By Stephanie Rouse
Walt Disney World offers some of the most beautiful and fun resorts to be found anywhere. When deciding on a resort, the most important thing may be different for each person, or even on each trip! As someone who has stayed at different levels of Disney resorts, I have done a lot of comparing. There are trips when a value resort is really all that we need, or all that is in the budget for that year. For other trips, we may plan to spend more time at the hotel, so we sometimes want to upgrade those trips to a moderate or deluxe resort. In this article, we are going to shine a light on some of the differences in the Disney resorts, hopefully making the decision a bit easier!
One major concern when planning a Disney trip is the budget. If budget is a big issue, Disney offers the value resorts. Disney’s All-Star Resorts and Pop Century fall into this category. These resorts don’t offer quite the same amenities as moderate or deluxe resorts, but are very popular with families and those on a budget. The beds are full sized, rather than the queen size that some resorts offer, and the rooms are a bit smaller.
What these resorts lack in extra amenities, they can make up for in other ways. For instance, the food courts here are among the best at any resort. Because they do not offer a table service option, like the resorts in the other categories, they have larger seating areas and more choices than the moderate or deluxe resorts. I have also noticed that the arcades here are better stocked with video games. Disney’s Pop Century has, in my opinion, the best arcade on Disney property. The atmosphere at Disney’s value resorts is not as subtle as some of the other resorts. The colors seem brighter, and with the larger-than-life Disney icons at every turn, you will definitely not forget you are at Disney!
For those wanting a more relaxing resort experience, but who are still concerned with budget issues, Disney offers their moderate category. Caribbean Beach, Coronado Springs, and sister resorts Port Orleans and Riverside fall into the moderate category. The furnishings are slightly more upscale than those at the value resorts, and there’s a coffee-maker and fridge in the room. Most offer a full-service dining location. One of the major differences here is that the feature pool at each of the moderate resorts offers a water slide. Due to their relaxed atmosphere, these resorts are popular not only with families, but couples spending quality time together.
Disney’s deluxe resorts can be an attraction in themselves. These are the cream of the crop, as far as Disney resorts are concerned. Unlike the previous categories, where all resorts in each category offer similar amenities and prices, the deluxe resorts are broken up into smaller groups. The Animal Kingdom Lodge and Wilderness Lodge are the least expensive deluxe options. They both have mainly bus service as transportation options, where at the other deluxe resorts you will find more transportation options. All offer at least one full-service dining option. The furnishings are more upscale than some of the other deluxe resorts, and beds are queen (only Coronado Springs has queen beds in the moderate category). Many offer special views. For instance, the Animal Kingdom Lodge not only offers water views, but also rooms overlooking the savannah. The Polynesian, Grand Floridian, and Contemporary all offer theme-park view rooms, which peer into the Magic Kingdom. These three resorts also offer monorail and boat transportation.
Why Stay at a Disney Resort?
No matter the price point, all of the resorts offer great Disney amenities. For transportation, Disney’s Magical Express Service picks you up at Orlando International Airport and returns you when your trip is over. No need to rent a car just to park at the hotel! Disney also offers their guests transportation to the parks from all of their hotels.
There are also special park perks to staying at a Disney resort. To maximize your park time, Extra Magic Hours are available to Disney hotel guests. Each day of the week, a theme park either opens one hour early or closes up to three hours past the public closing time! This is a great way to hit some of the more popular attractions. Another great time saver is the package delivery service, which allows you to purchase an item at one of the theme parks or Downtown Disney, and have it shipped back to your resort. This allows you to get back to touring, and not having to worry about carrying your goodies around as you enjoy the rides!
Whichever resort category you choose, remember that the biggest advantage to staying on Disney property may be that you can rely on great service, theming, and amenities. There are no bad choices. No matter which resort you pick, make sure to take some time away from the parks and make the most of YOUR Disney hotel. Relaxing at your resort just might be the highlight of an already magical day.