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by Disney Magic Diva

Ask a Diva - Disney ResortsDo you have questions? We have answers! Each week, a Diva or Devo will share some of our best tips with you as we answer five of your questions. This week, Disney Magic Diva answers your questions regarding Disney Resorts.
1. What are the in-room differences between a moderate and value resort? Bed size, floor space, amenities, all of the above? Thanks!

Walt Disney World Resort has over 25 different resort options for its guests – and there is something for every budget. Veteran visitors know that Disney separates its resorts into three categories: value, moderate, and deluxe.  Each is designed to fit a different budget, and naturally has different amenities.

There are six value resorts: Disney’s All Star Movies Resort, Disney’s All Star Music Resort, Disney’s All Star Sports Resort, Disney’s Pop Century Resort, Disney’s Art of Animation Resort, and The Campsites at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort. (The Campsites are just that – campsites for recreational vehicles or tents. Since they don’t have “rooms”, they won’t be included for purposes of this question. Fort Wilderness also offers cabins which can sleep up to 6 people!  The cabins are considered a “moderate” resort, and are discussed below.) The value resorts are perfect for those families who are on a budget yet want to take advantage of all the perks available to guests staying on Disney property. (Read why Passholder Diva will never stay off property again!)

Value resort rooms typically are about 260 square feet with 2 double beds (or 1 king) a mini-refrigerator, a table and 2 chairs. The bathrooms have a small vanity area with one sink, and a separate room for the bathtub and toilet.  Disney’s Pop Century Resort is in the process of renovating their rooms, and Dopey Diva recently had the chance to stay there.

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Renovated room at Pop Century Photo credit: Dopey Diva

The rooms have 1 queen bed and 1 fold down murphy-type queen bed, which doubles as the table when it is not in use. They look fabulous!  The All Star Resorts and Art of Animation Resort also offer suites which allow for larger families to stay in the same room together. The suites offer 520 square feet of space, a kitchenette with a mini-refrigerator and microwave, 1 queen bed, 1 pull-down sofa bed, 1 chair bed and 1 ottoman bed.  While these pull down beds may work well for families with 3 or more children, I’m not sure how comfortable they would be for adults.

Diva Tip: Many times people with parties of 5 think they need to book a suite. While there are certainly advantages to being in the same room, be sure to think about booking 2 standard rooms at a value resort, or even a moderate resort.  It may actually be more economical!

Ask a Diva: Disney Resorts

Art of Animation

As for other resort amenities, the value resorts all have themed pools (Art of Animation has the largest pool on Disney property!), food courts for quick service dining, complimentary wi-fi, Movies Under the Stars, bike rentals, jogging trails, playground, laundry and dry cleaning service, complimentary parking, Disney bus transportation, Resort Airline check-in service – basically everything you need to make your stay magical! (Read my review of All Star Sports and why Fairy Diva recommends choosing a value resort!)

Diva Tip: During certain times of the year, the All Star resorts share bus transportation to the parks. This can result in crowded, or even full, busses. Pop Century and Art of Animation each have a dedicated bus, making bus transportation potentially a little easier at these resorts than at the All Stars.

The moderate resorts are Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort, Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort, Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – Riverside, Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – French Quarter, and The Cabins at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort. Caribbean Beach Resort and Coronado Springs Resort are both undergoing construction, so be sure to check the Disney website before you decide if that resort is right for you.  We stayed at Caribbean Beach shortly after construction began – you can read about it here.

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A king bed room at Caribbean Beach Resort

Standard rooms at the moderate resorts typically have 314 square feet. It may not sound like a big difference over the 260 square feet of a value resort room, but if you have more than 2 adults in the room, or if you have a lot of baby or toddler gear, it does make a huge difference! A little more room to spread out may make the difference in your vacation feeling comfortable and relaxed or cramped and stressed. Moderate resort rooms have 2 queen beds (or 1 king), a mini-refrigerator, table, 2 chairs, and coffeemaker.  The vanity area has 2 sinks (a huge perk for our family!) instead of the single sink found in the value resorts.

As for other resort amenities, the moderates have the same as the value resorts, with the addition of a waterslide at the pools, table service restaurants in addition to quick service choices, campfires, and some offer additional activites like horse-drawn carriage rides, fishing, or volleyball. (The Cabins at Fort Wilderness also have horseback riding, canoeing, kayaking, and archery!)

2. Are there any benefits of staying at the same resort over and over again? Or would you recommend trying out new places with each visit?

When we first started visiting Walt Disney World Resort, we always stayed at Dixie Landings. We were a family of 5, and we loved the space and amenities offered there.  (Today, that resort is Port Orleans – Riverside.) Then when our children were in high school and we visited as chaperones on a choir trip, the group stayed at All Star Music.  It was fun to see a different resort, but staying in a smaller room confirmed our preference for a moderate.  (Well – maybe it was the noise of accompanying  50+ teenagers!)

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Many guests love to visit Richard at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa

And while there is no tangible perk of being a repeat guest at a certain resort, there are many intangible ones. Repeat guests can get to know cast members, and even develop friendships.  You learn where everything is – the bus stops, food court, and even the best spots to grab a chair at the pool. You get to know which building you prefer, and can even request a specific room that’s your favorite.  It can just get to feel like “home.” (Fairy Diva tells us why the Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort is her home. And if you want to think about TRULY having a “home” at Walt Disney World Resort, consider becoming a Disney Vacation Club member.)

But as we’ve started going to Disney World more frequently, we’ve enjoyed staying at many different resorts. It’s become a personal Disney Bucket List item for us to stay at each of the resorts. (We’re more than halfway there!) In the last 5 years, we’ve stayed at 12 different resorts.  It’s fun to see new places, and compare what they have to offer.  On one trip, we even did a split stay and switched resorts halfway through our vacation.

One of the reasons Walt Disney World Resort is such a popular vacation destination is its variety. You can find a resort for any budget, each with unique and unbelievably magnificent theming.  Whether you find your “home” and return to it again and again, or enjoy the experience of exploring new resorts each trip, you’re sure to find the perfect fit for your family.

Diva Tip: Resort hopping is an excellent activity for an “off-park” day. Relax at your resort, and then spend some time exploring others!  You can use Disney bus transportation (just take a bus to any park, then hop on a bus headed to the resort of your choice) or drive yourself (tell the parking attendant you are just there to explore the resort.) While you won’t be able to use the pool at different resorts; you are free to walk around, grab a bite to eat, and get a feel for other resorts! 

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Anaheim Camelot Inn & Suites

3. I’ve read your advice about staying on property at Disney World. What about Disneyland?  Would you recommend staying on property there?  What are the off-site alternatives?

Whereas Walt Disney World has dozens of resorts in a variety of price ranges, Disneyland only has 3: Disney’s Paradise Pier HotelDisneyland Hotel, and Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa. While Paradise Pier is considered the “budget friendly” option, it is still well above what that value (and depending on the time of year, even moderate) resorts would be at Disney World.  Both Disneyland Hotel and Grand Californian Hotel, while absolutely magnificent properties, are even more expensive. The high room rates are particularly hard to accept since there are dozens of non-Disney hotels within walking distance of Disneyland Resort.  Many people find that staying at a Disneyland Good Neighbor hotel is a great option.

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Disneyland Hotel – the headboard lights up with fireworks!

That’s exactly what we have done on our visits. A few years ago my son received a huge dose of pixie dust when he won a trip to Disneyland!  We were able to stay at Disneyland Hotel – and loved every moment of it! (Read about it here!)  We wanted to extend our stay, so after the nights of our free trip were over we moved to the Anaheim Fairfield Inn by Marriott.  It was kind of surprising to us that when we stayed at the Fairfield our walk to the front gate was actually shorter than it was when we stayed at Disneyland Hotel!  On subsequent trips we’ve stayed at the Anaheim Camelot Inn and Suites, and found it to be a wonderful, budget friendly choice as well. (Read my review, here)

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The view from our room at Disneyland Hotel

If your budget allows, I would definitely recommend staying at either the iconic Disneyland Hotel (the original!) or the gorgeous Grand Californian Hotel & Spa. Both are simply spectacular!  I’ve never stayed at Disney’s Paradise Pier, but given it’s price, amenities and distance from the park entrance, I would suggest looking at a Good Neighbor Hotel instead.



4. Looking to book our February 2018 trip here within the next couple weeks. How much do you think construction is affecting Coronado and Port Orleans Riverside?  Would it still be worth it to stay in one of those resorts?

According to the Disney website, there is no current plan for construction at Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – Riverside.   I would highly recommend it!  (Devo CabDisney recommends it too!)  As I mentioned earlier, it is one of our favorites! We especially love the Magnolia Bend area with its stately white mansions.

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The beautiful Sassagoula River runs through Disney’s Port Orleans – Riverside

If you want to have your inner-princess shine, consider a Royal Guest Room.  A horse drawn carriage ride is a fabulous way to spend a romantic evening.  Be sure to catch YeHaa Bob at the River Roost Lounge there, too.  It is a fabulous, family friendly show!

Construction is scheduled for Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort, and while there is no definite date for it to begin, it could be well underway by February 2018.  It is expected to impact El Centro, where the main lobby and dining are located, and perhaps some of the Casitas area.  Coronado Springs is a beautiful resort, and it holds a special place in my family’s heart because it’s the resort my daughter chose to stay at for her Walt Disney World wedding.  Having all our family and friends at the resort together was especially magical. We enjoyed the pool, spa, dining, and stunning atmosphere.  Of course, there was no construction at that time. And while construction may or may not affect your vacation, if you have a choice, I would definitely recommend Port Orleans Riverside over Coronado Springs for your February 2018 trip.

5. Deluxe resorts look amazing, but they are so expensive. What  do they offer that make it worth the extra money?

There is no doubt that a deluxe resort at Walt Disney World takes a big chunk of your vacation budget! It’s likely a night at a deluxe could be twice as much as a night at a value resort.  So why splurge?

That’s a question each family will need to answer for themselves. What’s important to some people is less critical to others.  If you’re a “rope-drop-til-kiss-goodnight” family, then you probably would rather choose a value or moderate resort and have more money for fabulous meals, souvenirs, tours, or other Disney experiences.  You can still have a wonderful time at these magically themed resorts – the pools and activities are marvelous!

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Staying on the monorail loop is so magical!

But if you are able to splurge a little, a deluxe resort is an extraordinary choice. One of the biggest perks at a deluxe may be the location.  They are the closest resorts to the parks.  If you are traveling with young children and will be spending the bulk of your time at Magic Kingdom, then choosing a resort on the monorail loop will cut down on your travel time considerably.  Likewise, you can use the monorail to get to Epcot, and then use a boat to get from Epcot to Hollywood Studios.  The only time you would need to rely on a Disney bus is traveling to Animal Kingdom or Disney Springs.

Diva Tip: When using the monorail, there is no need to fold up your stroller! If your child is sleeping, you can just roll the stroller on the monorail, and continue on your journey.  So much easier than holding a sleeping child on your lap on a crowded bus after a long day in the park!

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The view from our room at Disney’s Contemporary Resort

Another perk of being close to the parks is the view! We had the chance to stay at Disney’s Contemporary Resort in a Tower room with a theme park view.  Wow!!!  We woke up every morning to a view of Cinderella Castle.  That’s a magical way to begin a day!

The pools at deluxe resorts are a destination in and of themselves. Last summer we spent a week at Disney’s Yacht Club Resort and Disney’s Beach Club Resort, and the grandkids couldn’t get enough of the sand bottom pool at Stormalong Bay.  Want to do yoga on the lawn or make a Mickey tie-dye shirt?  You can do that at deluxe resorts!

And the dining!! Oh my!  Some of the absolute best restaurants at Walt Disney World are at the deluxe resorts.  ‘Ohana. Chef Mickey’s. 1900 Park Fare. Yachtsman Steakhouse. Narcoosee’s. Citricos. Whispering Canyon Café. Trattoria al Forno. Boma – Flavors of Africa. Sanaa. All of these remarkable restaurants are at deluxe resorts.

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Disney’s Beach Club Resort

Finally, there’s the extra space you receive at a deluxe resort. Standard rooms are almost 400 square feet, and many of them include a pull down bed so they can sleep 5. There are twin sinks in the vanity area, and lots of Disney touches throughout the room – but not so many as to be over the top.  We have found them to be very comfortable, with plenty of room to move about even with the grandkids, stroller and everything that comes with traveling with young children.




Didn’t see your question answered? Check out JollyFrogger’s “Ask a Diva” article about resorts.   Or comment below, and we’ll do our best to answer any of your resort questions.  Ready to book your trip, but still undecided about the resort that would be best for you? Military Diva Patricia at All for Dreams Travel  can help you with everything you need!  And her services are completely FREE!! Get in touch with her today to plan the perfect Disney vacation!

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