If you are looking for the best in luxury and amenities when staying at Walt Disney World, you are going to love the Disney Deluxe Resorts. But how do you know which one to choose? That’s why we’ve created this ranking of the best Deluxe Resorts.
In this post, we are going to share our list of the best Deluxe Resorts at Disney World, and then rank them from best to worst. We’ve got 8 resorts on the list all with different themes, so you will definitely find something that is perfect for your family!
There is a lot to consider when trying to decide which is best as they all offer something different from each other. Some of the variables are the price, location, transportation options, guest room quality, luxuriousness, and of course the pools and amenities.
If you’ve never stayed at any of them before then this will give you a good idea of the pros and cons, what to expect in general from Deluxe Resorts, and especially if they are in your price range (spoiler: they are expensive).
The price of a Disney World vacation seems to be going up by the day, and the Resort hotels are likely to be your biggest expense during your trip. Thankfully, there are usually some great deals on the Deluxe Resorts and we’ll show you how to take advantage of those.
We’ve stayed at all the Deluxe Resorts multiple times, paying for them out of our own pocket, so we feel completely equipt to give you an honest overview of each of them and if they are worth your hard-earned money. In the end, we hope to help you pick the right one for your family.
Over the last couple of years, Disney has made some big changes to the Deluxe Resorts adding new guest buildings, updating guest rooms, refurbishing restaurants, and more. Our rankings are based on 2023, but as more updates take place we will update our rankings to reflect those changes.
Keep in mind, our list is very subjective, and it’s based on our experiences staying at these resorts. You may have had different experiences, as well as different tastes, needs, and preferences, and your best Value Resorts list may look totally different from ours, so let us know in the comments below which are your favorites and why.
And if you haven’t had the chance to read them yet, here are some of our best posts on Disney World Resorts:
- Best Disney World Resort Hotels Ranked
- Complete List of Disney World Hotels
- Best Disney Value Resort Hotels
- Best Disney Moderate Resort Hotels
Before we get started, don’t forget to sign up for our FREE Weekly E-Mail Newsletter. There we will update you with the latest Disney World Resorts updates, and share the latest vacation planning tips. You can sign up here: Join our E-Mail Newsletter!
Table of Contents
Disney World Deluxe Resorts Overview
If choosing to stay at a Disney Resort is on the cards for your family, there’s no greater way to do it in style than by choosing to stay at a Disney World Deluxe Resort. The ultimate combination of theming, luxury, and vacation excellence, staying at a Disney World Deluxe Resort is like no other and is truly in a class of its own.
But who should stay at a deluxe resort, and why is staying at a deluxe resort such a worthwhile endeavor for Disney vacationers? In this article, we will focus on the ‘who’, ‘what’, ‘when’, ‘where’, and ‘why’ when it comes to the very best of Disney resorts, and that’s a Disney Deluxe Resort.
What is Considered a Disney Deluxe Resort?
A Disney Deluxe Resort is the highest tier of Disney Resorts on-property. They are the ultimate in all things extravagance, classiness, and of course expense.
While they don’t reach the level of luxury found in some hotels around the world, they are for the most part very nice. Outside Disney, you might liken them to a 4-star hotel, and in the case of some of them, a 4.5-star hotel.
Deluxe resorts are a great combination of Disney and luxury, straddling the fence beautifully between the two. They are a significant jump up from the simpler, family-friendly style of the value resorts, and they are at the very least a half step up from the moderate resorts.
They have a number of additional perks and amenities that the other two hotel classes (Value and Moderate) within Disney do NOT have. We will talk about this throughout this article, enabling you to decide the very best option for your family.
How Many Deluxe Resorts Does Disney World Have?
In total, Walt Disney World has 8 Deluxe Resort Hotels. They are:
- Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge
- Disney’s Beach Club Resort
- Disney’s Boardwalk Inn
- Disney’s Contemporary Resort
- Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa
- Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort
- Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
- Disney’s Yacht Club Resort
You might notice that there are three resorts that sometimes get the ‘Deluxe’ classification by Disney. These are:
- Disney’s Old Key West Resort
- Disney’s Riviera Resort
- Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort
We left these three resorts off our deluxe ranking list because they are technically considered DVC resorts. The room types are considerably different and they are instead classified as ‘Deluxe Villas.’
These resorts are specifically catered to DVC members, and instead will be featured on our DVC Villas rankings.
What is the Difference Between Deluxe Resort Hotels and Deluxe Villas?
There are significant differences between Deluxe Resort Hotels and Deluxe Villas. While they do share some of the same benefits when it comes to being a ‘Deluxe Resort’ there are a few major distinctions.
The main one is room size. Disney Villa Resorts are homier in feel and often include full living and dining areas, separate private bedrooms, washer and dryer setups, and often full kitchens. The smaller villas usually only have a kitchenette and a queen-sized sleeper sofa.
The part that confuses many guests is that many of the Deluxe Resorts and Deluxe Villas share the same location. For instance, Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge is both a Deluxe Resort Hotel and a Deluxe Villa. There are many other examples of this as well.
But for the sake of this article, we are going to strictly focus on the eight Deluxe Resorts NOT the Deluxe Villas.
The Deluxe Resorts are the most expensive resorts on Disney property that are specifically owned and operated by Disney. As you’ll see below there are significant differences in the cost per night between the minimum and maximum price for each resort.
The variances in price per night are based solely on the time of year you visit. As you can likely guess, Disney Resort prices are more expensive on weekends, holiday times, and essentially whenever kids are off from school.
Here are the prices you can expect to pay for a standard room at each per night in 2023 (Price includes tax):
- Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge: $469 – $842
- Disney’s Beach Club Resort: $534 – $1186
- Disney’s Boardwalk Inn: $597 – $1044
- Disney’s Contemporary Resort: $550 – $988
- Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa: $780 – $1279
- Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort: $662 – $1184
- Disney’s Wilderness Lodge: $453 – $916
- Disney’s Yacht Club Resort: $537 – $986
Here are the prices you can expect to pay for a standard room at each per night in 2024 (Price includes tax):
- Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge: $487 – $888
- Disney’s Beach Club Resort: $568 – $1043
- Disney’s Boardwalk Inn: $641 – $1118
- Disney’s Contemporary Resort: $572 – $1043
- Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa: $816 – $1350
- Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort: $691 – $1256
- Disney’s Wilderness Lodge: $524 – $979
- Disney’s Yacht Club Resort: $567 – $1046
These rooms all have larger room options as well with additional costs, but for the sake of this, we just focused on the base rooms. As you can see these rooms can get quite costly, especially if visiting during the more expensive times of the year.
As always, we recommend if at all possible to visit Disney World during the cheapest times of the year! If you do this, your family can easily save thousands on your trip when staying at a Deluxe Resort!
The rooms found at deluxe resorts are higher-end with exquisite theming throughout, perfectly connecting to the overall theme of the resort. Standard-size rooms offer 2 queen beds with many of them also having access to a sofa bed while allowing for up to 5 people in a room.
The deluxe resorts all have room entry doors from an interior hallway, which is quite different from Disney’s Moderate Resorts and Disney’s Value Resorts and makes them feel much larger.
Each room also offers a table and two chairs or a desk and a chair, a dresser, a TV, and a small fridge. The bathroom is separated from the double sink vanity top area.
These rooms are also significantly larger than Disney’s Value Resorts and give a smaller yet still noticeable upgrade in space over Disney’s Moderate Resorts.
Disney Deluxe Resort Standard Room Size:
- Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge – 344 sq feet
- Disney’s Beach Club Resort – 380 sq feet
- Disney’s Boardwalk Inn – 370 sq feet
- Disney’s Contemporary Resort – 394 sq feet
- Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa – 440 sq feet
- Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort – 415 sq feet
- Disney’s Wilderness Lodge – 344 sq feet
- Disney’s Yacht Club Resort – 380 sq feet
As you can see, there are some differences when it comes to the space of each resort room and they range in size from 344 sq ft to 440 sq ft for a standard room.
Standard rooms at Beach Club, Boardwalk, Contemporary, Grand Floridian, Polynesian, and Yacht Club come with an extra daybed allowing for a 5th guest which is great for a bigger family.
The Disney Deluxe Resorts have all the many simpler amenities that Disney’s Value Resorts and Disney’s Moderate Resorts include such as:
Fun Arcades – Each of the deluxe resorts has a fun arcade area featuring several newer games in addition to classic games. This is an enjoyable way for both kids and adults to unwind after a long day in the parks.
Movies Under the Stars – A delightful way to enjoy your evenings at the resort is to spend time watching a Disney movie outside under the stars! Ask what movies are playing each night and grab some snacks for the movie.
Jogging Trail – Each of the deluxe resorts is equipped with a walking or jogging trail that enables you to take in some lovely views while getting a little exercise!
Deluxe Resorts also include additional amenities include:
Themed Rooms and Common Areas – The deluxe resorts take the theming up several notches and not in a cheesy or classless way! Whether it’s walking through the South Pacific Islands or wandering along an African Savannah, the theming is on-point from the floors all the way up the ceilings! (Literally)
They can be so much fun to explore with the level of detail and immersion being second to none. The theming goes into each of the rooms found within the deluxe resort. Depending on the resort you’re staying at, you’ll likely see nuanced subtle little touches or accent pieces that feature a Disney movie or character.
It’s hard to beat the quality of detail found within a Disney Deluxe Resort, though some do this better than others.
Pools and Recreation – The pool areas found within Disney’s Deluxe Resorts are truly unbeatable. They include not only water slides but hot tubs and splash areas for kids. And each of the deluxe resorts has multiple pools, with at least one quieter one.
In addition to better pool areas, the recreation found at deluxe resorts is a step-up and includes things like fitness centers, spas, boat rentals, bicycle rentals, basketball, volleyball, or tennis courts to play on, and much more! The deluxe resorts do an awesome job of appeasing every member of the family, making sure everyone has MORE than enough to do each day of their vacation.
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Reasons to Stay at a Deluxe Resort
We’ve touched on some of the unforgettable amenities that Disney’s Deluxe Resorts feature, but what other reasons should I consider if thinking about staying at a deluxe resort?
In this section, we will touch on the 12 main reasons why staying at a deluxe resort can be undoubtedly worth the splurge for families!
Disney Resort Perks
We almost always recommend staying at a Disney resort for the additional perks and “Disney Feels” that really can’t be put into words. And while some of the positives of staying at a Disney resort have been taken away, there are still so many benefits of staying at a Disney resort.
What are some of these things?
- Free Parking at the Disney Parks – For guests that prefer to have their own car, guests staying within a Disney Resort can park for free at any of the Disney parks. We recommend taking a look at our Disney World Parking Guide which explains exactly how to do it
- 7:00 Booking Window for Lightning Lanes – Unlike guests staying outside of Disney, guests staying within a Disney resort can book Individual Lightning Lane attractions at 7:00 giving you a significant advantage when it comes to getting to go on the rides you want to go on
- Early Theme Park Entry – Guests that stay at a Disney resort can get into the parks 30 minutes prior to the guests NOT staying at a Disney resort with something called ‘Early Theme Park Entry.’ Having those extra 30 minutes can be HUGE when it comes to getting on an extra ride or two with minimal wait
- 60-Day ADRs – When staying on-site at a Disney resort, as long as you have a resort reservation connected to your My Disney Experience app, you can reserve dining reservations 60 days prior to the start of your trip. Those not staying on-site can only book them 30 days ahead.
These are just a few of the benefits of staying at a Disney resort, and as always, it’s hard to put into words the inherent perks of being on Disney property. Whether it’s the convenience or just the overall Disney magic, you can’t beat being at a Disney resort on-site!
Close to the Parks/Transportation
One of the added benefits of staying at a deluxe resort is the proximity of them in comparison to the Disney parks and that they have significantly better transportation options.
Each of the deluxe resorts is located right next to at least one of the parks, with many of them being within walking distance of multiple Disney parks. Many of them even have access to the Disney Skyliner or the Monorail system.
Not only that but when you HAVE to take a Disney bus, the buses are quieter and less crammed. You won’t likely need to battle with another 50 people to all go to the same park or have to wait until the 2nd or 3rd bus. This makes a HUGE difference.
If prioritizing a particular Disney park is essential for your trip, here’s what I’d recommend:
If wanting to be near Magic Kingdom is essential, stay at one of the deluxe resorts on the monorail loop. That means Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort, Contemporary Resort, or Grand Floridian. Another option would be Disney’s Wilderness Lodge since it’s very close by and is a simple boat ride away.
If wanting to be near Hollywood Studios or EPCOT is critical, stay at one of the Boardwalk hotels. That means Disney’s Beach Club Resort, Boardwalk Inn Resort, or Yacht Club Resort. They both are within walking distance or a quick ride on the Dinsey Skyliner.
If wanting to be near Animal Kingdom it’s paramount to stay at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge as you will only be a short 5-minute bus ride away.
Even if staying nearby one of the parks isn’t overly important, the transportation options are significantly better and more efficient when staying at a deluxe resort. They’re more efficient and more enjoyable no matter which park you’re visiting.
As a whole, you can’t beat the distance that Disney’s Deluxe Resorts bring you to the magic of being inside the parks.
Way More Peaceful
When it comes to comparing Disney’s Deluxe Resorts with both the value resorts and the moderate resorts, one thing clearly stands out: the noise levels. Staying at a deluxe resort is more serene while just outright feeling more peaceful.
You escape the hustle and bustle of the parks significantly more when you’re at a deluxe resort. On the contrary, when getting to a value resort after a long day at the parks you still feel overstimulated and just need a place to wind down, which is almost impossible to find except in your own bed.
At deluxe resorts, there are an innumerable amount of places that you can check out, relax, and just revel in the ambiance of your beautifully-themed resort.
You really can’t beat the levels of luxury that Disney’s Deluxe Resorts have. And while it’s true that each deluxe resort is remarkably different in terms of luxury, when it comes to generalities, the deluxe resorts in general are significantly higher in class than both the moderate resorts and value resorts.
Whether it’s the beautifully-themed landscaping or the intricately themed lobbies, you’ll feel a level of elegance that is just impossible to feel at value resorts and moderate resorts.
In addition to the theming, you can’t beat the option of having club-level rooms available for an additional cost. In fact, all of the deluxe resorts as well as the Gran Destino Tower (moderate resort) have access to Club Level rooms.
Club Level rooms allow guests staying there to get additional perks such as light meals and snacks throughout the day. Typically it is continental breakfast offerings in the morning, snacks throughout the day, and evening appetizers and cocktails. That’s a great alternative to spending a ton of money on meals throughout the day.
These guests will also have a dedicated Concierge Desk to assist guests in any way throughout their stay, and they can add some pretty awesome moments of Disney magic to your trip.
While there is a significant cost upgrade to book Club Level rooms, in our view, it can be absolutely worth it if you can afford it!
Everything is Closer Together
When considering staying at both a value resort and a moderate resort, a really important thing to keep in mind is the proximity of everything. Moderate and Value resorts have sprawling grounds in which you could easily walk 15-20 minutes between your hotel room and the lobby or the pool area. Not to mention everything is outdoors, including almost all exterior hallways.
At deluxe resorts, you won’t find that! The deluxe resorts are all built like typical hotels with interior hallways. This makes dealing with the Florida heat and thunderstorms remarkably easier! And it just feels more refined and “deluxe” shall we say.
Your walks to the pool areas, lobby areas, and bus stations likely won’t be anywhere near what you’d find at both the value and moderate resorts. Everything is just more carefully laid out and better situated, making it simpler and easier for the entire family.
This can also be invaluable for family members that have difficulty getting around.
Disney’s Deluxe Resorts have significantly better rooms than their counterparts, the value and moderate resorts. There is a step-up in terms of square footage, the bathroom layout, and in many cases, the ability to add a 5th person into the room with an extra day bed.
In addition to the size difference and layout difference, the rooms at deluxe resorts are more highly-themed from the headboards on the bed to the light fixtures throughout the room.
In most cases, Disney spares no expenses when it comes to the overall theme of the rooms found at deluxe resorts so make sure to look for the hidden details throughout!
Tons of Activities for Kids
While the value and moderate resorts do a nice job of having some fun pool activities for families with small children, the deluxe resorts step it up two notches!
In addition to having these same enjoyable activities that the value resorts and moderate resorts have, the deluxe resorts make sure to keep the entire family occupied from the minute they step foot onto the resort.
Some of the Deluxe resorts have additional experiences and activities for kids and families such as:
- Multiple pools and water slides
- Guided dockside fishing excursions
- Specialty cruises
- Water sports like water skiing, wakeboarding, tubing, and jet-skiing
- Basketball, volleyball, and tennis courts
- Bike rentals, including some with training wheels
- Miniature golf courses
And while not all deluxe resorts will have every one of these listed activities, many of them do! Keep in mind that for some of them, an adult will need to be present so don’t just send your kids off unwatched to do them.
As you can see, the deluxe resorts really do a fantastic job of keeping the entire family entertained, especially the kiddos.
Amazing Food Options
The food options found at Disney’s Deluxe Resorts are unbeatable! In fact, some of our family’s favorite restaurants are located at the deluxe resorts. They include everything from character meals to signature dining experiences to all-you-can-eat buffets!
Every Deluxe Resort also offers a quick service option to grab food, a table-service sit-down restaurant offering, a lounge bar, and also a pool bar. Many of the deluxe resorts have multiple table-service restaurants.
This makes it incredibly easy and simple to find food without your resort, rather than eating the same thing each day or having to stray far away from your resort to find food.
As we bring out in our Best Disney World Resort Restaurants Guide, there’s no shortage of dining options at deluxe resorts.
Extended Evening Hours
One of the incredible benefits that guests staying at Disney’s Deluxe Resorts can experience is Extended Evening Hours. Unlike guests staying at value resorts or moderate resorts, those staying at a deluxe resort or villa can have access to some of the parks for two hours after it closes to the general public!
This is an unforgettable experience that deluxe resort guests can take advantage of and something we highly recommend. EPCOT usually offers this option on Mondays and Magic Kingdoms typically on Wednesdays.
Just be sure to check the park schedules and dates as you get closer to your trip so you can plan accordingly.
The theming found at Disney’s Deluxe Resorts is unmatched in terms of detail, immersion, and grandeur. It is far and away nicer than the theming found at both the value resorts and the moderate resorts.
Practically every single within a deluxe resort is themed appropriately including:
- The magnificent lobbies
- The resort restaurants
- The hotel rooms
- The hallways
- The pool areas
- And everything in between!
No matter what deluxe resort you’re staying at, you will immediately be transported to a destination that feels anything but Central Florida!
For guests that enjoy shopping at all times of the day, you will love some of the shopping at the Disney Deluxe Resorts. Each of them has a little market area where you can purchase essentials, from pharmaceuticals to snack foods for your room.
If you left something at home (that happens to us often), these are great places to immediately check.
In addition to the essentials, Disney Deluxe Resorts also all have gift shops which are chock-full of exclusive items and merchandise for the resort at which you are staying. You’ll definitely find something you like!
If you’d like to remember your vacation, they normally have a number of high-quality offerings. Our family always enjoys going immediately to the resort gift shop right when we arrive, much to the dismay of my wallet.
Lastly, some of Disney’s Deluxe Resorts have some of the most awe-inspiring views you’ll likely ever experience! Imagine enjoying your cup of coffee outside on your balcony and having the opportunity to view a stunning African savannah with wild animals roaming feet away! That’s just one tiny example!
In general, the deluxe resorts have some tremendous views both inside your room and throughout your resort, with the rooftop views of the theme parks being my favorites. They will surely make your trip an unforgettable experience with photo opportunities at a moment’s notice.
Best Way to Save Big $$$ on Disney Resorts
Best Disney World Deluxe Resorts Ranked
Just like the other resort levels, ranking the Deluxe Resorts was harder than we anticipated and we went back and forth with many of our answers. There are a total of 8 Deluxe Resorts which made putting them in order even harder than the other levels.
Despite the challenge, we wanted to give you the best comparison guide with all the pros and cons of each of them so you can pick which one is best for you.
Our Ranking Factors
Some of the things we looked at to help us form our ranking included:
- Price – Yes they are more expensive than the lower-tiered resorts, but even between the Deluxes, there can be a difference of hundreds of dollars per night, which is a huge factor.
- Theming – Disney resorts are known for their unique atmosphere and our favorite ones are at the Deluxe Resorts, but some are definitely better than others.
- Convenience – How close are they to the theme parks, Disney Springs, or other interesting places?
- Rooms – The size, comfort, and luxury of the rooms. How big are they and how many people do they fit? Are there any special touches?
- Dining Options – Restaurants at that particular hotel.
- Amenities – Pools and other activities the resort provides.
- Transportation – What transportation options are available from here?
In the last couple of years, many of the Deluxe Resorts have had refurbishments to the rooms, pool areas, or general guest areas of the hotels. The ones that were done recently were given a boost in our rankings (if we like the changes of course.
Price is always king, and with a big gap in price between the Deluxe Resorts, this weighed heavily into our ranking decisions.
We love all the Deluxe Resorts and we would stay in one on every visit if it was financially possible for us, and I don’t think there is a “bad” choice in the bunch. Just look at what each one offers that is unique from the others, and decide which one best suits your family.
Our list is subjective and likely to look quite different from yours so let us know where you rank each of them and which are your favorites.
8. Disney’s Boardwalk Inn
- 2023 Cost: $597 – $1044 per night (includes tax)
- 2024 Cost: $641 – $1118 per night (includes tax)
- Location: EPCOT Resort Area
- Theme: Early 20th Century Atlantic City, NJ Boardwalk
- Rooms: 378
- Family Suites: Yes. They have Club Level Deluxe Rooms which sleep 6 adults.
Disney’s Boardwalk Inn falls 8th on our list of the top deluxe resorts, even though we do still enjoy staying here. However, while we love the location of the Boardwalk Inn, considering its close proximity to both Hollywood Studios and EPCOT, several things put it at the bottom of this list for our family.
From a theming perspective, it’s by far our least favorite of the three Boardwalk resorts. (Beach Club and Yacht Club) The decorations and theming of the hotel can be a little tacky or cheesy, we might say. I personally don’t love the Coney Island or New Jersey Boardwalk setting, taking it down a few steps for us.
I’m also not a fan of how loud it can be at times, especially on the weekends and in the evenings. Constant entertainment and activities are going on at the boardwalk, and the resort can be the stomping grounds for many obnoxious guests after they’ve been inebriated.
Staying at Disney’s Boardwalk Inn can be a great option for families that want to be right next to the action! Being a short walk away from both EPCOT and Hollywood Studios is incredibly appealing!
- Flying Fish – An signature table-service dinner restaurant that features mostly seafood offerings.
- Trattoria al Forno – A character breakfast in the morning and Italian Classics for dinner.
- Big River Grille & Brewing Works – Open for both lunch and dinner, this working microbrewery features different soups, salads, and entrees.
- BoardWalk Deli – Offering treats and deli favorites at all times of the day.
- Pizza Window – Outdoor window that sells individual hot slices of pizza or an entire pie.
- AbracadaBar – Fun lounge that focuses on the heyday of magicians and illusionists.
- Leaping Horse Libations – Carousel-themed pool bar outside of the main pool area.
- BoardWalk Joe’s Marvelous Margaritas – This margarita stand offers many different margaritas.
- The To-Go Cart – A snack cart that offers a number of hot dogs, burgers, and sandwiches.
- Belle Vue Lounge – A 1930s-style sitting room where you can enjoy a tasty cocktail while relaxing.
- Funnel Cake Cart – Get a tasty funnel cake with all the toppings outside at this cart.
- Carousel Coffee – They serve coffee and fresh pastries in this café just off the hotel lobby area.
One of our favorite lounges in all of Disney is the Belle Vue Lounge. This vintage lounge transports you to a different generation (the 1920s and 30s)!
It’s a great spot that is full of all kinds of little knick-knacks and small details. It’s also a great place to escape from all the noise and chaos of the Disney Boardwalk and the Disney parks and we often enjoy a nice late-night cocktail after a long day here.
7. Disney’s Contemporary Resort
- 2023 Cost: $550 – $988 per night (includes tax)
- 2024 Cost: $572 – $1043 per night (includes tax)
- Location: Magic Kingdom Resort Area
- Theme: A futuristic look at tomorrow
- Rooms: 750
- Family Suites: No, but standard rooms fit 5 adults
Coming in at number 7 on our list is Disney’s Contemporary Resort, one of the original Disney World Resort hotels. There are certain things that I love about the Contemporary that make it truly unique.
Not only is the Contemporary Resort on Disney’s Monorail loop (the monorail goes right through the middle of the building), bringing about super convenient access to Magic Kingdom. But there is also an easy 5-minute walking path that brings you directly to the front of Magic Kingdom!
And while the Contemporary is the more affordable of the three monorail resorts, there are significant disadvantages of staying there. As we mentioned, it is the cheapest of the three resorts, but for good reason.
Even if some of the rooms just got refreshed to a new Incredibles theme, the resort in general is still in desperate need of refurbishment, and the entire premise of the resort being ‘futuristic’ kind of feels odd considering how outdated the resort is.
It can be incredibly noisy on the main floor (4th), especially with one of the most popular restaurants in Disney being an open-aired restaurant, Chef Mickey’s. If you want peace and quiet, this is one of the deluxe resorts I’d avoid.
I’d recommend guests to stay at the Contemporary if they love Disney history and they want to stay at one of the original Disney resorts. It can also be a great secondary option for families that prioritize having the easiest access to Magic Kingdom but don’t want to pay the costs of staying at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort or Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa.
It can also be worth the savings staying here as opposed to Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort or Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort, as these will cost significantly more over the course of a week.
- Steakhouse 71 – Serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner. This table-service restaurant is a great new addition to the Contemporary, offering quality beef for reasonable prices.
- Steakhouse 71 Lounge – The lounge adjacent to the restaurant of the same name.
- California Grill – One of Disney’s signature table-service restaurants found at the top of the Contemporary.
- California Grill Lounge – Lounge adjacent to the restaurant of the same name.
- Chef Mickey’s – All-you-can-eat character breakfast and dinner found on the 4th floor.
- Contempo Cafe – Quick-service location serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner. There are some great snacks here.
- Contemporary Grounds – Serving Joffrey’s coffee and snacks at this 1st-floor location.
- Cove Bar – Private pool bar if you’re staying at Bay Lake Tower or if you’re a DVC member.
- Outer Rim – A 4th-floor lounge that has a large variety of seating areas to take in the beautiful setting.
- The Sand Bar – A poolside quick-service bar and lounge.
One of our family’s favorite things we’ve ever spent money on is taking a nighttime specialist cruise. Here at Disney’s Contemporary Resort in addition to a few of the other Disney Resorts, you can enjoy a nighttime specialty cruise on a private pontoon boat for the entire family and watch the Magic Kingdom fireworks from a whole new perspective!
They also have leisurely cruises as well without the fireworks. I’m confident if you splurge on this experience, it will be something your family won’t soon forget!
6. Disney’s Yacht Club Resort
- 2023 Cost: $537 – $986 per night (includes tax)
- 2024 Cost: $567 – $1046 per night (includes tax)
- Location: EPCOT Resort Area
- Theme: A New England-style Yacht Club
- Rooms: 630
- Family Suites: No, but standard rooms fit 5 adults
Disney’s Yacht Club Resort, similar to Disney’s Boardwalk Inn falls in a great location, in fact, it’s our families’ favorite location in all of Disney! We love being right on the Boardwalk as well as having easy access to the Disney Skyliner and being within walking distance from both Hollywood Studios and EPCOT.
And while we really enjoy the Yacht Club, it comes in at number 6 on our list. What the Yacht Club does good, it does really well! In addition to the location, the pool area (Stormalong Bay) is unparalleled in all of Disney World. The dining options are beyond solid, and it’s also a pet-friendly resort!
However, the reason we have it down at #6 is mostly due to personal preference, and that is theming. When comparing the Yacht Club to its sister restaurant the Beach Club, the Yacht Club feels stuffy and overly posh. The color palette is darker and more rustic, presenting the feeling of being significantly less relaxed.
Adding in the fact that it’s a convention hotel frequently bringing about a lot of business travelers, it just doesn’t appeal to our family as much as the top five on our list.
Families that like the styles and themes of boats will love Disney’s Yacht Club Resort with its nautical themes presented throughout the resort.
Also, if swimming is at all on the agenda for your family, staying at Yacht Club brings about the benefits of having the best pool on Disney property! Our family has spent many vacations at this pool, in fact, it’s usually the highlight of our trip!
It’s also ideal for families that want to be close to the action with terrific proximity to both EPCOT and Hollywood Studios. It can be a nice secondary option for families that cannot get a room at Disney’s Beach Club.
- Ale & Compass – Table-service restaurant that serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
- Ale & Compass Lounge – Cozy lounge just outside Ale & Compass, offering snacks and drinks.
- The Market at Ale & Compass – Quick-service location at the Yacht Club Marketplace that offers breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
- Hurricane Hanna’s Waterside Bar and Grill – This cozy pool walk-up bar features refreshing cocktails and different food items. (Shared by guests at Beach and Yacht Club.)
- Yachtsman Steakhouse – Signature steakhouse at the Yacht Club that is only open for dinner. They have a dress code and it’s one of the best restaurants in WDW.
- Crew’s Cup Lounge – Lounge just outside of Yachtsman Steakhouse. They share a kitchen and have a good drink menu.
We ALWAYS recommend going to Yachtsman Steakhouse if you’re going to be anywhere near it! And if you’re staying at Disney’s Yacht Club Resort, you really need to eat there! Their steaks are arguably the best on all of Disney property, and we’ve always had fantastic experiences here and great service.
5. Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge
- 2023 Cost: $469 – $842 per night (includes tax)
- 2024 Cost: $487 – $888 per night (includes tax)
- Location: Animal Kingdom Resort Area
- Theme: African-themed lodge in an African Savannah
- Rooms: 1293
- Family Suites: No
Coming in at 5th on our list is Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge! It’s a truly unique experience, and very few resorts on Disney’s property can transport you thousands of miles away like the Animal Kingdom Lodge can. We absolutely love the theming here, in fact, it’s arguably the best resort as far as that goes.
We also love the dining options here at the lodge, with three incredibly unique restaurants (Boma, Sanaa, and Jiko). We also love the shopping options, the lobby, and the cast members that work at this resort, who clearly LOVE their jobs.
The reason it isn’t higher on our list is primarily for one reason, and that’s the proximity to the rest of Walt Disney World. Unless getting to Animal Kingdom is your sole priority, Animal Kingdom Lodge is pretty much far from everything! That means long bus trips to all the other Disney parks and Disney Springs.
The other reason we have it slightly lower is that the standard rooms are the smallest amongst the deluxe resorts, along with Disney’s Wilderness Lodge. It’s one of the only deluxe resorts that only allows 4 people in a room, failing to provide that extra day bed for the 5th guest in a standard room.
We truly love Animal Kingdom Lodge, but we can’t ignore the few downsides.
If you’re at all an animal lover, I’ll go as far as saying you NEED to stay in a savannah room at Animal Kingdom Lodge. Just imagine waking up and looking out the window to see giraffes and zebras grazing right in below.
Other than going to an actual African savannah, staying here is the closest thing you’ll likely ever see. The entire resort experience is incredibly immersive and families with small children will love this resort.
- Jiko – A signature dining experience that brings out the bold flavors of African Cuisine and a must-try.
- Boma – One of the best buffets in all of Disney, serving both breakfast and dinner.
- The Mara – Quick service spot that contains a number of tasty food and snack offerings.
- Cape Town Lounge and Wine Bar – Lounge just outside of Jiko.
- Victoria Falls Lounge – A comfortable and pleasant lounge located on its own floor between the lobby and the bottom floor.
- Uzima Springs Pool Bar – Pool bar that allows you to have a drink while watching the animals.
- Sanaa – Found at the Kidani Village, Sanaa serves Eastern African cuisine.
- Sanaa Lounge – Lounge area that is just outside the Sanaa restaurant.
- Maji Pool Bar – Grab a cocktail or enjoy a snack at this outdoor pool bar.
As I mentioned, Animal Kingdom Lodge does a tremendous job of having activities and fun experiences all day long for families. I absolutely recommend you take advantage of the free culinary tours.
These two tours which are found at the restaurants, allow guests to taste some of the menu favorites each night. Find out when they are doing the tours each day.
4. Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
- 2023 Cost: $453 – $916 per night (includes tax)
- 2024 Cost: $524 – $979 per night (includes tax)
- Location: Magic Kingdom Resort Area
- Theme: A tribute to America’s Great Northwest and National Parks
- Rooms: 728
- Family Suites: Yes. They have Club Level Deluxe Rooms which fit 6 adults
Our 4th favorite of the Disney Deluxe Resorts is Disney’s Wilderness Lodge. We absolutely adore this resort, and along with Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, it has one of the best hotel lobbies in all of Disney World!
The theming here is incredible from the 82-foot fireplace to the Native American artifacts scattered throughout the resort and it really makes you feel like you are out in the great northwest. You certainly don’t feel like you are in the middle of Central Florida while staying here!
You have to just be blown away by the Wilderness Lodge! We love the overall theming of the resort and also how reasonably priced it is in comparison to some of the other deluxe resorts.
However, there are a few things that knocked Wilderness Lodge down our list. First, the proximity of the resort isn’t the best. Yes, it’s close to the Magic Kingdom but it still requires you to take a boat to get there, a boat that you could have to take with guests from other resorts during busier times of the day.
Also, it just feels FAR from everything. All of the other parks and Disney Springs will require bus transportation, and you’ll often have to share the bus transportation with nearby resorts when visiting the other 3 Disney parks.
Disney’s Wilderness Lodge also has smaller standard rooms that only allow you to fit 4 adults (unlike most of the other deluxe resorts), failing to have the additional daybed.
Similarly to Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, the theming and setting are amongst the best, but the transportation options and location aren’t ideal. That being said, we still as a whole LOVE Disney’s Wilderness Lodge and highly recommend anyone to stay there.
We absolutely would recommend guests who love the outdoorsy vibes of National Parks or camping stay at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge. There are no other hotels on Disney property that transport you to the rustic feel of the Wilderness while giving you the upscale elegance of the Wilderness Lodge.
- Story Book Dining at Artist Point with Snow White – A cute Character Dining experience with Snow White and the Dwarfs.
- Whispering Canyon Cafe – This table-service restaurant is a wonderful place to have fun with the whole family! This restaurant serves family-style dishes all-you-can-eat.
- Geyser Point Bar & Grill – Serving lunch, dinner, and a full-service bar, this open-aired restaurant is a wonderful place to visit on a nice day when it’s not too hot or too cold.
- Roaring Fork – The quick-service location features a small menu but generally has a number of tasty things. They serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
- Territory Lounge – The indoor lounge has a great list of appetizers and small bites.
If you’re a Disney historian or Walt Disney aficionado, we recommend you visit the Carolwood Room found in the Boulder Ridge Villas lobby. It’s a cute little area that is dedicated to Walt’s love of all things trains.
It illustrates the map of his first exposure to trains while growing up in Marceline up to his ⅛ scale, half-mile-long Carolwood Pacific Railroad that lived in his Holmby Hills mansion.
3. Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
- 2023 Cost: $780 – $1279 per night (includes tax)
- 2024 Cost: $816 – $1350 per night (includes tax)
- Location: Magic Kingdom Resort Area
- Theme: A Victorian-style hotel that evokes the golden era of Palm Beach
- Rooms: 867
- Family Suites: No, but standard rooms fit 5 adults
What’s not to love about Disney’s Grand Floridian and Spa? There’s no place to feel more majestic than at the 3rd ranked hotel on our list of the best deluxe resorts in Walt Disney World. The Grand Floridian exudes class and sophistication like no other Disney resort from the first moment you step foot in the lobby.
Not to mention the Grand Floridian is ideally located. Being on the monorail loop brings about incredible convenience to Magic Kingdom and the other monorail resorts (Disney’s Polynesian Village and Contemporary Resorts).
It also has arguably the best line-up of dining options out of all of the resorts in Disney with 3 signature restaurants and 2 additional quality sit-down restaurants. There’s no shortage when it comes to food options for guests staying at the Grand Floridian.
Guests can also indulge at the Senses Spa, which is a top-notch full-service spa that has a large array of different body and skin treatments. So why don’t we have Disney’s Grand Floridian higher on our list?
It’s expensive. Very expensive. In fact, it is almost always the most expensive resort in all of Disney World! And with high prices also comes a little bit of stuffiness. The hotel in general doesn’t feel relaxed or laid back. It’s almost as if you want to be dressed up at all times just to fit in.
That’s not to say it isn’t conducive to kids because the Grand Floridian is typically full of families with kids, especially since it’s on the monorail loop with easy access to Magic Kingdom. In fact, the Grand Floridian is usually chaotic and loud most of the time!
If feeling relaxed and low-key is more your vibe, I’d avoid the Grand Floridian. But with that being said, we’ve had nothing but great experiences at the Grand Floridian. It isn’t perfect, but it’s a top-notch experience for the most luxurious of Disney travelers.
Guests that want the ultimate Disney experience when it comes to entertainment, dining, and sophistication will love the Grand Floridian. If getting dressed up for dinner, and walking along the beautiful pathways throughout the grounds appeals to you, you’ll love this resort.
It’s also ideal for families that want to be close to the Magic Kingdom. It’s conveniently only one stop away on the monorail away from Magic Kingdom and there is also a newly built walking path to get you there in 10 minutes or less.
- Citricos – Signature table-service restaurant setting inspired by Mary Poppins.
- Narcoossee’s – Signature table-service restaurant focused on seafood with waterfront views.
- Grand Floridian Cafe – Table-service restaurant that serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner. A very underrated and solid reasonably-priced meal for all times of the day.
- Enchanted Rose – Beauty and the Beast-inspired bar that features a great ambiance, costly drinks, and tasty appetizers.
- Gasparilla Island Grill – Quick-service location that serves typical quick-service fare.
- Beaches Pool Bar & Grill – Outdoor pool bar that serves tasty cocktails and American snacks.
- Courtyard Pool Bar – The other outdoor pool bar that offers signature cocktails and snacks.
- 1900 Park Fare – Character meal in a carousel-themed dining room serving breakfast, brunch, and dinner.
- Citricos Lounge – This lounge is connected to the namesake restaurant.
- Garden View Tea Room – A conventional tea room where you can indulge in different teas.
- Victoria & Albert’s – Fancy signature multi-course meal that is the most expensive restaurant in all of Disney World.
One of the most underrated experiences in all of Disney World is enjoying the Traditional Tea Room Experience at the Grand Floridian. It is found inside the Garden View Tea Room and is an experience unlike anywhere else! You’ll feel you’re in London, enjoying this wonderful setting while sipping on some tea and snacks.
2. Disney’s Beach Club Resort
- 2023 Cost: $534 – $1186 per night (includes tax)
- 2024 Cost: $568 – $1043 per night (includes tax)
- Location: EPCOT Resort Area
- Theme: New England-Style Beach Club
- Rooms: 583
- Family Suites: No, but standard rooms fit 5 adults
Coming in at 2nd on our best Deluxe Resorts list is Disney’s Beach Club Resort! The best of all the Boardwalk resorts, the Beach Club is the best combination of elegance, a laid-back vibe, and Disney comfort.
Immediately when you arrive at the Beach Club as the Disney Cast Member says “Welcome Home” you feel it. This resort feels homey and immediately puts you into vacation mode from the moment you step foot. The Beach Club Resort certainly has location on its side with the Disney Skyliner only steps away from the back entrance of the resort.
It’s also the closest walk to EPCOT amongst all the resorts, practically being a stone’s throw away. Take a 20-minute walk to Hollywood Studios or take the ferry boat or the Disney Skyliner there if you prefer!
It also of course gives you the added perk of having the best pool area in all of Disney, Stormalong Bay. The Beach Club and the Yacht Club share the pool area.
So what prevents Beach Club from being 1st on our list?
Theming. While the Beach Club is a uniquely themed resort, it lacks the sophistication or grandness that some of the other deluxe resorts have. Its lobby is mostly just ‘eh’ and it lacks the special Disney touches that make some of the other resorts stand out.
You can easily imagine the Beach Club Resort in a different town or beach location around the country, and it isn’t truly a unique experience.
With that being said, I still love it. And while it’s not perfect, give me that pool, that location, and those vibes and Disney’s Beach Club is a solid 2nd option.
Guests that want a relaxed vibe while being close to the Disney action will love staying at Disney’s Beach Club Resort. Its location is second to none if you want to spend any bit of time at Hollywood Studios or EPCOT. It’s a great place for families with children that prioritize swimming and want to have a lot of downtime each day at the resort.
We love staying here during the hotter months of the year because spending more than a few hours in the Disney parks can be brutal! Getting back to the Beach Club and utilizing the pool is a great use of your time and will be super memorable for the entire family!
- Cape May Cafe – This fun table-service character dining restaurant serves an all-you-can-eat breakfast and a signature seafood dinner.
- Beaches & Cream Soda Shop – 50s-Themed Eatery that serves old-fashioned ice cream and an assortment of different sandwiches.
- Beach Club Marketplace – Beach Club marketplace offers quick grab-and-go breakfast, lunch, and dinner options.
- Martha’s Vineyard – A relaxed lounge found in the Beach Club, featuring many cocktails and appetizers.
- Hurricane Hanna’s Waterside Bar and Grill – Pool walk-up bar that features refreshing cocktails and some different snacks.
One of our favorite things at Disney’s Beach Club Resort is the water slide! There is nothing like barreling down the waterslide, which sits atop the Disney Boardwalk, all the way into the sand-bottomed pool!
It doesn’t matter if you are 5 years old or 70 years old, the Stormalong Bay water slide is flat-out fun!
1. Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort
- 2023 Cost: $662 – $1184 per night (includes tax)
- 2024 Cost: $691 – $1256 per night (includes tax)
- Location: Magic Kingdom Resort Area
- Theme: Celebrates the spirit of the South Pacific
- Rooms: 847
- Family Suites: No, but standard rooms fit 5 adults
And finally, we have it! Our favorite Deluxe Disney Resort is Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort! What makes the Polynesian our favorite?
A number of factors including:
- Theming – Immediately upon arriving at the Polynesian you will be transported to the island life living with immaculate grounds, beautiful outdoor ambiance, and exotic tastes of the restaurants.
- One of the Original Two Resorts – Along with the Contemporary, the Polynesian was one of the first two Disney World resorts, and that means something!
- Monorail Loop – With easy access to the other two monorail resorts in addition to Magic Kingdom, being on the monorail loop is a significant advantage.
- Food and Dessert Options – In addition to having one of the most popular restaurants in Disney (Ohana), the Polynesian is the ONLY resort in all of Disney that has a dole-whip stand! Not to mention, they also have the most popular and fun lounge in all of Disney, Trader Sam’s!
- View of the Fireworks – There’s nothing like walking along the beach and finding a nice lounge chair to relax and take in the Magic Kingdom Fireworks from the comfort of your resort! The views of the fireworks are stellar here, and it’s an overall great experience.
- Fun – There’s something about the Polynesian that just exuberates fun! Every time we are here, we feel relaxed and light-hearted, and just have a great overall time!
And while the Polynesian isn’t perfect and it isn’t always our go-to spot for every Disney trip, we just think the combination of theming, location, and all-around fun makes Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort the best Disney Deluxe Resort.
If island life is the life for you, you’ll love the Polynesian Village Resort. Out of all the three monorail resorts, the Polynesian feels the most relaxed and laid back.
It affords families the opportunity to be removed from the parks when they’re at their resort but at the same time, being a short monorail ride away from the Magic Kingdom.
- Barefoot Pool Bar – This outdoor pool bar features several cocktails and food offerings.
- Captain Cook’s – A quick-service location that features a good variety of food at all times of day.
- Pineapple Lanai – The little outdoor window that serves Dole Whip.
- Kona Cafe – A table-service restaurant that serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
- Tambu Lounge – Fun lounge upstairs that is connected and shared with ‘Ohana.
- ‘Ohana – One of the most popular restaurants in Disney World. They serve all-you-can-eat breakfast and dinner. The breakfast is also a character experience with Lilo and Stitch.
- Oasis Bar & Grill – Outdoor pool bar and grill that features a number of drinks and snacks.
- Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto – The indoor area of Trader Sam’s. Get here early to put your name in when it opens at 3:00.
- Trader Sam’s Tiki Terrace – The less popular outdoor area of Trader Sam’s.
- Kona Island – Grab a coffee, pastries, and snacks at this indoor quick-service location that stays open all day long.
Visit Kona Island to get some of their famous chocolate-covered bacon! It comes in a number of different varieties, but if the combination of sweet and salty is something you’d enjoy, you have to try it! It’s a memorable snack that you’ll want more of after the first taste.
Best Deluxe Resort for Large Families (5 People or More)
When it comes to the best deluxe resort for large families, there are several different options. If wanting to fit in one standard room, most of the deluxe resorts will allow for 5 people minus Wilderness Lodge and Animal Kingdom Lodge.
The most obvious choices, in this case, would be Disney’s Grand Floridian or Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort since these two resorts have the largest square footage amongst the deluxe resorts.
If truly wanting to splurge, you can get upgraded Club Level Rooms at both Disney’s Wilderness Lodge and Disney’s Boardwalk Inn which both give you living room areas and allow for up to 6 guests in a room. Be prepared though, they will cost a pretty penny!
If you need a room for 5+ people, make sure to read our Guide to Disney World Suites for Large Families where we break down all the pros and cons of each choice on property.
Reasons to Avoid Deluxe Resorts
There are certainly some deciding factors in play when it comes to considering whether or not to stay at a Deluxe Disney Resort. While of course, deluxe resorts are the ultimate in terms of luxury and sophistication at WDW, there are certainly some things that might sway you in the opposite direction.
In this section, we will touch on the two main things that could curtail you on a different path.
You’ll Spend Way More Money
Most travelers visiting Disney World have some kind of budget they need to stick to. Even if you CAN afford the extensive costs of staying at a Disney Deluxe Resort, the question remains “should you?”
Our answer is that It truly depends on your interests. Our family prioritizes staying at a nicer place for most of our family vacations because, for us, we value it.
Not only do we value it, but we know we are going to spend a significant portion of our trip at our resort. Some families choose to spend the overwhelming majority of their time in the parks, and in that case, spending the extra money it costs for a nicer resort is kind of worthless.
Other families might prefer spending their budgeted money on other things that they’re passionate about. Things such as:
- Experiences (Backstage tours, activities, additional amenities, spa treatments)
- Additional Signature Dining Experiences
The cost is the biggest thing that could sway you in a different direction. It all depends on how you prioritize your budget. Talk to your family and see what they want to do. And if staying at a nicer resort isn’t among the things you are most looking forward to for your vacation, maybe choose to spend your hard-earned money elsewhere.
One option for making it more affordable is to use a company like David’s DVC Rentals to stay at one of the Deluxe Villas. This will easily save you hundreds of dollars per night.
Could Be Stuffier Atmosphere
When coming to Disney World, most visitors want to feel relaxed and in an atmosphere that is conducive to flip-flops, bathing suits, and tank tops. Some guests are put off by the stuffier atmosphere that Disney’s Deluxe Resorts can sometimes have.
While we personally haven’t been put off by it, we can see how some guests feel uncomfortable with the ‘more formal’ attire that is found at some of the deluxe resorts.
If this is something that could cause you to be uncomfortable and you’d prefer to be in a location that is 100% relaxed all the time, you’d be better off avoiding Disney’s Yacht Club Resort and Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa.
Deluxe Resorts vs. Moderate Resorts
When comparing deluxe resorts to moderate resorts, several elements come into play. If the price differences aren’t enormous, we typically will pay a slight increase to get the experience of a deluxe resort. Why?
- Convenient – Deluxe resorts are often situated right next to the Disney Parks and in many cases, within walking distance away.
- Better Rooms – Deluxe resorts have bigger rooms and are just slightly nicer in terms of quality and amenities.
- Better Pools – In addition to nicer pool areas, the pools in the Deluxe resorts also have splash areas for kids.
- Entertainment Offerings – Deluxe resorts have additional entertainment choices for those that would like to spend more time at their resort.
- Dining – Deluxe resorts have higher quality dining options for those that would enjoy a signature dining experience.
- Gyms and Spa – Deluxe Resorts have gyms for those that love to exercise with some also having access to a full-service spa.
- Theming – While the moderate resorts do a terrific job when it comes to theming, the deluxe resorts take it to another level with slight little touches throughout the resorts.
These are just a few of the things that make staying at a deluxe resort slightly more desirable than moderate resorts. Consider each of these things before making a decision.
If price isn’t the main factor, we undoubtedly recommend staying at a Disney Deluxe Resort. If price is the most significant factor for your family, consider staying at a moderate resort instead as a compromise.
Depending on how extensive the price difference is, if staying at a moderate resort is the only option, you will no doubt still have a great and truly magical Disney Vacation.
Are Disney Deluxe Resorts Worth the Money?
Disney’s Deluxe Resorts are anything but cheap, especially when you compare them to some of the nearby hotels, which can be typically found for significantly cheaper. Even with that being the case, ‘worth’ is very subjective. Even families that have smaller budgets often find that staying at a Disney Deluxe Resort is a worthwhile endeavor even if it’s just once! We typically agree.
There is something special about staying at a deluxe resort on-site at Disney. In addition to getting all the conveniences of being within the Disney gates, you also get that little bit extra of Disney magic that staying on the property affords you.
If comparing apples to apples, you likely won’t see a financially enticing reason to stay on-site but it just depends on if that’s the main concern for your family’s enjoyment of your trip.
If financially you CAN afford to stay at a Deluxe Resort, we wholeheartedly recommend you do it. You’ll notice a massive difference in the quality of your vacation and the enjoyment of your family’s vacation, especially if you have an older family.
If financially you CAN NOT stay at a Deluxe Resort, you’ll have an outstanding time staying on-site at either a moderate or value resort. While it won’t be as luxurious, it can still be an unforgettable experience for the whole family.
Again, our article on the Benefits of Staying at a Disney World Resort can give you more info to help you make your decision.
Which Deluxe Disney Resort is the Cheapest?
While these things can depend on a number of factors, including time of year and availability, typically Disney’s Wilderness Lodge is the cheapest nightly resort for a standard room with prices between $450-$550 throughout many months of the year.
In 2024, Wilderness Lodge’s rates have jumped up considerably and Animal Kingdom Lodge will take over as the cheapest Disney World Resort with prices starting at $487 per night.
How to Save Money at Deluxe Resorts
There are undoubtedly a bunch of ways that you can save money when choosing to stay at a deluxe resort!
We have a ton of great secrets for saving money at Disney World in general, but here are some of our favorite ways to spend less specifically at the Deluxe Resorts:
- Reserve Your Trip Sooner! Normally Disney allows you to book a trip at least a year prior, in most cases longer. If you use an authorized Disney ticket agent, such as Show You The World Travel, they’ll assist you in booking your vacation but they’ll also find you additional savings if the rooms get any cheaper in the time leading up to your trip.
- Go at Slower Times of Year. Avoid going during holidays and school vacation times. You’ll save substantial amounts of money by doing so! Our Disney World Crowd Calendar is a good place to do some research on the least packed times of the year.
- Take Advantage of Rewards Credit Cards. By using cash-back credit cards or cards that offer travel credits, you can save even more money by booking vacations.
- Use Discounts – Throughout the year, Disney offers various discounts on room-only or vacation packages. Occasionally these can save you as much as 20-30% or more, so when you see a good one, jump on it.
- Discount Disney Gift Cards – You also may be able to save a bunch of money by getting Discount Disney Gift Cards and spending them on your hotel room or meals.
- Airport to WDW Transportation – No matter what type of resort you stay at, you’ll need to consider the costs of getting there. Our article “How to Get from Orlando Airport to Disney World” covers some money-saving tips you will find useful.
Another great way to save money is to stay at one of the Disney Deluxe Villas by renting points through David’s DVC Rentals. They have the best selection of rooms and the best prices most of the time.
READ MORE: Doing Disney on a Budget and for Cheap
Off-Site Deluxe Resort Alternatives
While we usually suggest staying on-site at Disney-owned resorts, there are a few additional hotels we’ve had good experiences with that are “not Disney” but have some amazing perks and MIGHT save you a few dollars. They are all at similar levels of quality to Disney’s Deluxe Resorts, and sometimes even higher.
Here are a few of our choices:
- Swan, Swan Reserve, and Dolphin – Although they are technically not owned by Disney, they are right on the Disney Boardwalk. Oftentimes you can find these hotels during off-peak times in the $200 a-night range. They are owned by Marriott and can be reserved directly through Marriott.
- Four Seasons Resort Orlando – On Disney’s property, the Four Seasons Resort is located near the Magic Kingdom and Disney’s Fort Wilderness campground. It’s a beautiful resort that occasionally can be found cheaper than other Disney Deluxe Resorts even though it’s more luxurious than any of them.
- The Ritz Carlton Orlando – Situated closer to the Orlando Airport, the Ritz Carlton is a little further away but is absolutely stunning! It is inspired by the palazzos of Italy and features a championship-level golf course.
- Waldorf Astoria Orlando – Situated in the middle of a 482-acre nature preserve, the Waldorf Astoria is a gorgeous 5-star resort that is quiet but features beautiful grounds and a wide variety of entertainment and recreation for the whole family.
And if you decide to stay off-site, check out our list of the Best Hotels Near Disney World to find the best option for your family.
Top 3 Places to Stay in Orlando
Ultimate Luxury: Four Seasons Resort Orlando – Five Star Dining and Best Luxury Hotel in Orlando. On-site with many of the same perks as Disney Resort guests.
My Favorite: Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress – Best Pool and Amenities, Close location
Budget Hotel Near Disney: Hilton Orlando Lake Buena Vista – Great Value and upscale feel at a low price
Which Deluxe Resort Has the Best Pool?
While all of the deluxe resorts have beautiful pool areas with water slides, the deluxe resort with the best pool is unequivocally Disney’s Yacht and Beach Club resorts. These two resorts share Stormalong Bay, which is a giant 3-acre winter wonderland, and any swimmer’s dream come true.
Which Deluxe Resort Has the Best Rooms?
While Disney’s Grand Floridian and Spa has the biggest rooms in terms of square footage, our pick for the best rooms has to be Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort. The reason? They have the 2nd largest amount of space, we love their room layout, and they’ve just received beautiful Moana-themed refurbishments in all of the rooms.
Best Theming at Deluxe Resorts?
Our pick for the best theming in a deluxe resort is a tie between Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge and Disney’s Wilderness Lodge. These two resorts are unmatched in their ability to transport you to a distant part of the world with relative ease.
Each of these resorts features a grand and jaw-dropping lobby in addition to intricate theming throughout. If you want to see the best of Disney Imagineering, I’d recommend staying or visiting either of these two resorts.
Which Disney Resort is the Most Luxurious?
When it comes to luxury, the immediate standout is Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa. From its Victorian-style elegance to its state-of-the-art spa, when it comes to luxury and class, nothing matches the Grand Floridian, at least of the Disney-owned hotels.
If however, you are willing to stay off-site, The Four Seasons Orlando at Walt Disney World Resort takes luxury to another level and is one of the best in the whole state of Florida.
Which Deluxe Resort Has the Best Transportation?
Deciding which deluxe resort has the best transportation options is a personable preference, and can be highly debatable depending on your interests and where you choose to be. For our family personally, “best transportation” means taking the Disney buses as little as possible.
Since that’s our criteria, the deluxe resort with the best transportation options is Disney’s Beach Club. While Disney’s Yacht Club and Disney’s Boardwalk Inn are both close by, nothing beats the proximity the Beach Club has to both the Disney Skyliner and the 2-minute walk to the World Showcase Entrance of EPCOT.
However, you could easily argue that any of the three monorail resorts have the best transportation options as well, easily bringing you to both EPCOT and Magic Kingdom.
The difference may be where your family likes to be more. If you have little kids and will be spending a large amount of time at the Magic Kingdom, one of the monorail resorts is best. If your group is a bit older and you envision yourself visiting EPCOT & Hollywood Studios more, Disney’s Yacht or Beach Club and Disney’s Boardwalk Inn are better.
Best Deluxe Resort for Adults?
Choosing the best deluxe resort for adults can be a highly debatable discussion. I could easily make the argument for Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa with its romantic views, full-service spa, picturesque setting, and unbelievable dining. But with the Grand Floridian, you’ll also get a LOT of kids due to its being on the monorail loop.
While several can easily fit the criteria, our pick for the best deluxe resort for adults is Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge. Why? It’s far away from all the hustle and bustle of the parks and perfectly secluded from the craziness.
It also features unique food offerings that don’t typically appeal to the palate of a child, causing parents to avoid these table-service restaurants. Again, perfect if you are looking for a quiet, low-key meal.
That’s not to say kids don’t love Animal Kingdom Lodge, in fact, it’s a great spot for kids, especially older kids. But there’s something about the resort that makes it quieter, unique, and particularly appreciated by adults.
Read our Guide to the Best Disney Resorts for Adults for a comparison of all the pros and cons.
Best Deluxe Resort for Dining?
When it comes to the best deluxe resort for dining there is one clear winner here, and it is Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa.
With three signature dining restaurants that are all stellar (Victoria and Albert’s, Narcosees, and Citrocos) and two additional table service restaurants that are both underrated, (Grand Floridian Cafe and 1900 Park Fare) it’s hard to beat the offerings at the Grand Floridian.
Even the quick-service options at the Grand Floridian are solid in addition to one of our favorite themed lounges on the property, Enchanted Rose. Basically, you can eat at the Grand Floridian every night of your trip and always try a different location.
Deluxe Resorts in general, have amazing food options and most of them have a restaurant that makes our list of the Best Disney World Resort Restaurants so don’t limit yourself to just your own resort. Visit some of the others for more incredible dining experiences.
Best Deluxe Resort for Location?
Picking the deluxe resort with the best location is dependent on where you want to be. If desiring to be near the Magic Kingdom, we’d recommend either of the three monorail resorts. (Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa, Polynesian Village Resort, and the Contemporary Resort)
If picking the most versatile location which is nearest to the most amount of Disney activities, we prefer either of the three Boardwalk Resorts (Disney’s Beach Club Resort, Yacht Club Resort, or the Boardwalk Inn Resort) since you’re right next to EPCOT and Hollywood Studios.
Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge has the worst location and is only really near Disney’s Animal Kingdom park. If you are staying there, anything is going to be a haul to get to.
Are the Disney Deluxe Resorts Pet-Friendly?
There is one Disney Deluxe Resort that is currently pet-friendly, and that’s Disney’s Yacht Club Resort. For an extra $75 per night, you can have up to two dogs in your room. The other non-deluxe resorts that allow you to have pets only charge $50 per night.
Now that you’ve seen all the pros and cons and have decided which Deluxe Resort to stay at, it’s time to make reservations. Booking a Disney World vacation doesn’t have to be hard, you can do it in two ways:
- Book directly through Disney
- Book with an Authorized Disney Travel Planner
Booking through Disney – This is the most direct option and it’s easier for people who have been to Disney World a million times and know exactly what they want, and that don’t need any additional help. You can book your stay at a Walt Disney World Resort hotel directly on the Disney World website or by calling (407) 939-4357.
Booking through Disney Travel Agent – This is by far the easiest way to book your hotel and it’s likely to save you the most money too, which is important when staying at the Deluxe Resorts.
This is our preferred method because a friendly Disney vacation planner will help you during every step of the vacation process. They will answer any questions about your needs and help you decide which resort is best for your family.
We highly recommend using René Cittadino and her team at Show You the World Travel for your Disney World reservations. They are the absolute BEST, and I’ve used them countless times to book my own hotel reservations and packages. Trust me, her amazing team will go above and beyond to make sure you have your most magical vacation ever!
And if you need help with dining reservations, booking special events, or more, they are there for you! The best part is they are 100% FREE to use, and they will even keep looking for the best deals for you so you can save the most money possible. Try them out and tell them Ziggy sent you! 😉
That wraps up our ranking of the top Disney World Deluxe Resorts. We hope that we helped you understand the pros and cons of each one enough so you can pick which one is right for your family on your next vacation!
If you are going to Disney World soon, make sure to read our Disney World Planning Guide for all the tips and info you will need to cover everything! Also, check out our Disney World Crowd Calendar so you know when the best time to visit is!
I want to know what you think about our ranking of the best Deluxe resort hotels at Walt Disney World…
- What is your favorite Disney World Deluxe Resort to stay at?
- Which do you think is #1?
Let us know in the comments section below!
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