Disney World Deluxe vs. Moderate Resorts: What’s the Difference?

With more than two dozen unique Disney Resort hotels in Orlando, Florida, there are accommodation options to meet every family’s needs and budget. But when you’re spoiled for choice like this, it can get confusing choosing which Disney World resort is the best for you. Before trying to zero in on the best Disney resort for your family, it’s a good idea to first decide which category of resort will meet your needs. This brings us to the question: Disney World deluxe vs. moderate resorts: What’s the difference?

Disney World resorts are broadly categorized into deluxe, moderate, and value categories based on several things such as the type of accommodation, including room size and Disney theme; amenities such as the pool area, entertainment, dining, and gym/spa facilities; and location and transportation options from the resort to the parks.

The moderate category offers some nice middle-of-the-road options and is a great choice for people who plan to spend a decent amount of time at the resort and need rooms with a bit more space. Deluxe resorts are top-notch with luxury amenities and the unmatched convenience of location with quick transportation to the parks, which means you’ll spend less time getting there and more time having fun. You save money at Disney World moderate resorts but enjoy an enhanced experience at deluxe resorts.

So, how to find the Disney World resort that is perfect for your family? Here’s an in-depth Disney Resort comparison guide to help you choose. One thing is for sure – staying at one of the Disney World resorts means you will be immersed in the magic and have the kind of experience that off-property accommodation simply cannot match.

Across the board perks of staying at Disney World resorts

Some things are standard at all Disney World Resort hotels. You will enjoy these benefits no matter where you stay, whether it’s a deluxe or moderate resort:

  • A swimming pool for hours of family fun
  • A retail shop for Disney souvenirs
  • Dining options with family-friendly meals
  • Complimentary standard parking at Disney theme parks, water parks, and Disney Springs
  • Early access to FastPass+ planning
  • MagicBands to unlock your Disney Resort hotel room, enter the theme parks, charge food and merchandise, connect to PhotoPass, and check-in at FastPass+ attractions – how’s that for convenience?
  • Extra Magic Hours to spend more time at select attractions and entertainment
  • Complimentary transportation throughout the Walt Disney World Resort
  • Complimentary motorcoach transfer on Disney’s Magical Express between Orlando International Airport and your Disney Resort hotel (advanced reservations required)
  • Free baggage transfer between Disney Resort hotels
  • Disney-themed rooms that bring adventure and Disney fables to life
  • Complimentary Wi-Fi
  • Complimentary merchandise delivery to your Disney Resort hotel
  • Personalized vacation planning services (for guests in club rooms and suites)
  • Laundry and dry-cleaning services (extra charge)
  • Mail services sending pre-stamped packages, postcards, and letters from the front desk
  • In-room refrigerator
  • Online check-in
  • Banking services to exchange foreign currencies at the front desk or lobby concierge

All in all, staying at a Disney Resort hotel means you enjoy legendary perks and services. And best of all, the magic doesn’t end when you leave the park.

Cost of Disney World deluxe vs. moderate resorts: What’s the difference?

For many people, the main factor in deciding between Disney World deluxe vs. moderate resorts is the cost of the stay. The room price per night varies by season and from property to property, but in general, you can expect to pay $220 to $350 per night at a moderate Disney resort. Deluxe Walt Disney World resorts cost anywhere from $400 to $1000+ per night depending on the resort and room category. Additionally, things like club level, suites, and preferred room locations can all add to the cost.

Disney World deluxe vs. moderate resorts: Accommodations

One of the key differences between a deluxe vs. moderate resort at Disney World is the accommodation. In general, moderate resorts at Disney are similar to standard hotel rooms in terms of room size. In contrast, deluxe Disney World resorts give you more options in room size. You can choose a standard hotel room, a large room that can sleep a family of five, or a massive villa with multiple bedrooms and bathrooms and a kitchen.

Another difference in the accommodations at Disney World deluxe vs. moderate resorts is the theme. At moderate resorts, the resort has a general theme. Some moderate resorts offer themed rooms that are designed quite elaborately.

However, deluxe resorts take the themes to the next level. Everything from the rooms to the bathrooms, the swimming pool to the lobby, is themed to give the entire property a magical touch. In other words, if you stay at a deluxe Disney resort, you will feel like you’ve been transported to another world – a tropical island, the African savannah, or a national park.

Disney World deluxe vs. moderate resorts: Location and transportation

If there’s one factor that should influence your choice of Disney World deluxe vs. moderate resorts, it is location and transportation. Deluxe resorts are generally very close to the parks and have a variety of transportation options available to guests. So, if you’re staying at a deluxe Disney resort, you won’t have to rely on the internal bus system alone (which can sometimes be slow). Depending on the deluxe resort you choose, you may have access to boats or the monorail. You may even be able to walk to the park.

If you’re staying at a moderate Disney Resort hotel, bus transportation will likely be your only option to get to the parks. The complimentary, air-conditioned bus services run throughout the Walt Disney World Resort, saving you the hassle of driving and parking. However, you may not have access to other transportation options like the monorail and boats that guests at deluxe resorts can access. Remember, planning your trip from one park to another may involve a combination of buses and may require transfers.

Disney World deluxe vs. moderate resorts: Amenities

Swimming pools: Deluxe resorts at Disney feature amazing pools with waterslides, waterfalls, hot tubs, splash pads, lazy rivers, excellent poolside bars, and more. The themes of the deluxe resort pools are next level – don’t be surprised to see a sand-bottomed pool or a shipwreck water slide. At moderate Disney resorts, on the other hand, the pools are less jaw-dropping but still offer loads of fun.

Dining: Deluxe resorts give guests the choice between quick service and table service and also have fine dining options. In general, dining at deluxe Disney resorts tends to be more upscale and expensive. Moderate resorts tend to have more food court style dining options, but most also have table service restaurants.

Entertainment: There’s nonstop fun to be had at Disney World and deluxe resorts offer a range of resort entertainment like bonfires and movie nights. In general, there’s more to do at deluxe vs. moderate resorts. This is an important consideration if you’re planning to spend one or more non-park days relaxing at the resort.

Spa and gym: If you’re looking forward to some pampering or a good workout during your Disney vacation, deluxe resorts offer onsite spas with a range of services and well-equipped gyms with cardio and weight training equipment. Spas and gyms at moderate resorts are rare, but most Disney properties have access to walking/running trails.

What to expect at Disney World moderate resorts?

As the name suggests, moderate resorts at Disney World are a big step-up from value resorts but are not as high-end as deluxe properties. In general, at moderate Disney resorts, you can expect to find:

  • An elegant lobby and common areas
  • A subdued atmosphere and a more adult vibe compared to value resorts
  • Beautifully landscaped grounds, often featuring a large lake or river
  • Lovely rooms that open into courtyards or open corridors with a choice of views
  • Rooms that comfortably sleep a family of 5 on two twin beds and a daybed for the fifth person
  • Themed rooms such as the Pirates Rooms at Caribbean Beach Resort or the Princess Rooms at Port Orleans Riverside
  • Pizza delivery, food court, table service restaurants, lounges, and bars
  • Multiple pools including a main themed pool and additional quieter pools
  • Outdoor play areas like volleyball courts
  • Internal bus service to help guests get around the resort with a water taxi from some moderate resorts (Port Orleans Riverside and Port Orleans French Quarter) and boat service to Magic Kingdom from the Cabins at Fort Wilderness

What to expect at Disney World deluxe resorts?

Deluxe resorts at Disney World are top-tier properties that are designed to give guests the vacation of a lifetime. These resorts do not compromise on anything, from the accommodation to the dining and entertainment options. Here’s what you can expect at Disney World deluxe resorts:

  • Detailed and varied luxury themes ranging from the African savannah to North American national parks to tropical islands
  • Large rooms, often with patios or balconies
  • Fancy amenities like luxury bath products
  • Magnificent themed pools with huge water slides and lazy rivers
  • Lavish lobbies
  • More dining options including food courts, quick service, fine dining, tea rooms, lounges, bars, and character dining
  • Access to the coveted monorail line for quick and convenient transportation to the parks
  • More transportation options in addition to the bus service for the ultimate convenience
  • Resort events like movie under-the-stars and campfires
  • Onsite gym, spa, and other facilities
  • Childcare
  • Valet parking

Pros and cons of Disney World deluxe resorts

Disney has a wide range of accommodation options and each resort tier offers a different vacation experience. One thing is common to all resorts at Disney World – they offer guests something that off-property hotels cannot match. These unique resorts do not come cheap, however, especially the deluxe Disney resorts. Familiar hotel chains can often provide lower-priced rooms than even value Disney resorts. So, why should you shell out the extra bucks? What are the pros and cons of staying at a Disney World deluxe resort?

When you stay at a deluxe Disney World resort, you are in the best location in terms of being close to the theme parks. You also enjoy more transportation, dining, and entertainment options and the highest level of service from the resort staff. Deluxe resort guests have access to gym and spa services and resort-specific activities. If money is not a concern, then a deluxe Disney resort, of course, is the best option.

However, if your family has to stick to a budget, keep in mind that while deluxe resorts offer a lot, you may not have time to enjoy all of it. For instance, due to the price per night, you may end up planning a shorter vacation at a deluxe vs. moderate resort. What you have to essentially do is assess how many of the additional facilities at a deluxe resort your family is actually going to use and then make a call on Disney World deluxe vs. moderate resorts.

Pros and cons of Disney World moderate resorts

Moderate resorts at Walt Disney World often hit the sweet spot for many families by offering a great combination of amenities, location, and value for money. They are relatively close to the parks and have table service restaurants. They offer better amenities and more detailed themes compared to value resorts but pale in comparison to the luxury Disney properties.

The main disadvantages of moderate Disney resorts include smaller room sizes and limited transportation options. If you’re a small family that doesn’t plan to spend much time in the resort, then a moderate Disney World resort makes sense, especially if you plan to drive to the parks rather than use the internal bus service. You can save some money and use it to make your holiday extra special in other ways while still staying at a lovely Disney moderate resort rather than blowing big bucks on a deluxe resort.

Which Disney World moderate resort is right for my family?

Not sure which moderate resort right for you? Here’s a quick overview of the moderate Disney World resorts.

Caribbean Beach Resort: This moderate Disney resort has a tropical island theme and an easygoing, laidback atmosphere with colonial-style buildings and sandy beaches.

Coronado Springs Resort: Popular for conventions, this moderate Disney resort is situated around a 15-acre lake and has striking architecture in the Moorish style.

Port Orleans French Quarter: Influenced by jazz and Mardi Gras, this popular moderate Disney Resort has an intimate feel that entices visitors back year after year.

Port Orleans Riverside: A moderately-priced Disney Resort, it is modeled like a Louisiana town on the Mississippi River with plantation-style mansions.

The Cabins at Fort Wilderness: Rustic with a Disney touch, this campground offers guests air-conditioned cabins as well as scenic sites to pitch tents or park RVs.

Which is the best Disney World deluxe resort?

Each Disney World deluxe resort offers a unique experience and unparalleled service. Choose the one that most appeals to you in terms of theme and atmosphere.

Grand Floridian Resort: This Victorian-style seaside resort exudes refined elegance and offers a range of pampering services at the full onsite spa.

Polynesian Village Resort: Enjoy the best of everything at this deluxe resort located in the heart of Walt Disney World with a volcano-themed pool and over-water bungalows.

Animal Kingdom Lodge: Probably the best way to experience Africa without flying across the Atlantic is a stay at this deluxe Disney World resort that offers views of the animals on the savannah from guest balconies.

Old Key West Resort: Themed as a community in the Florida Keys, this deluxe Disney Resort has a relaxing vibe and beautiful views of a golf course or river that runs through the property.

BoardWalk Inn: Locatedwithin walking distance of Epcot, this deluxe Disney Resort is popular for its shopping, dining, and entertainment options.

Saratoga Springs Resort: This all-villa deluxe Disney property is themed like a village in Upstate New York in the 1800s and includes treehouse villas in a lush forest.

Beach Club Resort: Combining luxury with casual comfort and a cozy atmosphere, this deluxe Disney Resort features a sand-bottom pool and access to fine dining options.

Contemporary Resort: With views of Bay Lake or Magic Kingdom from the tower rooms, this deluxe Disney Resort is a great choice for families.

Wilderness Lodge: This breathtaking deluxe Disney Resort is themed like the national parks of the northwest and features a grand lobby with a working fireplace.

Tips to save money on Walt Disney World resort stays

A Disney vacation with a stay at a deluxe or moderate resort is sure to be a memorable one. What can make it even better is snagging a great deal on your Disney resort stay. Here are some tips to make savings at Disney World deluxe and moderate resorts.

  • Check the offers page on the official Disney website. You may be able to save up to 35% at select Disney resorts.
  • Get extra days added to your ticket on select room-and-ticket packages, earning more time to experience the magic of the Walt Disney World theme parks.
  • Sign up for a Disney Premier credit card and earn up to $250 in statement credit.
  • Enjoy special prices on theme park tickets and great rates on select Disney Resort hotels if you are a U.S. Military Veteran.
  • Shop on the Disney Parks app or choose from thousands of products online and enjoy free shipping on orders above $75.
  • Save up to 40% on rooms and receive up to $50 resort credit per night if you are an annual pass holder.

Dustin Baier

Hey, I'm Dustin a Dad of 4 and married to Sweet Pea Chef for over 15 years now :) We got engaged at the Disneyland Hotel way back when and love a vacation at Disney World, Universal Studios, really anywhere with theme parks!

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