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With almost thirty Disney owned and operated resorts on Walt Disney World property, there’s really one (or more) for everybody! Disney classifies it’s resorts into four categories- value, moderate, deluxe, and deluxe villas. Let’s take a look at what some of the pros and cons of Disney resorts are and what category you may make sense for you.
The category name in and of itself lends itself to a pro – value (aka more budget friendly). The value resorts are the three separate All Star Movies, Music, and Sports, Pop Century, and the newest of the bunch, Art of Animation. A second plus for the value resorts is the in-your-face theming woven throughout. If you want to feel like you’ve stepped into a Disney film, an over-sized sports game, or an era that you may have grown up in, these are the resorts for you. Children will find the over-sized characters and scenes they love brought to life. Parents will be fans of the cafeteria style food courts at each of these resorts. There is literally countless family-friendly options at the food courts making it an easy place to grab any meal of the day – there’s something for everyone and it’s affordable! There’s also the well known tie-dye cheesecake at Everything Pop that is a must-have for many Disney guests.
On the other hand, if you’re a family of five or more, your options in the value category are a little more limited. All Star Music and Art of Animation both offer suites that sleep up to 6 adults, but the rest of the rooms are for families of four or less. The All Star resorts also share a bus line, so you may have longer waits and more crowded buses. Of the five resorts, Art of Animation is the newest, with Pop preceding it, and then All Stars are the oldest, showing their age a bit. These resorts also have outside entrances – a more motel type feel, and the buildings can be pretty spread out due to the size of the resorts. This could make your walk to the bus stop or dining longer than you’d prefer. Since these resorts are priced at the lowest price point, they’re also appealing to large groups such as Pop Warner or youth groups which can make for a lot of noise into the evenings.
Pop Century Resort
All Star Movies Resort
Art of Animation – Cars section
Art of Animation – Nemo section
Tie Dye Cheesecake
The moderate category seems to be the smallest of them all, but the resorts themselves certainly aren’t! In this category, you can stay at Caribbean Beach, Coronado Springs, Port Orleans Riverside, Port Orleans French Quarter, and the Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground (this categorization is a bit odd to me, but let’s go with it). The most notable difference of Fort Wilderness and the rest of the resorts in this category to me is queen versus full-size beds. The cabins do not have queen size beds, and on the campsites, well, you bring your own bed. While the value resort pools are wonderfully themed, the plus at the moderate level resorts are that these pools have a water slide. Each resort also boasts a table-service restaurant in addition to quick-service. Of course, this is a middle-ground of the price points. You can get more amenities than a value, without the prices of an all-out deluxe. Most of these resorts will also accommodate families of five.
Drawbacks to the moderates are perhaps the size. A few of these resorts are large in size but do offer preferred room locations which are closest to the main building (dining, shops, lobby). Port Orleans French Quarter is the smallest in its category, but with that coziness, you’re missing a table service restaurant. Port Orleans Riverside is considered a sister resort to French Quarter, so you can enjoy amenities between the two when staying at either. Coronado Springs hosts many conventions which turns some people away, but really, if you’re on vacation, does it really matter if others are attending meetings? In this category, Caribbean Beach gets many reviews of being overdue for a refurbishment. Then of course, there’s Fort Wilderness, which to me the drawback is being limited to owning/ renting a camper or pitching a tent at the campsites.
Port Orleans Riverside
I’d have to say the number one pro for the deluxe resorts is the location of each. The deluxe resorts have prime location next to the parks. The Contemporary
, and Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
all offer views of the Magic Kingdom, which is accessible via monorail (or walking from the Contemporary). The Wilderness Lodge
is in the same area, a boat ride away from the Magic Kingdom. The Epcot area resorts include the Yacht Club
, Beach Club
, and the Boardwalk Inn
. They’re also within walking distance to Hollywood Studios. Lastly, the Animal Kingdom Lodge
offers magnificent views of the savannas at Animal Kingdom. There’s something to be said for going from your room to inside a park in about 10 minutes. Next, the deluxe resorts offer an upscale, but comfortable stay. The resorts are more traditional hotels with the rooms accessed from inside hallways. Each resort has a theme that is subtle, yet exclusively unique and sprinkled with Disney touches and details. The deluxe resorts all boast at least one table-service restaurant and the pools are more elaborate. Stormalong Bay at the Yacht & Beach Club is the largest on property and well-known for its sand bottom, lazy river, and shipwrecked water slide. The deluxe resorts can include multiple shops and quick service dining options.
The main drawback to the deluxe resorts is price. You will pay for the amenities, comfort, and unique style each resort offers. The only other drawback I can see, is that you may never want to stay at any other resorts once you stay deluxe.
The Grand Floridian from the Magic Kingdom Boat Dock
The backside of Bay Lake Tower
The Beach Club
The Yacht Club
The deluxe villas are part of the Disney Vacation Club (Disney’s timeshare option), but are available for anyone to book based on availability. There are two stand alone villa properties, Old Key West and Saratoga Springs. The other villa resorts are Bay Lake Towers at the Contemporary, The Polynesian Villas & Bungalows, the Beach Club Villas, The Boardwalk Villas, Grand Floridian Villas, Animal Kingdom Villas (Jambo House & Kidani Village), and still under construction, the Villas at the Wilderness Lodge. All of these except Old Key West and Saratoga Springs offer the same outstanding proximity to the theme parks. Both Old Key West and Saratoga are located next to Disney Springs though and is just a walk across a bridge from Saratoga. What these villas offer above the deluxe accommodations, is living space and kitchenettes to full-size kitchens. Deluxe studio villas include the kitchenette, while one & two bedroom villas and grand villas (three bedrooms) have full-size kitchens. Families can save money cooking some meals, or even just storing some groceries. The one-plus bedrooms also have a living room which is nice for families who may put kids to bed early or just want some additional living space. When you stay at the deluxe resorts, you tend to want to spend time there and enjoy the resort itself – the living area lends itself nicely to relaxation and hanging out. So on top of the deluxe amenities, you have more square footage in the villas.
The cons of the villas is like the deluxe resorts, the price point. While some of the villas are pretty new, the older ones are still slowly get their updates and may seem a bit dated. The villas are sometimes further from the main building or transportation options which can be a drawback for some. Also, if you’re staying with DVC points, housekeeping and trash & towel service is limited unless you want to pay an additional fee.
Polynesian Deluxe Studio Villa
Beach Club Villas (quiet pool)
Lobby of the Villas at the Grand Floridian
So there’s a plus and minus no matter where you stay – it just depends on your priorities, and your budget. No matter where you decide to stay, you can always visit any of the resorts. If you’re a foodie, some of the best restaurants are at the resorts! Around the holidays is a wonderful time to explore the resorts and the unique decorations at each. Fort Wilderness Campground is known for it’s elaborate holiday decorations and the deluxe resorts boast gingerbread displays that are amazing! The detail of every single resort in impressive, no matter which category!
What’s your favorite resort? Which one is on your bucket list? Share in the comments section.