Wondering which of the Disney World resorts you should choose? Then I’m going to give you a quick run down of our experience staying at each of the three different kinds. We have a family of 4 with two teenage girls, so our opinions on where to stay may be somewhat different than some people. But, I’m going to give you a quick run down of what to expect for each of the three types of Disney World resorts: Value, Moderate or Deluxe.
Disney World Resorts : VALUE option
Value resorts are just that – the best value for your money. They are best suited for those with small kids on a budget – and they are primarily geared towards that family. In the value resort category, you have the following options:
- Disney’s All Star Movies Resort
- Disney’s All Star Sports Resort
- Disney’s All Star Music Resort
- Disney’s Art of Animation Resort
- Disney’s Pop Century Resort
- The Campsites at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort
So let’s take a look at the pros & cons….
- Cheapest Prices – the rates at the All Star hotels are the cheapest among the Disney World resorts, with the exclusion of the campgrounds.
- Fun themes – They are designed with small kids in mind! If you see that RC car from Toy Story, let your kids climb on for that perfect photo op.
- Easy to navigate -It’s really easy to find your way to the lobby to catch a meal or a bus or a dip in the pool.
- Elevators – although it might not seem like a great perk, lugging a stroller up three flights of stairs after a long day at the park is soooo nice!
- Geared towards kids – the gift shops, the pools, pretty much everything is geared for little ones, so be aware that the selection of more adult items isn’t as strong as the Moderate or Deluxe resorts.
- Overall more noise – these resorts are mostly used by families, many of which have small kids. If you’re on a romantic weekend, you might want to upgrade to moderate level.
- Long lines & waits for transportation – the All Star resorts in particular share a bus between all three hotels, so the lines can be pretty long.
- No sit down restaurants – this might not be an issue for you, but if you have a meal plan with sit down meals, then you might want to think twice.
- Pools are smaller and more crowded – overall the hotel is more crowded in general, but it really shows at the pools.
- Rooms are a bit smaller – of course it makes sense that the less you pay then the smaller your room. Value rooms can be 1/3 of the price (or less!) than a Deluxe resort. So just like all things in life, you get what you pay for.
- You may wait longer to get into a room – most other resorts have us in fairly quickly, but it was nearly 4 p.m. before we finally got the text to tell us our room was ready on our last stay.
OUR OVERALL ASSESSMENT – Value resorts are not bad – they’re just value. We found that it was actually nicer than some “mid-level” hotels that we’ve stayed at on other vacations (like the beach). The staff is just as friendly as any other resort. However, you do not get the level of service as you would at a Deluxe because they are not staffed as well. Wait lines are longer, so it may be a bit, but your cast member will treat you like the prince or princess that you are.
Disney World Resorts : Moderate Option
Moderate resorts are right in the middle – it’s the perfect blend of value and deluxe, all done in Disney fashion. We’ve stayed at every one of the Moderate Disney World Resorts, except Fort Wilderness, and like some better than others. We most often choose Moderate resorts, but lately we’ve been slowly drifting to the Deluxe side. The Moderate resorts are:
- Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort
- Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort
- Disney’s Port Orleans – French Quarter Resort
- Disney’s Port Orleans – Riverside Resort
- The Cabins at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort
Here’s our list of pros & cons….
- Better food choices – not only do these hotels have better quick service, they also have sit down options, too. My favorite quick service restaurant in all of Disney World (yep, the whole thing!) is the quick service in Port Orleans Riverside that has a “make your own” omelet bar in the mornings and a “make your own” pasta bar at lunch & dinner. And the portions are big enough to feed two people with one plate.
- Individual buses – each hotel has it’s own bus, so no sharing with super long lines or way too crowded rides. Unless it’s closing time… can’t avoid that one!
- You get more – more space in your room, more pools to choose from, more towels available, more choices in the gift shops. More options all the way around.
- Fewer littles – because the Value resorts are geared to families with little ones, there are less of them in the Moderate resorts (which also means that the resort is overall quieter.)
- Long walks to basically everything – Moderate resorts are pretty spread out, so it can be quite a hike to get to the lobby, main pool or even bus stops. It’s not so bad if you have a car, but if you fly in then be aware of it before hand.
- No elevators – stairs are not your friend after walking 12 hours all over the parks and you have blisters. Moderate (and Value) resorts are set up like motels versus hotels (like the Deluxe hotels), so you might have to walk three flights of stairs with a sleeping little one.
- Less for “littles” – if you are a family with young ones, then these resorts aren’t made with big, bright characters. They’re more grown up and don’t scream DISNEY! This could be a pro or a con, depending on how you look at it.
Disney World Resorts : Deluxe options
Deluxe resorts are the best (if you pick a villa then you are going with the best of the best.) For this post, I’m just sticking with the Deluxe resorts. There are more Deluxe options than Value or Moderate. The price tag is the highest and there are different price points within the Deluxe options, as well. Among the Deluxe resorts are:
- Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge Resort
- Disney’s Beach Club Resort
- Disney’s Boardwalk Inn Resort
- Disney’s Contemporary Resort
- Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
- Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort
- Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa
- Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
- Disney’s Yacht Club Resort
Here’s our take on the pros and cons…
- Best customer service – we always check in really early, long before it’s time. Disney will check you in, and text you once your room is ready. Since we’ve stayed at all three levels, I can tell you that you will wait the longest at Value, somewhat longer (but not unbearably so) at Moderate – but Deluxe is a whole new world. There was ZERO wait. We walked in, and someone with an iPad walked up to you, asks your name and gives you your room in under 5 minutes from start to finish. Our last trip we checked in at 7:30 a.m. and went straight to our room.
- Closer to parks – from most of the Deluxe resorts you are within walking distance of a park (legitimately.) From the Boardwalk Inn and the Beach or Yacht Club, you can walk right into the back side of Epcot into World Showcase in just over 1/10 of a mile. Hollywood Studios is under 1/2 mile walk.
- Transportation is a dream – the buses are swift and we found there was always an open seat (no standing!) You can ride a boat from most of them (if not all) to the back of Epcot (near World Showcase), right to the gate of Hollywood Studios, or to Disney Springs.
- Better accommodations – the pools are bigger and there are more of them. There are more sit down meal choices. You’ll find more areas to linger outside. Gift shops have tons of merchandise, including high-end name brand goods (like Dooney & Bourke, etc.). The best pin trading boards in all of the resorts, and even more. Everything is the best.
- Character meals at the hotels – only Deluxe hotels offer character dining, where you can hang out with your favorite pals.
- Price – it’s the most expensive. Of course, there are price levels within the Deluxe option, including the Deluxe villas which are the most expensive options. These can cost 3x (or more) than a value resort.
- Harder to navigate – there is so much to do, that it can be a little overwhelming. But, in their defense, there are cast members everywhere to help get you to where you want to go.
- Not enough quick service options – it’s mostly about sit down options in Deluxe hotels, but there are quick options there. And if you just can’t figure it out, there’s always room service (for a fee, of course!)
So that’s what we think about each of the Disney World resorts. Like I said, every family has different needs and different experiences, but hopefully our thoughts will help you pick the best one to make your vacation the best one ever!
After you choose from the Disney World resorts, be sure to see my 50 Tips for Making the Most of your Disney Vacation.