Differences in the Disney World Resort Levels: A Cheapskate Guide

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resort level differences at Disney World

Updated for 2018!

Planning a Disney vacation? Perhaps the most important thing to decide, besides when to go and how long to stay, is where you will stay. Accommodations take up a large portion of a travel budget. If you are vacationing on property, there is a wide range in both price of the resorts and the amenities you get for your money.

Let’s take a look at the costs between Value, Moderate and Deluxe/ Villa resorts. Keep in mind these are starting prices, because you can pay for “upgrades” even with the least expensive Disney rooms, as in your view, room location, etc.

In this Cheapskate Princess Guide, we’ll also examine the basic perks everyone receives when you stay on property, and then we’ll see when your money begins to talk. And make no mistake, the more money you want to pay for a room, the louder those amenities holler!

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To price rooms, you simply enter your dates, because different times of month are considered different “seasons.”

All the following prices are for September 10-16, 2018, which make these Moderate Prices. Value prices are less expensive, but there are fewer of these dates available.  

 Value Resorts

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Moderate Resorts


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Deluxe Resort Hotels


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Disney Deluxe Villas

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 What are the free perks of staying on property at any Disney Resort?

  • Free transportation (bus, boat, monorail)
  • Free parking at WDW theme parks
  • Extra Magic Hours
  • Disney’s Magical Express (free transportation, plus luggage transfer to and from the airport)
  • Charging Priviledges- charge resort and park purchases to your MagicBand (room card)
  • Package Delivery- have your purchases delivered to your room
  • 180 days prior to check-in, you can make ADRs (Advanced Dining Reservations)
  • 60 days prior to check-in, you can make Fastpass+ selections
  • Complimentary wireless Internet (wi-fi) access in the rooms and some public areas
  • Mini-fridges in rooms

where to stay at Disney World

How do the resort levels compare in terms of amenities?

 Value Resorts

  • least expensive accommodations
  • bus transportation can take longer to get to  and from the parks, due to bus sharing between some resorts
  • smallest sized rooms (260 square feet excluding family suites)
  • meals: food courts, pizza delivery
  • two to three quiet and large pools per resort
  • other amenities: playgrounds, pool bar, video game room, gift shop
  • a lot of walking can be required to get to your room
  • can be really crowded during busy times of year

The newer Art of Animation Resort offers perks other Value Resorts do not have:

  • slightly larger rooms (277 square feet compared to 260)
  • upgraded food court
  • interior corridors to rooms

Moderate Resorts

  • medium priced rooms – nearly double the cost of Value Resorts per night
  • medium-sized rooms – 314 sq. ft (340 sq. ft. at Caribbean)
  • some rooms can accommodate 5 people without being considered a suite
  • bus and sometimes boat transportation to theme parks
  • meals: food courts, pizza delivery, table service (except POFQ) lounge bar
  • most offer quiet and large pools with slides, hot tubs, pool bar
  • also spread out – expect to walk a fair amount
  • other amenities: playgrounds, video game room, gift shop, boating
  • some resorts offer Business Club Level rooms, plus Pirate themed rooms, royal guest rooms

Deluxe/Deluxe Villas

  • most expensive accommodations – two to three times the cost of Moderate Resorts, and up to four times the cost of Value Resorts (using starting room prices)
  • concierge option (access extra services plus a private lounge serving continental breakfast, afternoon and evening snacks, and drinks)
  • deluxe suite options (which come with amazing prices as well as amenities)
  • interior corridors
  • compact locations, so less walking is required in most instances
  • largest sized standard rooms (344 to 440 square feet)
  • most standard rooms (except at AK Lodge) sleep 5 without being considered a suite
  • many resorts offer bus, boat and monorail transportation to theme parks (AK is bus service only)
  • you can walk to some theme parks from several resorts
  • meals: food courts, pizza delivery, room service, table service, fine dining, character meals
  • quiet and large pools with slides, hot tubs & spas,
  • other amenities: playgrounds, pool bar, boating, video game room, gift shop, kid clubs, babysitting, health clubs, valley parking, salons, some bunk beds,
  • amazing theming inside and out

 What do you get beyond this with the Deluxe Villas?

  • one, two, and three bedroom accommodations
  • children’s water play area
  • microwaves in studios, full kitchens in larger units

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how to pick a Disney World Resort

I have taken a lot of information and condensed it down for time and organizational purposes. If you have any questions on specific perks or amenities, we recommend you get more personalized service by phoning Mike Ellis, our Disney Vacation Planner with Pixie Vacations. You can also e-mail him at mike@pixievacations.com.

Picking out a resort comes down to one simple saying…you get what you pay for. The more you pay for accommodations, the more you get. And then you have to decide how much you are willing to pay.

It’s easy to say just be a cheapskate and stay at the Value Resorts. Lots of people who stay at the parks all day long for multiple days just need a bed to collapse in at night. And this style of Disney vacationing, go until you drop, works for a lot of families.  But the reality is that the Deluxe Resorts and Villas are some of the nicest hotels many people will stay in during their entire lives. And by people, I mean me, and also many of you. Once I set foot in the Grand Floridian, I had no desire to travel to California to see the original hotel, and sitting poolside at Wilderness Lodge, I lost all inclination to drive 40 hours away to stay in a “real” lodge out west. I was home. But I also feel at home standing next to that mammoth Buzz Lightyear statue at the All-Star Movies Resort. Money talks, but it’s sure nice to go home with some of that money in your wallet.

Should You Purchase the Disney Dining Plan?

best Disney Resorts

Deciding between resort levels will come down to budget, personal requirements, length of stay, and then it often circles back around to your budget.  Will you just be staying in your room from midnight until 6 a.m.? Will you have a free day to swim? Do you want fine dining and character meal options within walking distance of your room? Do you need to pay Deluxe prices to have access to a microwave in the room?  Will your kids long for a pool slide or will you swim at all? Do you want to stay more days in a Value or less days in a Moderate/Deluxe to stay within your budget?

You get what you pay for, so how much are you willing to pay?

To see more of our Cheapskating Guides, use this link.  Thanks for stopping by, and we’ll see you with a calculator and a calendar, doing some adding and checking some dates.

Amanda, Disney’s Cheapskate Princess


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Call Mike at 919-606-6725 or e-mail him at mike@pixievacations.com.