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Disney Deluxe vs. Moderate Resorts: What You Need to Know

Deciding where to stay at¬†Disney World¬†is a¬†big check list item to address when planning your trip. Will you stay on the¬†Disney Property¬†at a Disney Resort or off the¬†Disney Property¬†at a nearby hotel or rental? If you do choose to say at a¬†Disney¬†Resort¬†what is right for your family’s needs, preferences and budget? A¬†Disney Value Resort,¬†Disney Moderate Resort¬†or Disney Deluxe Resort¬†are all¬†resort¬†categories you need to understand before taking the plunge.

Wondering what the difference is between¬†a¬†deluxe¬†and a moderate¬†Disney¬†Resort? We got you, let’s talk about the differences between these¬†Disney¬†Resort¬†categories.

Table Service Dining Availability

Sign

Credit: mealtrip.com

Both moderate and deluxe resorts have table service dining on the property. Table service dining nearby could be a major convenience factor for families vacationing at the Walt Disney World Resort that are looking for an awesome meal without venturing out too far or without the need to buy a Park ticket.

Dining wise, the major differentiating factor between deluxe and moderate resorts are that deluxe resorts have at least one upscale dining option in the resort in addition to another table service restaurant and quick service dining option. Comparing two resorts of each category will help illustrate the differences.

Dining room at Citricos

Credit: Orlando Sentinel

At¬†Grand Floridian Resort 1900 Park Fare, Citricos, Victoria and Albert’s are all options for those looking for fine table service dining.¬†Grand Floridian¬†also offers less formal dining spots at Gasparilla Grill, and the Beaches Pool Bar & Grill. On the other hand,¬†moderate resort,¬†Port Orleans Riverside¬†offers only one table service dining spot, Boatwright’s Dining Hall. If you are looking for casual quick service dining at this¬†moderate¬†resort¬†Riverside Mill Food Court is the place to go.

Related:¬†Dining at¬†Disney’s¬†Port Orleans¬†Resort¬†– French Quarter

Extra Resort Activities

Moderate resorts offer fantastic activities for Guests that range from campfires (Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground) and carriage rides (Port Orleans Riverside) to poolside karaoke (Yacht Club) and dance contests (Polynesian Village Resort). Deluxe resorts offer a little extra magic in this area by having additional activities Guests can purchase to try new things.

Horsedrawn Carriage Rides signage, Port Orleans Riverside, Walt Disney World

Credit: Disney Dining

Guided fishing tours (Polynesian Village Resort), boat rentals, sunset firework boat rides (Beach Club) and childcare (Animal Kingdom Lodge) are a few amenities that are offered at some deluxe resorts.

Related: Plan a Toddler Friendly Trip to Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground

Theming

It is no surprise that a huge selling point of Walt Disney World Resort is the magical immersive Guest experience when staying on the property. Resort rooms, pools, dining and all-around resort theming are always on point with Disney.

Princess and pirate themed rooms are a huge hit with little visitors. Princess rooms can be reserved at Port Orleans Riverside. Little pirates can bunk in their own pirate ship at Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort to experience pirate themed rooms complete with ship shaped beds.

Pirate Room Caribbean Beach

Credit: easyWDW

Deluxe Resorts offer plush beautiful rooms with more sitting space and an overall more luxe experience for Guests. If you are weighing the options and want to see if the room cost is worth it for your family, take to YouTube to see Disney vlogs of resort rooms. You can virtually tour rooms at nearly all Disney Resorts.

@wdwprepschool

Pros and cons of Disney World moderate resorts (FYI Рthe 2 Port Orleans resorts aren’t currently available) #disneyworld

‚ô¨ original sound – WDW Prep ‚ÄĘ Disney Tips

Guest Accommodation

Treehouse-villas-at-Disneys-Saratoga-Springs-1

Credit: Inside the Magic

While Guest rooms vary in size at every Resort, there are lodging options available for larger parties to stay at deluxe resorts. In fact, the BoardWalk Inn, Disney’s Wilderness Lodge and Animal Kingdom Lodge are the only deluxe resorts that do not have the capacity to accommodate up to five guests in one room. For a deluxe villa option that sleeps up to 9 people, try the Tree House Villas at Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort.

Related:¬†Plan the PERFECT¬†Resort¬†Day at Disney’s Art of Animation

Elaborate Designs

Deluxe Resort properties tend to have that extra bit of glitz, glamour and drama that leave Guests with dropped jaws. Gorgeous chandeliers, plush resort rooms and sparkling pools are just a few of the wow-factors of deluxe resorts. Moderate resorts are also nicely themed and incredibly comfortable, but deluxe resorts just have that extra bit of magic.

Disney discounts

Credit: Celebration Press

Disney Deluxe Resorts tend to have additional quiet pools, over-the-top landscaping and sometimes spas, water features and concierge service available to Guests. There is no way to go wrong staying on the Disney property, but this is especially true when staying at a deluxe resort.

Transportation Ease

Transportation access is an important factor to consider for many families deciding on which¬†Resort¬†to choose. All moderate¬†resorts¬†have bus transportation to¬†Disney Springs, Disney Water Parks and all four theme parks.¬†Buses are efficient, comfortable and a great transportation option for Guests. Port Orleans Riverside¬†and French Quarter and¬†Disney’s Saratoga Springs¬†Resort¬†offer water taxi access to¬†Disney Springs¬†in addition to bus availability.¬†Deluxe¬†resorts¬†offer the cream of the crop in Disney transportation.

Monorail Polynesian

Credit: disneymatters.com

Resorts on the monorail line like Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort, The Grand Floridian and Disney’s Contemporary Resort offer quick access to EPCOT and the Magic Kingdom as well as boat transportation to Guests.  The Yacht & Beach Club Resort and BoardWalk Inn are just a short walk away from EPCOT and a boat ride away from both EPCOT and Hollywood Studios.

Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge is next door to Animal Kingdom and The Wilderness Lodge is just a ferry ride away from the Magic Kingdom. Disney’s Riviera Resort and Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort are Disney SkyLiner Resorts that give you easy access to EPCOT and Hollywood Studios. Regardless of if you choose a deluxe or moderate resort, Disney will ensure you arrive safely and quickly to your destination.

Related: First Disney Vacation Post-Pandemic? Here is What You Need to Know

Sprawling Resort Design

Moderate resorts tend to be more spread out than deluxe resorts. It is not uncommon for moderate resorts to have multiple sectors so spread out that resort buses pick Guests up from multiple bus stops within the resort. This means there is even more acreage of magic to explore at your resort.

Disney's Port Orleans Resort - French Quarter

Credit: Disney

It also means more walking is involved when traveling to the Parks, pools, or around the resort. Needless to say, a room far from the central dining hub might result in fewer trips to refill your Resort mug out of the sheer time and effort the walk will take.

Related: Tips from a Disney Insider: Are Refillable Resort Mugs Worth It?

An upside of the size of moderate resorts is that sectors are often divided into certain themes or groups which means fun room theming. Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort is sectored off by names of Caribbean islands. Port Orleans Riverside is divided into southern themed room blocks with names like Alligator Bayou and Magnolia Bend. Separate sections have different fun architecture and winding paths to explore. In general, deluxe resorts tend to be more central with less of a sprawling design, meaning Guests rack up less resort walking time.

Hotel Room Location

A basic, yet key difference in resort rooms in this comparison is that deluxe resorts have rooms that open to inside corridors whereas moderate resorts open outside. This detail may be important to Guests traveling with small children. Dashing in late at night to escape from a cool winter evening or to dodge a Florida rainstorm takes more tactical skills when staying at a moderate resort.

Park Proximity

Deluxe resorts tend to be a bit closer to the flagship Parks than moderate and value resorts. The Wilderness Lodge, Disney’s Contemporary Resort, Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort, and Grand Floridian are all nearby the Magic Kingdom while The BoardWalk Inn and Yacht & Beach Club are within walking distance of EPCOT.

animal kingdom lodge lobby

Credit: Disney Dining

Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge is of course located next door to Animal Kingdom Park.  The moderate resorts are still conveniently located on Disney property but require a bit longer commute for Guests headed to the Parks.

Price

The most obvious difference between moderate and deluxe resorts is of course, the price. Prices fluctuate so much based on the season in which you are visiting so its difficult to name a price range for resort categories. Still, you can base your price benchmarking on the knowledge that deluxe resorts are frequently as much as $300 more per night than moderate resorts. The best thing you can do is start planning early so you can monitor resort prices and make an informed decision on what resort is best for your budget.

caribbean-beach-resort

Credit: Disney

Don’t forget, splitting your vacation between multiple¬†resorts¬†is allowed. If you want a¬†deluxe¬†experience but can’t afford it for your whole vacation, feel free to talk to a travel planner about booking two different¬†resorts. You could save money by staying at a value or¬†moderate¬†resort¬†during the days you go hard in the Parks. Then save your relaxing¬†Resort¬†days for the timespan you are staying at a¬†deluxe¬†resort!

Don’t forget to check out our¬†resort¬†and dining guides for¬†Walt¬†Disney World¬†Resorts¬†across the¬†Disney Property!

About Katie Chapman

Hey There! I am a Georgia native with a passion for writing, traveling, cooking, decorating, pugs and of course all things Disney. Growing up in South Georgia just a few hours from Walt Disney World made for a magical childhood. Some of my best memories were made on Main Street U.S.A. with my sister watching SpectroMagic nighttime parade or beside my grandparents, parents and extended family at Chef Mickey’s celebrating on a family vacation. Epcot was my favorite park from a young age and I credit it with my interest in and love for international travel. As a kid I loved meeting characters and watching films around World Showcase and could spend hours exploring each of the countries in Epcot. These days, my husband and I get away to explore a new country whenever we can and even incorporate trips to The Disney Store and Disney Parks around the world in our travels. One of our travel goals is to visit every Disney Park in the world. I love writing about Disney restaurants, park tips, Disney outfit inspiration and Disney history. Pocahontas is my favorite Disney Princess (90s kid here!) but Mr. Toad is my spirit animal. When I’m not at Disney I’m reading about park history, watching Disney documentaries and shopping vintage Disney merch for park outfits. I never pass up a reservation to Ohana, an empty seat on Living with the Land or a Violet Sake.