Congratulations! You have decided to go on an amazing Disney World vacation, how exciting! You have done your research and picked the best dates that work for you and your family; you may even have a list of what attractions and restaurants you want to make sure you hit. But, there is one crucial part of your trip to the Happiest Place on Earth that overwhelms you…which resort is best for us?

Staying on Disney property is definitely our recommendation. At the end of the day Disney is all about telling a story, painting a picture and creating a complete experience, right? Well, the resorts on property certainly aren’t an exception. Each has been carefully crafted and immerses you in a story – and we are here for it! Plus, you get the added perks and benefits of staying on site that you wouldn’t get if you stayed elsewhere (you will never see us saying no to added value)! However, there are SO many resorts under the Disney umbrella (25 to be exact and growing). So, it can be overwhelming to decide how to select the best for your family. Have no fear! We are here to break it down for you, and as we go, remember the story! A hint or indicator of it is usually in the name.

Disney separates its resorts into four categories – value, moderate, deluxe and villas (these are usually part of the Disney Vacation Club but can be booked for cash). Pricing usually follows this tier model as it sounds – value is the best bang for your buck as compared to deluxe. Same goes for onsite and availability of certain amenities. Alright…it’s time to do a quick breakdown!

The bulk of rooms in this category are standard and approximately 260 square feet. You will see a basic bath set up (sink is often in the open while the toilet and shower/tub combo are in a separate room) and bedding could be two doubles or a king. Some rooms in this category are family suites – measuring at approximately 520 square feet. These rooms have a similar set up as a standard but double the baths and add in some convertible sleeping options, so this is a great choice for larger families. From here things from both rooms are about the same. *It is important to add that Disney resorts offer accessible rooms at each location. These rooms offer wheelchair accessible rooms / roll in showers, hearing accessibility and vision accessibility options also.* Views can differ from parking areas and wooded sights to swimming pools and naturally the better the view…the higher the price. Speaking of swimming pools, the pools here are typically themed and can even be interactive! But, we will tell you that there are no slides at value resort pools. Other forms of recreation around these resorts can be limited – think playgrounds, poolside games, and the occasional movie outside at night (such a fun way to end your Disney filled day!) Dining options at value resorts are also slim with your only options being food court style or a poolside bar. And lastly, transportation provided by Disney (one of the biggest perks of staying onsite!) will usually be via shuttle bus. However, there are a few exceptions, being The Art of Animation Resort and Pop Century, which were both recently renovated and added to the new-ish skyliner route.

The value category of resorts includes: All Star Movies, All Star Music, All Star Sports, Art of Animation, Pop Century and the Campsites at Fort Wilderness.

Standard rooms in this category are in the 300 square foot range with a similar bath setup as the value resorts, but potentially offer an additional sink. The beds are larger also with the option of two queen beds or one king. However, there might be a spot for a fifth sleeper (otherwise, four people is the max). Views are similar to value resorts as well, but throw in the possibility of a room facing or near a natural body of water. Accessible rooms are also available at all moderate resorts. Pools, other recreation and dining options are a bit more robust with the addition of “quiet pools”, water recreation, bikes, a health club (at Coronado Springs), at least one table service restaurant and a lounge. In terms of transportation at moderate resorts, you will find the options to be pretty typical also. But, there might be a boat service from some resorts to Disney Springs as well as skyliner options.

The moderate family of resorts includes: Caribbean Beach, Coronado Springs, Port Orleans French Quarter, Port Orleans Riverside, and the Cabins at Fort Wilderness.

There are a variety of rooms and sizes in this tier of resort. We’re talking anywhere from 344 to 440 square feet. The bath situation varies too and includes what you’ll find in a moderate resort, but most likely in a different configuration which allows for more privacy. If the room is larger, there may be several baths. Bedding configuration is like a moderate property with nothing smaller than a queen. The deluxe resorts also offer rooms that are accessible to those in wheelchairs or with hearing and vision needs. However, it is the views, recreation, dining and transportation that really sets the deluxe resorts apart. Pools will have slides, hot tubs or other fun water features. Some spa services might even be available! There are more table service restaurants, room service and even character dining options. Lastly, these resorts are typically in close proximity to a park (very attractive to some), so there are greater transportation options. Buses, skyliner, and boats could still be available, but add in walking to the park or taking the monorail to the list.

The deluxe tier of resorts includes: Animal Kingdom Lodge, Beach Club, Boardwalk Inn, Contemporary, Grand Floridian Resort and Spa, Polynesian Village, Wilderness Lodge, and Yacht Club

We’ll keep things short and sweet here. Villas are part of the Disney Vacation Club program but can be booked for cash. Villas can be found at some deluxe properties, but there are also three that are dedicated to Disney Vacation Club. Rooms are villa style with more amenities and can range from a studio all the way to a three bedroom option. Bath and bed configuration can vary by room size, but everything else is similar to a deluxe property. There is the added bonus of having kitchens and washer/dryer units in some villas, making it ideal and easy for those larger families staying for longer periods of time.

The Villas tier includes: Bay Lake Tower at the Contemporary, Boulder Ridge Villas at Wilderness Lodge, Copper Creek Villas and Cabins at Fort Wilderness Lodge, Animal Kingdom Villas at Jambo House and Kidani Village, Beach Club Villas, BoardWalk Villas, Old Key West, Polynesian Villas and Bungalows, Riviera Resort, Saratoga Springs Resort and Spa, Villas at
Grand Floridian Resort and Spa.

Phew! We know the world of Disney resorts can be complicated and a lot to take in. We suggest you take some deep breaths and evaluate each category as described and make a selection based on your family’s needs and desires. From there, think about the story of the resort and what resonates with your party the most – maybe it’s animation, the Caribbean, or the South Pacific, and so on. With the breakdown above and these few tips, you’re on your way to selecting the Disney World resort that is perfect for you! And don’t forget, our Disney Vacation Specialists are here to help answer any questions you may have. Consider us your vacation Fairy Godmothers, here to help make your Disney vacation dreams come true.

Until next time…bibbidi, boppidi, boo!