In another post, we offered nine reasons to stay at a Disney value resort. There's a lot to be said on both sides of the Disney resort spectrum, however, so here are twelve reasons to stay at a Disney deluxe resort. We also provide counterpoints to each point so that you'll get a balanced sense of how much value we think there is in a Disney deluxe resort.
1. Location and Transportation
One of the big things that sets the Disney deluxe resorts apart from other resorts is that, with the exception of Animal Kingdom Lodge, all the deluxe resorts have alternatives to bus transportation to at least one park:
Polynesian, Contemporary, and Grand Floridian have monorail access to Magic Kingdom and (with one transfer) Epcot
Contemporary has walking access to Magic Kingdom
Wilderness Lodge has boat access to Magic Kingdom (bus see the counterpoint below)
Because the bus system is not incredibly reliable (though it is improving), and because the buses can be a little uncomfortable, having some other means to get to the parks can be a huge perk.
Counterpoint: Our worst transportation experience came at Wilderness Lodge. Wilderness Lodge and Animal Kingdom Lodge are priced at the bottom of the deluxe resorts in part because of their limited transportation options. You can also just pay to Uber from a Disney value resort and you'll spend less than staying at a deluxe resort (and get everywhere faster).
2. The Best Restaurants at Your Fingertips
Many of the best restaurants at Walt Disney World are located in Disney deluxe resorts. Some of our favorites include:
Sanaa at Animal Kingdom Lodge
Narcoossee's at Grand Floridian
Kona Cafe at Polynesian Village
Beaches & Cream at Yacht & Beach Clubs
This list could go on and on. Staying at deluxe resorts is a perfect way to have easy access to great restaurants.
Counterpoint: You can visit these restaurants without staying at a deluxe resort, and the quick service options at the deluxe resorts can be lacking in comparison to the cafeterias of the value resorts.
3. You Can Do a Resort Day
You definitely can do a resort day from any Disney resort, but they're likely to be much better at the deluxe resorts. The deluxe resorts have superior pools, most notably Stormalong Bay, which is essentially a small waterpark at the Yacht & Beach Club. The deluxe resorts also have better bars, access to better amenities and activities, and (mostly) better lobbies and lounging areas.
We cover some of these items specifically later in the list, but doing a resort day is one of our favorites ways to save at Disney because you can cut a day off your tickets and still have a great time.
Counterpoint: Again, you can do a resort day from any Disney resort, you'll just have to be a little more creative from the value resorts.
4. Disney Deluxe Resorts Have Club Level
The only Disney resorts that offer club level are the deluxe resorts. Club level is often a pricey upgrade (usually at least $150 per night), but for the right type of traveler, it can be worth it.
We reviewed the Kilimanjaro Club at Animal Kingdom Lodge, but the quick things you need to know are that it comes with access to the club level lounge and lots of free food (think appetizers, not meals) and drinks (including alcohol). It also comes with a club level concierge, who can pull some small strings (think cab vouchers, not backstage access) for guests.
Counterpoint: Club level is expensive and definitely not worth it if you're on a shorter trip and need to squeeze magic out of every second.
5. The Rooms are Better
Rooms at Disney vary greatly, especially these days when Disney is constantly refurbishing one hotel or another. Overall, though, the quality will be better at deluxe resorts than at value resorts.
The beds are noticeably more comfortable. The rooms are a little more spacious, though this will vary by room type. Disney deluxe resorts have hallways instead of doors accessing the outside directly. More amenities (e.g. conditioner) are offered. The bathroom sink and mirror areas are separated from the rest of the room by a wall (rather than a curtain).
Counterpoint: A hotel room is just a place to put your head between parks and pools.
6. The Pools Offer a Little Something Extra
The pools at the deluxe resorts tend to be a notch above the others on property, with good slides and play areas. Storamlong Bay (Yacht & Beach Clubs) is definitely the best pool on property, but the pools at Polynesian, Grand Floridian, and Wilderness Lodge are no slouches.
Counterpoint: The pool at Art of Animation is a fan favorite as well.
7. The Lobbies and Grounds Are Enjoyable
We get that there's a small niche of people who like hanging out in lobbies, but we're among them. Whether it's the fireplace at Wilderness Lodge, the piano player at Grand Floridian, or the savannah at Animal Kingdom Lodge, the lobbies and grounds of the Disney deluxe resorts are a great place to relax.
Counterpoint: You'll be spending most of your time at the parks anyways. Plus, plenty of kids are blown by the oversized cheesy decor of the value resorts.
8. The Bars are Superb
Not for everyone, but the deluxe resorts offer Trader Sam's Grog Grotto, Geyser Point Bar & Grill, and AbracadaBar. That's a wildly impressive lineup, and there are many more after that.
Counterpoint: Outside the Disney deluxe resorts you'll find Nomad Lounge, Dawa Bar, Jock Lindsey's Hangar Bar, The Edison and La Cava Del Tequila.
9. The Theming Is Unbelievable
Plenty of people, especially children, love the theming of the value resorts. The deluxe resorts are just awe-inspiring at times, however. This is especially true at Animal Kingdom Lodge, but the Polynesian, Wilderness Lodge, and Grand Floridian are all amazing as soon as you set foot in them.
Counterpoint: Kids LOVE Art of Animation, and plenty of adults (like us) LOVE Pop Century.
10. The Views Are Better
Polynesian, Contemporary, and Grand Floridian offer great views of the Magic Kingdom fireworks. Contemporary has especially good views of the park itself. You can also see the fireworks at Hollywood Studios from Yacht Club, Beach Club, and Boardwalk.
Counterpoint: You'll probably want to be at the fireworks, not watching them from a hotel!
11. Disney Deluxe Resorts Offer a Bit More
From grilling s'mores to salons to spas to shopping to hotel tours, the deluxe resorts offer a much more comprehensive resort experience than the other Disney hotels.
Counterpoint: Using these things requires time and (sometimes) money.
12. They Don't Have To Be As Expensive As You Think
While the value resorts will (almost) always be cheaper than the deluxe resorts, there are plenty of ways to save big on deluxe resorts. Our favorite way to save on a deluxe stay is to rent DVC points. This allows you to get deluxe villas at over 50% off sometimes.
And there are other options from booking your Disney resort with points to sniffing out the best deals, you need to look past your initial sticker shock when browsing the Disney website. Check out our guide on getting the best deal on your Disney hotel!
Counterpoint: You'll usually still find the best prices on value resorts, just make sure you cover all your bases first!
Dinsey Deluxe Resorts - Closing Thoughts
Deluxe resorts definitely are not worth the price if you can spend all day away from the hotel. But if you're the type who needs a few hours to unwind, if you need to take a midday break, or if you're the type to enjoy everything a hotel has to offer, the offerings at the Disney deluxe resorts are there for your enjoyment.
All Your Other Disney World Planning Questions Answered
Don't be overwhelmed by Disney World planning! Take a second to check out our most important content and you'll not only be an expert, but you'll save big $$$ along the way. If you're still picking dates, we've got everything you need to know about Disney crowd calendars. For picking your hotel, check out our Walt Disney World hotels guide.
Don't forget to master your Disney World Fastpass+ strategy a few months in advance. We'll keep you out of long lines so you can maximize the magical time in the parks!
Finally, before you head out, be sure to check out our to-the-point packing list, 10 essentials you forget to pack for every Disney trip. And if you're interested in saving, there's no better list than our 53 Ways to Save on your Disney trip from start to finish.