Choosing your Disney Resort Hotel can be one of the highlights of planning a trip to either the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida or the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, California. While Disney World has multiple levels of resort categories(value, moderate, and deluxe), Disneyland only has three deluxe resorts. The rest around that area are not owned and operated by Disney. For today, we will focus on the deluxe category resorts of the Disneyland and Disney World.
There are some wonderful benefits when staying in one of the deluxe category hotels. And to make your trip planning a little easier, I’m breaking them down, by property, showing you what they offer for your family.
Benefits at Walt Disney World
If your family is planning a trip to Walt Disney World, there are quite a few benefits to staying at a Disney-owned resort, and more specifically, a deluxe resort. First off, the deluxe resorts are often the closest to the parks. Some are even within walking distance to Magic Kingdom Park, Epcot or Hollywood Studios. Deluxe resorts offer more on-site amenities, including more dining options, more modes of transportation to and from the parks like water taxi or monorail, and the rooms are often larger than those of the value or moderate resorts.
Speaking of rooms, most of the rooms at Disney’s deluxe resorts have balconies you can enjoy in the morning or time away from the parks. One of our favorite resorts with a balcony is Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge since they look out over the savanna where you can see giraffes, zebra, gazelle, and other wildlife, right there from the balcony of your room.
What’s the difference between all of the Disney deluxe hotels? All of that is broken down below.
Walt Disney World Deluxe Hotels
Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge
This resort is heavily African themed, and guests can see animals from their room freely roaming the savanna. There are two parts to this resort, Jambo House and Kidani Village. Jambo House is the central part of the resort, and Kidani Village offers more villas and Disney Vacation Club rooms. There are multiple restaurants at this resort, including Boma (buffet style dining), Jiko (signature dining), and Sanaa (casual table service). Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge is closest to Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park.
Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort
The south pacific islands highly influence Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort, and right when guests walk in, they feel as if they were right there on the islands. This resort houses one main building where the lobby and restaurants are, and the outer buildings are all guest rooms. Restaurants here include the very popular O’hana (buffet style dining), and Trader Sam’s Tiki Bar (bar service). The resort has multiple modes of transportation and is closest to Magic Kingdom Park, where guests can choose to take a boat or monorail to the park.
Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa
When you see a Walt Disney World commercial on TV, you often see this beautiful resort in the backdrop. The Grand Floridian Resort and Spa is a place to sit back and relax in the lobby while the grandstand band plays popular Disney songs. There are multiple restaurants here, including Grand Floridian Cafe (table service where breakfast is served all day), Citricos, and the famous Victoria and Alberts (fine dining). This resort is closest to Magic Kingdom Park and allows guests to get there via boat or monorail, though there is construction going on, as of writing this post, for a walkway guests can use to walk to the park.
Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
Disney’s Wilderness Lodge is themed after a northern mountain lodge, complete with roaring fire! The resort is part of the Magic Kingdom Park resorts, though it will take longer to get to the park since it’s not on the monorail loop. Guests will either need to take the bus or boat to get to the park. There are multiple restaurants here, including Artist Point (character dining), and Whispering Canyon (table service dining).
Disney’s Beach Club Resort
This resort is all about the beaches of New England and is excellent for families looking to be close to Epcot. It’s just a short 5-minute walk to the park from the resort. This resort shares one of Disney’s most famous pools with Disney’s Yacht Club and has some great dining, including Beaches and Cream, Cape May Cafe, to name a few. You can get to Epcot and Hollywood Studios from this resort either by walking or taking the boat.
Disney’s Contemporary Resort
Disney’s Contemporary Resort has a distinctly nostalgic feel and is perfect for groups looking to be as close as possible to Magic Kingdom Park. Guests can get to the Magic Kingdom by walking a short walk, taking the boat, or the monorail. The hotel offers multiple dining options, including California Grill (signature dining) and Chef Mickey (character dining). Rooms are large and have views of the Magic Kingdom or Bay Lake.
Disney’s Yacht Club Resort
This resort offers guests a glimpse into what it’s like being a captain of a yacht. The resort is filled with nautical theming and is within walking distance to Epcot and Hollywood Studios. The pool here is shared with Disney’s Beach Club Resort and features a sand bottom. Dining at the resort is plentiful with the Yachtsman Steakhouse, and Ale and Compass.
Disney’s BoardWalk Inn
The Boardwalk is more than just a hotel. It's a turn of the century Atlantic City-themed waterfront resort that gives you the fun nightlife.
Disney’s BoardWalk Inn is within walking distance of Epcot and Hollywood Studios and has a boat to both parks. There are multiple dining options, including Trattoria al Forno, Ample Hills Creamery, Flying Fish, to name a few. There is a water slide with a big clown face and carnival games in the evening. For adults who want a night out, Jellyrolls Dueling Piano Bar is the place to be.
The Four Seasons at Walt Disney World Resort
Walt Disney World also has a Four Seasons Resort right on property and is relatively close to Magic Kingdom Park. The resort offers guests luxurious accommodations, excellent dining, and sweeping views of the Walt Disney World Resort.
Disney Villas offer guests even more room with a studio, one, two, and three-bedroom villas to spread out and enjoy your vacation. Some people think that Villas are only for Disney Vacation Club Members, but that’s not true. Anyone can stay at the villas, and if you have a large family or group going to Walt Disney World, a Villa might be just what you need. Each villa except for the studio offers a full kitchen for making meals, meaning you can offset the cost by eating in. This is an excellent option for mornings. You can have breakfast while everyone is getting ready. This saves time.
Studio rooms typically sleep four to five guests, one-bedroom villas sleep four guests, two-bedroom villas sleep eight, and three-bedroom villas sleep up to 12.
Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort and Spa
This resort offers guests easy access to Disney Springs, a golf course at the resort, and spacious rooms. Dining at Disney’s Saratoga Springs is limited, but you can head over to Disney Springs for many great options.
Disney’s Old Key West Resort
Disney’s Old Key West Resort was the first Disney Vacation Club resort, but now opens its doors outside of DVC members. The resort has a cute beach theme, but the rooms are the largest of the villas on Disney property. The only option for transportation to the parks is via the bus system here. Dining includes Olivia’s Cafe, and Gurgling Suitcase Libations and Spirits.
Disney’s Riviera Resort
Disney’s newest resort opened in December 2019 and is inspired by Walts Mediterranean travels. The rooms feature art and decor from this time in his life. It truly captures the magic that he felt on his European trips. Dining includes Topolino’s Terrace, Primo Piatto, and more. And this resort has access to the Disney Skyliner to get to Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Epcot.
Since these resorts were mentioned above, we will not be discussing the theming, dining, and closest park for the following resorts.
Disney’s Polynesian Villas and Bungalows
Disney’s Bay Lake Tower at Disney’s Contemporary Resort
The Villas at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa
Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas- Kidani Village
Disney’s BoardWalk Villas
Disney’s Beach Club Villas
Boulder Ridge Villas at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas- Jambo House
Copper Creek Villas and Cabins at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
Benefits at Disneyland Resort
Staying on property at Disneyland is not as imperative as it is at Walt Disney World, but there are some significant bonuses to staying at a Disneyland Resort hotel. The first is the benefit of Extra Magic Hours, which are for resort guests only. This extra hour of park time in the morning is excellent for your family and friends to ride top-level attractions like Matterhorn Bobsleds, Space Mountain, and more with as little wait as possible. Another benefit of staying at a Disneyland Resort hotel is how close they are to the parks. In fact, all of them are within walking distance to the Esplanade of Disneyland.
Disneyland Resort Deluxe Hotels
Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel and Spa
This hotel offers guests all of the services they expect from Disney with views of Disney California Adventure or the Downtown Disney District right from their room. The resort even provides an entrance for resort guests right into Disney California Adventure without having to go through the Esplanade. The resort offers rooms that sleep up to five adults and fantastic dining at various restaurants, including Napa Rose and Storytellers Cafe.
The Disneyland Hotel is the place to stay if you are looking for magic and nostalgia for all things Disney. Guests can stay in one of three towers at the hotel, Adventure, Fantasy, or Frontier. The resort is just a short walk through the Downtown Disney District to get to the parks. Dining on-site includes Tangaroa Terrace, Steakhouse 55, Goofy's Kitchen to name a few.
Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel
The most economical of the three Disneyland Resorts is Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel. The hotel offers guests a seaside escape, with a rooftop pool that has views of the Disneyland fireworks! The hotel is a short walk past the Disneyland Hotel through the Downtown Disney District to get to the parks. Dining here is somewhat limited, but still great options in Disney’s PCH Grill and The Sand Bar.
All in all, we highly recommend staying at a Disney Deluxe Resort. Not only are you the closest to the parks, no matter if you’re at Walt Disney World or Disneyland, but the rooms and amenities also cannot be matched at another resort.
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