WDW Resort Categories

The Walt Disney World resort features over 25 hotel options to choose from. This can make booking your next vacation a bit complicated. What’s the difference between the resort categories? Which one should I book for my family? We are going to dig a little deeper into the 4 different types of resort categories on property.

Value Resorts:

Let’s start with the least expensive and most themed resorts on Disney property, the Value Resorts. There are 5 resorts in this category: Disney’s All-Star Movies Resort, Disney’s All-Star Music Resort, Disney’s All-Star Sports Resort, Disney’s Pop Century Resort and Disney’s Art of Animation Resort. From personal experience, these resorts tend to be more spread out distance wise then some of the moderate and deluxe resorts. The main buildings at these resorts only house restaurant locations, stores and the check-in desks; there are no rooms in the main building. The rooms are also quite smaller than those other categories as well. They are very themed and follow that theme through all aspects of the resort. For example, Disney’s All Star-Music Resort has buildings named for different types of music and features giant statues of music notes and jukeboxes that line the entryways to the buildings. These resorts also have huge pool areas for the kids to enjoy. Although there will be adults that stay here as well, these resorts are usually the best for families. The newest addition to this category is Disney’s Art of Animation Resort, which puts you in the middle of your favorite animated movies like the Little Mermaid, Finding Nemo and Cars. Depending on the time of year and amount of people staying, a stay at one of these resorts can run anywhere from $97 to $205. These resorts  tend to be located further away from parks or popular locations. The only type of transportation available to and from this resort/parks is the Walt Disney World Bus System. 

Moderate Resorts:

Moderate Resorts are exactly how they sound, moderately priced and not as themed as the value but definitely follow the resorts theme. There are 5 moderate resorts on Disney property: Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside, Disney’s Port Orleans French Quarter, Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort, Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort and the Fort Wilderness Cabins.

Once again, these resorts are also spread out like the value resorts and do not feature  guest rooms in the main building. These resorts are a great alternative to the value resorts as they are a bit quieter and a great alternative to the deluxe resorts since the price per night is lower. Rooms at these resorts range from $170 to $325 per night depending on time of year and guests. Like the Value Resorts, there is Walt Disney World Bus Service but some resorts also have ferry service to Disney Springs, which is a great alternative to waiting for the bus. These resorts are closer to the parks than the value resorts but are still not walking distance. 

Deluxe Resorts:

Now we are getting to the creme de la creme of resorts at the Walt Disney World Resort, the Deluxe category. There are 8 resorts in this  category: Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa, Disney’s Contemporary Resort, Disney’s Polynesian Resort, Disney’s Beach Club Resort, Disney’s Yacht Club Resort, Disney’s Boardwalk, Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge Jambo House and Disney’s Wilderness Lodge. These resorts have rooms in the main building and also have outer buildings. While these are themed, they are not heavily Disney themed, but themed to suit the resort.

Disney’s Polynesian Resort Lobby

For example, the Polynesian Resort has a Hawaiian Island theme, while the Contemporary Resort has a modern theme. While the price per night and timing causes a price variation, a stay at one of these resorts can run you between $350-$850 a night. The Deluxe Resorts are very close to the parks. You can see some parks from certain hotels and even walk to the parks. These resorts have additional transportation means than the other categories. At the Monorail Loop Hotels (the Grand Floridian, the Polynesian and the Contemporary), you can take the monorail or a boat to the Magic Kingdom and you can walk there from the Contemporary. Besides bus service, there is a boat that you can take to MK from the Wilderness Lodge. The monorail loop hotels can also take the monorail to the Magic Kingdom and have bus service to the other parks.

The same applies for the Epcot area resort hotels (the Beach and Yacht Club and the Boardwalk). Here you can take a boat to Epcot or Hollywood Studios or walk there. As you can imagine, these typically run slightly higher in price due to that convenience factor.

Villa Resorts:

While not completely their own category, the Villas are typically attached to the Deluxe Resort hotels on property and are part of the Disney Vacation Club. You don’t need to be a Vacation Club member to utilize these types of rooms. You can utilize all of the amenities of the deluxe resort but you also have access to your own kitchen or kitchenette, etc. Room types include Deluxe Studios, One Bedroom Villas and Two Bedroom Villas.

Other resorts to note:

The Swan and Dolphin Resorts

There are some resorts that are Disney property but don’t offer the same benefits as staying at an official Walt Disney World resort. For example, Disney’s Swan and Dolphin Resorts are right in the magic and considered “deluxe resorts”, located next to the Boardwalk and the Beach and Yacht Club. But, guests cannot purchase a dining plan if you choose to stay here. Also, if you are visiting the resort and you do have a dining plan, you cannot use it at any of the restaurants located here. 

Notes about all Disney Resorts:

There are certain perks that everyone staying at a Disney Resort hotel receives, whatever the category. Resort guests get early access to FastPass+ Planning, Extra Magic Hours, Magic Bands, Complimentary Transportation to and from Orlando International Airport (Disney’s Magical Express) and early access to Dining reservations. Disney guests staying at all resorts also receive complimentary transportation to all of the parks, including Typhoon Lagoon, Blizzard Beach and Disney Springs. Whatever your budget or needs are, Disney has a resort for you with all of the benefits!

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