Disney World has three different tiers of resorts on property. The cheapest of these tiers are the Value Resorts, the middle tier are the Moderate Resorts, and the most expensive and most luxurious are the Deluxe Resorts. It is hardly fair to compare the Value and Deluxe resorts to one another since there is such a dramatic difference in price, and therefore, amenities and theming. In addition, the Deluxe Resorts tend to be closer to the parks. Because of this, I have chosen my favorite resort from each category. These are however my opinion and based on my personal experiences. Others may have had different experiences at the Disney resorts so take my opinions as what they are: opinions. I’m also not going to be looking at resorts and hotels off property because I don’t have as much experience staying off property or exploring those resorts. So without further adieu, here my top picks for each tier of Disney Resort:
1. Value: Pop Century Resort
Pop Century is a large Value Resort located on Hourglass Lake. It is themed to different decades ranging from the 1950s to 1990s. It has different buildings on the resort, each of which are themed to a different decade. There are pools near each building that follow the theme of the area and the resort grounds are extremely colorful. You can walk from decade to decade and admire giant themed statues that correlate to the time period that you’re in. Next to the main lobby is Everything POP Shop and Dining, the resort’s massive food court and gift shop. The food court offers several stations with an array of different entree and snack options. Pop Century is very similar in setup to the All Star Resorts – other Value Resorts that also have different buildings that follow their theming. Pop Century tends to be about $15/night more than the All Stars, however, I think that this price difference is worth it because it is newer and has more updated amenities. It has an updated pool and lobby and recently they have renovated the rooms to portray a more modern look. It is right across the lake from Art of Animation Resort, the last Value Resort, which also has great theming. Art of Animation tends to be much more expensive compared to its other Value Resort counterparts though despite having similar amenities to Pop Century. Value Resorts are great for those who are on a budget or plan to spend all day in the parks. I’ve mostly stayed in Value Resorts because I’m one who goes to the parks everyday and does not spend very much time at the hotel during my trip. After staying in many of the Value Resorts, Pop Century is my favorite choice.
2. Moderate: Port Orleans French Quarter
This one is totally based off of personal preference. Port Orleans is split into two different resorts, French Quarter and Riverside. Both are gorgeous and have great theming. Both are on the river allowing you can to take the boat to Disney Springs and they both have great restaurants and food. Since I’m choosing one though, I have to pick French Quarter. Port Orleans French Quarter is, in my opinion, the prettier of the two. The lobby has big floor to ceiling windows that give the building a lot of natural light. There are lamp posts that tower over the cobblestone floor to give you the feeling of being physically in the French Quarter in New Orleans. The rooms are in separate buildings from the lobby and the walkways are lined with iron gates similar to those that you would see in New Orleans. There are big lush trees and fountains that decorate the space in between buildings, totally immersing you into the Louisiana theming. If the theming of the buildings doesn’t convince you, then the pool surely will. The pool, The Doubloon Lagoon, is huge. It is themed to Mardi Gras and brimming with bright colors. The best part is the sea serpent water slide that stretches the full length of the pool. The resort’s main restaurant, The Sassagoula Floatworks and Food Factory, provides an authentic cajun menu for all meals of the day. In addition, there are two bars available for those who are looking for delicious drinks, Scat Cat’s Club – a jazz club – and Mardi Grogs – an outdoor bar near the pool and river. While Port Orleans Riverside is gorgeous as well, I personally prefer the immersion of French Quarter. It truly feels like you are on the streets of New Orleans. The Moderate Resorts are about $50-$100/night more than the Values, however, their amenities reflect the price increase. The Moderates are resorts for those who plan to spend some time both in the parks and at the resorts. All in all, they are my favorite category of resorts and a great option for a Disney trip.
3. Deluxe: The Boardwalk Resort
This category was the toughest for me to choose from. The Deluxe Resorts at Disney World are all incredible in their own way. Each has extravagant theming and high end restaurants that make staying at a Deluxe Resort a vacation in itself. To narrow this category down, I looked at proximity to the parks as well as things to do at the resort. For the best Deluxe Resort, I had to choose The Boardwalk Resort. The Boardwalk is exactly what it sounds like. Themed after Atlantic City and located on Crescent Lake, you will never run out of things to do. There are bars, dance clubs, and restaurants that make the nightlife at this resort one of the best in Disney. My personal favorite bars at The Boardwalk are AbracadaBar – a bar themed to classic magic shows with color changing cocktails and other great tricks – and Jelly Rolls – a dueling piano bar. There is The Flying Fish – a high end seafood restaurant, Big River Grille and Brewing works – a brewery with fantastic craft beer, and the ESPN Club – a sports bar. When you are done with your meal, there is The Boardwalk Bakery – a bakery with sweet and salty treats – and Ample Hills Creamery – an ice cream parlor. There are also shops along the pier as well as carnival games and performers. If you happen to run out of things to do at The Boardwalk – highly unlikely – you are within walking distance of both The Yacht Club and Beach Club resorts. Both the Yacht and Beach Club have their own unique restaurants and shops to check out. The best thing about The Boardwalk, however, is how close it is to both Epcot and Hollywood Studios. There are walking paths that lead to both and a boat that will take you to the entrance of either park. In addition, if you don’t want to walk to Epcot and would rather stay at the hotel in the evening, the park’s nighttime show Illuminations can be seen from the Boardwalk. While there are many perks to each Deluxe Resort, I think that The Boardwalk Resort has the most. These resorts are not for the budget traveler however. They are far more expensive than the Value and Moderate Resorts, coming in anywhere from $300-$500/night depending on the resort and season of travel. While this can be a lot of money, for those traveling on a once in a lifetime Disney trip, they would definitely be worth it. In addition, they are a great option if you plan to stay at the resort and relax for a large portion of your trip. For those like me who love to budget travel, it is also an option to visit the Deluxe resorts to shop and get something to eat on a free day. If you do have the money to spend, however, these resorts are beautiful and I would highly recommend.
Each Disney resort is unique and extravagant in its own way and you really can’t go wrong. Do you agree with my top choices? Let me know in the comments down below what you think! I’m always eager to hear what others think about Disney resorts.