Walt Disney World Resorts – Value vs. Moderate vs. Deluxe vs. Deluxe Villas

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The Pop Century Resort is a hit with the young at heart and your wallet. Walt Disney World Resort,
The Pop Century Resort is a hit with the young at heart and your wallet. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker / National Parks SheBuysTravel

With four theme parks, two water parks, an expansive shopping district, several golf courses and countless restaurants, shows and fun things to do, Walt Disney World is the ideal family vacation spot. And to really be a part of te magic, you’ll want to stay at a Disney resort hotel. There are tons of options to choose from, with more than two dozen Disney World resorts falling into four categories – Value Resorts, Moderate Resorts, Deluxe Resorts and Deluxe Villas.

Here’s what you need to know about each category of Disney hotel so you can choose the one that’s right for you.

Caribbean Beach Resort, a Moderate Disney World resort
With its bright colorful buildings and access to the Skyliner, Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort is a favorite Moderate Disney World Resort. Photo credit: Gwen Kleist

Which of the Disney World Resorts is Right for You?

How do you decide which Walt Disney World Resort is right for you?

A Value Resort will save you money, but a Deluxe Resort delivers fantastic theming, higher-end dining choices and once-in-a-lifetime experiences. Moderate Disney World Resorts…they meet somewhere in the middle. If you need more space or are looking for a truly exceptional Disney experience, staying at one of Disney’s Deluxe Villas delivers everything you get in a Deluxe Resort plus a full kitchen, 2 full bathrooms and a washer/dryer.

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Read on for all of the details on each hotel category and a tip on how to score a Deluxe Villa without the deluxe price!

Disney Resort Perks

Some things come standard at all Disney World Resorts, so rest easy.

You’ll enjoy these perks no matter which level of Disney resort you choose:

  • A pool
  • A retail shop and food court on site
  • Ability to make dining reservations in advance
  • Earlier access to Genie+ and Lightening Lane reservations
  • A mini-fridge in your room
  • Free baggage transfer between Disney Resort hotels
  • Extended theme park hours
  • Complimentary wi-fi
  • Laundry facilities
  • Complimentary transportation to the theme parks, waterparks and Disney Springs
One of the best Disney resorts for kids is the value priced Art of Animation Resort.
One of the best Disney World resorts for kids is the Art of Animation, which also includes a splash pad. Photo credit: Kathy Penney

Value Resorts at Walt Disney World

If you’re just looking for the basics, a Value Resort may be for you! Value Resorts have smaller rooms and oversized, somewhat garish décor. But they are clean and convenient and cover all the basics a family needs on vacation. Value Resorts offer a food court and pool, but no water slide or hot tub.

Transportation to and from Value Resorts used to be bus service only, but the launch of the Skyliner changed all that for the better! The Skyliner connects Pop Century Resort and Art of Animation Resort to both EPCOT and Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

However, this convenience comes with an added price tag, as rooms at these two resorts typically cost more than staying at the All Star Value Resorts (All Star Music, All Star Sports and All Star Music).

Disney’s Art of Animation Resort has mostly suites, a bigger food court and common areas, and therefore costs a little more. Want to know more? Read the SheBuysTravel Disney’s Art of Animation Resort review.

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Disney's Pop Century is a Value Resort at Disney World
Disney’s Pop Century Resort a Value Resort. Photo credit: Gwen Kleist

Which Disney Hotels are Value Resorts?

What You’ll Find at Value Resorts:

  • Fun, bright, kid-friendly theming
  • Food courts and pizza delivery available, but no Table Service restaurants
  • Themed pools but no water slides
  • Rooms open to outside corridors
  • Large, spread-out layout making for long walks to the bus stop
  • Some rooms have a sliding door separating the sink area from the bedroom. Some have a curtain.
  • Bus transportation to all parks and Downtown Disney (and only 1 internal bus stop)
  • Skyliner transportation available from Pop Century and Art of Animation Resorts
  • Inexpensive room rates
Disney World Resorts: Value vs. Moderate vs. Deluxe
Finding Nemo Family Suite Photo: Disney’s Art of Animation Resort. Photo credit: Disney.

Family Suites at Disney Value Resorts

Disney’s Art of Animation Resort has mostly suites, a bigger food court and common areas, and therefore comes at a higher cost.

Before the Skyliner was launched, our favorite Value Resort was All Star Movies, which has family suites that sleep up to 6 people at value prices. The building exteriors showcase some of our favorite Disney Movies (101 Dalmatians, Love Bug, Toy Story), making this a fun but not overly-cheesy resort.

You’ll see some differences between the pools at Value, Moderate, and Deluxe resorts. This is the Dig Site Pool at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort, which is a Moderate Disney World Resort. Photo credit: Jill Robbins

Moderate Resorts at Disney

As with most things at Walt Disney World Resort hotels, the more you pay, the more you get.

Disney Moderate Resorts are a huge step up from Value. But of course not quite as high-end as what you’ll find at a Deluxe or Deluxe Villa property.

Moderate hotels tend to have a more subdued atmosphere and elegant theming. The rooms are bigger than Value Resort rooms and the grounds are beautifully landscaped. The hotel lobbies and common areas all add to the classier feel.

With the exception of the French Quarter, Moderate Resorts also feature a full-service restaurant in addition to the food court. The pools have a water slide and hot tub.

All Moderate Resorts have bus service. Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort also has the Skyliner. The Port Orleans Riverside and French Quarter resorts also offer boat service to Disney Springs.

Read More: A Complete Guide to Disney World Transportation.

Which Disney Hotels are Moderate Resorts?

What You’ll Find at Moderate Resorts

  • Beautiful theming with a grownup feel
  • Lush landscaping
  • Rooms that open to outside corridors
  • Table Service restaurant (except at French Quarter), food courts and pizza delivery available
  • Multiple pools – a main themed pool with a water slide and other quiet pools throughout the property

In the Moderate category, my favorite is the Port Orleans French Quarter. It is one of the smallest, which makes it easy to navigate. It features lovely New Orleans architecture and is quite charming.

Many families also like Coronado Springs. The Gran Destino tower has a concierge club level — Club Chronos — that is the most affordable club level at Disney.

Disney Animal Kingdom Lodge
Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge is a Deluxe Resort where you can literally view an African savannah from your room’s balcony. Photo credit: Gwen Kleist.

Deluxe Resorts at Walt Disney World

Disney Deluxe Resorts are detailed in their style and architecture – from the modern Contemporary to the African ambiance of Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge.

Deluxe Resorts will give you the largest rooms, the fanciest bath products, and many include balconies or patios. And, Deluxe resorts have the best pools with the biggest water slides. Guests staying at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge can even boast views of wildlife grazing out their windows!

Deluxe Resorts also offer the most transportation options and tend to be closest to the parks. If you are staying at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort, Disney’s Contemporary Resort, or the Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, you can take the Monorail directly to the Magic Kingdom or even walk!

Other resorts offer the Skyliner, boat, or bus, depending on which resort area you are in and where you are going. Deluxe hotels along the Boardwalk (including Disney’s Boardwalk Inn, Disney’s Yacht Club Resort, and the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin) are within walking distance to EPCOT and Hollywood Studio, or you can take a Friendship Boat. Plus you’ve got great restaurant options nearby!

Which Disney Hotels are Deluxe Resorts?

What You’ll Find at Disney’s Deluxe Resorts

  • Lavish, tasteful theming with fantastic lobbies and gift shops
  • Rooms that open to inside hallways
  • Rooms with private balconies
  • Table Service restaurants (including 1 upscale option) and Quick Service Dining
  • A main feature pool with a water slide and other quiet pools
  • All the hotels along the monorail line are Deluxe
  • On-site gyms and spas
  • Valet parking

Which Disney Deluxe Resort to Choose?

It is very hard to choose a favorite Deluxe Resort – they are all amazing! But if I had to pick it would be a tie between Disney’s Polynesian Village and Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge.

We absolutely loved the vibe at Animal Kingdom Lodge. Although our room’s balcony overlooked the pool and not the African Savannah (a huge cost savings, by the way!), we still got to enjoy the animals from numerous vantage points around the hotel.

We loved the Polynesian mostly for the pool area, and because you could watch the fireworks from the shore. The Volcano Pool has a zero entry area by the beach and giant water slide that twists through the volcano. The Pineapple Lanai is next to the pool area, and it is always a bonus to have a Dole whip within easy reach when you’re at Disney World.

Other amenities you’ll find only at Deluxe Resorts include spas at the main pool, concierge service and lobby entertainment. In addition, Deluxe Resorts feature signature restaurants and experiences.

Disney Deluxe Villa Resorts room
Disney Deluxe Villas offer a useful layout with lots of living space. Photo: Jennifer Kaufman

Disney Deluxe Villa Resorts

Disney Deluxe Villas provide the ultimate Disney vacation experience! They are the ideal choice for families that need more space but still want to stay on-property and take advantage of the amenities offered at Disney Deluxe resorts.

Disney Deluxe Villas combine the high-end amenities and conveniences of Deluxe Resorts with the comforts of home. Villas feature a full kitchen with 2 full bathrooms in addition to a washer/dryer. They range in size from studio to 2-bedroom, and can accommodate large or extended families.

Disney World Deluxe Villas are all part of the Disney Vacation Club program. The easiest way to save at a Disney Deluxe Villa resort is by renting someone else’s DVC points through David’s Vacation Rentals. Here is a post explaining everything you need to know about how to rent DVC points.

man shows off Murphy bed at Disney's Saratoga Springs
John Vanda shows off the Murphy bed at Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa, a Deluxe Villa. His kids loved testing this feature….over…and over…. Photo credit: Jessica Vanda

Which Disney Resorts are Deluxe Villas?

Monorail Yellow is just one of many free transportation options at Walt Disney World.
Monorail cruising by Disney’s Grand Floridian. Photo Credit: Jennifer Kaufman

A Word About Disney World Resort Transportation

You’re visiting Disney World to go to Disney parks, right? So you want to get there fast! Most Deluxe Resorts stand out in the transportation category. However, you’ll pay a premium.

The Grand Floridian, Polynesian and Contemporary resorts are on the coveted Monorail line. They also offer transportation to the Magic Kingdom via boat, as does the Wilderness Lodge. Other Deluxe hotels offer boat transportation to EPCOT and Hollywood Studios, and some are even within walking distance!

Bus service is the main form of transportation for most Value and Moderate Resorts. In addition, Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside and Port Orleans French Quarter resorts offer boat transportation to Disney Springs, and the Skyliner has stops at Disney’s Pop Century and Art of Animation Resorts, Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort, and Disney’s Riviera Resort.

In the world of Disney transportation – as with everything else – you really do get what you pay for!

Gwen Kleist is an award-winning travel writer and author based in Southern California. She is the mother of one very active son who shares her love of travel and adventure. She is the owner and publisher of CaliforniaFamilyTravel.com, a family travel blog dedicated to sharing the best destinations and experiences in California and beyond! Her articles have also appeared in San Diego Family Magazine, Sunset Magazine, Cat Fancy, Huntington Beach Magazine, and she was a contributing author to Explorer Publishing’s guidebook, Los Angeles: The Complete Resident’s Guide.
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3 responses

  1. We stayed at Port Orleans French Quarter last year and it’s a resort we won’t ever stay at again! I’m even hesitant to stay at Riverside because of our experience at FQ.

    We woke up between 6-7 every morning (and no, we didn’t want to get up that early) because we could hear every time and neighboring room flushed a toilet.

    The food was not good. I threw out the beignets I’d been looking forward to because they just didn’t taste good. And all too often the soda machines would be out of soda or ice. One time, all three machines were out of sodas.

    And for many parts of the day, FQ shares a bus with RIverside. Riverside is HUGE resort, so there are four bus stops. The bus picks FQ guests up first on the way to parks, which means you’re on that bus for all those stops at Riverside. And it stops at Riverside first on the way home from the parks, so you’re (again) on the bus for all those stops. And the bus gets PACKED!

    It only has one pool (most other resorts have the main pool and smaller quiet pools). So if you have kids, that’s fine. If you prefer a quieter, kid-free pool, you won’t find that at French Quarter.

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