Disney resort categories are extremely confusing. What are the differences between the resorts? What is included in Value, Moderate and Deluxe Resorts? Disney organizes its resorts to fit every budget. As you move up categories the amenities increase, it is important to understand these differences so you can decide what is best for your family.
As a kid I was a little spoiled…ok, a lot spoiled. I was the only girl, and with three brothers and mostly male cousins, I didn’t have a chance. My Dad worked really hard and while we didn’t go to Walt Disney World every year like some of my friends, when we did go we stayed at the Grand Floridian. My Mom loved being able to take whoever was the baby at the time back to the hotel on the monorail while my Dad stayed in the parks with me. I loved being at Disney, and I loved riding the monorail in loops in my bathing suit and bathrobe. But one year some family friends came with us, and they didn’t stay in the same hotel as we did. They stayed at Caribbean Beach Resort. I went to stay with them one night and I was SO jealous. They had an amazing pool with a cool waterslide, bright fun colors, and everything I could ever want in a hotel. I am sure my parents were not too happy when I said I wished we had stayed there. I am telling you this embarrassing story about my brattiness (which for the most part I grew out of) because even though it is considered the “best” resort by some people (and I would LOVE to be able to afford to stay there now), the Grand Floridian didn’t really appeal to 10 year old me. There are over 25 resorts at Walt Disney World, so there is something for every interest, every age, and every budget.
Disney breaks its resorts into three different budget categories: Value, Moderate, & Deluxe (for the purposes of this article I am going to treat Deluxe and Deluxe Villas as one). Each category offers a different level of quality and amenities.
While all the resorts offer free airport transfers, complimentary transportation around the property, extra time in the parks, the option to use the dining plan, and more (here is a post about all that), here are the differences in the categories.
It used to be if you wanted an affordable hotel you did not stay at a Disney resort. Disney wisely realized they were losing money to the nearby Holiday Inns and started building the ‘value’ resorts. This is Disney’s version of a budget resort but don’t let that make you think it is anything less than magical. The biggest benefit to the Value resorts is the size, nothing is very far away from anything else, and there is only one bus stop at the front of the main building. You can even upgrade to a preferred room to guarantee you will be in one of the rooms nearest the main building, which is an incredible value when you don’t have to walk far from the bus to your room after a long day in the parks. These are a great choice if you are not planning on spending a lot of time in your room. You have everything you need here and can be sure you are getting a clean room and friendly service.
These resorts are colorfully themed with gigantic pop icons that kids love.
These rooms are the smallest in size at 260 square feet. They are currently undergoing a multi-year renovation to move from two double beds to a more modern design and one queen bed and one pull down double bed.
Quick Service Dining Location, Pizza Delivery, Pool Bar
One main pool, 1-2 Secondary Pools
Bus Transportation to all Parks – Pop Century and Art of Animation have access to the new Disney Skyliner
Resorts in this category include Disney’s Pop Century Resort, Disney’s All Star Music, Disney’s All Star Movies, Disney’s All Star Sports and Disney’s Art of Animation.
I love the moderate resorts. These are typically the resorts I will stay in during my trips. They offer a little more space (which is great when you have to work in the hotel room, I know I know I shouldn’t complain that I have to work from Walt Disney World) and I love the added dining (and drinking) options. This category is best for those who want a little more than just the bare essentials. These resorts have sprawling properties with immaculate landscaping. They add a touch more luxury, slightly larger rooms and some extra amenities, but without the deluxe prices.
The theming is a little more elevated with each resort playing homage to a destination with little Disney touches along the way.
The rooms are a respectable 314 square feet with two queen size beds. Additionally some of the rooms accommodate a 5th person with a pull down single bed well suited to children.
They each have a main lobby building with the food court, lounge and access to at least one table service restaurant.
One main pool with waterslide, secondary pools for most sections of the resort, other recreation varies by resort but may include bike or boat rentals, horse drawn carriage rides, catch and release fishing, pirate cruises, health club, spa services or live entertainment in the lounge (you have to check out Yehaw Bob if you are staying at Port Orleans).
Bus Transportation to all Parks. The resorts operate internal bus loops with multiple stops. Disney’s Caribbean Beach has access to the new Disney Skyliner, and both Port Orleans properties offer boat transportation to Disney Springs
Resorts in this category include Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside, Disney’s Port Orleans French Quarter, Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort, Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort, The Cabins at Disney’s Ft. Wilderness
The Deluxe Resorts live up to their name! The theming is incredibly immersive but in an elegant way. If you ever wanted to vacation in the Polynesian or on an African Savannah without the long flight, you will feel like you are there. My favorite thing about these resorts is the location. The convenience many of the resorts offer of being able to walk to a park makes the price tag SO worth it.
The rooms are much larger, ranging from 344 to a whopping 422 square feet with every bed arrangement you can imagine, including bunk beds! Most rooms will feature two queen beds and a pullman bed (like the moderates), or a single sleeper sofa which more comfortably accommodates an adult.
The dining options abound at the Disney Deluxe Resorts with a quick service restaurant and at least one table service restaurant (some offer character dining or a signature dining experience), and incredible bars & lounges.
One main pool with waterslide and a secondary pool. Other recreation varies by resort but may include a marina with boat rentals and water sports, tennis, health club, spa, live entertainment, specialty cruises,
The biggest benefit of the Deluxe Resorts are the plethora of transportation options. With the exception of Animal Kingdom Lodge, each resort offers boat passage, monorail service, or a walking path to at least one of the theme parks.
Resorts in the Deluxe category are: Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa, Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort, Disney’s Contemporary Resort, Disney’s Beach Club Resort, Disney’s Yacht Club Resort, Disney’s Boardwalk Resort, Disney’s Wilderness Lodge, Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge
Resorts in the Deluxe Villa category are: The Villas at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa, Disney’s Polynesian Villas and Bungalows, Bay Lake Tower at Disney’s Contemporary Resort, Disney’s Beach Club Villas, Disney’s Boardwalk Villas, Copper Creek Villas & Cabins at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge, Boulder Ridge Villas at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge, Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas – Jambo House, Animal Kingdom Villas – Kidani Village, Disney’s Old Key West Resort, Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa, Disney’s Riviera Resort
If you want to know some of the other things you should consider when choosing a Walt Disney World resort, check out The Ultimate Guide to Choosing the Best Disney Resort for your Family (below.)
Did you know that there are over 25 hotels at Walt Disney World? Yes really! When you have this much choice, it can be difficult to find the time to research every one to be sure you’re choosing the right hotel for you. Luckily, ‘The Ultimate Disney Resort Planning Guide’ covers every aspect you need to know about each Disney hotel to start narrowing down your choices. Helping you decide what is the best for you in terms of themes and transportation, dining and experiences, and of course, rooms and price points – this guide will ensure you choose the right hotel for your family.
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