Value, Moderate, Deluxe, Villa: What’s the Difference Between Disney World Resort Categories?

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Walt Disney World Veterans instinctively understand the differences between Disney’s resort classification system: value, moderate, deluxe, and villa. But new Disney travelers, or folks who’ve previously only stayed off site, are often confused by the terminology. Sure deluxe sounds, well, deluxe, but what exactly makes it that way. What makes it more deluxe than a moderate resort? What does moderate mean, anyway? And why is moderate more deluxe than value when there are some value rooms that cost more than moderate rooms? To help you sort it all out, here’s a handy-dandy cheat sheet detailing the differences in the Disney resort categories.

But before we get going, it may be helpful to list the hotels that fall into each of the classification categories.

The deluxe resorts are: Grand Floridian, Contemporary, Polynesian, Beach Club, Yacht Club, Boardwalk, Animal Kingdom Lodge Jambo House, and Wilderness Lodge. The moderate resorts are: Port Orleans Riverside and French Quarter, Coronado Springs, Caribbean Beach Resort, and the Fort Wilderness Cabins. The value resorts are: All Star Movies, All Star Music, All Star Sports, Pop Century, and Art of Animation. The dedicated villa resorts are Old Key West and Saratoga Springs. Additionally, there are villa rooms at the Beach Club, Boardwalk, Animal Kingdom Lodge, Wilderness Lodge, and Contemporary (Bay Lake Tower) resorts. The amenities of those villas are shared with the deluxe resorts that host them. The Fort Wilderness campground remains unclassified. Campground guests have all the privileges of Fort Wilderness cabin guests except, of course, having a Disney roof over their head.

Room Size

Value resort accomodations are fairly basic.

  • Value resorts: The typical standard room, sleeping up to four guests plus a baby in a crib, is approximately 260 square feet. The typical family suite, sleeping up to six guests plus a baby in a crib is approximately 520 square feet.
  • Moderate resorts: Typical standard rooms at Caribbean Beach, Coronado Springs, and Port Orleans are approximately 314 square feet. These rooms sleep up to four guests, plus a baby in a crib. There are some rooms at Port Orleans Riverside equipped to sleep up to five guests plus a baby. There are some suites at Coronado Springs. The Fort Wilderness cabins, which sleep up to six guests plus a baby, are approximately 504 square feet.
  • Deluxe resorts: There are a variety of room types and sizes at the deluxe hotels. These range from standad rooms of about 344 square feet at the Wilderness Lodge and Animal Kingdom Lodge (rooms sleeping four plus a baby) on up suites of more than a thousand square feet. Typical rooms at the Grand Floridian sleep up to five guests plus a baby in 440 square feet.
  • Villa resorts: There are studio, one bedroom, two bedroom and three bedroom villas. These range in size from a 316 square foot studio at the Animal Kingdom Lodge, to a nearly 2,500 square foot three bedroom grand villa at the Boardwalk. Most studio rooms sleep up to four guests plus a baby. The grand villas sleep up to 12 guests plus a baby.
  • Things to think about: Not surprisingly, the rooms get larger as you move up in the resort classification level. However, the square footage of your room may not matter to you if you’ll only be spending time in your room to sleep.

Bathroom Situation

Value resort family suites have two bathrooms.

  • Value resorts: For standard rooms, there is one sink, one toilet, and one shower/tub combo. Typically the toilet and shower are contained in a room with a door, while the sink is located in the open. The value resort family suites (at All Star Music and Art of Animation) have two bathrooms. Additionally, family suites will have a bar sink in the kitchenette area.
  • Moderate resorts: Most rooms have a two sinks, one toilet, and one shower/tub combo. Typically the toilet and shower are contained in a room with a door, while the sinks are outside the door. Often the sink area can be separated from the main room via a curtain, sliding door, or other partition.
  • Deluxe resorts: Standard rooms have two sinks, one toilet, and one shower/tub combo. In some cases, the toilet/tub are behind a door. In some cases, the toilet will be in its own doored room. Suites may have several bathrooms in a variety of combinations.
  • Villa resorts: Studios have one standard bathroom. Depending on the resort, the studio bathroom sink/vanity may be inside or outside the bathroom door. Many studios have one bathroom sink, but they all have a bar sink in the kitchenette area. Depending on the resort, one bedroom villas have one or two bathrooms. Two bedroom villas have two or three bathrooms. Three bathroom villas have three or four bathrooms. One, two, and three bedroom villas have a jacuzzi-style tub.
  • Things to think about: At all resort levels, there are rooms with wheel-in showers and larger bathrooms available for guests with medical issues. Parties of more than one or two people, or parties of unrelated guests should consider what their desired privacy level is for bathroom and changing issues.

Bedding situation

Moderate resort beds are larger than value resort beds.

  • Value resorts: In standard rooms, two double beds or one king size bed. Family suites at Art of Animation have one queen size bed, one double sleeper sofa, and one double pull-down table bed. Family suites at All Star Music have a queen size bed, a double sleeper sofa, a twin size sleeper chair, and a twin size sleeper ottoman.
  • Moderate resorts: In standard rooms, two queen size beds or one king size bed. Some rooms at Port Orleans Riverside have an additional twin-size trundle bed or Murphy bed.
  • Deluxe resorts: Some standard rooms have two queen size beds or one king size bed. Many standard rooms have an additional twin-size daybed.
  • Villa resorts: Bedding varies depending one room type. In most villa rooms, there is a combination of traditional beds and sleeper sofas and chairs.
  • Things to think about: Depending on the composition of your traveling party, the number of distinct sleep surfaces in the room may be important to you. You may want to consider whether the adults in your party feel comfortable sleeping on a double bed or on a sleeper sofa.

Views

There may be lots to see from your deluxe resort room.

  • Value resorts: Rooms may look at a parking lot, wooded area, themed resort elements, or swimming pool.
  • Moderate resorts: Rooms may look at a parking lot, wooded area, themed resort elements, swimming pool, or natural body of water.
  • Deluxe resorts: Rooms may look at a parking lot, wooded area, themed resort elements, swimming pool, natural body of water, or a theme park. Animal Kingdom Lodge rooms may overlook animal habitats. Theme park entertainment such as fireworks may be seen from some deluxe resort rooms.
  • Villa resorts:Rooms may look at a parking lot, wooded area, themed resort elements, swimming pool, natural body of water, a theme park, or a golf course. Animal Kingdom Lodge rooms may overlook animal habitats. Theme park entertainment such as fireworks may be seen from some deluxe resort rooms.
  • Things to think about: The better your view, the more expensive it will be. If you won’t be spending much time in your room, is a view something you want to pay for?

Recreation Options

Moderate and deluxe resorts may have water recreation opportunities.

  • Value resorts: Pool, poolside games/entertainment, playground equipment, movies under the stars.
  • Moderate resorts: Pool, poolside games/entertainment, playground equipment, movies under the stars. Health club available at Coronado Springs. Water recreation and bike rental may be available. Free character singalong at Fort Wilderness.
  • Deluxe resorts: Pool, poolside games/entertainment, playground equipment, movies under the stars. Health club available. Spa services may be available. Water recreation and bike rental may be available. Outdoor evening entertainment at the Boardwalk resort.
  • Villa resorts: Pool, poolside games/entertainment, playground equipment, movies under the stars. Health club available. Spa services may be available. Water recreation and bike rental may be available.
  • Things to think about: Health clubs and other recreation are only important if you intend to use them. If you’ll spend all your time at the theme parks, then consider whether it’s worth paying extra for recreation.

Dining Options

There are quick service dining options at all resort levels.

  • Value resorts: Food court. Poolside bar. In-room pizza delivery available in the evenings.
  • Moderate resorts: Food court. Poolside bar. At least one table service dining option. At least one indoor bar or lounge. In-room pizza delivery available in the evenings
  • Deluxe resorts: Food court. Poolside bar. Multiple table service dining options on site, many other table service option easily accessible. Full room service menu available throughout the day. At least one indoor bar or lounge. Character dining may be available on site.
  • Villa resorts: Options vary by resort. Food court. Poolside bar. There may be multiple table service dining options on site, many other table service option easily accessible. Full room service menu may be available throughout the day. Character dining may be available on site. Studio villas include a kitchenette. Larger villas include a full kitchen.
  • Things to think about: Anyone can dine at any of the resort restaurants on property. There’s no requirement that guests stay at a resort to dine there.

Transportation Options

More forms of transportation serve the deluxe resorts.

  • Value resorts: All Disney-provided transportation to theme parks and Downtown Disney is via bus.
  • Moderate resorts: Disney-provided transportation to the theme parks is via bus. There may be boat transportation to Downtown Disney.
  • Deluxe resorts: Multiple transportation options depending on your destination. Some deluxe resorts are within walking distance of a theme park. Transportation to the theme parks may be via bus, boat, or monorail.
  • Villa resorts: Multiple transportation options depending on your destination. Some villa resorts are within walking distance of a theme park. Transportation to the theme parks may be via bus, boat, or monorail. Transportation to Downtown Disney may be via boat.
  • Things to think about: If you’ll have access to your own vehicle, then the Disney-provided transportation options may not be particularly important to you. Staying within walking distance of a theme park can be a big time saver.

Pools

The value resort pools are themed, but have no slides.

  • Value resorts: Themed pools. May have some water play or interactive elements.
  • Moderate resorts: Themed pools and “quiet” pools. May have some water play or interactive elements. May have medium-sized water slide.
  • Deluxe resorts: Themed pools and “quiet” pools. Will have water play or interactive elements. Will have at least one water slide. May have bonus water features such as waterfalls or sand play areas. Will have hot tubs.
  • Villa resorts: Themed pools and “quiet” pools. Will have water play or interactive elements. Will have at least one water slide. May have bonus water features such as waterfalls or sand play areas. Will have hot tubs.
  • Things to think about: If you’re not a swimmer, none of this matters.

Resort Characteristics

The deluxe resorts have lobbies where you can sit and relax.

  • Value resorts: Colorful and/or cartoony building exteriors. Standard rooms are accessed via an external doorway. Family suites at Art of Animation are accessed via an internal doorway. No guest rooms in the main building. Main building houses guest check-in, one shop, and food service. Outer guest buildings may be a long walk from the main building.
  • Moderate resorts: Building exteriors match resort theme. Some room interiors may have special themeing such as a pirate or princess motif. Guest rooms are accessed via an external doorway. No guest rooms in the main building. Main building houses guest check-in, one shop, and food service. Outer guest buildings may be a long walk from the main building.
  • Deluxe resorts: Building exteriors are elegant or romantic, often designed by premier architects. Guest rooms are accessed via an internal hallway. There may be guest rooms in the main building. Main building houses guest check-in, multiple shops, and food service. Guests at the Grand Floridian receive turn-down service. Most deluxe rooms have a patio or balcony area. Deluxe resorts have large lobbies where guests can sit and congregate. There may be entertainment or special decorations in the lobby.
  • Villa resorts: Depending on the resort, guest rooms may be accessed via an internal or external doorway. Main building may be dedicated to the villa or shared with the associated deluxe resort. Villa resorts include a shop configured like a convenience store with basic food preparation items.
  • Things to think about: Women traveling alone may feel more comfortable asking for a room in or near a main building.

Walt Disney World Amenities

The value resort themeing is colorful and cartoony.

  • Value resorts: Free airport to resort transportation via Disney’s Magical Express Service. Access to Extra Magic Hours. Resort package delivery from theme park shops. Ability to make ten days of dining reservations from day one of your vacation.
  • Moderate resorts: Free airport to resort transportation via Disney’s Magical Express Service. Access to Extra Magic Hours. Resort package delivery from theme park shops. Ability to make ten days of dining reservations from day one of your vacation.
  • Deluxe resorts:Free airport to resort transportation via Disney’s Magical Express Service. Access to Extra Magic Hours. Resort package delivery from theme park shops. Ability to make ten days of dining reservations from day one of your vacation.
  • Villa resorts:Free airport to resort transportation via Disney’s Magical Express Service. Access to Extra Magic Hours. Resort package delivery from theme park shops. Ability to make ten days of dining reservations from day one of your vacation.
  • Things to think about: You’ll notice that macro Disney World resort amenities are currently identical among all resort categories. There is some speculation that when Disney introduces the new Fastpass+ (X-Pass) product there may be some stratification of benefits for the different types of resorts. Stay tuned for further developments.

As you can see, there are difference between the various resort categories, some subtle and some significant. Depending on what your personal priorities are, these may or may not be important to you. Of course, the real trick to choosing where to stay is to balance your budgetary constraints with your desired amenities.

Let us know which of these resort characteristics is most important to you. Is the bedding your priority while the pools don’t matter? Are you willing splurge for a view of the castle? Or are you a theme park commando who wants nothing more than the cheapest pillow and shower possible? Let us know in the comments below.

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Posted on August 22, 2012

28 Responses to “Value, Moderate, Deluxe, Villa: What’s the Difference Between Disney World Resort Categories?”

  • Great information!! The only suggestion I have is that you should have included the picture of Len in his driveway with the colored boxes on the ground indicating comparative room sizes.

  • The deluxe resorts in fact do not have food courts, which I think is a big knock against them. They have counter service options, but sometimes these are small and quite limited (e.g., Beach Club). A true food court gives much greater counter service options, and can only be found at value and moderate resorts. I’ve never understood why the Unofficial Guide asks readers to rate the “food court” of deluxe resorts – there is no food court to rate!

    • Interesting take on the terminology. The deluxe counter service options are sometimes less comprehensive than the others, but they’re still there.

  • One additional point regarding views – the only Value I have stayed at is Pop, and they do not have views per se, because the window looks out onto the outdoor corridor. Most people will probably prefer to keep the windows drawn so as not to be on display to other guests!

    • Good point. Usually stay at the values when I’m traveling on my own. I always keep my curtain closed even when sitting at the table reading. I find it odd having people walk by and look in on me.

  • by djohnson1020 on August 22, 2012, at 3:41 pm EDT

    I would also let people know that the bus stops at value resorts are not covered and are open to the elements. Stops at moderate level and above have covered areas to sit or stand to wait on the buses. This can be especially important in the summer when waiting in the hot sun.

    • The new Art of Animation does have some covered areas righ next to the bus stop. So if there are not many people in line, you can hang out there.

  • This is a great breakdown. I consider myself a ‘newer Disney veteran’, as I’ve gone several times in the past couple years and before that had not gone since childhood. That being said, I’m still trying to learn as many tips as I can from more seasoned vets and experts. I’m currently tasked with planning a large family trip/reunion. We’d love everyone to stay in close proximity to each other so it is easier to meet up but everyone’s financial situation varies. Do you have any suggestions for one value, one moderate and one delux hotel ( or any combination)
    that are in close proximity/on the same bus line, within walking distance, etc. that I can recommend all of our party stay at?

    Any suggestions?

    • The majority of the hotels are not within walking distance to another category or share the same bus line with another category. In my opinion your best option is if your lowest budget room could swing a standard room at the Wilderness Lodge during Value season. That bus is shared sometimes with Ft. Wilderness (really budget if they sleep in tents, but I can’t imagine anyone really sleeping in one while on vacation) and the Grand Floridian. Also connected to the Contemporary and Poly by the boat system. Another option would be the Ft. Wilderness cabins that fit up to 6 people. Good luck!

    • That’s a tough order. There are no value/mod/deluxe that are walkable or share the same bus except WL/FW, as Karen mentioned. Honestly, you’re likely to make folks most happy if you make the parks or Downtown Disney your meet up point rather than the resorts.

  • Excellent article! I think it’s important to note that hot tubs are at the Moderate resorts. We have actually decided to stay Moderate rather than Value on our longer vacations and in cooler months just so we could relax in the hot tub.

  • I love it, I click on the facebook link to a blog post that sounds like it might be an interesting read, and then I see that it’s an Erin Foster piece and I KNOW it will be interesting, informative and exactly the info I love to know. You never disappoint!

    Our first trip in April was to a Moderate, Caribbean Beach. Everything was great (although it’s the only moderate that still has double beds rather than queen). For our follow up this Fall, we were contemplating a Value, but I can’t find anywhere what types of things we might be giving up, in addition to those you mentioned.

    A commenter mentioned that bus stops aren’t covered, I did not know that. Also, do you get towels and/or life jackets at the Value pools? I wonder if we might get there and be disappointed in comparison, about some little things we just assumed were common. Any feedback?

    • Wow, thank you so much for the kind words. There are life jackets at the pools at all the hotels, but towels may not be available at the value pools. See:

      http://blog.touringplans.com/2012/06/20/everything-you-ever-wanted-to-know-about-towels-at-walt-disney-world/

      The beds get progressively more comfy as you increase price level. On one recent trip I spent a few nights at the Pop and had a perfectly fine experience. But then I moved over to the Contemporary and was in absolute heaven with the comparative comfort of the mattress.

      Also the soap/shampoo gets better as you move up the ladder. Values and sometime moderates have soap and a combo shampoo/conditioner. Deluxes have separate shampoo and conditioner, fancier soap, and often body lotion as well.

    • by suzanne willis on February 8, 2013, at 7:04 pm EDT

      I do not know about the life jackets but when we were at Disney’s Music in December, there were people swimming in the pool and the lifeguards were handing out towels.

  • Great quick breakdown of hotel category options! Obviously we could go on for days on all of the differences.

    For me, a Disney World vacation isn’t a common occurrence so when I go, I go all the way (or as close to it as I can afford). And the most important factors for me when on a vacation are cleanliness of the hotel room and the TYPE OF BED! I’m a comfy bed snob, and when I’m running around the parks all day, I want to flop on to my cushioned bed. And the only place I’m going to find a comfier bed are in the deluxe resorts, otherwise I would stay moderate because the theming is still pretty good (port orleans!).

    Anyways, here’s my list in order of importance:
    1. Bedding (pillow top bed plz)
    2. Bathroom (It’s more about how new/clean it is)
    3. Resort Character (I want to be submerged in Disney quality theme!)
    4. Transportation (monorail, boat, or walking distance is awesome)
    5. Dining (Breakfast usually happens at the resort-need good options)
    6. Pools (a big pool or multiple pools so it’s not too crowded)
    7. Recreation (it’s nice having something to do at the hotel)
    8. Views (i usually don’t pay for a view room so not important)
    9. Room Size (not a big deal, there’s only 2 of us)
    10. WDW Amenities (They’re all the same. But specific hotel amenities may move this up on the list)

  • One of the differences I noticed between deluxe and value were the toiletries received. I get separate shampoo and conditioner at a deluxe resort, but a 2 in 1 at the value.
    The TP at the value resort was also 1 ply, and I think the tp at the deluxe was 2 ply, but I may be mistaken about that.

    • I haven’t noticed a TP difference at resorts, but it’s certainly possible. Anyone else have observations on this?

      • We just returned from WDW. We stayed at Pop, but ate a several different deluxe resort restaurants. My mom commented that the toilet paper in the common areas, including the pool area, of the deluxe resorts was significantly better than Pop.

        There are also covered sitting areas immediately behind the queue lines for the buses at Pop. I think the bus transportation is better at value and moderate resorts than deluxe resorts. The buses seem to take forever at the deluxe resorts. It also seems ridiculous to pay so much money to stay at a deluxe resort and have to share buses with other deluxe resorts.

  • I had not realized that they had put queen beds in the moderates. That is a nice upgrade. Although it makes me wonder about the snugness. When we stayed at POR in ’05 with full beds with 2 adults and 3 kids the room seemed pretty cramped as it was. For those of you who have stayed their before/after the upgrade do you think it makes much difference in the room it takes up? I know I’d much rather sleep on a queen than a full!

    Between adding queen beds and free wi-fi, Disney resorts are catching up to the rest of the world in amenities. What’s next? Free continental breakfast in the morning?

  • by Jennifer Butler on February 12, 2013, at 12:39 pm EDT

    I am planning my first trip with my family next year during value season (husband, 8 year old daughter, 2 year old son and me). I am debating between a value resort room, value resort suite for family or a moderate resort. I feel so overwhelmed and advice?

    Jenn
    NYC

  • Depends on your budget and if your 2 year old will be sleeping in a bed or in a pack-n-play. I would choose the moderate because you get queen beds in each room vs. the value resorts. And it’s usually cheaper to get 2 rooms in a value instead of the family suite. If you want a bigger space then choose the family suite but realize there is only one true bed. The others are pull-out sofas, chairs, adn pull-down bed from the wall.