Deluxe Resorts vs Moderate Resorts at Walt Disney World

Disney Deluxe Resorts vs Disney Moderate Resorts

Why You Should Upscale Your Walt Disney World Vacation

Deluxe Resorts vs Moderate Resorts at Walt Disney World

When it comes to staying onsite at Walt Disney World (something that I highly recommend for many reasons), you have a choice of three levels of Disney hotel accommodations:

  • Value Resorts,
  • Moderate Resorts and
  • Deluxe Resorts.

My expertise is in the area of Disney Deluxe Resorts, so I am sometimes asked what is the difference between Disney Moderate Resorts and Disney Deluxe Resorts.

Why I Recommend that You Upscale to a Disney Deluxe Resort

Disney Moderate Resorts are closer in the spectrum to Disney Deluxe Resorts than they are to Disney Value Resorts. So that is why this question is often on the minds of first-time Disney travelers.

So what exactly is the difference between a Disney Moderate Resort and a Disney Deluxe Resort?

The difference is the difference between a good Disney vacation and a great Disney vacation. Here’s why…

Villas at Disney's Grand Floridian Resort, Chandelier

Inside the Deluxe Villas at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa.

Disney Moderate Resorts

First of all, let me state that Disney Moderate Resorts are very nice properties. There’s little debate there. Moderate Resorts are well themed, have some nice room options and will give you a good feeling of being on a Disney vacation. I find that Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – Riverside and Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – French Quarter tend to be the most popular among guests that I speak with who book Moderate properties.

Walt Disney World Moderate Resorts check most of the basic boxes that you’ll probably want in your hotel:

  • nice theming,
  • nice pools,
  • mid-tier dining options and
  • well appointed rooms.

However, there are two significant differences versus the Disney Deluxe Resorts:

  1. most rooms at Disney Moderate Resorts open to the outdoors (motel style) and
  2. Disney transportation from the Moderate Resorts is exclusively by bus (unless you have your own car, which is definitely an added benefit when staying at a Moderate Resort).

There are other differences as well, but these are two important points of consideration for many guests.

While Disney’s bus transportation is quite elaborate and it is free, it also tends to require a lot of time to get from point A to point B. So when you stay at a Moderate Resort you will need a high tolerance for waiting at bus stops as this is your only way to get around. The exceptions are of a couple of Moderate Resorts that have boat access to Disney Springs, or if you choose to take paid transportation (Disney’s Minnie Van service, Uber, Lyft, taxi etc.) or your own car or rental car.

The Stormalong Pool at Disney's Beach Club Resort.

The Stormalong Pool at Disney’s Beach Club Resort.

Disney Deluxe Resorts

Walt Disney World Deluxe Resorts represent the highest level of upscale Disney accommodations at Walt Disney World. If you are looking for a luxury Disney vacation, start your search with the Disney Deluxe hotels category.

The main differences between Deluxe Resorts and Moderate Resorts are significant. Wondering if the price difference is worth it? Here are the things to consider when you make your decision.

First of all, the grounds and theming at Disney Deluxe Resorts are clearly a step up. You get that true “resort” feeling when you stay at a Disney Deluxe property. There are more elaborate pools (and usually more than one pool), more shops (and higher-end shops) and definitely more options when it comes to onsite dining at the Resort hotel. There are also more hotel amenities and a variety of special experiences located right onsite (such as Character Dining right in your hotel).

Location is possibly the most important point that differentiates Disney Deluxe Resorts from Moderate and Value Resorts.

In almost all cases (with the sole exception of Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge), Disney Deluxe Resorts are located very close to a Walt Disney World theme park. In some cases, you will have two theme parks right on your doorstep.

Some Disney Deluxe Resorts offer the ability to walk to the gates of theme parks and almost all Disney Deluxe Resorts (again, with the sole exception of Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge) offer multiple modes of free transportation. This varies by property, but you will be able to take advantage of at least two of the following modes of free transportation when you stay at a Walt Disney World Deluxe Resort.

  • walking
  • boat
  • bus
  • monorail
Walt Disney World Monorail Gold

The Walt Disney World Monorail serves several Disney Deluxe Resorts.

Disney Deluxe Resorts are Highly Recommended for Families with Young Children

When you have a young child (especially on your very first Walt Disney World vacation), you’ll really appreciate the proximity of Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort, Disney’s Contemporary Resort or Disney’s Polynesian Resort to the Magic Kingdom Park. The proximity and convenience of these resorts to the most classic of all Disney Parks will have a significant positive impact on your overall stay.

Upscale Accommodations at Walt Disney World are Worth Considering

If Walt Disney World has an Achilles heel, it’s size. The sheer size of Walt Disney World Resort (43 square miles) is both its biggest asset and its biggest challenge.

First-time visitors to Walt Disney World are unaware of—or underestimate—the size of this magical vacation destination. Or more precisely, they underestimate the affect that this size will have on their vacation.

Even when taking Disney’s free bus service, it is not unheard of to require at least an hour to make your way from your onsite Disney resort to your onsite Disney destination. So when a Disney bus is your only available option for free transportation (at Disney Moderate Resorts and Value Resorts), it can become quite a drain on you and your family as you make your way through your stay.

If you hate waiting for buses, weigh this fact very carefully if you are thinking of booking a Disney Moderate Resort.

Disney's Polynesian Village Resort Sign and Tiki

Disney Deluxe Resorts provide that true “resort” feeling.

The Deluxe Disney Difference

To sum up, Disney Deluxe Resorts will provide you with:

  • a more immersive Disney travel experience,
  • upscale accommodations,
  • resort properties that are truly “resorts,”
  • enhanced dining options,
  • more onsite shopping options and
  • far more convenience when it comes to transportation around the property.

There are many other benefits as well, but it all boils down to the old adage: you get what you pay for.

Looking for Expert Advice Planning Your Walt Disney World Vacation?

As a Luxury Travel Blogger and author of The Very Best of Walt Disney World Resort, I blog regularly about Disney vacations of all shapes and sizes.

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