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

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Walt Disney World classifies, and prices, its hotels in four different categories: Value, Moderate, Deluxe, and Villa. While there are differences between the amenities offered at each level, with the introduction of the Skyliner transportation option and some changes due to COVID, the differences among the categories are not nearly as stark as they used to be.

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 Skyliner now makes some value and moderate transportation closer to deluxe transportation.

The deluxe resorts are: Grand Floridian, Contemporary, Polynesian, Beach Club, Yacht Club, Boardwalk, Animal Kingdom Lodge 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, Saratoga Springs, and Riviera. Additionally, there are villa rooms at the Beach Club, Boardwalk, Animal Kingdom Lodge, Wilderness Lodge, Contemporary (Bay Lake Tower), Grand Floridian, and Polynesian. 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 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 (at All-Star Music or Art of Animation), 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 standard rooms of about 344 square feet at the Wilderness Lodge and Animal Kingdom Lodge (rooms sleeping four plus a baby) on up to 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 tend to get larger as you move up in the resort classification level. However, that’s not always the case. A value resort family suite, with two bathrooms and 520 square feet has more space than the 440 square foot standard room at the Grand Floridian. And remember, the square footage of your room may not matter to you if you’ll only be spending time in your room to sleep.
Pool features vary by hotel category.

Bathroom Situation

  • 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 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. 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 full bathrooms. Two-bedroom villas have two or three full bathrooms. Three-bathroom villas have three or four full bathrooms.
  • 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 two people, or parties of unrelated guests, should consider what their desired privacy level is for bathroom and changing issues. Travel companions should consider whether they are morning or evening bathers, how much time they need in front of a mirror for hair/makeup/etc., and what time they’ll need to get up in the morning in order to have everyone ready in time for departure. Also consider whether your resort has workaround options like additional showers at the pool or spa.
The higher the hotel category, the more restaurant options you will have.

Bedding situation

  • Value resorts: In standard rooms, two queen beds (one is a pull-down table bed) 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 child-sized 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 on room type. In most villa rooms, there is a combination of traditional beds and pull-down Murphy-style beds.
  • 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.

Views

  • 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? Remember, the TouringPlans Room Finder tool can show you the view from any room on WDW property.
The value resort themeing is fun, not sophisticated.

Dining Options

Note: During the COVID era, some restaurants are closed and others may have enhanced take-out options. If you’ll be eating primarily outdoors or in your room, the impact of the dining situation may be different than during a normal trip.

  • 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, with many other table service options 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

  • Value resorts: All Disney-provided transportation to theme parks and Disney Springs is via bus at the All-Star resorts. At Art of Animation and Pop Century there is bus transportation to Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, and Disney Springs, as well as Skyliner service to Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
  • Moderate resorts: Disney-provided transportation to the theme parks is via bus or Skyliner (Caribbean Beach resort only). There may be boat transportation to Disney Springs (Port Orleans resorts) or to Magic Kingdom (Fort Wilderness cabins).
  • 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, monorail or Skyliner.
  • 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, monorail, or Skyliner. Transportation to Disney Springs 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.
There are no gyms at value resorts.

Pools

  • 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.

Recreation Options

Note: During the COVID era, many recreation opportunities are on pause: spas may be closed, some movies under the stars are cancelled, many poolside games are cancelled, there is no Fort Wilderness Singalong, etc. The information below is the pre-COVID (and presumably post-COVID, situation).

  • 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.

Resort Characteristics

Note: During the COVID era, some value and moderate resort characteristics, such as entering your room directly from the outside without going into a main building, that might have been negative traits in the past are now decidedly positive traits (less interacting with other guests, for example).

  • 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. 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. Club level concierge service may be available.
  • 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.

As you can see, there are differences 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.

First published March 14, 2021. Updated August 3, 2021.

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Erin Foster

Erin Foster is an original member of the Walt Disney World Moms Panel (now PlanDisney), a regular contributor to TouringPlans.com, and co-author of The Unofficial Guide to Disney Cruise Line. She's been to WDW, DL, DL Paris, Hong Kong Disneyland, Aulani, DVC Vero Beach, and DVC Hilton Head. She's a Platinum DCL cruiser and veteran of 10 Adventures by Disney trips. Erin lives near New York City, where she can often be found indulging in her other obsession - Broadway theater.

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

  • August 3, 2021 at 6:26 pm
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    Hi Erin, you are one of my favorite writers for Touring plans. I know you meant no harm but please say guests with disabilities instead of guests with medical issues. As someone with physical disability, I can proudly say that disability is not a bad word. I don’t have “issues”, I have disabilities. 🙂

    Reply
    • August 3, 2021 at 6:49 pm
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      Thank you for this perspective, Danielle. I appreciate you reaching out.

      Reply
  • August 4, 2021 at 9:47 am
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    OTOH, it may not be a “disability”. My wife had definite medical issues, but not what she considered a disability.

    Reply
  • August 11, 2021 at 5:51 am
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    I agree – as a NP & a person who has medical issues that will be permanent but not really a disability. If you want to be real picky, you could say medical problems but really what is the difference?

    Reply

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