No one who has experienced a true luxury hotel can seriously attest that Disney’s quality standards compare. They’re three-star hotels in fancy dress, and only VIPs get true attentive treatment. Sure, they have sit-down restaurants, spas, lounges, and big pools. But rooms and service are nothing special unless you’re in a top-tier room. What Disney’s Deluxe hotels mostly have is uplifting theming—a prevailing mood—that makes a stay fun, and it’s a genuine thrill to be so near a theme park, to get such fantastic views of Magic Kingdom or African animals—there’s just something special about it.

Most Deluxes (maximum guests per standard room: four unless noted) enable you to dart to the parks easily. Three are by Magic Kingdom on the monorail line: the Contemporary (the most iconic), the Grand Floridian (the fanciest), and the Polynesian (the most private). A fourth, Wilderness Lodge, is linked to Magic Kingdom by ferry, while the Beach Club, Yacht Club, and BoardWalk are walking distance from Epcot’s side door. Only Animal Kingdom Lodge is marooned by roads, but it has other perks that counterbalance that.


For an extra $150 to $200, Disney sells “Club Level” concierge-style rooms with a private lounge stocked with free continental breakfast, snacks, and beverages including champagne. In some hotels, it entitles you to better views or to buy additional experiences, such as a sunset tour of the savannah at Animal Kingdom Lodge.


The next category up from Value is Moderate. Compared to Value, what do you get for the extra dough? Put simply, the main pools have more elaborate themes with slides, and there are usually a few additional, simple pools; rooms measure 314 square feet instead of 260 square feet (so 2 ft. wider); most have two sinks instead of one (both outside the shower/toilet room); all rooms have a small balcony or patio with seating (though most have no view to speak of); and you can rent a bike or a boat on the premises. The upgrade doesn’t win you the right to fit in more people: Rooms mostly fit four (only two adults) plus one child 2 and under, same as the Value class.

The grounds of Moderate properties feel more resortlike when compared to the glorified motels of the Values, but at heart, they’re still upgraded motels, with exterior corridors (close your drapes) and windowless bathrooms. You’ll still be eating mostly in high-priced food courts located at a building that might be distant from your room. Although the bedrooms aren’t much plusher than the Value properties, you will sense more breathing room and personality since Disney has been pouring money into glorifying its Moderate pool areas.


Although the Mouse pushes you toward its most expensive hotels by making them so cool, Disney, in fact, has more “Value” rooms: 9,504 of them, more than many midsize cities have in total—available at most times for $120 to $250. Disney or not, they are essentially glorified motels.

The T-shaped building blocks with outdoor corridors can feel at times like thin-walled battery-hen hutches, gurgling with noisy plumbing and seething with kids who don’t realize how sound carries (especially when school groups and cheerleader meets are in town). The walk to each hotel’s lobby/food building can be a marathon. There are elevators.

How to Save on Lodging

No matter the time of year, and post codes of all current known Disney discounts. In general, AAA and military service may help cut costs. Only on rare occasions do you see Disney hotels discounted by name on third-party sites, but in quiet seasons they may appear with their names cloaked on sites like Hotwire and Priceline.

* Come when kids are in school. Hotel prices are trimmed then.
* Avoid holidays. If the kids are out of school, you might pay double.
* Make sure the room rules permit everyone in your party. If you go over the guest maximum, you’ll have to rent two rooms, doubling costs.
* Always get a quote directly from the hotel. It might be lower.
* See what’s on offer from a packager. They have purchasing power.
* Good locations have food options. Are there affordable restaurants nearby or are you stuck eating overpriced hotel food?
* Ask if there’s a discount. Disney reservationists will tell only if asked. But when Disney does deal, it gives great stuff away, like free meal plans.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.