There are over two dozen Disney resorts which can be quite overwhelming for most tourists. There is where a travel agent (such as myself) can come in handy. Disney divides the nearly thirty resorts into four categories: value, moderate, deluxe, and deluxe villas. I have stayed in each category (and almost all resorts) and these are my real opinions of the categories.
Value resorts include Art of Animation, Pop Century, All Star Movies, All Star Music and All Star Sports. The campsites at Fort Wilderness can also be considered “value” because of their price point, but their on site recreation and close proximity to the Magic Kingdom make it more than value. Value resorts give you all of the benefits of staying at a Disney resort, while spending the lowest amount possible. These resorts feature large, spread out layouts and exterior corridors. Each resort features a food court and bus transportation to all parks/Disney Springs. Onsite recreation includes themed pools, movies under the stars, and campfires.
Value resorts are best suited for families on a budget that want to stay at a Disney resort and for families that aren’t planning on spending a lot of time at their resort and don’t need a lot of onsite amenities.
Moderate resorts include Caribbean Beach, Coronado Springs, Port Orleans French Quarter, and Port Orleans Riverside. The Cabins at Fort Wilderness are also considered ‘Moderate’, but they are a very special accommodation that is different from the rest of the moderates. The moderate resorts combine elegant theming, on site recreation, and (you guessed it) moderate prices. They have exterior corridors, and most have large spread out layouts. These resorts each feature a food court and table service restaurant (Port Orleans shares) as well as a lounge. Transportation includes bus transport to the parks and Port Orleans offers boat service to Disney Springs. These resorts are a bit more centrally located compared to the Value resorts which not only means shorter commute times to the parks but sometimes you can see glimps of fireworks from the parks. The pools here always have a slide and some even have some pretty cool splash pads. Moderate resorts feature more options including movies under the stars, horse drawn carriages, and fishing. One down side that I do want to note is that Caribbean Beach and Port Orleans Riverside feature some buildings that do not have elevators. If you’re staying at these resorts and feel that a ground floor room is needed due to the possibility of there not being elevators, then let your travel agent know.
Moderate resorts are a great option for guests that are looking for a more relaxed (and quiet) resort experience. It’s also great for those who plan to spend a little more time at the resort and therefore want more onsite amenities.
Deluxe resorts include Animal Kingdom Lodge, Beach Club, Boardwalk, Contemporary, Grand Floridian, Polynesian, Wilderness, and Yacht Club. Deluxe resorts have luxurious theming applied to every last detail. They have interior corridors and generally are smaller (which comes in handy if it’s raining or extremely hot). There are numerous dining experiences at the Deluxe resorts including pool side, quick service, room service, table service, and an upscale dining location. Recreation includes several pools (well themed, slide, splash pad in most), Movies Under the Stars, jogging path, boat rentals, fitness centers, spas (some), and valet parking. Most deluxe resorts offer non-bus access to at least one park and many of the deluxe resorts can accommodate up to five guests.
Deluxe resorts are great for guests that want to be close to all the action, since most of them are adjacent to a theme park. They are also great for guests that want a little bit more from their resort, from dining to on site amenities.
Almost all of the deluxe resorts have adjacent deluxe villas sections. It varies by resort, but sometimes the deluxe villas are in the same building as the regular deluxe rooms and sometimes they are in a separate building(s) from the main deluxe resort. In addition, Old Key West and Saratoga Springs are completely deluxe villas resorts, meaning that all of the rooms at these two resorts are villas. Deluxe villas range from studios to up to three bedrooms. The resort itself is the same quality you’ll have at the deluxe resorts.
Deluxe villas are a great option for those wanting more space. Studio villas might be the same size as a traditional deluxe hotel room, but they will come with a small kitchenette and access to free laundry.