This is the third post in the 'Everything You Need to Know about Walt Disney World Resort Categories' Series! When traveling to Walt Disney World, there are a TON of resort options on property to choose from! I'm helping you make sense of the three resort categories: value, moderate and deluxe. I've already written about the pros and cons to the value resorts, the ups and downs of the moderate resorts, and now let's take a look at the deluxe resort category!
Disney On-Site Resort Bonuses
Before we discuss the deluxe resort category, remember that Disney offers special perks to all guests who stay at Disney Resorts, regardless of the category which they stay! As a guest at any Walt Disney World resort, you'll enjoy:
MagicBands for each member of your party
Free Magical Express Shuttle to and from Orlando International Airport
Shuttles to and from the four Disney theme parks, Disney Springs and the Disney water parks
Extra Magic Hours in the Disney theme parks
Movies Under the Stars at the resort
Early access to fastPass+ reservations before the off-site guests
If you're wanting to go all-out and truly enjoy a relaxing and luxurious vacation - yes, even at Disney World - a deluxe resort will be the place for you! With the largest rooms on property, theme park views, spa treatments, award-winning dining and easy access to all The World has to offer, there's no question why the deluxe resorts also cost more than the value and moderate resorts. There are currently 8 different deluxe resort, each offering it's own unique atmosphere!
The deluxe resorts also offer a club, or concierge, level of stay, as well. Club level includes snacks and drinks (even alcoholic!) in a special lounge throughout the day, as well as increased service and the opportunity to purchase extra Fastpasses, which can come in very handy on busy park days.
Pricing will vary widely, but room pricing starts at ~$320 per night, but special promotions can often be applied to your luxury vacation for a more moderate cost.
The Resorts Disney's Grand Floridian Resort
Disney's Grand Floridian takes you back to Victorian days of elegance. Step into the expansive lobby and you'll hear the live orchestra playing classic tunes. Step outside and enjoy the breath-taking views of the castle, which is so close, it's one monorail stop away! Disney's Grand Floridian offers the largest standard rooms on property, which sleep up to five adults.
You won't go hungry at the Grand Floridian! Gasparilla Grill is the quick service restaurant providing standard meals of eggs, Mickey waffles, sandwiches, pizza, burgers and salads throughout the day, along with several other lounges and pool bars. Enjoy a table-service meal at the Grand Floridian Cafe, take in the views at Narcoossee's water-view pavilion, meet and greet Cinderella and Prince Charming at 1900 Park Fare, or make a special trip to the romantic dining room to experience the cuisine at Victoria & Albert's, the AAA Five Diamond Award-Winning restaurant.
Disney's Polynesian Resort
Walking into Disney's Polynesian Resort instantly transports you to vacation mode! From the palm trees, tropical flowers and island music, it's a tropical dream come true! Outside, sandy beaches outline Bay Lake, where you can see Cinderella's castle sitting proudly. Swings and hammocks line the beach ready for you to watch the nightly firework show, or casually watch the boats come and go to Magic Kingdom.
The Polynesian is on the monorail line, you're just a short train ride to Magic Kingdom, or you can transfer and ride to Epcot. Sights and smells of the island aren't all you'll find at the Polynesian, you'll also enjoy delicious tastes! Kona Cafe and 'Ohana serve up delicious Asian-inspired dishes, including sushi, specialty meats and the famous sticky toffee bread pudding!
Swing by Trader Sam's for some nighttime fun and drinks, or take the family to a live Luau and explore Polynesian culture. Take a swim next to a volcano, or dine with Lilo and Stitch! There's so much to see and do at Disney's Polynesian Resort - it's like a vacation inside of a vacation!
Disney's Contemporary Resort
The iconic Contemporary Resort was Walt Disney World's flagship resort, and remains impressive even today. Meet Mickey and the gang while the monorail rolls through the lobby - here you'll find that true dream Disney atmosphere. The main A-frame building has both park-view rooms, as well as lake-view rooms. A garden wing and the Bay Lake Tower is connected with a covered walkway to the main building. Take a ride down the 17-foot waterslide or soak up the views in one of the two spa whirlpools. Fishing, boat rentals, bonfires and more await you at the Contemporary Resort. In terms of theme park accessibility, the Contemporary Resort cannot be beat - it is just a short walk to Magic Kingdom! Hop the monorail and ride to Magic Kingdom or Epcot, and of course bus and boat transportation is also available. Drop the kids off at Pixar Play Place to visit Woody and Lightening McQueen while you head up to the rooftop restaurant, California Grill, to enjoy a world-class meal with some of the very best views on Walt Disney World property.
Disney's Beach Club Resort
This charming, New-England-themed beachside oasis is located just minutes walk to both Epcot and Hollywood Studios parks. Delicious all-you-can-eat seafood buffet and character dining at Cape May is steps from the lobby. Take a stroll to the Boardwalk area for drinks, dinner and entertainment or indulge in a massage or work out in the completely updated fitness center.
Truly make a splash at the best pool on property! Stormalong Bay, situated between Beach Club and her sister resort, Disney's Yacht Club, features a life-size shipwreck complete with 3 acres of pools, sandy-bottom lagoons, waterslides and a lazy river! Two kiddie pools, one with a miniature slide, are perfect for the smallest Disney guests. Additionally, there are three tranquil pools with their own spas located on property.
Beginning in Fall 2019, guests at the Beach Club will be able to board the Skyliner Gondola transportation system to travel to Hollywood Studios or Epcot.
Disney's Yacht Club Resort
Disney's Yacht Club is the grown-up, sophisticated sister resort to the Beach Club, and shares the amazing water recreation area. The perfect resort for your adult getaway, Yacht Club features wine tasting and amazing food at Yachtsman Steakhouse, spirits at several lounges throughout and other fun activities such as boating, fishing and tennis.
Yacht club is a convenient walk to Epcot and Hollywood Studios, the Boardwalk area, and beginning in Fall of 2019 will be on the Skyliner Gondola Transportation line with service to Epcot and Hollywood Studios.
Disney's Boardwalk Inn
Located steps away from endless dining, entertainment and fun is Disney's Boardwalk Inn. This charming resort will take you back to mid-century Atlantic City with whimsical carousel decor and cotton candy colors.
Feast on delectable and sustainable surf and turf at The Flying Fish restaurant, or grab a cupcake from the Boardwalk Bakery!
Take a swim in the fanciful Luna Park Pool and slide down the "coaster" waterslide, but watch out for the spouting trunks of trickster baby elephant fountains. Truly feel as if you're seaside at Disney's Boardwalk Inn while being a short walk away from both Epcot and Hollywood Studios Parks! Beginning in Fall of 2019 will be on the Skyliner Gondola Transportation line with service to Epcot and Hollywood Studios.
Disney's Wilderness Lodge
A nature-lover's paradise, Disney's Wilderness Lodge captures the essence of America's Northwest with rustic boulders and towering trees. Built in the craftsman style amongst a lush landscape, it truly feels like you are nestled away in the wilderness. The best part? It's just a boat ride away from Magic Kingdom!
Outside, walk along trails of a babbling brook. Inside, grab a rocking chair by the warm fire. But among the nature is also all the great amenities guests have come to expect from a Disney deluxe resort: a fantastic pool with waterslides, spas and a water play area just for the kids and signature dining locations with amazing character interactions. Within Storybook Dining at Artist Point you can dance with Snow White, giggle with Dopey and glare into the Evil Queen's eyes! Other dining includes the fun and rowdy Whispering Canyon Cafe (be sure to ask for catsup!) or grab a quick bite at Roaring Fork.
Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge
Gear up for an African adventure right from the convince of your Disney Resort. Located within a vast savannah with animals grazing, is the Animal Kingdom Lodge. Adventure and elegance meet at this grandly themed resort! Walk a bridge over the lobby and take in the breathtaking view, or grab a spot at the campfire while the giraffes graze in the distance.
Your palate will also be in for a wild time with the bold dining available at Animal Kingdom Lodge. Discover new tastes at Boma, a buffet with traditional African flavors, as well as tamer food choices. Jiko is the perfect date night with complex flavors in a quiet environment, and a huge wine selection. Quick service and smaller lounges are also available.
Several watering holes are located throughout for you to cool off after a long day in the parks. Waterslides, whirlpool spas, quiet pools and animal-themed children's water play area are all easily accessible at the Animal Kingdom Lodge. Kids can free range at the Hakuna Matata playground to get their wiggles out.
The Facts: Deluxe Resorts
Room averages 400 square feet (non-suite, excludes Cabins at Fort Wilderness)
Interior room entrance
Queen Beds, many have pull down fifth sleeper bed
Coffeemakers & Ceiling Fans
Quick-Service Food Location
Multiple Table-Service Restaurants at the resort, some will be signature dining with characters
Large, themed pools, with waterslides and other water features, poolside games and activities
Resorts are often large and can be spread out.
Often will have more than one mode of transportation that can make it easier to get to the parks
Spa services and fitness club available
Room to Spread Out - In the deluxe category, you're going to be staying in the biggest standard rooms on property. The size will vary depending on which resort. At the Wilderness lodge, standard rooms are 344 square feet at the smallest of the Deluxe, while the Grand Floridian boasts the largest at 440 square feet. For reference, the average standard hotel room in the U.S. is about 330 square feet.
Close to Parks - Perhaps the best thing about the deluxe resorts is the proximity and ease of transportation to the parks. The ease of being able to walk back to your room to rest for families is priceless. The contemporary is a 5 minute walk to Magic Kingdom, and Yacht Club, Beach Club and Boardwalk Inn are all within walking distance to Hollywood Studios and Epcot. Additional transportation such as the monorail and by boat are also available at several deluxe resorts. Animal Kingdom excludes the additional transportation due to the unique animal theming. Busing is still available to each park.
Breathtaking Theming - Disney goes above and beyond to make you truly feel you're someplace completely new with each different resort. From a tropical island to the bustling seaside to the African savannah - there's something for everyone!
Ample Recreational Fun - No matter which deluxe resort you choose, there will be countless recreational activities offered! Free poolside games and activities are provided, at the Grand Floridian you can enjoy free music in the lobby and each resort provides marshmallows for bonfire fun.
The Price - There's no way around it: Disney's deluxe resorts are not cheap. You are definitely paying for the proximity to the parks and the "Disney Bubble" of theming and service. Special deals are available much of the time, and we feel that for many families the convinces outweigh the cons.
The deluxe resorts are simply amazing! Each one offers a different and unique experience. For the family with young children, or those with mobility problems, deluxe resorts can be extremely convenient. Folding up strollers and loading motorized scooters onto the bus after the firework show with MANY other Disney guests can be cumbersome and frustrating. Being able to walk or take other modes of transportation can make the high price worth it!
I truly hope this deluxe resort overview is helpful to you! Have you stayed at a deluxe resort? Which is your favorite, let me know below in the comments!
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