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Which Disney World Resort is Best for Your Family: Value vs. Moderate vs. Deluxe

Hooray! Your family is going to Walt Disney World! You’ve decided to stay in a Disney resort hotel to take advantage of the on-property Disney perks or to simply enjoy the Disney bubble. But which hotel is the right choice for your family? As with many things at Disney, the right answer is: it depends.

Walt Disney World offers a wide variety of on-property hotel options. A total of 26 to be exact. These are divided into category tiers – value, moderate, deluxe, and deluxe villas. Figuring out which one is right for which trip can be a bit overwhelming.

Pop century value resort Walt Disney World
Pop Century, one of Disney’s value resorts.

I know many families would never be caught dead in anything but a deluxe. I know many other families who could easily afford a deluxe but who opt for the values or moderates every time because they don’t feel they receive enough value for the deluxe price. And there are lots of families in between – splurging some trips and doing Disney on a budget on others. Knowing which family yours is helps you make the most of your money and have the best vacations.

I have stayed in multiple resorts in each of these tiers on numerous Walt Disney World vacations. My verdict? I would consider staying at each of these tiers again. There were none that I would say just don’t work at all for my family. I do, of course, have my favorites.

Related: Best Disney World Hotels

What I learned from these many trips is that some of these resort types are undoubtedly a better fit depending on who was traveling with me, my budget, and what we planned to do and see on a given trip. In short, giving some thought to a particular vacation’s variables is crucial to making the right choice.

So, it’s time to break it down. What amenities does each level of resort offer? And what are the pros and cons of each?

Disney World Wilderness Lodge
Disney’s Fort Wilderness Lodge is a deluxe resort inspired by national park lodges.

(Trips With Tykes uses affiliate links which means I may earn a small commission if you purchase through links in this post. See our full disclosure policy linked in the menu at the bottom of this site.)

Perks of On-Property Disney Resorts Generally

Before we dive into the resort types, why might you choose to stay in an on-property Disney World resort hotel compared to the many (often cheaper) off-property lodging choices? Many guests choose to stay in these resorts for the intangibles like Disney theming and what is usually a high level of cast member service.

But many others are enticed by the on-property perks that Disney has traditionally offered. Admittedly, those perks have been pared back pretty significantly the last several years. Disney’s Magical Express airport transfers have been discontinued, the free parking benefit has been cut, and on-property guests no longer have early access to Fastpass+ selections with the sunsetting of that system.

Coronado Springs Gran Destino Tower
The new Gran Destino Tower at Coronado Springs is the nicest of the moderate resorts.

So what on-property perks remain? The current offerings include:

  • Early theme park entry: eligible guests can enter any park 30 minutes early daily (replaces Extra Magic Hours)
  • Access to 7:00am booking window for purchasing paid Lightning Lane selections (all other guests can purchase at park opening time) (see these tips for Disney Genie+ and Lightning Lane at Walt Disney World to learn more about these new systems)
  • Extended evening theme park hours (for select deluxe hotel and deluxe villa guests only)
  • Ability to book dining reservations 60 days in advance of first day of hotel reservation for the entire length of stay (off-property guests can only book 60 calendar days in advance)
  • Included parking at theme parks (parking at the hotel is charged, but no additional charge is needed when parking a car at the parks)

Remember that there are some hotels and resort properties that aren’t Disney owned but that do have access to some of the perks of on-property stays. Some of these hotels are even technically on Disney property or at least adjacent to it. Hotels that may have some (but not all) of these offerings include the Walt Disney World’s Swan and Dolphin, luxury neighbors like the Waldorf Astoria and Four Seasons, Shades of Green (open to active and retired military), and some of the Disney Springs and Bonnet Creek area hotels.

Disney Value Resorts

Disney World Resort - Value at All Star Music
Fun colors and decor at All-Star Music (a value resort).

Disney value resorts offer motel-style accommodations at the lowest price on Disney property – often about $125-200 a night. Standard rooms are basic, with two queen beds (one regular and one murphy-style), a single vanity, small table, and mini-fridge. Most value resorts at Walt Disney World have gotten recent room renovations in the last few years.

Since the opening of the Disney Skyliner, it’s probably fair to say that there are now really two different sub-tiers within the value resort category. There are the All-Star resorts which are more classic value resorts, and then there are the two value resorts that now have Skyliner access and are thus a bit more value+.

Value Resorts

  • Disney’s All-Star Movies Resort
  • Disney’s All-Star Music Resort
  • Disney’s All-Star Sports Resort
  • Disney’s Art of Animation Resort
  • Disney’s Pop Century Resort
  • The Campsites at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort
Disney World Pop Century Renovated Room Murphy Beds
Recently renovated rooms at Pop Century, with one queen and one queen murphy bed.

Pros of Disney Value Resorts

  • A cheap, clean, and fairly well-located place to crash for guests who spend all their time in the parks anyway.
  • On-property benefits of a Disney resort at a lower price point.
  • Bright and colorful Disney theming that is especially captivating to young kids.

Cons of Disney Value Resorts

  • Standard rooms sleep only 4 guests so they don’t work for larger families.
  • Smaller rooms and bathrooms may be a tight fit for families.
  • Value resorts are often filled with traveling high school groups who can sometimes be loud at night or flood food courts at peak times.
  • No table service restaurants.
  • No water slides at pools.
  • Very large geographical footprints, which can mean long walks to pool, lobby, or park shuttles.
  • Reliance on unreliable Disney bus system at the All Star value resorts.

Disney Moderate Resorts

Port Orleans Riverside Entrance Disney World
Port Orleans Riverside is one of the larger moderate resorts at Walt Disney World.

Moderate resorts go up in price (often about $200-350 a night for standard rooms) but with a corresponding increase in room space and quality. The on-site amenities and resort sizes vary a bit from resort to resort, so choosing between them requires a little more of a deep dive. One moderate resort, Caribbean Beach, is located on the Disney Skyliner route which makes it preferable to many guests and often priced more accordingly.

Moderate Resorts

  • Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort
  • Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort
  • Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – French Quarter
  • Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – Riverside
  • The Cabins at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort
Port Orleans French Quarter Standard Room Disney World
Port Orleans French Quarter still has only curtains dividing the bedroom from the bathroom vanity area.

Pros of Disney Moderate Resorts

  • Somewhat larger standard rooms with two regular queen beds (no murphy style) available for families.
  • Some moderate resorts can accommodate a 5th person in a single room with a trundle/daybed option.
  • Nicer pools with more features like waterslides than value resorts, with a few true hidden gems like Coronado Springs’ Dig Site.
  • Both table service and quick service dining.
  • More subdued but immersive and elegant Disney theming.
Dig Site Pool Coronado Springs Resort Disney World
The Lost City of Cibola Pool and Mayan Pyramid at the Dig Site at Coronado Springs.

Cons of Disney Moderate Resorts

  • Some moderate resorts are also very large, which can mean long walks to pool, lobby, or park shuttles.
  • Some rooms only have curtains (not doors) separating the room from the bathroom sink area which can disturb anyone sleeping with light and sound.
  • Transportation options not necessarily an improvement over the value resorts at several resorts.
  • High on-property premium: comparable hotel rooms with the same quality, space, and amenities can often be had off-property under $150 per night.
  • A significant increase in pricing over the value resorts, especially for longer trips.

Disney Deluxe Resorts

Disney’s deluxe resorts are the ultimate in Disney luxury. Of course, they are a further step up in price. Even more amenities come with that – amazing pools, concierge levels, spas, multiple dining choices, improved transportation choices, etc. Deluxe resort standard room pricing can vary quite a bit depending on season and resort, from $350-800.

Grand Floridian Splash Pad Disney World
Mad Hatter Pool: This Alice in Wonderland water play area at the Grand Floridian is well themed and lots of kid fun.

Deluxe Resorts

Disney World Resorts - Beach Club
Disney’s Beach Club is a deluxe resort within walking distance of Epcot.

Pros of Disney Deluxe Resorts

  • Some of the best locations mean easier and quicker transportation options – like walking distance to parks or monorails or ferries instead of buses.
  • Access to Extended Evening Theme Park hours in addition to early theme park entry (evening hours available only in Magic Kingdom, Epcot, and Hollywood Studios and are offered only about 2x a week)
  • Well-reviewed table service restaurants in addition to quick service options.
  • Character dining in most hotels.
  • Very nice pools, with waterslides and a variety of amenities.
  • Concierge levels.
  • Resort footprints are smaller, so less walking while you are within the resort grounds.

Cons of Disney Deluxe Resorts

  • Expensive, expensive, expensive.
  • Service and amenities not quite up to true luxury resort hotel standards (Ritz, Four Seasons, Mandarin Oriental), even though the price matches or exceeds those kinds of hotels.

Disney Deluxe Villas

Disney has a fourth category of sorts – deluxe villas. These are in separate buildings at many of the deluxe resorts and offer condo-like accommodations but a few resorts are technically DVC only. Most rooms are usually rented through Disney’s timeshare program, Disney Vacation Club, although they can be booked by non-owners through Disney directly or by renting someone else’s DVC points.

Disney World Resorts - Contemporary Bay Lake Tower Deluxe Villas
Deluxe villas in the Bay Lake Tower of Disney’s Contemporary Resort.

Deluxe Villas

  • Bay Lake Tower at Disney’s Contemporary Resort
  • Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas – Jambo House
  • Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas – Kidani Village
  • Disney’s Beach Club Villas
  • Disney’s BoardWalk Villas
  • Disney’s Old Key West Resort
  • Disney’s Polynesian Villas & Bungalows
  • Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa
  • The Villas at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
  • Boulder Ridge Villas at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
  • Copper Creek Villas & Cabins at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
  • Disney’s Riviera Resort

Pros of Disney Deluxe Villas

  • All the benefits of the deluxe resorts – location, restaurants, top quality pools, etc.
  • Can sometimes be snagged at a major discount by renting Disney Vacation Club points (most often during low or shoulder season).
  • More space for bigger families.
  • Kitchenettes to cook and save money on food.
  • Access to Extended Evening Theme Park hours in addition to early theme park entry (evening hours available only in Magic Kingdom, Epcot, and Hollywood Studios and are offered only about 2x a week)

Cons of Disney Deluxe Villas

  • Often very, very expensive.
  • Limited availability to non-owners.

Factors to Consider in Choosing Value, Moderate, Deluxe, or Deluxe Villa Resorts at Disney World

So now that you know what each tier of resort offers, what are the factors that should matter to you? This is where the rubber meets the road.

Disney World Yacht Club
Disney’s Yacht Club is a deluxe resort within walking distance of Epcot and Hollywood Studios.

Budget

The almighty vacation budget is always first and foremost. Deluxe resorts and many moderates – especially on a longer vacation – are often just out of reach for the average traveling family. Ultimately, do what you can afford. None of the Disney resorts are worth going into debt over. While the Disney bubble is nice, you are paying more than these hotels are really “worth” objectively speaking so it’s important to assess what you really value.

Family Size

For families of 5 or more who cannot fit into a single standard room at a value resort, family size really matters. A moderate resort isn’t quite double the price of a value resort, so families of 5 may be better served to pay up for a moderate room that fits 5 rather than spring for two value rooms.

Of course, two value rooms are normally going to be a major savings over a single deluxe room. Larger families who value extra space and want to save may do better splitting up into two value rooms or booking one of the larger family suites some of them have.

Disney World Resorts - Coronado Springs Moderate
One of Disney’s moderate resorts, Coronado Springs.

Age of Your Kids

Which resort is right for you often depends on the ages and interests of your kids at the time of your visit. I personally think a deluxe resort is better for families with school aged kids or teens who can take advantage of the extra amenities the resorts offer. These include themed pools with waterslides and lots of on-site dining options.

For families with babies and toddlers, a value or moderate is often a smart choice. Travelers who are the type to take little ones to Disney World are rarely making once in a lifetime visits to Disney. They are the type of guest who returns again and again. If this describes your family, maybe wait to splurge until you can take full advantage of the pricier deluxe resort options.

That said, the deluxe hotels make logistics of traveling with young kids incredibly easy due to their location and service. If you are a parent and traveler skittish about logistics, paying more for a deluxe may make sense for you.

Touring Habits & Transportation

Disney Skyliner Regular and Wrapped Character Cars
The Disney Skyliner serves some hotels in every tier – value, moderate, and deluxe.

If you are the type of family who spends all your time out exploring the parks, you probably don’t need an expensive hotel. The value resorts offer a clean place to crash. Or the moderates will serve you well if you just want a few extra amenities. If you love luxuriating in a nice room and spending hours by the pool, however, deluxe is definitely more your family’s speed.

Similarly, if you are a family who likes to take a mid-day break and park hop elsewhere in the evenings, choosing a resort with more transportation options can be very smart. Many deluxe hotels offer access via ferry, monorail, or Skyliner, but there are a couple of resorts now in the value and moderate categories now worth a look because of their Skyliner connections.

Related: Complete Guide to Disney World Transportation

Among the deluxe resorts, I personally really like Yacht and Beach Club for this very reason. Our family spends the first part of the day in a park and then comes back for a rest before walking over to Epcot for dinner. Don’t underestimate the value of not having to wait on Disney transportation on your vacation.

What factors matter most to your family? Do you save at value resorts, splurge at deluxe ones, or get some of the best of both worlds at moderates?

Where to Book Your Walt Disney World Vacation

Planning a visit to Walt Disney World? Book your Disney vacation with trusted Trips with Tykes partner, Get Away Today. Get Away Today sells park tickets at a discount, helps you find great deals at both on-property and off-property hotels, assists with all the logistics of a Disney World vacation with its free concierge service, and provides complimentary price monitoring so you can lock in newly-released discounts.

Disney World Get Away Today Discount Ticket Deals

2 Ways to Save:

Traveling to Walt Disney World and considering an on-property hotel? How to choose between Disney's value, moderate, deluxe, and deluxe villa resort accommodations on your next Orlando, Florida vacation.

Disclosure: Some of my stays at the Disney resort hotels mentioned in this post were provided for review purposes for free or at a media discount. I paid for other stays completely out of pocket. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.

Share this!:

Sara

Monday 29th of July 2019

This was very informative, helpful and a great spring board in helping where to focus my research time. Thank you for the review!

Maggie McDermott

Sunday 23rd of June 2019

There is no such thing as value at Disney anymore. Everything is overpriced... admission, food, souvenirs. Have no intention of ever returning.

Peg P

Tuesday 26th of September 2017

We like to get the best of both worlds, so we'll stay at two resorts in a single visit to WDW. This also helps cut down the expense. We'll stay at a moderate or value for half of the trip. Most moderates and values are fairly close to Animal Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios, and Disney Springs so the bus ride isn't too dreadful. For the second half of the trip, we'll stay at a Deluxe in the Magic Kingdom area. Then we're only a boat or monorail ride away and don't have to suffer the bus ride that's usually jam packed and long.

It's not difficult to do if planned well. While checkout time is a few hours before check in time, you can leave your luggage with the front desk people and they will send it to the next resort when it's time. You can play in the parks while you're luggage-less. It's kind of exciting to start the day at one resort and end it at a totally different one!

Lisa Zimmerman

Tuesday 19th of September 2017

One thing you left out in the value hotels are the family suites. They are made for up to 6 people, have 2 bathrooms with doors, and a fridge/sink area. It was perfect for my family (5) and brother's family (6) on our November trip. When we stayed in the Yacht Club in 2013, we had a room for 5, but my brother's family needed 2 rooms.

Angela

Friday 9th of June 2017

I have stayed at the All Stars Movies and absolutely loved it!! I spent most of my daytime awake hours at the parks. I would leave at 730am, especially if there were perk hours and not return till 1030-11pm. I was able to stop off at the food court to get something to eat/drink if I needed or wanted. It worked great for me. I have 170 days till I visit again the happiest place on Earth for me!!!