Worth the Splurge? Why Disney Deluxe Resorts Stand Out

The Polynesian Resort Credit: Society of Explorers and Adventurers Fandom

Walt Disney World Resort is home to many amazing Resort hotels. The Resorts are categorized into three tiers: Value, Moderate, and Deluxe. All of them have convenient transportation to the Parks, fun themes, and fun touches in their decor. You probably don’t need too much convincing to want to stay in the top-tier Deluxe accommodations, but the decision of whether or not to actually do it is one based on value for money. A Deluxe stay isn’t in everyone’s budget, and it’s not necessarily going to make your trip substantially better. But, if you’re trying to decide if an upgrade from Moderate to Deluxe is worth it for your family, here are some of the ways that Deluxe resorts stand out.

Which Resorts are Deluxe?

Deluxe Resort accommodations include the following:

One Deluxe Resort is not listed above because it is considered a “Disney Deluxe Villa Resort” — Disney’s Riviera Resort.
This Resort is comprised entirely of Deluxe Villas, making it a Disney Vacation Club (DVC) property. Many of the Deluxe resorts listed above also feature Deluxe Villas in addition to their cash rooms. This is a room type that is part of Disney Vacation Club, and it is rented with points owned by Disney Vacation Club members.

Riviera Resort
Disney’s Riviera Resort

If you’re interested in checking one out, you can rent DVC points and stay in one yourself! This is especially useful if you’re looking to “try on” a Disney Vacation Club membership and want to experience the Disney Deluxe Villa before you buy in. Disney Fanatic recommends David’s Vacation Club Rentals if you’re interested in looking into renting points.

What are the Advantages of Staying Deluxe?

Proximity & Transportation

All of the Resorts on Walt Disney World property provide Guests with complimentary transportation to the parks.  The buses aren’t as bad as the horror stories you may hear (like waiting over an hour for a bus- it’s an exception, not the rule). Although nothing on-property is too far from anything else, it could still take 30-45 minutes (or more!) on a bus to get from one point to another, especially when stops at multiple resorts are taken into account.  Deluxe resorts help ease this pain a bit, as they offer better proximity and alternate transportation to one or more parks.

Disney buses are super convenient and we’re glad to have them, but having other forms of transportation to choose from is undeniably valuable. With the exception of Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, Saratoga Springs, and Old Key West, all of the Deluxe resorts offer some other form of transportation to one or more theme Park. And, to be fair, both Saratoga Springs and Old Key West offer a bonus form of transportation to Disney Springs in their convenient boats. This is a great bonus if you’re a fan of the dining and nightlife at Disney Springs.

Credit: Disney

Magic Kingdom Resorts

If proximity to the Magic Kingdom or Animal Kingdom is your priority, think about where you’ll likely spend most of your time. Families with young children are grateful for the monorail loop resorts, which allow them to roll sleeping children right onto transportation “home”. The monorail Resorts surrounding the Magic Kingdom include Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort, Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa , and Disney’s Contemporary Resort and Bay Lake Tower at Disney’s Contemporary Resort.

The monorail is a fairly quick and convenient way to access all of the aforementioned Resorts, and you can even walk to Bay Lake Tower/Disney’s Contemporary Resort and to the Grand Floridian Resort & Spas. Disney’s Wilderness Lodge does not have monorail access, but it has a lovely boat option that’s both scenic and convenient. If travel by waterway is more your style than the highway in the sky, you can use boat transportation to the monorail resorts as well.

Contemporary Monorail

EPCOT Area Resorts

Other groups may prioritize proximity to another theme Park- EPCOT, perhaps, or Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
In that case, the Resorts around Disney’s Boardwalk are your best bet. These Deluxe Resorts include Disney’s Yacht Club Resort, Disney’s Beach Club Resort, and Disney’s BoardWalk Inn. Their convenient transportation by boat or Disney Skyliner to the two Parks is a big draw. In fact, you can even walk to both Parks from the aforementioned Resorts.

The newest Resort on Disney property, Disney’s Riviera Resort, is also just a Skyliner ride away from both EPCOT and Hollywood Studios. The Resort is super convenient and people love the Skyliner, since it’s almost an attraction in itself.

If you’re really digging the Disney waterways, you can enjoy Friendship Boats in the EPCOT Resort area as well. They’ll make a loop and stop at Disney’s Boardwalk Inn, the Yacht & Beach Clubs, the non-Disney-owned Swan and Dolphin, and to EPCOT’s International Gateway entrance and Hollywood Studios.  

Beach Club

A Word About Walking

I know everyone does loads of walking when they visit Walt Disney World, but I still really value the option to just walk “home” at the end of the day. It’s especially enticing in the morning, when you’re hustling to get to a Park before opening. Being able to control your own departure and arrival from the parks is a bit freeing. You can walk from all of the EPCOT area Deluxe resorts to EPCOT’s International Gateway entrance (in the World Showcase).  You can even walk along a canal to Hollywood Studios, although this walk is considerably longer. 

If you’re at the Magic Kingdom, you’ll be able to walk to Disney’s Contemporary and Bay Lake Tower. And, thanks to a newly completed walking path, you can even walk to the Grand Floridian. If you’re up for a long walk, you can even walk through the Grand Floridian Grounds to the Polynesian, and through the Polynesian to the Ticket and Transportation Center.

If you’re a lover of Disney Springs, you’ll be happy to know that the beautiful and sprawling Saratoga Springs Resort and Spa has a walking path there.

Related: Walt Disney World Transportation 101 – 10 Things You Need To Know

Delicious Dining

Deluxe Resorts offer both quick-service and table service dining options. If you plan to stay Deluxe, try to enjoy the food at your Resort and spend less time traveling elsewhere to eat. You might even want to consider character meals when you book your trip, since they’re such a hit with children and anything that increases convenience when traveling with kiddos is almost always worthwhile. (Note: Character dining is currently modified.) The Deluxe Resorts are home to several Resort-based character meals, including 1900 Park Fare (currently closed), Cape May Cafe, Trattoria al Forno, Topolino’s Terrace, Chef Mickey’s, and Ohana.

Topolino's Terrace

Upgraded Pool Areas

Deluxe Resorts offer something that Values and Moderates don’t: The ever-coveted splash pad. If you have a pool-loving kiddo who would love to play on a splash pad, you may want to look into a Deluxe Resort!

Disney’s Grand Floridian Splash Pad Credit: Meredith Smisek @ Disney Fanatic

If your family likes to spend at least a full day at the pool, definitely consider the Yacht and Beach Club. There, you’ll find Stormalong Bay, Walt Disney World’s most elaborate pool complex. Stay here and you won’t care about making a trip to a Disney Water Park!

Related: Planning a Resort Day at Disney’s Yacht Club Resort
Planning a Resort Day at Disney’s Beach Club Resort During Phased Reopening

Stormalong Bay

Better Shopping

The shops at Deluxe Resorts are a bit less generic and tend to have specifically themed merchandise. BouTiki at Disney’s Polynesian Resort is one such example; I love their selection of island clothing and decor. Zawadi Marketplace at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge is another favorite of mine for its distinctly African-inspired merchandise. You’ll find similarly unique shops at many of the other Deluxe Resorts. The Grand Floridian has a few shops, and even has its own Basin White location. It’s a real treat if you’re looking for a nice bath/spa-style gift for someone at home.

Room Sizes & Types

A major advantage of a Disney World Deluxe Resort over a Moderate Resort is the availability of different room sizes and configurations. You’ll find that Deluxe resorts have multiple configurations to suit your family, ranging from standard hotel rooms and studios to 1, 2, and even 3-bedroom grand villas and suites.

Disney Vacation Club
Disney’s Grand Floridian Photo Credit Disney

More Resort Activities

Deluxe Resorts offer a bit more in terms of activities to enjoy on a non-park day or an evening back at the Resort. Movies Under the Stars are a great way to unwind at the end of the day. The Resorts also offer lots of pool games, crafts, and activities. While it’s not quite the same as a babysitting service, it’s still nice for the kids to be occupied while you supervise from a nearby lounge chair.

If you do stay Deluxe, you’ll want to plan somR resort-specific time to actually take advantage of all that’s available. If you don’t plan to spend much time at the Resort, the determination of whether it’s worth spending the money is a harder one to make.

Looking for a few sportier reasons to splurge for Deluxe? Athletic-minded Guests will love the on-site gym and health clubs at Deluxe Resorts. Some of the Deluxe Resorts even have full-service spas. Interested in a boating excursion? You’ll find boat rentals available at some of the Deluxe resorts, too!


Credit: Society of Explorers and Adventurers Fandom

The Disney Deluxe resorts are simply a step above in terms of combining luxury with thematic elements. Sure, Pop Century has gigantic bowling pins, but Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort feels like the islands of the South Pacific, and the Wilderness Lodge has its very own geyser! Animal Kingdom Lodge has actual giraffes (among about a million other living creatures and super authentic African touches). You are simply not going to experience anything like these resorts elsewhere.

View out the window from Animal Kingdom Lodge
View out the window from Animal Kingdom Lodge

A Gateway to DVC Ownership

I must caution you, dear reader, about one dangerous side effect of staying at a Disney Deluxe Resort: you will probably never want to stay anything but Deluxe again.

If your budget is robust, maybe this isn’t a problem. But, if you start crunching the numbers, you may become enamored with the idea of purchasing Disney Vacation Club points. You can stay on property at Disney for less money than a DVC contract and dues will run you, but not if you decide to stay Deluxe time and time again. In that case, Disney Vacation Club membership is a more cost-effective idea. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

If you’re already toying with the idea of purchasing a DVC contract, then staying at a Deluxe Resort (and specifically, in a Deluxe villa) is a smart idea. Before you make a big financial commitment, it makes quite a bit of sense to try before you buy.

Related: Dreaming of DVC: A Comparison of Disney Vacation Club Properties

Can’t Decide? Choose a “Split Stay”

If you’re not sure you want to overspend on Deluxe accommodations, consider doing a “split-stay” trip. This allows you to spend part of your trip in one Resort, perhaps one that’s more affordable, and then switch to another Resort for the remainder of your trip. Spending half or more of your nights at a Value or Moderate Resort and splurging on one or two nights at a Deluxe Resort is a good way to get your feet wet without spending too much if you’re not sure that you’ll take full advantage of what you’re paying for!

What say you, Disney Fanatics? Have you dipped your toe into Disney’s Deluxe resorts? If so, do you find them to be worth your hard-earned dollar?

About Meredith Smisek

Meredith Smisek is a kid at heart who works as an elementary school counselor. She lives in New Jersey with her husband, son, and corgi. Meredith is a DVC member who loves music, podcasts, crafting, and "talking Disney" with anyone and everyone.

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