hallways, and the rooms are really nice. But even traveling with my partner - I think the bathroom set up in the non-Tower rooms is better for getting ready to go to bed or to leave in the morning as the sink is outside the room with the shower/toilet. That basic functionality of the room makes a big difference when everyone isn't going to share the bathroom. In the Tower rooms - everything is in one room for the bathroom. So - while I love the Tower rooms as a solo - given I'm assuming your teen doesn't want to share the bathroom with you at exactly the same time - that bathroom set up could be pain.
The Cabanas are my favorite theme and like the Rancheros they are near the awesome main pool which is cool. I love how this resort has themed lands within it. It reminds me of the theme parks and it is fun walking around. I don't recommend the Casitas only since they are usually filled with convention guests and not families.
What's the price difference? I'll preface this by saying I've only been in the Tower and not stayed in it, but I might be inclined to go standard or preferred room in the "regular" sections of CSR. The Tower is nice and feels like luxury, especially at the moderate level. But CSR is a convention resort and I believe convention attendees will be placed in the Tower in most cases. The rooms and amenities of the Tower cater to adults and business travelers. On the one hand, it probably means the rooms and hallways are quiet. But on the other hand, you'll be surrounded by business folk. This is one of the very few cons of CSR for us - I travel for work, so seeing everyone with lanyards and working on laptops reminds me of work back home and bursts my Disney bubble a bit. Its a different atmosphere when you're amongst people forced to be there for work as opposed to like-minded vacationing families.
We've stayed a CSR a few times and have booked preferred, which puts us in Casitas 1, 2, or 3. Still a quick and easy walk to El Centro, and close to Bus Stop 2 which is the first pick up and first drop off for the parks (second for Disney Springs routes).
Put my DD/DSIL in the Tower and they absolutely loved it. So much so...they told me I don't have to 'waste' DVC points on them in the future. (still will, of course, but they were delighted with the Tower Room). We visited and it was very nice.
Meant to say that I actually love the fact that it’s a convention hotel from my experience of being a person that’s been at the hotel when there were conventions, and a person that goes to conventions.
Generally, conventioners are not going to pools, parks, taking up bus space and running wild in the resorts. Meetings all day, dinner and maybe some drinks (at a hotel or Disney Springs), bed, repeat for 3 days. Unless you‘re caught in the sea of people when meetings are released at the end of the day, you likely won’t be bothered by them. It’s actually a benefit In most respects.
I have to agree with everyone who loves the Tower for all of their points above.
The commode is in it's own water closet with a pocket door in the tower. However, you are correct in that it's not the ideal set up if family members need to be in the shower and commode at the same time. Ha
I agree the Tower is set up more for adults without children. So for my wife and I it's perfect! Ha
Another vote for the Tower and I'll add a Water View room - if you think you'll be in the room in the evenings you can see the fireworks from some of those rooms.
You won't be disappointed in either ( standard or Tower ) but the Tower is new and has a lot of bells and whistles. ( Lots of outlets for devices, cool elevator, looks more deluxe ).
The other side of the coin I will point out though - if you plan on a lot of pool time, then I'd go standard and request a room close to the pool because it's quite a walk from the Tower to the pool from what I understand.