Walt Disney World DVC Resorts: A Ranking

Ranking the Walt Disney World DVC Resorts


A completely subjective ranking of the Disney Vacation Club resorts at Walt Disney World

Whether you are interested in a Disney Deluxe Villa for purchase or you are considering staying in a villa instead of a typical Disney Resort hotel room, the Deluxe Villas at Walt Disney World have much to offer (particularly for guest who want kitchen facilities or for larger families who want extra rooms).

As a Walt Disney World regular since the early 1970s, I have visited Walt Disney World for two to three weeks each year for as long as there has been a “Vacation Kingdom.” As a member of Disney Vacation Club (DVC) in more recent years, I now tend to stay in DVC villas for several weeks each year (at WDW and beyond).

We have stayed at all Walt Disney World DVC properties many times and I have developed my own completely subjective view of each property.

Your experiences, opinions, likes and dislikes may differ, but for the record here is my totally subjective ranking of the DVC villas at Walt Disney World Resort.

Ranking the 10 DVC Resorts at Walt Disney World

Sunrise over Seven Seas Lagoon, Walt Disney World

Water view rooms at the Villas of Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort offer some excellent views of the sunrise over Seven Seas Lagoon.

1. Villas at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa

Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort was my number choice of hotel at Walt Disney World before these villas ever existed. So when the Villas at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort opened their doors, this property jumped to number one on my list. Much of this ranking is based on the merits of the Grand Floridian property as a whole (DVC and non-DVC). However, the Grand Floridian villas stand out as some of the finest of all DVC accommodations, as one would expect. To make the most of these villas, a lagoon view room on an upper floor is highly recommended. You may even get a balcony with a partial Magic Kingdom view (although there is no official theme park view category here). The view of the sunrise over Seven Seas Lagoon from the lagoon-view villas is a pretty spectacular way to start your Disney day.

Pros:
– Very Upscale Property, this is the Grand Floridian after all
– Top Notch Cast Members in the Villas
– Well-appointed rooms
– Monorail station in the main resort

Cons:
– Minimal room choices with water views
– No dedicated private pool area

Bay Lake Tower, Disney Vacation Club, Walt Disney World

Bay Lake Tower as seen from Disney’s Contemporary Resort.

2. Bay Lake Tower at Disney’s Contemporary Resort

Disney’s Contemporary Resort was never one of my top choices before DVC came into existence, but over the years, Bay Lake Tower has really grown on me. As an original Disney traveller, the Magic Kingdom resort area and the monorail hotels hold a sense of nostalgia and for me as the optimal Walt Disney World experience. Bay Lake Tower is the closest Disney Resort to the Magic Kingdom gates — you can walk there in 15 minutes. Location is the number one reason for Bay Lake Tower ranking so high on my list. However, while the rooms themselves are rather small, the view options are very good and the resort has its own pool area separate from the main hotel.

Pros:
– Location – walking distance to the Magic Kingdom
– Private pool area separate from the main hotel
– Quiet rooms (the quietest of any DVC resort)
– Top of The World lounge and rooftop patio for DVC members
– Monorail station in the main resort

Cons:
– Small rooms compared to other DVC resorts
– Rooms and resort lack personality

Disney Polynesian DVC Bungalows

The DVC bungalows at Disney’s Polynesian Resort are nice and spacious, but they don’t come without a steep price.

3. Disney’s Polynesian Villas & Bungalows

As one of the original three Walt Disney World resort properties (along with Disney’s Contemporary Resort and Fort Wilderness Campground), Disney’s Polynesian Villas & Bungalows earn a spot in the top three for DVC villas properties. Studio room sizes here are fairly large compared to other DVC rooms and there is good boat access and monorail access no matter where you want to go. While the Studio rooms are a bit far from the Great Ceremonial House (main lobby), the DVC bungalows on the waterfront of Seven Seas Lagoon offer a truly unique experience. These are truly awesome accommodations…if you can afford them. They do not come cheaply. At approximately 1,650 square feet, the Bora Bora Bungalows at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort are truly amazing. Read my full review on the Bora Bora Bungalows.

Pros:
– Great theming at the resort
– Good transportation access to all points (the best of any DVC resort)
– Good-sized rooms compared to other DVC resorts
– Monorail station in the main lobby

Cons:
– DVC rooms do not have the greatest locations in the resort (other than the bungalows)
– Bungalows are priced out of reach for most

Pool at Disney's Beach Club Villas

Disney’s Beach Club Villas offer many private areas away from the more hectic pace of the area around Stormalong Bay.

4. Disney’s Beach Club Villas

If I am not staying in the Magic Kingdom resort area, then Disney’s Beach Club Villas are my next best choice among DVC resorts. The villas here are quite nice and the location and proximity to Epcot, the Boardwalk area and Disney’s Hollywood Studios make these villas a prime spot. Within the overall Beach Club property, the location of the villas themselves is not the greatest. They feel like an after thought and some villas have parking lot views or views of mechanical areas (very un-Disney). That said, however, there are private dedicated pool areas here and of course you have access to Stormalong Bay and all of the amenities of the main resort area.

Pros:
– Good theming
– Premium access to two parks and the Boardwalk area
– Dedicated pool areas
– Nice rooms

Cons:
– DVC rooms are not in the greatest location at the resort
– Some villas are a long walk from main resort area

Disney's Boardwalk Villas, Walt Disney World DVC

Disney’s Boardwalk Villas at Walt Disney World have their pros and cons and may be worth considering if the Beach Club Villas are not available.

5. Disney’s Boardwalk Villas

Disney’s Boardwalk Villas are a good choice if you want to stay in the Boardwalk area and you cannot get a room at the Beach Club Villas. For me, there’s really no reason to stay here over the Beach Club Villas. The Boardwalk Villas have some of the most questionable room views of all DVC properties and while the property and rooms are okay, it’s hard to justify staying here when you can have access to Stormalong Bay across the lake at the Beach Club. If you do stay here, a view of Crescent Lake is the only way to go.

Pros:
– Good theming
– Premium access to two parks and the Boardwalk area
– Nice rooms

Cons:
– There are not a lot of rooms with great views

Disney's Saratoga Springs Resort, DVC

The sun sets over Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort, as seen from Disney Springs.

6. Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa

Here is where my ranking gets a little challenging. Saratoga Springs is actually a very nice resort. Staying here feels like having a home in a little subdivision or planned community all your own. For some, however, it could feel a little isolated and far from any activity — except for Disney Springs. But then again, that is part of its charm and one of the reasons you might stay here. In fact, I even created a fun family challenge specifically for this resort (The Great Saratoga Springs Pool Hop Challenge). Rooms here are good sizes and there is a lot of choice. Since it is so big, you really benefit from having a car when you stay here. So if you don’t care about proximity to parks and/or you don’t mind Disney buses as your primary transportation, then Saratoga Springs can be an excellent choice. It really has a lot going for it.

Pros:
– Community feel and layout
– Across the water from Disney Springs
– Generous room sizes
– Lots of great activities for the whole family
-Close to golf if you are a golfer
– Five pools

Cons:
– Farther from most parks and activities
– A car is a must-have if you are staying here (otherwise you will need a high tolerance for Disney buses)

Disney's Old Key West Resort Signpost

Disney’s Old Key West Resort is the original Disney Vacation Club property.

7. Disney’s Old Key West Resort

My comments for Old Key West are very similar to those for Saratoga Springs. I have no issues with this resort and it has some positive attributes, it’s just that for me it is too far from all of the things that I love about Walt Disney World. You cannot walk to Disney Springs very easily from Old Key West, however, so I would rarely choose to stay here over Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort.

Pros:
– Community feel and layout
– Access to Disney Springs
– Generous room sizes
– Close to golf if you are a golfer

Cons:
– Farther from most parks and activities
– A car is a must-have if you are staying here (otherwise you will need a high tolerance for Disney buses)

Villas at Disney's Wilderness Lodge, Walt Disney World

The lobby of the Villas at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge reflects the theming of the main building. However, there is no check-in located in the villas area.

8. Villas at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge

While I like Wilderness Lodge as a resort hotel, I have not been a big fan of the Villas area of the resort. However, the DVC portion of Wilderness Lodge has recently undergone quite an upgrade, which included the addition of the new Copper Creek Villas & Cabins area (along with the original Boulder Ridge Villas area). The Boulder Ridge villas can be quite a distance from the main area and the views are virtually non-existent. However, the newer section promises to give Wilderness Lodge a much needed bump where DVC accommodations are concerned. Regardless of all this, however, transportation from Wilderness Lodge is reliant on bus and boat (or car). For me, if I am staying in the Magic Kingdom area I want to be on the monorail line, which is much more convenient.

Pros:
– Hotel theming is quite nice
– Copper Creek Bungalows are premium accommodations

Cons:
– Boulder Ridge Villas are a bit isolated
– Room quality in the Boulder Ridge DVC villas has been closer to a Moderate resort than a deluxe resort.
– Transportation is lacking compared to other DVC resorts in this area

Jambo House, Animal Kingdom Resort, Walt Disney World

The DVC villas at Jambo House offer the option of Disney Concierge Level Service…if you can get it.

9. Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas – Jambo House

At the bottom of my personal ranking are the two DVC options at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Resort. I know a lot of people love this resort, but I am not one of them. Jambo House is located in the main hotel area and it is okay if you can get one of the concierge rooms with a Savannah view. The issue here is that this resort is so isolated from everything that staying here becomes a major pain in terms of transportation. I would never consider staying here without a car. The pool areas are very crowded and not large enough for the resort capacity. The savannah views of the animals are nice, but they get stale pretty fast for me and I would much prefer to be in any other DVC resort.

Pros:
– Savannah views are nice
– The only DVC resort with concierge option
– Room decor and layouts are nice and well themed

Cons:
– Far from just about everything
– A car is a must-have if you are staying here

Disney's Animal Kingdom, Kidani Village

The Savannah view at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Kidani Village.

10. Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas – Kidani Village

The DVC Villas at Kidani Village easily my least favorite choice of all DVC options at Walt Disney World. In over 40 years and nearly 100 weeks spent at Walt Disney World Resorts, the DVC rooms at Kidani Village are the only place where we have ever had cockroaches scurrying around our room. The Cast Members at the front desk had poor attitudes and it was not until we got to the hotel manager that we found the type of Disney guest service that one usually gets (and expects) from all Disney cast members. Aside from the issue with cockroaches in our room, the layout of Kidani Village is such that if you get a room near the end of a wing, it is a ridiculously long walk to the lobby. Even though we knew this in advance and made a request to avoid this, requests are not guaranteed and we were stuck with the farthest room one can get (the Front Desk told us the cash paying guests get room preference over DVC members, if you can believe that). Be forewarned, that this is a very long walk. Parking is equally inconvenient and the pool area is too small for the volume of guests and way overcrowded. Other than the decor, there is no other redeeming quality to Kidani Village in my opinion. If I had to stay at Animal Kingdom for some reason, I would try for a concierge room at Jambo House over anything at Kidani Village.

Pros:
– Savannah views are interesting for awhile
– Room decor and layouts are nice and well themed

Cons:
– Resort is far from just about everything
– Some rooms have a prohibitive walk to the lobby
– A car is a must-have if you are staying here
– The only Disney resort where we had cockroaches in our room
– Cast Members here were not up to typical Disney standards

Mickey Mouse Topiary DVC, Beach Club

Topiary DVC Mickey Mouse at Disney’s Beach Club Villas.

Are You Considering a Walt Disney World Deluxe Villa for Your Next Disney Vacation?

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Mike Belobradic: The Finer Side of Disney Travel
Luxury Travel Advisor – Luxury Disney Travel Specialist