Disclosure :: This post is sponsored by Tara Jones, a family travel planner with Cupcake Castles Travel Co, who specializes in Disney vacations.
Choosing a Disney Resort :: Disney Resorts Decoded
You decide it’s time for a Disney vacation – easy enough! You click on their website to begin finding the perfect resort for your family. You enter your dates, and are suddenly overwhelmed with all the possible resort choices. 16 to be exact, not counting resort villas. How do you choose the right resort for your family? There are major differences across each resort category, and I am going to make sense of them in this article. So fasten your seatbelts, and take small children by the hand – it’s time for a wild ride on the Disney Resorts Decoder!
Disney divides their resorts into 3 categories: Value, Moderate, and Deluxe. Each category differs greatly from the others in terms of amenities, space, and convenience.
Disney’s value resorts are basically brightly painted motels, covered with lots of large themed decor that appeals to small children. These resorts have an occupancy capacity of 4 per room, so if you’re over that number, I recommend skipping this category all together. The rooms are the smallest on property, so space and storage is very limited as well. Each value resort offers a counter service food court and a themed pool but no waterslide or pool towel service (you must bring your room towels to the pools.) Rooms are equipped with economy-style double beds but no in-room coffee maker, and the doors open to an exterior corridor.
Value resorts are great for families on a tight budget that just need a place to lay their heads after a long day in the parks, but beware of the extra costs for the small things, such as preferred rooms (rooms closer to the main building), and inconveniences like no in-room coffee.
Other drawbacks, including long waits for the shared buses, no table service restaurants on site, and “meh”pools for older kids may be enough to push you into the next resort category, the Moderates.
The difference between Disney’s value and moderate resorts is a significant one. While the decor at the value resorts screams “You’re at Disney,” the moderate resort decor is a lot more tasteful and pleasant. Although these resorts have doors that open to exterior corridors as well, they are tastefully integrated into the architecture and landscaping so they don’t reflect a motel-like atmosphere. Each of these resorts surrounds a large lagoon, with sand beaches, bridges, and water activities available.
Each resort has its own bus to the parks,and since most of these are large resort properties, some have an internal bus to get you to the main building’s park bus stop. Keep this in mind, as travel time will be longer when you must wait on and transfer between 2 buses.
Unlike the value resorts, moderate resorts offer queen beds, in-room coffee makers, and a higher-priced option for a king bed. There is 1 on-site restaurant on each property, as well as a lounge. The pools are upgraded with a fun, themed water slide and pool towels are available.
While many of the inconveniences of the value resorts are resolved in the moderate category, you still may be left wanting a bit more. In that case, a deluxe resort or villa may be right for you.
Location, location, location. The deluxe resorts are all located close to a theme park and offer convenient transportation to them. The cream of the Disney crop, the deluxe resorts, are the most plentiful, beautiful, and comfortable. Premium mattresses adorn the queen or king beds, bathrooms are decorated with quality materials and fixtures, and balconies are virtually standard in each room. With 8 different resorts and 7 Vacation Club villas, there are plenty of options for Disney-goers who like a bit of luxury at their favorite theme park.
All deluxe resort pools have an awesome waterslide and lots of cast member-led poolside activities, as well as several on-site restaurants and convenient park transportation. Deluxe resorts offer a club-level option as well, complete with a dedicated concierge team to cater to your every whim. And talk about a room with a view! Like the Magic Kingdom fireworks? You can get a Theme Park view room at any of the Magic Kingdom deluxe resorts. Is wildlife more your thing? Imagine having your morning coffee on your balcony while watching the animals awaken at Animal Kingdom Lodge. Worth.Every.Penny.
Since the deluxe resorts are placed near the theme parks, most offer several transportation options. From walkways to monorails and boats, you are easily whisked to your desired destination with little to no wait.
All resort kids clubs are located at the Deluxe resorts, so although anyone can sign their kids up for them, they are far more convenient for those staying at that resort to use. If your budget affords it, a deluxe resort is definitely the way to go to make everyone in your family happy. The more subtle Disney theming appeals to the children, and the adult amenities, such as high-end restaurants and lounges, shops, golf courses, and spas, allow for grown-up fun.
Once you make the decision to go on a Disney vacation, the smartest move you can make is to contact me to help you plan each step, from decoding resorts to creating magic for each blissful Disney day!