On-property hotels at Walt Disney World come in all shapes and sizes. Budget-minded travelers flock to value resorts like the All-Stars. The more luxury focused call the deluxe resorts like the Grand Floridian or the Polynesian home. And those looking for a happy medium that balances budget and amenities may choose a Disney moderate resort. In this episode, Leslie and Joe break down the differences in pricing and amenities between these Disney hotel tiers. If you’ve already decided you want to stay on-site for the Disney perks, find out which types of on-property hotels will have the options you need at the prices you can afford.
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Overview of Disney Hotel Types
There are currently 25 different on-property hotel options at Walt Disney World. On-site hotels come in three major categories: deluxe, moderate, and value. Just like their names imply, the deluxe resorts are the fanciest, with numerous amenities as well as a heftier price tag. The value resorts are more basic properties where you can get a clean room in a great location at a more budget-friendly price. Moderates are somewhere in the middle.
Disney also has deluxe villas that are part of its Disney Vacation Club (DVC) buildings, but we’ll talk more about those on another episode.
Disney Hotel Prices
The first factor that most Disney guests considering in choosing between the different tiers of on-site Disney resorts is cost.
Value resorts are the cheapest of the Disney properties. During regular non-peak times, it’s very possible to find value resorts at about $100 per night.
That said, Disney is really starting to blur the lines between these resort tiers. The Art of Animation Resort, for example, is a value resort where some standard rooms can indeed be found at value prices. But the resort has a huge inventory of family suites, which often run $300+ a night. When the small inventory of standard rooms are gone (which happens regularly), the Art of Animation resort suddenly looks a lot pricier.
Disney’s moderate resorts have a pretty wide price range. Expect to pay about $170-$250 per night. When hotels are under construction (like Caribbean Beach is as of summer 2018), there are often deals to be had to make moderates available at value resort pricing.
At deluxe resorts, the sky is the limit when it comes to pricing. Expect to pay $300-$450 for a standard room in many seasons. But pricing can go much higher at some of the most sought-after properties. Resorts like the Polynesian and Grand Floridian can easily be $800+ per night during a peak time like Christmas week.
Although price is a major distinguishing factor between the resort tiers, expect to find a size difference as well. Most of the value resorts, and quite a few of the moderate resorts, are exceptionally large. The footprint may be be big enough to require a lot of walking or an extra shuttle stop, depending on where you room is located. Sometimes the large footprint can offer more to do within your hotel but sometimes it just means extra blisters and more frustration.
If you want to minimize walking around your resort and have more amenities at your fingertips nearby, the deluxe resorts feel more intimate and indeed have a smaller footprint. It’s part of paying for the convenience.
Another resort difference that matters to many Disney guests is transportation. Generally speaking, deluxe resorts will likely have one or more transportation methods that makes them more convenient. Whether it be the hotels on the monorail loop like the Grand Floridian, Polynesian or Grand Floridian or the hotels within walking distance of Epcot like Disney’s Beach & Yacht Club or Boardwalk resorts, you’ll save some time reaching at least one park from most of the deluxe resorts.
Value and moderate resorts are mostly served by Disney’s shuttle bus systems. A few moderates like Port Orleans Riverside and French Quarter are served by boats to some destinations.
For a complete overview of Disney transportation, be sure to check out our Disney transportation episode.
What about inside your hotel room? Rooms at value resorts are definitely substantially smaller than the rooms at the more expensive hotels.
The major feature to pay attention to for families is the bed options. Standard rooms in value resorts have two double beds. You can only book two queens in the deluxe and moderate hotels. This may matter a lot to families where siblings are sharing a bed. Family harmony may necessitate a more expensive property.
Note that some deluxe and moderate resorts (but not all) have rooms that can sleep 5. These rooms have a small trundle bed that works well for a smaller child. Make sure you understand room capacity and layout before you book a specific room type.
Pools at Disney Resorts
A hotel amenity that matters to many families is often the pool. All Disney hotels have them, but they aren’t necessarily created equal.
Value resort pools are often very well-themed and may be more than adequate for babies, toddlers, and small children who just want to get wet. These pools are, however, lacking in water features like waterslides or splash pad style playgrounds.
The gold standard pool at Disney is Stormalong Bay at Disney’s Beach and Yacht Clubs, but some high quality pools can be found at the moderates as well. Since the pools vary so much (even within the same tier), it’s important to check out each resort you are considering on an individual basis.
Note that all Disney resort pools at every hotel do have lifejackets to borrow for free. No need to pack and bring yours from home if you have non-swimmers in the family.
Food & Dining
When it comes time to eat, you’ll notice differences in the dining options of the value, moderate, and deluxe Disney hotels.
Value resort dining revolves around food courts and quick service dining options. No white tablecloths or wait staff to be found here.
If you want to dine at a table service restaurant at your hotel, you need to spring for at least a moderate resort. The signature dining experiences like character meals or truly iconic Disney restaurants (think Victoria & Albert’s) can only be found at the Disney deluxe resorts. Note that all deluxe resorts do not necessarily have a character meal offering, so check carefully if Mickey waffles are a must-do in your family’s vacation schedule.
Extra Hotel Amenities
Finally, there are a number of other amenities at Disney hotels to consider. The spas and salons are only to be found at the Disney deluxe resorts. Additionally, the deluxe resorts offer concierge levels, where you can access snacks and drinks and often cut down on your dining bill – for an upcharge of course.
Just be aware that even the deluxe resorts aren’t fully luxury properties. They probably won’t quite have the service of hotels like the Four Seasons, even though they may have comparable price tags.
What’s the difference between the three different levels of Walt Disney World hotels? What do you need to know when choosing hotels on Disney property? Leslie and Joe have you covered with information on different hotel categories, amenities, room sizes, and more in this episode!
If you like what you hear, please share the podcast with others you think might enjoy it. Also, we’d appreciate if you subscribed on iTunes, Stitcher, Spotify, TuneIn, PlayerFM, or Google Play (please leave a positive review if you’re enjoying the show), liked our Facebook page, or followed us on Twitter!
You can also e-mail us at disneydeciphered AT gmail DOT com. Connect with Leslie @TripswithTykes on social media and Joe @asthejoeflies.
Leslie’s post on the differences between the Disney deluxe vs. moderate vs. value resorts.
1:45 – Overview of three Disney hotel types & prices
8:12 – Size differences of resorts
12:12 – Disney resort pools
16:46 – Extra Disney hotel amenities
19:06 – Disney dos and don’ts