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 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.
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.