Photo: Gwen Kleist via

When you stay at one of the Disney World Resorts at Walt Disney World in Orlando, you’re always in the middle of the magic! Disney resorts offer amenities, theming and conveniences you just can’t find at other hotels off-property. But how do you know which one is right for your family? Here’s a handy guide to help you decide. 

Perks You’ll Get No Matter Where You Stay

It’s a common question for guests planning a trip to Walt Disney World—where should we stay? And if we stay on-property, do we choose value, moderate or deluxe accommodations?

A value resort will save you money, but a deluxe resort delivers fantastic theming, higher-end dining choices and once-in-a-lifetime experiences. And the moderates…they meet somewhere in the middle. So the key is to decide what is most important to you (and your budget).

Some things come standard at all Disney Resort hotels, so rest easy. You’ll enjoy these perks no matter where you stay:

  • A pool
  • A retail shop and food court on site
  • Ability to make dining and FastPass reservations in advance
  • A mini-fridge in your room
  • Free baggage transfer between Disney Resort hotels
  • Extra Magic Hours
  • Complimentary wi-fi
  • Laundry facilities
  • In-room refrigerators
  • Complimentary transportation to the parks and Disney Springs
  • Magical Express airport transportation

Value Resorts at Walt Disney World

If all you’re looking for is a bed to sleep in and a shower to bathe in, a Value resort may be for you! Value Resorts have smaller rooms and oversized, somewhat garish decor. But they are clean and convenient and cover all the basics a family needs on vacation.

What you’ll find at Value Resorts:

  • Fun, bright, kid-friendly theming
  • Food courts and pizza delivery available, but no Table Service restaurants
  • Themed pools but no water slides
  • Rooms open to outside corridors
  • Large, spread out layout making for long walks to the bus stop
  • No doors separating the sink area from the bedroom (there is a curtain)
  • Bus transportation to all parks and Downtown Disney (and only 1 internal bus stop)
  • Inexpensive room rates

Disney’s Art of Animation Resort is a slight exception. It is the newest and has mostly suites, a bigger food court and common areas and therefore has a higher rate.

If we had to pick one Value Resort, it would be All Star Movies. The building exteriors showcase some of our favorite Disney Movies (101 Dalmatians, Love Bug, Toy Story), making this a fun but not overly-cheesy resort.

Moderate Resorts at Walt Disney World

Like with most things at Walt Disney World Resort hotels, the more you pay, the more you get.

Disney Moderate Resorts are a huge step up from Value, but of course not quite as high-end as what you’ll find at a Deluxe property. Moderate hotels tend to have a more subdued atmosphere. The rooms are lovely, the grounds beautifully landscaped and the hotel’s lobby and common areas all add to the feel.

What you’ll find at Moderate Resorts:

  • Beautiful theming with a grownup feel
  • Lush landscaping
  • Rooms that open to outside corridors
  • Table Service restaurant (except at French Quarter), food courts and pizza delivery available
  • Multiple pools—a main themed pool with a water slide and other quiet pools throughout the property

In the Moderate category, my favorite is the Port Orleans French Quarter. It is one of the smallest, which makes it easy to navigate. It features a lovely New Orleans st‌yle architecture and is quite charming.

Deluxe Resorts at Walt Disney World

Disney Deluxe Resorts are detailed in their st‌yle and architecture—from elegant Grand Floridian to the modern Contemporary to the African vibe of Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge.

Deluxe resorts will give you the largest rooms, the fanciest bath products and many include balconies or patios. And, Deluxe resorts have the best pools with the biggest water slides. Guests staying at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge can even boast views of wildlife grazing out their windows!

What you’ll find at Deluxe Resorts:

  • Lavish theming with fantastic lobbies and gift shops
  • Rooms that open to inside hallways
  • Rooms with private balconies
  • Table Service restaurants (including 1 upscale option) and Quick Service dining
  • A main feature pool with a water slide and other quiet pools
  • All the hotels along the monorail line are Deluxe
  • On-site gyms, spas and child care centers
  • Superb service
  • Valet parking

It is very hard to choose a favorite Deluxe Resort—they are all amazing! But if I had to pick it would be a tie between Disney’s Polynesian Village and Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge. We absolutely loved the vibe at Animal Kingdom Lodge. Although our room’s balcony overlooked the pool and not the African Savannah (a huge cost savings, by the way!), we still got to enjoy the animals from numerous vantage points around the hotel. 

We loved the Polynesian mostly for the pool area and because you could watch both the fireworks and Electrical Boat Parade from the shore. The newly renovated Volcano Pool has a zero entry area by the beach and giant water slide that twists through the volcano. The Pineapple Lanai is adjacent to the pool area and it is always a bonus to have a Dole whip within easy reach when you’re at Disney World.

Other amenities you’ll find only at Deluxe Resorts include spas at the main pool, concierge service and lobby entertainment. In addition, Deluxe Resorts feature signature restaurants and experiences (like the Spirit of Aloha Luau at the Polynesian or Mickey’s Backyard BBQ at Wilderness Lodge).

Disney Deluxe Villa Resorts

Disney Deluxe Villa Resorts include Saratoga Springs, Old Key West and villa sections within many of the Deluxe resorts. The Villa resorts include all of the services and perks you get with a Deluxe resort, but also feature units of many sizes up to two bedrooms.

Explore resorts, find deals and compare all of the hotels at Walt Disney World by visiting


This post originally appeared on Healthy Travel Mom.
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