Which Deluxe Resort should you stay at in Walt Disney World?

Disney

You could say that choosing to stay in a deluxe resort is easier than choosing which deluxe resort to stay in, purely because each and every single one of the deluxe resorts are utterly beautiful in their own way, as you would only expect given Disney’s attention to detail and ability to create a story.

That said, it becomes a little easier if you group the resorts, which is what I am going to do to hopefully make your next decision a little easier…

The groups that I would say separate the Deluxe resorts are as follows:

  • More Affordable Resorts
  • Epcot & Hollywood Studios Resorts
  • Magic Kingdom Resorts

It is worth noting at this point, that every single one of the WDW Deluxe resorts have rooms that are part of the Disney Vacation Club (DVC), meaning that villas and studio apartments may also be available when you are making your booking, usually at an additional cost, but will give you a bigger room, with at least a kitchenette, if not a fully equipped kitchen. Because of this, you will find that the store within each resort will have a grocery section with a fair selection of products to purchase so that you can take advantage of the facilities in your guest room.

Before we explore each of the resorts individually, you may be wondering what else do the deluxe resorts offer that are different from the Value Resorts or Moderate Resorts well here’s a breakdown:

  • Each guest room has a balcony with outdoor seating; Garden, Lake or other views may be available at an additional cost.
  • Each guest room is accessed from an in internal corridor, with the exception of Old Key West and Saratoga Springs resorts.
  • At least one additional method of transport is available to one other area of WDW, if not more, with the exception of Animal Kingdom Lodge.
  • More than one full-service restaurant, with the exception of Old Key West and Saratoga Springs resorts.

More Affordable Deluxe Resorts

There are a selection of the deluxe resorts that may fit a smaller budget – where you have a reasonable amount to spend on your accommodation and would like your hotel to have a more luxurious feel than what the Value and Moderate resorts offer, but aren’t out of your price range either. Please note that the hotels that fit into this group are generally the more affordable options, however, on occasion and particularly during peak seasons and if you are booking within a few months of your arrival date, these resorts may turn out to be more expensive than other resorts.

Animal Kingdom Lodge

Generally speaking, this is the the cheapest WDW Deluxe resort available to book, and what a beautiful resort it is to stay in. AKL has a very grand feel to it – from the floor to ceiling lobby that leads onto an actual savannah, to the selection of African and Indian inspired restaurants, to pool areas surrounded by luscious greenery and smaller animal showcases, such as flamingos, you will absolutely feel like you are right in the heart of Africa during your stay here. AKL has a traditional hotel feel to it also, as every guest room is accessed from corridors that lead from the Jambo House (main lobby) of the resort, giving you a real sense of ‘arriving home’ after a day in the parks. When booking you will have the opportunity to book a savannah-view room, something that will be very difficult to pass up on – who wouldn’t want to wake up and walk onto their balcony to see animals such as giraffes, zebra and antelope, eating breakfast or wandering the savannah?! This resort also has the option to upgrade your guest room to Club Level (the most affordable Club Level on WDW property), giving you access to all-day snacks and refreshments in the Club Level lounge, as well as turndown service each night and separate check-in desk.

The resort has 3 full-service restaurants available to dine in and each one offers a different dining experience, themed around different elements of the African culture: Boma is a buffet restaurant, serving breakfast and dinner, and the famous Zebra Domes; Jiko – The Cooking Place is a signature dining restaurant with exotic decor and an extensive wine list for the wine drinkers in your party; and Sanaa, located at Kidani Village (DVC part of the resort), which offers both Indian and African inspired dishes. Animal Kingdom Lodge also has a selection of bars and lounges to relax in over a drink and appetisers, and the quick-service restaurant, The Mara, is a popular place to visit, whether you’re a resort guest or not, for their unique meal and snack offerings. The resort also holds 2 gift shops, the main store in the Jambo House, and another smaller store at Kidani Village.

If you opt to stay in one of the larger guest rooms, i.e. a studio or villa, then you will likely be staying in Kidani Village, the DVC part of the resort. Your reservation will inform you of which part of the resort you are staying, so make sure to look out for this when checking in, as you will need to visit the specific check-in desk, allowing you a quick and easy check-in. When travelling on the WDW transportation system, Animal Kingdom Lodge has 2 stops: Jambo House; and Kidani Village – again make sure you get off at the right stop, to avoid the need to catch another bus to the other part of the resort, or maybe even a considerable walk! On the subject of transportation, Animal Kingdom Lodge is the only Deluxe resort that only has 1 mode of transport available to all other parts of WDW; but this is partly made up for by being literally round the corner from Animal Kingdom. This does, however, mean that you are located on the outskirts of the WDW resort, so you will have a longer journey to get to the other Disney Parks and Disney Springs.

Resort activities at Animal Kingdom Lodge include: safari scavenger hunt; safari adventures (for an additional cost);  cultural and art tours in both parts of the resort; night vision animal viewing on the savannah; movies under the stars throughout the week; pool parties; trivia competition one night of the week at each part of the resort; painting class with beverage on the resort’s balcony (for an additional cost); and plenty of activities for the younger members of your party, such as jewellery making, music time, story time etc.

Saratoga Springs*

Think up-state New York, grand Victorian-style buildings, and an equestrian-themed story… Saratoga Springs was the 2nd DVC resort to open, and so every room is at least a studio apartment, with kitchenette, if not a villa with fully-equipped kitchen. All guest rooms are accessed by an external corridor, but each still has at least some outdoor space of your own, whether it be a patio area or a balcony, that may overlook the Sassagoula River, Disney Springs, the beautiful scenery around the resort, or even a golf course view, of Disney’s Lake Buena Vista golf course. Staying here, your room will be part of one of 5 areas in the resort: Congress Park, The Carousel, The Springs, The Paddock and The Grandstand – all named in line with the equestrian theming of the resort. You will notice that the buildings in each section are painted a uniform colour to separate one part form another, and to help you know which stop to get off at, during your first few days exploring WDW. Of course, each guest room will have a nod to some famous Disney horses, but will have a luxurious feel to them, making for a comfortable and enjoyable time in your room. The resort has several pools, including the main pool, High Rock Spring, where the daily poolside entertainment takes place. Navigation around the resort is made easier for you by an internal bus service.

Saratoga Springs has an additional area of the resort that may be available when booking, the Treehouse Villas, a pretty special place to stay if you have the opportunity. Think your very own treehouse in beautiful woodland with floor-to-ceiling windows to gaze out of at any time, open plan living space, but enough beds for up to 9 guests to stay in, with your very own balcony to enjoy a BBQ on, and outdoor seating to play games around. Staying in one of these, you will absolutely feel like you are somewhere else, and is the ideal place to stay if you want a more tranquil vacation. These will work better for guests with a car as they are separate from the main area of Saratoga Springs, so getting to the facilities that the resort offers is not as easy as staying in the regular rooms/villas. In terms of cost, you will be looking at a considerable price difference to stay here, but bear in mind that the Treehouse Villas would be perfect for larger families or parties.

Saratoga Springs is within walking distance of Disney Springs, meaning that you have a great selection of restaurants, bars and shops almost on your doorstep. There is also boat access to Disney Springs too if you are staying in an area a little further away form Disney Springs. The resort’s full-service restaurant, The Turf Club Bar & Grill will be a place to visit if you have any meat and seafood lovers in your party, and The Artist’s Palette has a great selection of quick-service meals and snacks to grab, if you are preferring to not take advantage of the in-room kitchen facilities. For any spa lovers in your party, Senses – A Disney Spa is located at Saratoga Springs, and for the fitness fanatics, a fitness centre and basketball, tennis and shuffleboard courts. Other resort activities include: marshmallow-toasting around the campfire; movies under the stars most nights each week; nighttime pool party at the High Rock Spring pool on select nights each week; trivia night in the bar one night each week; Jockey’s Hideout, where one evening each week teens and tweens are invited to enjoy music, refreshments and video games in Community Hall; sunrise yoga and a weekly family run event; cycles and surrey bikes available for hire so that you can explore the resort; and animation and painting classes available to take part in, at an additional cost.

Old Key West*

If Key West, Naples and other beautiful parts of Florida are on your list of places to visit, you just haven’t yet been there, or its a favourite place in the world for you, then Old Key West is the place to stay. Think pastel coloured buildings, surrounded by luscious greenery, waterways, little peaks at a golf course and a real homely feel! Old Key West was the very first DVC resort to open, and so is very similar to Saratoga Springs in terms of the guest rooms available to stay in – studio apartments through to 3-bedroom villas, accessed by external corridors, but each room with their own balcony or patio area. The resort features 3 leisure pools with whirlpools, as well as the main pool at Hospitality House with a Sandcastle pool slide, that sits near the resort boat landing. With several bus stops around the resort, you will never be too far away from catching the bus to the rest of the Disney parks, and there is also a boat service to Disney Springs. Location-wise, Old Key West is close to the centre of the WDW resort area, so you can expect a relatively short bus ride to Epcot, Hollywood Studios and Magic Kingdom, and a little longer journey to Animal Kingdom.

The resort has one full-service restaurant, Olivia’s Cafe, as well as a couple of quick-service restaurants available, and a general store to allow you to pick up a selection of groceries to take advantage of your guest room dining facilities. The resort also features several playground and barbecue areas that you can make use of depending on your party’s needs. For any sports enthusiasts, there is a fitness centre, running trail including weekly running event for an additional cost, water aerobics, and a selection of courts available to use if basketball, tennis, volleyball or shuffleboard take your fancy. If you’d like to explore Old Key West by cycling, there are cycles and surrey bikes available for hire; or if you’d like to refine your tennis technique, tennis lessons are available to book. Not only can you enjoy campfires with marshmallows and movies under the stars every night at Old Key West, but movies are also available to borrow and enjoy in your resort room. You may also want to learn more about the theming of the resort, and so a complimentary walking adventure of the resort is available to enjoy a couple of times a week – tours like these really do give you a great insight into the thinking behind the beautiful resort you are staying in. For an additional cost, daily speciality crafts are held in Community Hall, and Wine and Mixology seminars are held weekly in the Dolphin Room at Olivia’s Cafe.

*It is worth noting, that depending on your time of booking, Saratoga Springs and Old Key West may not show as a hotel option. Due to being DVC resorts, availability for non-DVC members is not released until 11 months before your arrival date, at the earliest. This is because booking becomes available to DVC members 11 months ahead of their planned arrival date, and so rooms are reserved for DVC points to be used before other guests are able to reserve rooms.

Epcot & Hollywood Studios Resorts

In terms of pricing, these resorts tend to be more expensive, however, if you have the budget to allow for a stay in these resort, then you will not be disappointed! With the exception of Riviera Resort, these resorts are within walking distance (yes, you can walk to both resorts from your hotel!!) from Epcot and Hollywood Studios, and even better, if you want to give your feet a rest, or save your energy for in the parks, you can also get one of the Friendship Boats to both resorts too. When comparing prices to the Magic Kingdom resorts, they are all very much on a par with one another, and swap and change about in terms of more or least expensive, according to season and availability. These resorts are also, what I would say, central to the whole of WDW, making them around equal distance from Magic Kingdom, Disney Springs, and Animal Kingdom – you could even say they have the perfect location, but I’ll leave that for you to decide! If you are struggling to decide between one of these resorts and Magic Kingdom and costing isn’t helping (I know for a lot of guests, this can be the big deciding factor), let 2 things guide your decision – which theming grabs your eye the most, and location (if either of these parks is your favourite, then its a no brainer to stay in one of the following resorts)…

BoardWalk Inn

If the thought of a hotel that has great nightlife, as well as all of the other things you can expect from a Disney resort, then the BoardWalk Inn is the place for you… Sitting literally just around the corner from Epcot, Boardwalk Inn has a turn-of-the century feel, with fun-themed pools, taffy-coloured buildings, and it’s very own Boardwalk with carnival games and great nightlight, making you feel like you are in the very heart of Atlantic City. The layout of the hotel features the lobby at the very centre of the boardwalk, overlooking a beautiful lawn area; following a corridor to the left of the lobby, you will make your way to the regular guest rooms, and to the right, the DVC studios/villas. The main pool, Luna Park Pool is carnival themed, with a 200ft-long waterslide, carousel building near by, whirlpool spa for adults to enjoy, and grinning elephants that may get you wet in a water-play area! There are also 2 leisure pools around the resort if you prefer to relax without any poolside entertainment. When booking, you may have the option to book a boardwalk view, where your balcony will overlook Crescent Lake, and you can watch the guests wandering the boardwalk down below. Around the resort there are also lounges for you to enjoy and relax in. You will also have two(!!) forms of access to and from Hollywood Studios; catch the boat from the dock on the boardwalk or if you’ve just missed it, a 5-minute walk away is the Disney Skyliner, and of course there is always the option to walk too if prefer to meander along the path on a quiet morning, or if you’re still feeling fresh after exploring the park.

If you choose to stay in the BoardWalk Inn, you certainly won’t be short of options when it comes to dining and drinking: it is home to two popular full-service restaurants (Trattoria al Forno and Flying Fish); several bars to enjoy a drink and appetisers in (AbracadaBar, Belle Vue Lounge and BoardWalk Joe’s Marvellous Margarita’s), including the ESPN Club, where you can catch all of your favourite sports on the screens; quick-service locations (BoardWalk Bakery, BoardWalk Pizza Delivery Window and Ample Hills Creamery); its very own dance hall; a selection of stores to buy Disney merchandise or stock up on groceries for your guest room; and my personal favourite – Jelly Rolls – Disney’s duelling piano bar! Not to forget, the blast-from-the-past games to enjoy along the boardwalk too, plus a Photo Booth stop, and if you’re lucky you may come across street performers and magicians too! Let’s just say that this is a place to visit even if you aren’t a resort guest of the BoardWalk Inn. 

As if all of these things weren’t enough, other activities are also available for resort guests, as you would only expect given that it’s a Disney resort: movies under the stars every night of the week; sunrise yoga, as well as a fitness centre for resort guests to use; running trail that will guide you around Crescent Lake, and a weekly running event, for an additional cost; lots of activities that take place in Community Hall that all the family can enjoy, as well as poolside activities and entertainment; and you may even want to try your had at some painting, for an additional cost.

Yacht & Beach Club

Located just across Crescent Lake from the BoardWalk Inn, the Yacht & Beach Club are two differently themed hotel resorts that share the same New England-style and common features and amenities, and also share a bus stop at the Disney Parks and Disney Springs – this is why I have grouped them together here. Having said that, there may be one of these two resorts that appeal to you more than the other, based on their theming.

Yacht Club is the very pale great/blue and white part of the resort, that has the Crescent Lake lighthouse located right in front of it, on the boat landing where you can catch the Friendship Boats to Epcot and Hollywood Studios. You could say that the interior design of this resort is very well suited to the captain of an expensive yacht or prestigious cruise ship; a quiet and tranquil resort that will certainly allow you to relax in, whether that be in your guest room, or in the beautiful lobby with it’s intimate design. To the right of the Yacht Club, looking from the BoardWalk Inn, sits the Beach Club with its light blue and white exterior, beautiful gardens that lead to the resort from its very own beach on the shore of Crescent Lake. This resort has a more laid back feel than the Yacht Club, with a similarly grand lobby, but one that feels more open, and maybe, playful. Both resorts have the same offering of guest rooms, ranging from a regular guest room, to the DVC offerings of studio apartments and villas. Rooms are themed accordingly to the side of the resort that you are staying in, but neither less beautifully than the other. When booking, you may also have the option to select different balcony/patio views – garden or lake view. Both resorts also have Club-Level rooms that may be available to select when booking, giving you access to snacks and beverages throughout the day from the Club Level lounge, and a separate check-in desk. Location-wise, Beach Club is the closest when travelling from Epcot, whilst Yacht Club is the closest when travelling from Hollywood Studios. It is likely though that if Epcot is your destination from either of these resorts, it is quicker to walk there rather than waiting for the boat, as the boat stops at BoardWalk Inn before Epcot. In terms of getting to Hollywood Studios, you have the option of catching the boat or taking a short walk to the Skyliner, or even a stroll directly to the park entrance.

When looking at Yacht & Beach Club from the BoardWalk Inn, you will spot a huge pirate shipwreck that sits in the middle of the two resorts; this is part of Stormalong Bay, which is quite possible the best WDW resort pool there is. And it’s not just a pool – in fact, its a 3-acre water area exclusive to Yacht & Beach Club guests only, featuring a sand-bottom pool, a 230ft waterslide, a lazy river, 3 whirlpool spas, daily poolside entertainment and a sun lounging deck. If you are preferring a quieter area to relax in, with access to a pool, there are also 3 leisure pools around the resorts for you to use as well. Yacht & Beach Club also share their own massage, salon and fitness centre that you and your family can use throughout your stay. Being on the waterfront, you can also take a trip to the Bayside Marina and hire small watercraft to explore Crescent Lake. Together, these resorts have a grand total of 8 dining options for you to choose from; including 2 large quick-service restaurants with plenty of choice when it comes to meals and snacks, a pool side bar and grill, 4 lounges to enjoy your favourite cocktails and alcoholic beverages in, and one of which (Ale & Compass) serves meals throughout the day, and 3 full-service restaurants to dine in. Even if you choose to stay elsewhere, these restaurants should be on your list to dine in… Beaches & Cream is a popular stop for all of your ice cream sundaes and sweet treats, including the famous Kitchen Sink. Yachtsman Steakhouse is the ideal location for fine dining, whilst Cape May Cafe is worth a visit if you are looking for a buffet restaurant with plenty of choice, but also character dining too.

Other resort activities at Yacht & Beach Club include: movies under the stars each night of the week; campfire on select nights each week; mermaid school, for an additional cost, for your little mermaids; treasure cruises at an additional cost; if you have any little pirate’s  in your party, they will love Captain Hook’s Pirate Crew where they will learn just what it takes to be a pirate, available at an additional cost; sunrise yoga; a running trail, with weekly running event for an additional cost; daily pin trading; and Painting on the Vineyard, where you are guided through your very own painting to take home with you, for an additional cost.

Riviera Resort

The newest of the WDW hotel resorts, having just opened in the Autumn of 2019, Riviera Resort sits across the lake from Caribbean Beach, having been built on what used to be part of Caribbean Beach Resort. This does mean that it is a little further away from Epcot and Hollywood Studios than the other 2 resorts we have just looked at, however access to both resorts is made so much easier by access to the Disney Skyliner, the station of which is right outside Riviera Resort. The resort is inspired by Europe and the Mediterranean; from a palm tree-lined boulevard, to the grand archway, towers and terraces, it has a real elegant feel to it. Inside, there is plenty of beautiful art pieces to discover, including 2 floor-to-ceiling mosaic pieces inspired by Tangled and Peter Pan. Outside, there is an abundance of beautiful gardens with fountains and lush landscaping, and a scenic waterfront to stroll along.

Dining-wise, you will find 2 quick-service offerings, including Le Petit Cafe where you will truly feel like you’re in the heart of Paris, with mouthwatering delicacies to enjoy and an authentic and charming ambience. Topolino’s Terrace is Riviera’s full-service restaurant with a rooftop view overlooking Epcot, offering character dining, with Mickey and friends dressed as artists, for breakfast and a more signature experience for dinner. Be sure to take a visit to Bar Riva if you are looking for cocktails to sip on a light bites to enjoy overlooking the resort’s beautiful pool areal and waterfront. Being so close to the Skyliner will also make it easy for you to travel to other hotel resorts and enjoy their dining offerings too, especially if you fancy a little adventure that doesn’t involve the Disney parks! Room selections at Riviera include regular guest rooms, and DVC offerings, such as studio apartments through to 3-bedroom villas. There is also a Club-Level option that may be available to you when booking.

Resort activities at Riviera include: complimentary yoga and family workouts twice a week; a Skyliner Rally Scanveger Hunt several times a week, that will be fun for all the family; a fitness centre available to resort guest to use throughout their stay; a running trail with weekly running event for any running fans in your party; an art scavenger hunt around the resort; lawn games daily, as well as a grand prix where participants can construct their own race car before taking part in the race; daily Regatta on the pool, prior to opening; nightly movies under the stars, story time and campfire with marshmallows; and a selection of activities for an additional cost, including paint your own animation cell, mediterranean masterpiece art class, and painting on the Riviera.

Magic Kingdom Resorts

As I’ve mentioned above, in terms of pricing, the Magic Kingdom resort are on a par with the Epcot & Hollywood Studios resort, and swap and change around in terms of more or less expensive to stay in, according to season and availability. One of the following resorts is likely to win you over more so than the Epcot and Hollywood Studios resorts, because of either their location, theming or the amount of transport options the resorts have. Location wise, you are only a monorail or boat ride away from The Most Magical Place on Earth, so you will absolutely feel like you are truly at the heart of the magic in any of these resorts. Having so many transport options available also makes it easier to get to Magic Kingdom, as well as being able to access the other Disney Parks too, via the WDW transportation system.

Wilderness Lodge

Inspired by Yosemite, Wilderness Lodge really does give you the feeling of being right in the heart of a National Park; surrounded by cedar trees, its very own geyser, waterfalls, and the most grand and beautiful lobby with its own roaring fire, rocking chairs and character totem pole! Set on the shores of Bay Lake, Wilderness Lodge is just a boat ride away from Magic Kingdom – it’s so close to the magic that you will even be able to see some of the fireworks from Happily Every After whilst on the beach of an evening. The resort has Roaring Fork, a great quick-service restaurant where you can get lots of great meals, including the famous Mickey Waffles for breakfast. On the shores of Bay Lake, down near the boat dock, you will find the Geyser Point Bar & Grill, a perfect spot to watch the sunset over Bay Lake whilst sipping on a cocktail and enjoying some delicious appetisers or meals. Another lounge is situated close to the lobby, Territory Lounge – a place to relax after a busy day in the parts. And then there’s 2 popular full -service restaurants… Whispering Canyon Cafe – get ready for a fully immersive experience where male guests in the restaurant may have to sing ‘I’m a little teapot’ (dance moves and all), or a cast member may eat a birthday cake instead of the birthday boy/girl (before replacing, don’t worry!), or where a member of your party may be put in jail, all whilst dining on all-you-can eat skillets, as well as the most delicious cornbread. If a character dining experience is what you’re looking for, and starring Snow White, Dopey, Grumpy and the Wicked Queen, the Artist Point will be a good choice for you and your party, with dishes inspired by the Disney classic, Snow White & The Seven Dwarfs. 

When selecting your guest room at Wilderness Lodge at booking, there is quite a choice available to you, from regular guest rooms, to studio apartments, villas and even shoreside cabins. If a regular guest room will suit your family, you certainly won’t be disappointed by the continued lodge theming into your room, where you will see little hints of Disney characters amongst wood carved furniture and a balcony that continues to make you feel like you’re nestled right in the heart of Yosemite. All guest rooms lead from the main lobby and are off long winding corridors, giving you the feel of being in a true hotel. If you’re looking for something a little bigger with in-room dining facilities, you will want to select a studio apartment or villa, which are situated in a separate building just off of the main lobby, as part of the DVC collection of resorts. If that wasn’t enough or if you want to have an extra special experience, then selecting one of the lakeside cabins might suit you better, and only recently built, these cabins won’t disappoint, with a full kitchen featuring an island, and your very own hot tub.

Activities-wise, Wilderness Lodge has plenty on offer for you to enjoy, including 2 pools and water play area, a health club, salon, barbecue pavilion, boat rentals to allow you to sail around Bay Lake and Seven Seas Lagoon, and bike rentals, where you can cycle to Fort Wilderness and back. Resort activities include: campfire and S’mores; movies under the stars several times each week; story time; sports tournaments in the arcade; sunrise yoga on the pool deck a couple of times each week; glow-in-the-wilderness party each week; tie-dye crafts for an additional cost; and a complimentary Wonders of the Lodge Art & Architecture Tour for any of your party who want to learn more about the design features of this wonderful hotel.

Contemporary Resort

If staying in an original WDW-opening hotel appeals to you, then the Contemporary Resort is the one for you!  With its iconic A-frame building on the right-side of Magic Kingdom and Seven Seas Lagoon, and overlooking Bay Lake, this resort has a fresh and modern feel to it. The resort is known for its variety of dining experiences, its stunning views over the Magic Kingdom and its surrounding lakes, the swift movement of the monorail through the resort, and its 90ft-mural that celebrates the Grand Canyon and Southwest America. With a selection of rooms to choose from, you will be right in the heart of the magic, with a space that suits you and your family – ranging from a garden or lake  view room in one of the exterior buildings of the resort, to a room in the main building with a firework or theme park view, and for those families that need a little more space, DVC studios and villas available in Bay Lake Tower, which is located to the left of the iconic building of the Contemporary Resort. If a little more luxury is what you are looking for, be sure to select Club Level when booking. Being on the monorail loop, you are one stop away from your guest room after an exciting day at the Magic Kingdom, and to make access easier when travelling to the Magic Kingdom. There is a walkway that leads from the Contemporary Resort if you would prefer to walk to Magic Kingdom rather than complete the loop of Seven Seas Lagoon on the monorail. Speaking of the monorail, one stop away from the Contemporary is the Transportation & Ticket Centre, where you can change lines and get the monorail to Epcot, meaning you have easy access to two of the Disney Parks. The Contemporary also has a boat dock, which gives you an additional mode of transport to get to Magic Kingdom, but it also makes for easy access to Wilderness Lodge and Fort Wilderness, giving you more dining options than is already on offer to you.

Now you’re probably wondering what is on offer in terms of dining at the Contemporary, and you certainly won’t be disappointed with the selection available to you, some of which are firm favourites for non-resort guests to visit. The Contemporary is home to 3 full-service restaurants: Chef Mickey’s which is character and buffet dining; The Wave… of American Flavours, which is available for breakfast, lunch and dinner; and California Grill, a signature dining experience, that offers guest not only award-winning dishes, but a spectacular view of the Magic Kingdom fireworks – what a perfect way to end your evening meal! There are 4 bars to enjoy beverages at, as well as a Joffrey’s Coffee stand in the main lobby, and Contempo Cafe, a popular quick-service restaurant to grab quick meals, and speciality cupcakes.

In terms of resort activities, the Contemporary has a variety to offer: several themed pools, with the main pool including a waterslide, daily poolside activities and games, a weekly pool glow party, and poolside cabanas and premium poolside seating available to hire; a game station which may be a must-visit for any teenagers or game lovers in your party; movies under the stars and campfire & s’mores on select nights of the week; lakeside yoga and body toning on select days of the week; firework cruises and small boats to hire available at an additional cost from The Boat Nook Marina; and guided fishing excursions, also available at an additional cost.

Polynesian Village

Located on the opposite side of Seven Seas Lagoon from Magic Kingdom lies the beautiful Polynesian Village resort, and this resort really is a Hawaiian dream. You will be welcomed home from the minute you step foot into the truly stunning lobby of this resort, and could very well be presented with your own lei as you check in. From there you will venture into the picturesque grounds, whether that be walking alongside the volcano pool, down tiki-torch lit pathways, or down the beachside path, or past the harbour, to your guest room location, in one of the Hawaii-island named buildings. The tropical theming continues into your guest room, where you can select a guest room with standard, lagoon, marina, pool or theme park view, or if you prefer to take advantage of DVC offerings there are studios through to three-bedroom villas to choose from. Club Level rooms are also available at the Poly, and if you are hoping to honeymoon at WDW, then this might just be where you choose to stay, with the offering of a honeymoon suite. If you’re looking to go one further with your room choice, you may want to look at the bungalows that sit on the edge of Seven Seas Lagoon, with your very own hot tub – perfect for a relax after a busy day with a fireworks view. When it comes to accessing the Disney Parks, you have most of the Disney transportation options available to you: boat and monorail access to Magic Kingdom; buses to Disney Springs, Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom; and you are a short walking distance away from the Transportation & Ticket Centre where you can board the monorail to Epcot. 

In terms of dining, the Poly has some of my favourite stops to eat and drink, with 2 full-service restaurants (‘Ohana & Kona Cafe), a dinner show (Spirit of Aloha), 5 bars – most of which also have food options to order, and a quick-service restaurant. You certainly won’t be stuck for options when it comes to food, and not to forget, that the Poly is where you can get the famous Dole Whip without having to enter a Disney Park. Whether you are a resort guest at the Poly, or just visiting for a dining reservation, you will certainly want to explore as many of the restaurant and bar options available here: ‘Ohana serves up the most delicious family-style dinner with a potential firework viewing spot if you manage to secure a reservation that coincides with Happily Ever After, or you may want to share breakfast with Lilo, Stitch, Mickey and Pluto here; Kona Cafe serves up the famous Tonga Toast and other delicious breakfast items, as well as lunch and dinner offerings; and Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto should absolutely be on your list of places to visit – incredible theming, magical moments and brilliant cocktails!

The Poly also has plenty of activities to take advantage of when a resort guest: poolside activities including bingo, Disney trivia, pool parties, challenges and games; movies under the stars and campfire on select nights of the week; weekly trivia at Trader Sam’s Tiki Terrace; Aloha after Dark games and dancing one night each week; poolside patios available for hire; fitness centre available for use by resort guests; Celebration of Aloha Cultural Festival that takes place weekly where you may get the change to make your very own lei; and Lilo’s Playhouse on select nights each week where the kids can hang out and play video games. Available to all guests, even if you are staying elsewhere on property: boat rentals to sail Seven Seas Lagoon; fireworks cruises available to book at an additional cost; and the beach offers a perfect location to watch the fireworks over Magic Kingdom – the fireworks soundtrack is played over the speaker system of the resort, and you will be away from the hustle and bustle of Magic Kingdom, something I would say is a must for one night of your stay in WDW.

Grand Floridian

Sitting on the shores of Seven Seas Lagoon and one monorail stop away from Magic Kingdom, is the iconic white building/red roofed Grand Floridian Resort & Spa – a resort that combines Victorian elegance with modern sophistication. Relax in its sumptuous lobby whilst listening to jazz played by the Grand Floridian Society Orchestra, enjoy a delicious meal in one of the resort’s lavish restaurants, sip on themed cocktails in the recently opened Enchanted Rose lounge, take a dip in the selection of pools or watch fireworks over Magic Kingdom from the marina, or maybe even your own balcony. I’m sure that you will never want to leave this grand and beautiful resort. Every guest room has a tranquil and welcoming feel, and with plenty of room options available at the Grand Floridian, you won’t struggle to find the room that best suits your family’s needs: from regular guest rooms with a variety of views to choose from – pool, garden, lagoon and theme park; to club level rooms in either an other building or in the main building of the resort; and studio apartments through to three-bedroom villas in the DVC Grand Floridian Villas building. For any of your party who enjoy a spa visit, you will definitely want to secure a reservation in Senses – A Disney Spa that is on site. There is also a fitness centre for resort guests to make use of during their stay.

The Grand Floridian is another resort where you won’t be short of dining options: 5 incredible full-service restaurants; the Garden View Tea Room – where you can enjoy quite possible the best afternoon tea there is; 3 bars; and 2 quick service restaurants. With reference to the 5 table-service restaurants available to choose from: 1900 Park Fare is a buffet and character dining experience; Grand Floridian Cafe is the perfect spot to grab breakfast, lunch or dinner with a relaxed feel; Citrico’s serves up Mediterranean inspired dishes and an award-winning wine list; Narcoossee’s is located on the edge of the resort near the boat dock, and a perfect restaurant for seafood lovers; and then there’s Victoria & Albert’s, a superior fine dining experience. The transportation options to you from the Grand Floridian make it easy for you to access the different areas of WDW: bus transportation is available to the Disney Parks and Disney Springs; you are a monorail stop or a boat ride away from Magic Kingdom; and the monorail makes for an easy way for you to get to Epcot, with a change at the Transportation & Ticket Centre onto the Epcot line.

There are two pools available at the Grand Floridian for guests to use – the beach pool, overlooking Seven Seas Lagoon with a waterfall and water slide, and the courtyard pool, a serene pool with zero-entry. Both pools are located next to a bar, making it easier for you to stay refreshed throughout the day. There is also an Alice in Wonderland themed water play area that is certainly worth a visit on a pool day. Poolside cabanas are also available to hire. The marina at the Grand Floridian offers firework cruises as well as boat hire for you to sail on Seven Seas Lagoon at an additional cost. Other resort activities include: lawn games at the Summerhouse; poolside entertainment including pool parties, rubber duck races, Disney Trivia, chalk art and bingo; sandcastle building on the beach; campfire & s’mores and movies under the stars each week night; family trivia night at the Gasparilla Island Grill Patio on select nights each week; rise and shine yoga at the summerhouse on select mornings each week; Disney’s Perfectly Princess Tea at the Garden View Tea Room; and a Dream ’N Design craft project with complementary beverage available at an additional cost.

And there you have it – phew, we made it! – a summary of each of the 11 Deluxe hotel resorts available at WDW. Hopefully, you have more of an idea of which resort to stay at or there’s a couple that you need to choose between. Whatever resort you choose, know that you won’t be disappointed in your choice as each and every one of the resorts we’ve just explored are unique and special in their own way. My advice for you when you arrive and whilst on vacation, is take advantage of all that your resort has to offer, and go and visit the other resorts too – some of your most favourite memories may be made away form the Disney Parks, but still where you are immersed in the Disney magic!

Have a magical day and see ya real soon! 

Guest Post: @disneytoria

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