Deciding where to stay at Disney World is an important checklist item to consider when planning your trip. Will you be staying on Disney property at a Disney resort or off Disney property at a nearby hotel or rental? If you choose to say at a Disney resort what suits your family’s needs, preferences and budget? A Disney Value Resort, Disney Moderate Resort, or Disney Deluxe Resort are all hotel categories you need to understand before you jump in.
Wondering what the difference is between a luxury and a moderate Disney Resort? We got you, let’s talk about the differences between these Disney Resort categories.
Availability of table service
Both moderate and luxury resorts offer table-service dining on property. Nearby table service could be a major convenience factor for families vacationing at Walt Disney World Resort who are looking for a great meal without venturing too far or needing to purchase a park ticket.
When it comes to dining, the main differentiator between luxury and moderate hotels is that luxury hotels have at least one high-end dining option in the hotel in addition to another restaurant with table service. and a quick-service restaurant option. Comparing two stations from each category will help illustrate the differences.
At the Grand Floridian Resort 1900 Park Fare, Citricos, Victoria, and Albert’s are all options for those looking for fine table service. The Grand Floridian also offers less formal restaurants at Gasparilla Grill and Beaches Pool Bar & Grill. On the other hand, a moderate resort town, Port Orleans Riverside offers only one dining venue with table service, Boatwright’s Dining Hall. If you’re looking for fast, casual service at this subdued resort, Riverside Mill Food Court is the place to go.
Related: Dinner at Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – French Quarter
Additional resort activities
Moderate resorts offer fantastic activities for guests, ranging from campfires (Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground) and horse-drawn carriage rides (Port Orleans Riverside) to poolside karaoke (Yacht Club) and dance competitions (Polynesian Village Resort). Luxury resorts offer a bit more magic in this area by offering additional activities that guests can purchase to try new things.
Guided fishing trips (Polynesian Village Resort), boat rentals, boat rides with sunset fireworks (Beach Club), and childcare (Animal Kingdom Lodge) are a few amenities offered at some luxury resorts.
Related: Plan a toddler-friendly trip to Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground
It’s no surprise that one of Walt Disney World Resort’s biggest selling points is the magical immersive experience visitors have while staying on the property. Resort rooms, pools, restaurants and resort themes are always on point with Disney.
The princess and pirate themed rooms are a huge hit with little visitors. Princess rooms can be booked at the Port Orleans Riverside. Little pirates can sleep in their very own pirate ship at Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort to experience pirate-themed rooms with ship-shaped beds.
Luxury hotels offer beautiful, plush rooms with more seating space and an overall more luxurious experience for guests. If you’re weighing the options and want to see if the cost of the room is worth it for your family, head to YouTube for Disney vlogs of the resort’s rooms. You can virtually visit the rooms of almost all Disney hotels.
Pros & Cons of Disney World Moderate Resorts (FYI – the 2 Port Orleans resorts are not currently available) #disneyworld
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Although room sizes vary from resort to resort, there are accommodation options available for larger groups who wish to stay at luxury resorts. In fact, the BoardWalk Inn, Disney’s Wilderness Lodge, and Animal Kingdom Lodge are the only luxury hotels that don’t have the capacity to accommodate up to five people in one room. For a luxury villa option that sleeps up to 9 people, try the Tree House Villas at Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort.
Related: Plan the PERFECT Resort Day at Disney’s Art of Animation
Deluxe Resort properties tend to have that extra bit of glitz, glamor, and drama that leaves guests in awe. Magnificent chandeliers, lavish resort rooms, and sparkling pools are just a few of the jaw-dropping factors of luxury resorts. Moderate resorts are also beautifully themed and incredibly comfortable, but luxury resorts have just that extra bit of magic.
Disney Deluxe Resorts tend to have extra quiet pools, over-the-top landscaping, and sometimes spas, water features, and concierge service available to visitors. There’s no way to go wrong staying on Disney property, but this is especially true when staying at a luxury resort.
Ease of transport
Access to transportation is an important consideration for many families when deciding which resort to choose. All moderate resorts have bus transportation to Disney Springs, Disney Water Parks, and all four theme parks. Buses are efficient, comfortable, and a great transportation option for visitors. Port Orleans Riverside and French Quarter and Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort offer water taxi access to Disney Springs in addition to bus availability. Luxury resorts offer the crème de la crème of Disney transportation.
Stations on the monorail line like Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort, The Grand Floridian, and Disney’s Contemporary Resort offer quick access to EPCOT and the Magic Kingdom as well as boat transportation to Guests. The Yacht & Beach Club Resort and BoardWalk Inn are steps from EPCOT and a boat ride from EPCOT and Hollywood Studios.
Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge is next door to Animal Kingdom and The Wilderness Lodge is just a ferry ride from the Magic Kingdom. Disney’s Riviera Resort and Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort are Disney SkyLiner resorts that give you easy access to EPCOT and Hollywood Studios. Whether you choose a luxury or moderate resort, Disney will ensure that you arrive safely and quickly at your destination.
Related: First Disney vacation after the pandemic? Here’s what you need to know
Sprawling resort design
Moderate resorts tend to be larger than luxury resorts. It is not uncommon for moderate resorts to have multiple sectors so extensive that resort buses pick up guests at multiple bus stops within the resort. That means there’s even more magical acreage to explore in your complex.
It also means you have to walk more when going to parks, pools or around the resort. Needless to say, a room away from the central food hub may result in fewer trips to refill your Resort cup due to the time and effort the walk will take.
Related: Advice from a Disney insider: Are the resort’s refillable mugs worth it?
An advantage of the size of moderate resorts is that sectors are often divided into certain themes or groups, which means a fun room theme. Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort is divided into areas by Caribbean island names. Port Orleans Riverside is divided into blocks of southern-themed rooms with names like Alligator Bayou and Magnolia Bend. Separate sections have different fun architecture and winding paths to explore. In general, luxury resorts tend to be more central with a less sprawling design, which means guests rack up less walking time.
Hotel room location
A basic, yet essential, difference in resort rooms in this comparison is that luxury resorts have rooms that open to interior hallways while moderate resorts open to the outdoors. This detail can be important for passengers traveling with young children. Rushing in late at night to escape a chilly winter evening or dodging a Florida rainstorm takes more tactical skill when staying at a moderate resort.
Proximity to the park
Luxury resorts tend to be a bit closer to flagship parks than moderate and value resorts. Wilderness Lodge, Disney’s Contemporary Resort, Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort, and Grand Floridian are all near the Magic Kingdom, while the BoardWalk Inn and Yacht & Beach Club are within walking distance of EPCOT.
Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge is of course located next to the Animal Kingdom park. Moderate resorts are still conveniently located on Disney property, but require a slightly longer drive for visitors heading to the parks.
The most obvious difference between moderate and luxury resorts is of course the price. Prices fluctuate so much depending on the season you visit that it is difficult to name a price range for resort categories. Still, you can base your price comparison analysis on the fact that luxury resorts often cost up to $300 more per night than moderate resorts. The best thing to do is to start planning early so you can monitor resort prices and make an informed decision on which resort is best for your budget.
Don’t forget that it is allowed to split your holiday between several resorts. If you want a luxury experience but can’t afford it on your entire vacation, don’t hesitate to speak to a tour operator to book two different resorts. You could save some money by staying at a value or moderate resort on hard going days in the parks. Then save your lazy days at a resort for the duration of your stay at a luxury resort!
Be sure to check out our hotel and restaurant guides for Walt Disney World Hotels throughout the Disney property!
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