Walt Disney World Deluxe Resorts Ranked

When you stay at one of the Walt Disney Resorts it can really add to the Disney excitement. You are in the thick of the action 24/7!

Even though all the Walt Disney World Resorts are wonderful, there are differences in what you are getting when you make your reservation.

First of all, there are differences in price. Disney has three tiers of resorts: value resorts, moderate resorts and deluxe resorts.

Then, within each of these tiers there are differences in the hotels. We are going to explore the differences of the Disney Deluxe Resorts in this post.

Disney World Standard Hotel Amenities

Before we do a deep dive into the deluxe Disney World hotels, there are amenities that are standard throughout the Disney Resort hotels. Every Disney Hotel offers the following perks:

  1. Complimentary shuttle service on the bus system, monorail, or Disney Skyliner from your hotel to all parks, hotels, and downtown Disney.
  2. Use of the resort pool (find more about our favorite Disney pools here!)
  3. Resort guests may make dining reservations for their entire stay 60 days in advance of their check in date. 
  4. Eligibility to make lighting lane purchases at 7:00am with Genie+.
  5. WiFi (we have more wifi details on this post)
  6. Mini fridge or small beverage cooler
  7. Special pricing for magic bands,
  8. Early entrance to the Disney parks. You get to go into the parks 30 minutes early as part of Disney’s 50th Anniversary celebration. This is one of several tips we have for skipping long lines at Disney World!
  9. Deluxe hotel guests can stay two hours late at select parks each night with Extended Evening Hours.

Here is a quick comparison of the three tiers to help you get a feel for the general differences between the levels. We have an in depth guide that explains the differences thoroughly here.

Walt Disney World Resort comparison

If you are wanting to compare these amenities to off site hotels, we recommend checking out these ten off site hotels that are so close to Disney World that you feel on site

12 Things You Need to Know Before Staying at a Walt Disney World Deluxe Resort:

According to our statistics, 47% of people who stayed on site choose a deluxe resort. These hotels have the best of everything. Deluxe resorts are the most expensive yet nicest resorts on the Disney Property. Think gorgeous large rooms, immaculate pools and perfect themes.

  1. Prices can start at $320 per night and really get up there! Expect to pay much more in peak season. 
  2. Rooms are spacious and comfortable with inside corridors
  3. Table service and quick service at all resorts. 
  4. All resorts can accommodate up to 5 people in standard rooms. Most deluxe resort rooms have queen beds.
  5. Immaculate pools, landscaping and surroundings!
  6. Several Deluxe Resorts have character dining on site.
  7. Enhanced transportation options. (Grand Floridian, Polynesian and Contemporary are right on the monorail system!)
  8. Children’s Activity Centers at most Deluxe Resorts
  9. Pools are over the top! Sand-bottomed pools and volcano-themed pools are just a couple that you will find!
  10. Concierge/club level option. Be sure to check out the overview of each of the resort’s club levels as they are all a bit different.
  11. Resort footprints are smaller so less walking to get to your bus or monorail transportation.
  12. Deluxe hotels have extra evening hours! You can stay for an extra two hours at night after the parks close. You can see the schedule here.

Deluxe resorts have better proximity to the parks (You can even walk to some of them!) and there are more transportation options depending on which resort you stay at. These transportation options include bus, boat or monorail.

The overall footprint of the Deluxe Disney Resorts are smaller so you have less walking to do when you need to catch a bus to get somewhere. Many of the resorts also include things like a spa and gym along with a business center.

One unique aspect to the Deluxe Resorts is that you can stay there by using Disney Vacation Club points. It can help a Deluxe room more affordable! You can find out more about how to do that here.

What are the Disney Deluxe Hotels?

Altogether there are eight Disney Deluxe Resorts.

Four Deluxe hotels are in the vicinity of the Magic Kingdom, three are close to Epcot and the Boardwalk area, and one is by Disneys’ Animal Kingdom.

Magic Kingdom Deluxe Resorts include:

  • Disney’s Contemporary Resort
  • Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa
  • Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort
  • Disney’s Wilderness Lodge

Epcot and Boardwalk Deluxe Resorts include:

  • Disney’s Yacht Club Resort
  • Disney’s Beach Club Resort
  • Disney’s Boardwalk Inn

Animal Kingdom Deluxe Resort:

  • Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge

The Disney World Deluxe Resort Ranking

First, we must tell you what you already know…there is not a “bad” resort in the deluxe range. All 8 are really nice and really expensive. In fact, the one we consider the “worst” would easily be our dream hotel anywhere, anytime. So our ranking is subjective.

We have come to our rankings through different criteria including, price (bang for the buck), location to the parks, transportation, overall aesthetic (the landscape, buildings, themes etc…). We have also taken into consideration an array of things like the pool, pool bar, food court, walking distance around the property and other similar things.

You will need to take the information in this post and figure out what your expectations are for your trip and decide what’s best for you.

Ok, with all that in mind, here we go:

1. Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort

Location: Near Magic Kingdom.
Theme: The Polynesian Islands
Rooms: 492

Photo by Tom Bricker of Disney Tourist Blog

Overview:

We are ranking The Polynesian Village Resort as our favorite deluxe Disney resort. With its tropical South Seas/Polynesian Island theme, it is beautifully decorated and themed as if you were vacationing in the tropics.

You are greeted with a lei necklace when you arrive starts your vacation in style and as you look around at the resort and see the bamboo tiki torches, waterfalls, lush landscaping and the beautiful sandy beaches on the banks of the Seven Seas Lagoon, you will love what you see! This resort was built and opened with Disney World in 1971.

Special Amenities and notes:

Monorail: As mentioned earlier, it’s located right on the monorail line which makes getting to Magic Kingdom a breeze but also it is a quick jaunt to the other theme parks by way of buses and monorail.

Restaurants: Some of the very best Disney World restaurants are right on the property or very close, including Ohana and Pineapple Lanai. Check out the full list here.

The iconic Dole Whip desert is found at the Polynesian Village Resort. Yes, you can have it anytime you want…well, for a price.

dole whip at disney world

Pools: Two beautiful pools featuring a volcano themed Lava Pool as well as an adult Oasis Pool. There is a 142 foot long water slide.

Beach Amenities: The resort is situated on a beach of the Seven Seas Lagoon. This offers other activities that are not at most of the other Disney Resorts including motorized boat rentals, beach volleyball, fishing and other beach activities.

2. Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge

Location: Near Animal Kingdom
Theme: African Wildlife Preserve
Rooms: 1307

Animal Kingdom Lodge Disney Resort Hotel

Overview:
Our second favorite deluxe hotel is the beautiful Animal Kingdom Lodge. This unique deluxe resort features live animals roaming through a Savannah. There are many rooms that overlook the Savannah as well as viewing galleries in public areas to watch the animals up close.

Another great amenity is that the viewing rooms have night vision goggles included in order to observe the nocturnal activities of the Savannah animals. The African culture in the arts, design, and food make this resort a wonderful place to stay inside as the animals surround you outside.

Special Amenities and notes:

Price and location: There is good news/bad news with Disney’s Animal Kingdom. First, the good news is it is very reasonably priced for a deluxe hotel.

The bad news is the reason it’s reasonably priced is because of it’s horrible location. It is very far from all of the theme parks and far removed from all of the other Disney amenities including Disney Springs.

So if you are able to deal with the Disney bus system or if you are taking Ubers or your own car around, then the payoff of the beauty of this Resort will be worth it.

Wildlife: Obviously one of the biggest draws of this resort is the hundreds of species of wildlife right at your window. Giraffes, zebras, antelopes and many many other species make this an amazing once in a lifetime experience.

Kilimanjaro safari animal kingdom elephants

Aesthetics Art: One of the largest collection of African Art outside of Africa is, you guessed it, at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge. Over 380 traditional African art pieces are on display throughout the resort.

The lobby and lounges are absolutely spellbinding. This is one of the most awe inspiring resorts.

Restaurants: Award winning dining options including our favorite, Boma is on the property. You will also find Sanaa, The Sanaa Lounge, Jiko, and Victoria Falls Lounge.

3. Disney’s Wilderness Lodge

Location: Near Magic Kingdom
Theme: Pacific Northwest, Parks
Rooms: 729

Overview: Located near the Seven Seas Lagoon and the Fort Wilderness Campgrounds, this beautiful resort is modeled after National Park Lodges and hotels built in the wake of the Transcontinental Railroad. With a stunning lobby, wonderful dining options and great property grounds and common areas that are probably the best in all of Disney World to venture around, makes this Resort our 3rd favorite of the deluxe tier.

Special Amenities and notes:

Price: Similar to the Animal Kingdom, the Wilderness Lodge falls into the lower priced option of the deluxe category mostly because of it’s poor location.

Transportation: The way you get to the Magic Kingdom is with a ferryboat ride. All other parks and locations you will need to take the bus or other modes of transportation you have at your disposal.

Pools: Two pools, the Copper Creek Springs Pool boasts a 67 foot water slide and Boulder Ridge Cove Pool is a wonderfully quiet pool area for the adults.

Christmas: Wilderness Lodge goes all out around Christmas time. Tons of gingerbread houses, model trains and great holiday decorations.

Great dining at different locations including Whispering Canyon Cafe, Geyser Point Bar and Grill as well as the famous Story Book Dining at Artist Point with Snow White.

4.Disney’s Contemporary Resort

Location: Near Magic Kingdom
Theme: Modern
Rooms: 655

Photo by Tom Bricker of Disney Tourist Blog

Overview: The Contemporary has a very modern-luxe style and is known as “the hotel that the monorail goes through.” The Contemporary has the A frame building as well as the Garden Wing and the Bay Lake Tower Vacation Club Villas. The Garden wing can be less expensive.

The Contemporary has started some Disney’s Incredibles theming throughout the hotel, but it is not a “themed” hotel in the same manner as some of the other Disney resorts.

Special Amenities and notes:

Location: The Contemporary is a short walk to the Magic Kingdom making location the biggest draw of this iconic hotel. to Disney’s Magic Kingdom. You can hop on the monorail to easily access other parts of the Walt Disney World.

Photo from Lisa Reese at Pixie and Pirate Destinations

Rooms: The rooms are 394 square feet each. Many people think that the overall quality of the hotel is not as nice as some of the other Deluxe hotels – like the Polynesian.

Swimming: There are two swimming pools here and a 17 foot curving waterslide!

Restaurants: Restaurant options are the California Grill, Chef Mickey’s, Steakhouse 71 and Contempo Cafe. There are several bar services available at this resort.

chef mickeys

5. Grand Floridian Resort and Spa

Location: Near Magic Kingdom
Theme: Victorian Seaside Resort
Rooms: 857

Grand Floridian
Photo from Magic Guides

Overview: The Grand Floridian is one of the most elegant and classy of the Disney resorts. While the hotel is called the Grand Floridian, the style is less Florida and more Victorian.

Standard rooms are 440 square feet – these are some of the biggest standard hotel rooms on the Disney property. There is a wide variety of rooms and suites available, as well as villas with up to three bedrooms. Walkable to the Polynesian.

Special Amenities and notes:

Location: The Grand Floridian gives you easy access to the Magic Kingdom via the monorail – the Magic Kingdom is the very next stop! This hotel is located right on the Seven Seas Lagoon where you can fish or boat.

You can see Cinderella’s Castle from the grounds. Every night you can view the Electrical Water Pageant – a floating nighttime parade!

Grand Floridian Room
Photo from Lisa Reese at Pixie and Pirate Destinations

Restaurants: Dining options include Gasparilla Island Grill, Grand Floridian Cafe, Enchanted Rose, and Narcoossees. A Garden Tea Room offers afternoon tea.

Spa options: The Grand Floridian Spa is a full service salon and spa. The Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique also has a location here. There is a health club available for use.

Pools: There are two pools – one has a huge waterslide! There is also an Alice in Wonderland themed water playground.

6. Beach Club Resort

Location: Near Epcot
Theme: Newport Beach Cottage
Rooms: 583

Disney Hotel Beach Club

Overview: We think one of the best qualities of the Beach Club Resort is the fact that it truly is in the middle of the Disney action! Check this out…you are in walking distance between Epcot and Disney’s boardwalk and you are a short boat ride to Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

Disney’s Beach Club Resort shares some amenities with it’s higher class cousin, Disney’sYacht Club Resort which is super nice and to top it all off, has our favorite ice cream place, Beaches and Cream.

Special Amenities and notes:

Pool: Great pool area (Stormalong Bay) including a pirate ship with a slide, sand bottom on a portion of the pool and a wonderful lazy river. You can spend the entire day just at the pool and love it.

Photo from Lisa Reese at Pixie and Pirate Destinations

Transportation: The new Disney Skyliner is available for getting you to and from other resorts and Hollywood Studios and Epcot. This is a fun way to get around and has become very popular.

Restaurants: Cape May Cafe breakfast buffet is a great place to see Mickey and friends in a not so crowded area.

Fireworks: A great place to catch the Epcot fireworks! You beat the crowd out and get the kids to bed right when they finish.

Beach activities: Outdoor S’mores and movie on the beach!

7. Yacht Club Resort

Location: Near Epcot
Theme: Martha’s Vineyard Resort
Rooms: 630

Disney's Yacht club room
Photo from Lisa Reese at Pixie and Pirate Destinations

Overview: The Yacht Club Resort and the Beach Club Resort are similar in a lot of ways. They are close together, share some amenities and at a base room level, can be pretty comparable.

The differences lie in the decor, with the Yacht club being a bit more dark, nautical and sophisticated where the Beach Club is brighter, beachier (yes, that’s a word because I just said it) and casual, the restaurants tend to be a bit more “adult” at the Yacht Club and finally, when you get up to the more expensive rooms, bigger and concierge levels, the Yacht Club moves pretty far past the Beach Club in terms of class.

Special Amenities and notes:

Restaurants: The Restaurants are top notch. You want the best steak in all of Disney World? You got it at Yachtsman Steakhouse.

Club Level: Club level rooms are very very nice! Spacious and great amenities. Great balconies in many rooms.

Similar options like the Beach Club Resort including:

Transportation: The new Disney Skyliner is available for getting you to and from other resorts and Hollywood Studios and Epcot. A fun way to get around.

Disney Skyliner

photo credit Alexis Lariscy

Cape May Cafe breakfast buffet is a great place to see Mickey and friends in a not so crowded area.

A great place to catch the Epcot fireworks!

8. Disney’s BoardWalk Inn Resort

Location: Near Epcot
Theme: Early 20th Century Atlantic Ocean Resort
Rooms: 378 at resort, 530 at villas

Photo by Matt Popovich on Unsplash

Overview: So that brings us the last Disney Deluxe Resort on our list, Disney’s BoardWalk Inn Resort. As we mentioned in the opening, it is not really the worst…in fact, many of you could make great arguments on why it should be the best!

Obviously, this resort sits on the Disney Boardwalk which has shopping, entertainment, restaurants and other great and fun activities that go well into the night. This is one of the biggest reasons we have it down on our list.

If you are heading to Disney World with your family, typically your time is short and you want to take advantage of the parks as much as you can. This leaves little time for other activities, including many that are at Disney’s Boardwalk.

As exciting as it is, the average family can’t do everything. All that being said, there are many advantages to staying here, many of which are similar to the Yacht Club and the Beach Club with close proximity to Epcot and Hollywood Studios, not to mention the Boardwalk.

Special Amenities and notes:

Restaurant: Trattoria Al Forno serves some of the best Italian Cuisine you will every enjoy! They host a Little Mermaid and Tangled Character breakfast. You will also find Big River Grille and Brewing Works, Flying Fish, Boardwalk Bakery, and a number of snack and lounge options.

Boardwalk Bakery Disney
Photo from Lisa Reese at Pixie and Pirate Destinations

Aesthetic: If you are nostalgic like we are, you will be blown away by the lobby and decor of this hotel. It draws you back in time to the 1920s when families went on their holiday’s to the Atlantic City Boardwalk. There is even a carousel that Disney has restored and have up in the lobby.

Recreation: The Boardwalk offers marshmallow roasting, outdoor evening movies, bike rentals, fishing, and even mini golf.

Transportation: The new Disney Skyliner is available for getting you to and from other resorts and Hollywood Studios and Epcot. This is a very relaxing way to get around.

Disney's Boardwalk
Photo from Lisa Reese at Pixie and Pirate Destinations

Fireworks: You can see the EPCOT fireworks from the Boardwalk. For the best views, head towards Jellyrolls and Atlantic Dance Hall.

If at all possible, we do recommend staying at a Walt Disney World Resort. Because we only go to Disney every few years, we try to “live it up” and stay on site. If a Deluxe resort is in your budget, one of these will be amazing. If it isn’t in your budget, don’t worry! All the Disney hotels are wonderful.

If you do decide to stay at a deluxe resort, you may want to consider the concierge club level. You can find out more about the perks here.

Be sure to consider having groceries delivered to your hotel to help you save some money on food. For other money saving tips, head here!

About disneywithdavesdaughters

Dave and his daughters have been going to Disney for 30+ years, all on a teacher's budget . They love helping families have the most magical Disney vacation ever by sharing all their expert family secrets. Feel free to send them a message or follow along on Instagram!