Deciding where to stay at Disney World is an important checklist item when planning a trip. Will you be staying at the Disney property at a Disney resort or outside of the Disney property at a nearby hotel or rental? If you choose to say at a Disney resort, what is right for your family’s needs, preferences, and budget? Disney Value Resort, Disney Moderate Resort or Disney Deluxe Resort are all categories of resorts you need to understand before you take the plunge.
Wondering what the difference is between a luxury and a moderate Disney resort? We got you, let’s talk about the differences between these categories of Disney resorts.
Table service Dining availability
Both moderate and luxury resorts have table service. Nearby table service can be an important convenience factor for families vacationing at the Walt Disney Resort who are looking for amazing food without going too far to buy a park ticket.
In terms of food, the main differentiating factor between luxury resorts and moderate resorts is that luxury resorts have at least one upscale restaurant in the resort in addition to another table service restaurant and a fast food restaurant. A comparison of two resorts in each category will help illustrate the differences.
Grand Floridian Resort 1900 Park Fare, Citricos, Victoria and Albert’s have all the options for those looking for exquisite table service. Grand Floridian also offers less formal dining options at Gasparilla Grill and Beaches Poolside Grill. On the other hand, the moderate resort of Port Orleans Riverside only offers one table service dining venue, the Boatwright Dining Room. If you’re looking for a casual, fast-paced restaurant in this temperate resort, Riverside Mill Food Court is the place to be.
Connected: Dining at Disney Port Orleans Resort – French Quarter
Additional entertainment at the resort
Moderate resorts offer fantastic entertainment for Guests, ranging from campfire (Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground) and carriage rides (Port Orleans Riverside) to poolside karaoke (Yacht Club) and dance competitions (Polynesian Village Resort). Luxury resorts offer a little more magic in this area, offering additional activities that guests can purchase to try something new.
Guided fishing tours (Polynesian Village Resort), boat rentals, sunset fireworks boat rides (Beach Club) and childcare (Animal Kingdom Lodge) are just some of the amenities offered at select luxury resorts.
Related: Plan a Trip for Toddlers to Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground
Unsurprisingly, a huge benefit of the Walt Disney World Resort is the magical immersion of guests during their stay at the hotel. Resort rooms, pools, restaurants and resort themes are always on trend with Disney.
Princess and pirate themed rooms are a huge hit with young visitors. Princess Rooms can be booked at the Port Orleans Riverside Hotel. Baby pirates can board their own pirate ship at Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort to enjoy pirate-themed rooms with ship-shaped beds.
Deluxe resorts offer luxurious, beautiful rooms with plenty of seating and an overall more luxurious experience for Guests. If you’re weighing your options and want to know if the room rate is worth it for your family, check out YouTube for Disney vlogs about resort rooms. You can take a virtual tour of the rooms at almost all Disney resorts.
Pros and cons of moderate Disney World resorts (FYI – 2 resorts in Port Orleans are currently unavailable) #disneyworld
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Although rooms vary in size at each resort, luxury resorts have accommodation options for large groups. In fact, BoardWalk Inn, Disney’s Wilderness Lodge, and Animal Kingdom Lodge are the only luxury resorts that can’t accommodate up to five guests in one room. For a luxury villa that can accommodate up to 9 people, try the Tree House Villas at the Saratoga Springs Disney Resort.
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Luxury resort properties tend to have that extra glitz, glamour, and drama that leaves guests jaw-dropping. Gorgeous chandeliers, luxurious resort rooms and sparkling pools are just some of the wow factors of luxury resorts. Moderate resorts are also beautifully designed and incredibly comfortable, but luxury resorts just have a bit of magic.
Disney Deluxe resorts typically have optional quiet pools, top-notch landscaping, and sometimes spas, water features, and concierge services available to guests. You can’t go wrong staying at a Disney property, but that’s especially true when you’re staying at a luxury resort.
Ease of transport
Transport accessibility is an important factor for many families deciding which resort to choose. All moderate resorts have bus service to Disney Springs, Disney Water Parks, and all four theme parks. Buses are efficient, comfortable and are an excellent means of transport for Guests. The Port Orleans Riverside and French Quarter and the Saratoga Springs Disney Resort offer water taxi access to Disney Springs in addition to buses. Luxury resorts offer the best Disney transportation.
Resorts on the monorail line, such as 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 guest transportation by boat. The Yacht & Beach Club Resort and BoardWalk Inn are just a short walk from EPCOT and a boat ride from EPCOT and Hollywood Studios.
The Disney Animal Kingdom Lodge is next door to the Animal Kingdom, and the Wildlife Lodge is just a short ferry ride from the Magic Kingdom. Disney’s Riviera Resort and Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort are Disney SkyLiner Resorts that provide easy access to EPCOT and Hollywood Studios. Whether you choose a luxury or a moderate resort, Disney makes sure you get to your destination safely and quickly.
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Spacious resort design
Moderate resorts tend to be more spread out than luxury resorts. It is not uncommon for moderate resorts to have multiple sectors so scattered that resort buses pick up Guests from multiple bus stops within the resort. This means there are even more opportunities to explore magic at your resort.
This also means more walking is required when traveling to parks, pools, or around a resort. Needless to say, a room located far away from the central dining area may result in fewer trips to refill a spa mug due to the time and effort involved in walking.
Connected: Tips from Disney Insider: Are reusable spa mugs worth it?
On the positive side of small resorts, the sectors are often divided into certain themes or groups, which means that the rooms are fun themed. The Disney Caribbean Beach Resort is divided into sectors based on the names of the Caribbean Islands. Port Orleans Riverside is divided into southern-themed indoor units with names like Alligator Bayou and Magnolia Bend. Individual sections have different fun architecture and winding trails to explore. In general, luxury resorts tend to be closer to the center and less expansive in design, meaning guests spend less time wandering around the resort.
Hotel room location
The main but key difference between resort rooms in this comparison is that deluxe resorts have rooms that open onto interior corridors while moderate resorts open to the outside. This detail may be important for Guests traveling with small children. Late at night, escaping a chilly winter evening or dodging a downpour in Florida requires more tactical skill if you’re staying in a temperate resort.
Proximity to the park
Luxury resorts tend to be a bit closer to flagship parks than mid-range, budget resorts. The Wilderness Lodge, Disney’s Contemporary Resort, Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort, and Grand Floridian are near the Magic Kingdom, while The BoardWalk Inn and Yacht & Beach Club are within walking distance of EPCOT.
Disney’s Animal Kingdom House is, of course, located next door to Animal Kingdom Park. Temperate resorts are still conveniently located within Disney territory, but require a bit more travel time for guests heading to the parks.
The most obvious difference between moderate and luxury resorts is, of course, the price. Prices fluctuate a lot depending on the season you’re visiting, so it’s hard to give a price range for resort categories. However, you can base your price comparison on the knowledge that luxury resorts often cost $300 more per night than moderate resorts. The best thing you can do is start planning ahead so you can track resort prices and make an informed decision about which resort is best for your budget.
Do not forget that it is allowed to divide the vacation between several resorts. If you want a luxury experience but can’t afford it for your entire vacation, feel free to speak to a travel planner about booking two different resorts. You can save money by staying at an inexpensive or moderate resort on days when you’re hard at work in the parks. Then save your holiday days at the resort for a luxury resort stay!
Be sure to check out our guides to Walt Disney World Resorts and Restaurants throughout Disney Property!