Step 2: Which Disney Resorts are Right for You

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Would you like to visit a Polynesian island? How about New Orleans, or an Aztec ruin? What if you could get a taste of all these places on one trip? At Disney World, you can! Disney resorts are so well themed that you feel like you are someplace else! With over 20 Disney resorts on their property not to mention the countless off-property hotels in the area, how will you decide which one is right for you?

Making the right decision comes down to a mixture of price, theming, and convenience. For most, the price is going to be the biggest factor we use to choose a Disney Resort. Many believe that staying at a Disney Resort automatically equals big bucks, but this isn’t true.  Disney Resorts can be broken down into 3 categories– value, moderate, and deluxe. Each one has a different price point as well as different amenities.

Benefits of Disney Resorts

But before we get to that, let’s talk about the benefits of staying at a Disney Resort. These benefits are the same whether you are staying in a Deluxe or a Value!

  1. Magical Express– Disney’s complimentary bus service that takes you from the airport to your Disney resort. They will even pick up your luggage and deliver it to your room for you! We’ll talk more about this in Step 7: Transportation.
  2. Extra Magic Hours–Some days the parks open early or stay open later for resort guests. Since only resort guests can get in at these times, the crowds are often smaller and the lines are shorter!
  3. Consistency–  When you stay at a Disney Resort, you are going to experience the same incredible level of service from the parks to the front desk!

Value Disney Resorts

If you choose to stay on property, you have three categories of resorts to choose from. The most budget-conscious is the value category. Disney Resorts of any category give you access to the Magical Express, the Disney Transportation System, and Extra Magic Hours. The difference in prices comes down to amenities. At a value, most of the beds are doubles, but they are upgrading to queens as they refurbish rooms. The pools are well themed but don’t have any slides or other water features. One thing I like better than the other categories is the presence of a food court. It gives you more food options in one place which is nice when traveling with more people. We stay at values the most often. They offer all the perks of being on-property, but I don’t feel like I’m paying for things I’m not using. We spend most of our time away from the resort so I’m mostly looking for some fun theming and a place to sleep. If you’re on a budget and don’t plan to spend much time at the resort, this may be the option for you.

Disney Resorts come in three categories: value resorts, moderate resorts, and deluxe resorts. Find out what you get with each as well as how much your Disney World hotel is going to cost!

Moderate Disney Resorts

Here is the middle ground of Disney resorts. You have more amenities without a hefty price tag. The rooms are a little larger with queen beds, and you will find water slides at the pools. Unlike the values, moderates have table-service (sit down) dining options. They are still themed but in less of “Mickey on everything” sort of way. They aim to transport you to another place. The Caribbean beach resort gives you the laid-back island vibe. While Port Orleans will put you in the mood for jazz and Cajun. Many consider this category the best of all worlds. It’s great if you plan to spend some time at the resort to enjoy the pools, need a more comfortable bed, and like to be able to get a good meal without hopping a bus. As our kids get older and like to do more than splash around in the pool, I think we will be staying more in this category.

Deluxe Disney Resorts

I have to admit we have always reserved this category for adult-only, weekend trips. Deluxe Disney Resorts are the most expensive on-property, but also have the most amenities to offer. Everything is a step up. The pools are heavily themed and boast slides and large splash structures for kids. The rooms are larger and the linens nicer. One of the greatest draws to the deluxe category is the proximity to a park. They are often within walking distance or a short boat or monorail ride away from at least one park. If you like to take a break in the middle of the day, this closeness is a huge time saver. Deluxe resorts are often home to character meals and signature dining experiences. If you are a foodie, you will be next door to some of the best food on the Disney property. I would say this category is the dream Disney resort experience advertised in the videos. If you are aiming for luxury and convenience and the price doesn’t scare you,  go for a deluxe Disney resort.

A Few Extras

A few things to keep in mind when choosing your resort- you can take advantage of dining options at any Disney resort, but pool hopping is not allowed. Ask yourself what you want this trip to be. An action-packed trip of morning-to-night park hopping? Maybe go value. Planning on spending most of your time next to a pool and trying some great food? Maybe deluxe is right for you. You think your dream vacation lands somewhere in the middle of those two? Then a moderate is probably a safe bet.

I’ve never been disappointed with any of the Disney Resorts, but the experience is different at each one. I find the All-Stars fun and a little campy, while the Polynesian immediately relaxed me. No matter which Disney resort you choose, you are in for a magical vacation.

On to Step 3: Where to Eat for some help choosing Disney Restaurants. Sign up for my emails to find out when and to get some fun Disney trip reports from other readers.


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