Disney World Resorts Quick Guide

There are a LOT of options when it comes to choosing a resort at Disney World. Staying at the Disney World resorts immerses you in the magic while you are on your Disney vacation! Check out my quick guide to find out the differences between the Disney World resorts!

A Quick Guide to Walt Disney World Resorts

There are FOUR different types of Walt Disney World resorts.  The different categories of Disney world resorts are value, moderate, deluxe, and villas!  Have you ever wondered what’s the difference between them?  Most people really only care about the price when it comes to their vacation, but sometimes a little more money adds A LOT more value!  Find out what’s the difference between these Disney World resort levels.

Grand Floridian at sunrise
My dream resort is the Grand Floridian (a deluxe resort)!

Value Resorts

There are currently 5 Disney World value resorts:  Art of Animation, Pop Century, All-Star Movies, All-Star Music, and All-Star Sports. These resorts are typically 260 square feet in size and sleep 4 guests.  The value resorts have 2 double beds or 1 king sized bed.  The theme at the value resorts is usually very colorful and KID FRIENDLY.  There are lots of giant statues and cute photo opportunities!

Art of Animation & All-Star Music also have FAMILY SUITES which will sleep up to 6 guests and are typically 520 square feet in size!  The family suites have one closed off bedroom, 2 bathrooms, a kitchen area, and a “living room” area.  There is a queen size bed (in the closed off bedroom), a double sleeper sofa, a twin size sleeper chair, and a twin size sleeper ottoman.

Food Options at Value Resorts

Value resorts at Disney do not have as many dining options at the other resorts.  Basically you choose between the food court or pizza delivery!  The food court however is a great option if you are traveling with little ones.  You will almost always be able to find something for those picky eaters!  I have heard that the Art of Animation food courts is one of the best on all of Disney property!

Recreation & Pools at Value Resorts

Value resorts have the typical recreation offerings such as movies under the stars, poolside games, playground, and of course pools!  There are typically multiple pools at these resorts (the main themed pool and the “quiet” pools).  The main themed pool is where the music and fun games will be located, as well as a pool side place to grab food and drinks.  There are NO slides or whirlpools at the value resort pools.

Transportation to the Parks!

The only Disney transportation option at the value resorts is the Disney bus system.  Not that it’s a bad thing.  During busy times it can be a little stressful to wait for the bus (or packed in like sardines), but just allow yourself a little extra time!

Disney Moderate Resorts

Our choice at Lau Family Travels is the Disney moderate resorts.  This is only because we can’t quite afford the deluxe options yet, but the moderates offer SO MUCH more value in my opinion!

Currently there are 4 1/2 Disney moderate resorts.  I say 1/2 because the Fort Wilderness Cabins are considered a moderate resort – however they are VERY different compared to the others in this category.  The cabins are approximately 504 square feet and sleep up to 6 guests.  If you want more information about the Fort Wilderness Cabins check it out on their website!

The other 4 Disney moderate resorts are Port Orleans Riverside and Port Orleans French Quarter, Coronado Springs Resort, and Caribbean Beach Resort.  Typically these rooms are 314 square feet in size and sleep up to 4 guests.  What we love about these rooms is that they have 2 QUEEN sized beds or 1 king.  Port Orleans Riverside does offer some rooms that will accommodate 5 guests with a pull out trundle or Murphy bed, while Coronado Springs Resort offers some suites as well!

Food Options at Moderate Resorts

Each moderate resort has a food court, lounge, poolside bar, and table service restaurant, except Port Orleans French Quarter.  However, if you’d like to eat at a sit down restaurant it’s just a quick water taxi ride to Port Orleans Riverside!  I have never been SUPER impressed by the dining options at the moderate resorts.  This is probably the only downside in my mind to staying at the moderate level.  Unless I’m missing out on something…

Recreation & Pools at Moderate Resorts

The moderate resorts have all the same type of offerings as the value resorts, plus a little more.  Usually there is a campfire at night where they roast marshmallows before the movies under the stars.  Coronado Springs Resort also has a fitness center and SPA!  But the best part of staying at a moderate resort is the POOL!  The pools at the moderate resorts have AWESOME themes and SLIDES!  Not to mention they also have whirlpools which is my husbands favorite!

Coronado Springs Resort Feature Pool
The “Dig Site” at Coronado Springs Resort
Transportation to the Parks!

When you are staying at the Disney World resorts the last thing you want to think about is how to get to the parks.  The Disney moderate resorts offer transportation via the Disney bus system.  However, if you are staying at one of the Port Orleans resorts they ALSO offer a water taxi to Disney Springs!  This was one of my sons favorite memories at Disney World!

Water Taxi
Water Taxi

Disney Deluxe Resorts

When most people think of Disney World resorts they think of the deluxe resorts.  These are the ones you probably see the most in advertisements and it’s because this is where all the fun is at!  Someday I will stay at a deluxe resort (hopefully), but for now we just resort hop to them!

The deluxe resorts are the Grand Floridian, Polynesian, Contemporary, Beach Club, Yacht Club, BoardWalk, Animal Kingdom Lodge (Jambo House), and Wilderness Lodge.

Beach Club at sunset
Disney’s Beach Club Resort

The deluxe resorts have a wide variety of sizes and options.  The smallest size is 344 square feet in a Wilderness Lodge standard room to more than 1,000 square feet at some of the deluxe resort suites!  The Polynesian and the Grand Floridian sleep up to 5 guests with 415 – 440 square feet of space in a standard room.  In a standard room you will find either 2 queen sized beds or 1 king sized bed.  Some standard rooms will also have a twin day bed (making the room big enough to sleep 5 guests instead of 4).

Food Options at Deluxe Resorts

Now THIS is where the deluxe resorts win in my book.  The FOOD at the deluxe resorts is BY FAR more delicious.  Maybe it’s just in my head because it’s a “deluxe resort” but I swear even the quick service locations have better tasting food!

Deluxe resorts have all the typical dining options available like the value and moderate resorts do, but they also tend to have multiple table service meals and most of them have character dining meals available as well!  Some of our FAVORITE character dining meals are at the resorts.

Many of the most popular SIGNATURE DINING locations are at the Disney Deluxe Resorts.  These restaurants are supposed to be the MOST high quality in food and service…  so much so that they require 2 table service credits!  Sadly we have not experienced any signature dining locations yet, but I’d love to know what your favorite is!

Recreation & Pools at Deluxe Resorts

The deluxe resorts have all that the value and moderate resorts do as far as amenities, recreation, and pools – PLUS MORE!  Many of these resorts have water activities on Bay Lake, multiple pools with water features, sandy “beaches”, and lots of resort led activities.  The deluxe resorts are HUGE so you can always find something to explore or do other than going to the parks!  The pool areas also have slides and whirlpools!

Transportation to the Parks!

The best part of staying at a deluxe resort?  Easy access to the parks!  If you are staying at Grand Floridian, Polynesian, or Contemporary you can easily access the Disney monorail! At the Wilderness Lodge you can take a boat to the Magic Kingdom!  If you are staying the BoardWalk, Beach Club, or Yacht Club you can walk or take a boat to Hollywood Studios or EPCOT!  The only deluxe resort that does not offer special transportation (other than the Disney bus system) is Animal Kingdom.

Disney World Resorts monorail
Disney’s Monorail

Special Views

The deluxe Disney World resorts have access to special views of the parks and fireworks!  My dream is to stay at the Contemporary in a Magic Kingdom view room and watch the fireworks from my room!  However, you can also see fireworks from various parks without having to stay at one of the deluxe resorts!  Check out this guide to watching fireworks outside the parks!

Magic Kingdom Fireworks
Magic Kingdom Fireworks

Disney Villas at the Deluxe Resorts

The villas at Disney World resorts are a class all their own.  They are located in the deluxe resorts, but are more like an apartment than a hotel room!  The villas currently available are The Villas at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa, Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas – Kidani Village & Jambo House, Bay Lake Tower at Disney’s Contemporary Resort, Disney’s BoardWalk Villas, Disney’s Beach Club Villas, The Villas at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge, and the Disney Vacation Club resorts (DVC) Disney’s Saratoga Springs Villa Resort and Spa, & Disney’s Old Key West Villa Resort.

There are multiple options for villas:  studios, 1 bedroom, 2 bedroom, and 3 bedroom.  The smallest rooms are the studios at Animal Kingdom at 316 square feet and the largest is the 3 bedroom grand villa at the BoardWalk resort at 2,500 square feet!  Because of all the different options it’s hard to say exactly what each villa has to offer.  Check out the Walt Disney World website here for more information on the different villa options available!

Disney Villas Share Amenities with the Deluxe Resort

Basically the dining, recreation & pools, and transportation is the same for the villas and the deluxe resorts.  However, the villas do have kitchenettes (in the studios) or full kitchens (the 1-3 bedrooms) as well.  There is also an onsite mini “grocery store” so to speak where you can buy food items and such.  There are people who LOVE to cook when they are on vacation – so this type of option might be great for them!

And there you have it!

This concludes my Quick Guide to Walt Disney World Resorts!  I hope that the information helped to explain a bit about each category of resorts at Walt Disney World.  I’m not sure that MORE information ever helps with the decision-making process when it comes to which Disney World resort to stay at!

I’d LOVE to know where you usually stay when you visit Disney World.  Which resort is your DREAM resort?  Comment below!

Quick Guide to Walt Disney World Resorts

If you liked this quick guide, check out my quick guides to the parks!

This Post Has 13 Comments

  1. disneytriviablog

    What a great guide! And I agree that the food at the deluxe resorts really is quite deluxe!!

  2. My favorite resort is the Polynesian, but we’ve been making our way through the values. We’ve hit all the All-Stars and I’m really excited to try the renovated rooms at Pop Century this year.

  3. Stephanie

    Great display of Disney resort options. I’ve only stayed at the Contemporary Resort. We stayed there during Mickeys Halloween party and it was perfect to be able to walk our dresses up 3 yr old right over to Magic Kingdom without having to wait for a bus or other transportation. The Contemporary resort was clean, nice pool (although not the best Disney pool for sure) and proximity to the Magic Kingdom was amazing!

    1. Taryn

      I have to admit the Contemporary is on my list of “must stay at”! Thank you!

    1. Taryn

      Thank you! And yes… it’s always hard for me to decide myself!

  4. Sue

    What a practically perfect comprehensive guide!! Great job!

  5. Sarah

    This is an excellent quick guide to the different categories of resorts available at Walt Disney World and all they have to offer! We have stayed at each of the levels and so far my favorite has been the Wilderness Lodge- Copper Creek Villas & Cabins!

    1. Taryn

      I’ve seen pictures of them and they look stunning. That’s MY kind of “camping”! Lol!

  6. Nikida

    Great guide! Trying to understand the resorts at Disney can be confusing for first timers. Super helpful!

    1. Taryn

      I’m glad that you found it helpful!

  7. Gen

    This is super helpful for newcomers !

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