Disney Deluxe Resorts are the most expensive resorts at Walt Disney World, but that doesn’t mean they’re not worth the price. These resorts offer guests a variety of amenities and features that make for an unforgettable vacation experience.
In this article, you’ll learn about each of the deluxe resorts at Disney, what amenities are included, and which one is suitable for you. Additionally, I have ranked the deluxe resorts based on the amenities they offer.
And you might be surprised at which one came in as the best! So read on to find out everything you need to know about the best deluxe resorts at Walt Disney World!
This article was updated on January 31, 2022.
List of the Disney Deluxe Resorts
When considering the deluxe resorts, you might be wondering which ones are included in this category. They are as follows:
- Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge
- Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
- Disney’s Beach Club Resort
- Disney’s Yacht Club Resort
- Disney’s BoardWalk Inn
- Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort
- Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa
- Disney’s Contemporary Resort
- Disney’s Riviera Resort
- Disney’s Swan and Dolphin Resort
For this review, I include Disney’s Swan and Dolphin Resort in our rankings because of its location and amenities. However, this resort is owned and operated by Marriott.
Additionally, I’m including Disney’s Riviera Resort. This resort is a deluxe villa resort and is worth consideration in the lineup of upscale resorts.
For a list of the other category resorts, you can refer to these articles:
Now that you’ve got an idea of your options let’s look at the specific amenities provided at the deluxe resorts.
Amenities at Disney Deluxe Resorts
Deluxe resorts are the finest hotels available at the Walt Disney World Resort. When choosing a deluxe hotel, you can rest assured that it will offer the best location, amenities, dining, and recreation options.
For starters, there’s the location factor. The majority of these deluxe resorts are within walking distance of a theme park.
The only exceptions are Wilderness Lodge and Animal Kingdom Lodge. These resorts are located in more remote areas where walking to a park is not an option.
As far as walking goes, you can walk to Magic Kingdom Park from Disney’s Contemporary, Grand Floridian, and the Polynesian. Given the proximity to Magic Kingdom, these resorts also offer rooms with theme park views.
Over at Boardwalk Inn and Disney’s Beach and Yacht Club, you can walk to Epcot and Hollywood Studios. In addition, some of these resorts offer rooms with views of Epcot’s fireworks.
Another thing that sets these hotels apart is their room sizes. The size of the guest rooms for deluxe resorts averages 350 square feet, which is significantly larger than the 260-315 square footage range at the lower category resorts.
I don’t know about you, but when we spend a week in one of these standard rooms, every bit of square footage matters. So we spent a few evenings at Pop Century Resort a while back before moving over to the garden rooms at Disney’s Contemporary Resort.
Our room at the garden wing felt huge compared to the room we had left behind at Pop Century. This vacation was one of those split stays where we’d saved the best resort for last.
Additionally, all of the hotel rooms will have interior room access. Interior rooms are a step up from both the moderate and value category of resorts, where they have exterior room access.
The only other Disney Resorts that aren’t deluxe’s where you’ll find interior access is Gran Destino Tower or one of the family suites at Art of Animation.
Related: Gran Destino Tower Review
During Walt Disney World’s 50th anniversary celebration, guests have another incentive for selecting a deluxe resort. Guests of deluxe and deluxe villa resorts receive extended evening hours in the parks on select evenings.
So far, we’ve seen these hours offered twice a week. One night Magic Kingdom is open late from 9:00 p.m. until 11:00 p.m., and another night, Epcot, is open the same hours. You can preview the extended hours’ schedule here on Disney’s site.
It looks like Disney added Hollywood Studios for April 13, 2022. Hopefully, we’ll see more dates added for this park in the future. It would be nice to have the opportunity to experience Rise of the Resistance or Slinky Dog Dash in the evening.
At this time, these evening park hours are a significant reason to consider staying in a deluxe resort. Think about being at Magic Kingdom for the day and everyone leaving at the end of the night, except for guests of the deluxe and villa resorts.
You’ll be able to walk on many of the attractions with little to no wait! Rides like the new Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure at Epcot won’t have unbearable wait times.
In addition to extended evening hours, deluxe guests are eligible for early morning park benefits. If you’re an early bird, this is another huge asset. All of the parks open 30 minutes early for resort guests daily.
This benefit is available to all resort guests at Disney World along with guests of select good neighbor hotels. We have a separate article covering all the eligible resorts.
Dining is another tremendous amenity when it comes to deluxe resorts. It’s no secret that there are more dining options available at the deluxe’s than at the moderates or values.
For comparison, the value resorts only have one food court and one pool bar. In addition, the moderate resorts only offer a food court, lounge, pool bar, and one table service restaurant.
At Disney’s deluxe resorts, you’ll find pool bars with quick service options, a counter service dining location, at least one table service restaurant, and a signature dining location.
Of course, there are a few exceptions to this rule. For instance, Disney’s Grand Floridian has three signature dining locations. Additionally, most of the deluxe resorts offer character dining.
By far, the deluxe’s have you covered when it comes to dining choices. If you want to learn more, I have a complete list of every Disney Hotel restaurant in one convenient location.
Our next consideration is the recreation options at the deluxe resorts. All of the deluxe resorts will have two pools at the minimum. Some resorts offer a feature pool and quiet or leisure pool, while others have two feature pools.
The only exception is Animal Kingdom Lodge, which has one large feature pool. However, they have a second feature pool down at Kidani Village that guests can use during their stay.
If you’re planning to spend a decent amount of time at the pool, you’ll want to read over our guide to the best pools at Disney World. Almost every deluxe resort makes the list because of its pools.
For instance, Disney’s Beach and Yacht Club has a pool that is more of a water park than an actual pool. Stormalong Bay is one of our favorite places to spend the day at Disney World.
Additionally, several of the deluxe resorts offer private cabana rentals. You won’t find these cabanas at any value or moderate resorts.
We rented a cabana at the Beach Club this last year to see if it was worth the price. And while our experience started a little bumpy, it’s something we ultimately enjoyed and look forward to doing again in the future.
Related: Renting a Cabana at Disney World
The feature pools at the deluxe resorts have a zero-entry area and a water slide. Additionally, these resorts usually have servers from the pool bar out on the pool deck during the busier portions of the day.
Lastly, I wanted to mention that deluxe resorts offer multiple forms of transportation. Again, the Animal Kingdom Lodge is an exception because they only provide bus transportation.
If you want to stay on the monorail, you’ll want to consider the Magic Kingdom Resorts. Wilderness Lodge is another exception here because they don’t offer monorail access. However, they do offer boat transportation to Magic Kingdom and bus service.
The resorts in the Epcot Area provide boat transportation to the nearby parks if you don’t care to walk. And you can take a bus to all the other destinations. Additionally, you can access the Skyliner to travel to other resorts if desired.
Best Disney Deluxe Resorts Ranked
So, what are the best deluxe resorts at Disney? Unfortunately, there’s no simple answer to that question. The thing is, Disney does an excellent job with the theming of all their hotels.
To determine what is the best deluxe resort, you’ll need to decide what’s most important to you and your family.
For example, some of you might like the idea of waking up to views of Cinderella castle every morning. If that sounds like a dream come true, plan a stay at the Grand Floridian or Polynesian.
Another option for theme park view rooms is Disney’s Contemporary Resort or Bay Lake Tower. Below is a photo of our room view from the Contemporary.
For those that like the idea of waking up to animals in your backyard every morning, you’ll want to reserve a savanna view room at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge. This is about as close to a once-in-a-lifetime safari-style trip that you can get here domestically.
The main point I’m trying to make here is not to get too caught up in the rankings below. Every single one of these Disney World Resorts is a great place to spend your vacation.
Additionally, each resort is definitely someone’s choice for the best Disney World Resort. The saying goes, “to each their own.” So everyone will have their take on how these should or could be arranged.
Therefore, if there’s one that resonates with you a little more than the others, that’s probably the best place to start. Then, I’ll link to full resort reviews for each of them.
#9 Disney’s Boardwalk Inn
If you are looking for charm, you might consider Disney’s Boardwalk Inn. This resort has an actual Boardwalk sitting right outside its backdoor. The hotel is a bit of a destination within itself, with all the dining, extra-curricular activities, and nightlife.
There are excellent table service options here, like Trattoria al Forno and Flying Fish. For counter service, there is the Boardwalk Bakery and a few other options.
Unfortunately, this hotel is somewhat lacking in quick-service food. But the proximity to the surrounding Disney parks provides plenty of other nearby dining options.
Make sure to browse over all the Disney hotel restaurants if you plan a stay here. There are so many within walking distance at the surrounding resorts.
Related: Restaurants at Boardwalk Inn
This New England seaside-themed hotel is pleasant. And the entire surrounding Crescent Lake area makes an excellent location for sunset strolls.
As far as recreation goes, Boardwalk’s pool area is fun, especially for children. In addition, they have two quiet pools that offer more private settings than the main pool.
When staying at the Boardwalk, you’ll have easy access to both Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios. You can walk to both parks and be there in a matter of minutes. This is a tremendous advantage because you won’t have to wait for other forms of transportation to get to either park.
Additionally, Boardwalk is home to the Boardwalk Villas. This section of the resort has upgraded deluxe studios that offer a few extra amenities compared to standard rooms.
If you want to learn more about the Boardwalk Inn, you can read our full resort review.
Related: Disney’s Boardwalk Inn Review
#8 Disney’s Riviera Resort
Disney’s Riviera Resort is one of the newer hotels on Disney property. This resort is a dedicated Disney Vacation Club Resort (DVC).
The other stand-alone DVC resorts are Saratoga Springs, Old Key West, and Bay Lake Tower. The main difference when staying in these resorts is that the rooms offer upgrades you won’t find in a standard hotel room.
Most of the villas are similar to condos offering entire kitchens, separate bedrooms, laundry facilities, and more. They also have a room comparable to a standard guest room called a deluxe studio.
Deluxe studios have an added kitchenette and a larger guest bath while still accommodating 4-5 guests. And the deluxe studio at Disney’s Riviera is probably one of the nicest you’ll find on property.
Everything at Disney’s Riviera is high-end and offers all of the amenities we’ve discussed. While the hotel isn’t within walking distance to a theme park. It’s a very short ride on the Skyliner away from Epcot and Hollywood Studios.
In addition, the Riviera has some of the best dining options available. All of their dining locations are superb.
Related: Disney’s Riviera Restaurant Guide
They have the best character breakfast experience I’ve had to date at Topolino’s Terrace Breakfast a la Art. Here, both the food and characters are outstanding.
Riviera has a lovely feature pool, and the children’s aquatic play area is too cute. You might also enjoy some of the other recreational activities available at the resort.
One of my favorite things about this resort (other than dining) is that it has an extremely functional boutique layout. So, if you are looking for a hotel that doesn’t require a ton of extra walking, you’ve found it!
It also doesn’t hurt that the resort is located next to Disney’s Caribbean Beach. The grounds of both hotels are gorgeous and provide a wonderful place to break when you’re not at the parks.
Related: Disney’s Riviera Resort Review
#7 Disney’s Swan and Dolphin Resort
Our next stop for best Disney Deluxe Resorts is one of my personal favorites, Disney’s Swan and Dolphin Resort. While the Swan and Dolphin aren’t owned and operated by Disney, you’ll still find deluxe accommodations.
From the Grotto pool area to the stunning architecture, there is so much to see and do here. The resort boasts over eleven different dining options and four signature restaurants.
This hotel is where you’ll find fan-favorite Shula’s Steakhouse.
Since this hotel is located in the Epcot Resorts Area, you can walk to both Hollywood Studios and Epcot. Boat transportation is available, and bus transportation is provided to the other Disney parks.
The best part? The pricing is often more reasonable here than the surrounding deluxe resorts. And if you’re a Marriott Bonvoy member, you can spend your points or accumulate more at this hotel.
However, since this hotel is independently owned and operated, you’ll want to add in any hidden charges like daily resort fees when you stay here. Disney Resorts do not have a resort fee charge, but all resorts will have daily parking charges.
Related: Parking at the Disney World Resorts
A special tip for getting the best deal at this deluxe is to call the resort at 1-888-828-8850 to see if any special offers are available. Additionally, they have been really good in the past to take my information and contact me when a room comes available.
#6 Disney’s Contemporary Resort
Perhaps, the most classic of all the Magic Kingdom Resorts is Disney’s Contemporary. It’s the hotel with a monorail running through it.
But our favorite feature is a bit of a secret when it comes to the resort. Disney’s Contemporary offers one of the best backyards in the entirety of Disney World. Guests get so caught up in being next door to the Magic Kingdom that they hardly notice it!
Furthermore, the dining options at this resort are pretty outstanding for the most part. For starters, there’s California Grill which wins out as our best table service restaurant at Disney World.
Additionally, the resort has an excellent counter service, Contempo Cafe, a fun character dining experience, Chef Mickey’s, and a new table service, Steakhouse 71!
Related: Contemporary Resort Restaurant Guide
Lastly, it’s always hard to top being able to walk to Magic Kingdom Park. It’s a short 10-minute walk from the Contemporary to the park’s main entrance.
Related: Disney’s Contemporary Resort Review
#5 Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort
Disney’s Grand Floridian is not only iconic, but it is the creme de la creme of Disney deluxe resorts. The Grand Floridan has a Victorian flair with a somewhat formal feel. Thankfully, it’s not too stuffy.
Don’t worry, you’ll feel right at home. The majestic resort sits across Seven Seas Lagoon from the Magic Kingdom. You can access the park via monorail, walkway, or boat transportation.
Foodies will want to be aware this deluxe hotel is home to three signature restaurants. Not only that, one of our hidden gem dining locations, Grand Floridian Cafe, sits right off the lobby.
My fondest memories of staying here include waking up to the sunlight pouring in from the balcony and hearing the ferry horns in the distance. It’s a pretty peaceful memory for a very busy Disney World.
The other big plus here is that Grand Floridian sits directly next door to Polynesian. It’s like having two resorts for the price of one!
Are you considering a stay at Disney’s most expensive resort? Our full review of Grand Floridian details our experiences staying at the resort.
Related: Disney’s Grand Floridian Review
For comparison, you might like to consider the Grand Floridian Villas portion of the resort. The villas have one of our favorite deluxe studio rooms.
#4 Disney’s Wilderness Lodge Resort
Disney’s Wilderness Lodge makes our top five of the best Disney deluxe hotels. The resort offers a retreat-like feeling and a hint of what a stay in the Pacific Northwest might offer.
Between the stunning woodwork and scenic surroundings, you won’t feel like you’re visiting the busy theme parks when you stay here.
For many, it’s worth the visit over to the Wilderness Lodge to tour the resort, especially at Christmastime. The resort is even more stunning when it’s decked out in Christmas decorations.
If this doesn’t end up being the resort you pick, you can still plan an excellent meal here during your trip. We love Geyser Point Bar and Grill for lunch or dinner.
Wilderness Lodge is the perfect Disney deluxe for those wanting to get away from it all. The entire hotel is full of private nooks and crannies to read a good book or do a little people watching. Did I mention there’s usually a fireplace involved?
Related: Disney’s Wilderness Lodge Review
And if you want to compare we have a complete overview of the Copper Creek Villas, which is a separate Disney Vacation Club portion of the resort.
Related: Copper Creek Villas Review
#3 Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort
Our number three deluxe resort promotes relaxation with a Hawaiian vibe. Disney’s Polynesian, an original 1971 resort is a favorite for many. You won’t find many complaints at all about this resort.
The Polynesian has recently undergone an entire resort refurbishment, and with it brings touches of Moana to the guest rooms at the resort. It’s the perfect place to stay when you’re dreaming of Hawaii a little more than you are a theme park-packed trip to Disney World.
As far as restaurants go, the Polynesian has some wonderful options. Kona Cafe is a great stop for a sit-down meal, the menu offers Asian and American cuisine items.
And one of our top recommended resort quick services is Captain Cook’s, located off the lobby. I could go on and on about all the food “things” at the Polynesian like Dole Whip, drinks served in pineapples, and tonga toast!
The Polynesian is located in the Magic Kingdom Resorts area. You can enjoy the nightly fireworks from the white sand beaches if you stay here.
The music from the show is streamed to a speaker system at all the surrounding resorts. Thankfully, there’s no crowd involved!
Related: Disney’s Polynesian Resort Review
#2 Disney’s Beach Club and Yacht Club Resort
My personal favorite choice for the best deluxe resort is Disney’s Beach Club and Disney’s Yacht Club Resort. However, I’m listing it as the number two option. Only because number one has a little something extra going for it that you won’t find anywhere else.
Disney’s Beach Club Resort is connected to the Yacht Club making up one large resort in its entirety. The Beach Club offers a casual, seaside vibe, while the Yacht Club is a tad more formal.
Additionally, Beach Club is home to the Beach Club Villas, a secondary Disney Vacation Club resort. The Yacht Club is the only deluxe resort that doesn’t offer a secondary DVC Resort.
Both resorts sit across Crescent Lake from Disney’s Boardwalk, and next door to Disney’s Swan and Dolphin. Beach Club is the closest resort in proximity to Epcot. You can be out the back door and at Epcot within less than five minutes.
Related: Disney’s Beach Club Review
The Beach Club is home to Cape May Cafe which has a popular character breakfast in the morning and is a seafood restaurant in the evening. Characters are only present for breakfast.
Martha’s Vineyard and Crew’s Cup Lounge are both hidden gems that serve wonderful food items. And Ale and Compass comes in as one of my top places to enjoy breakfast at Disney World.
While you are there, don’t sleep on Yachtsman Steakhouse, trust me. Onion Rolls. Steak. It’s so good.
As I mentioned earlier, these sister resorts have the best pool in all of Disney World. But if you’re looking for more private pools, there are three leisure pools between the two resorts.
Between the location, setting, and amenities, this resort proudly stands as our number two choice for best Disney Deluxe.
Related: Disney’s Yacht Club Review
#1 Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge
Last but definitely not least, Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge comes in as our top choice for the best deluxe resort at Disney World. If you dream of traveling to Africa, love animals, or just want a calming escape, you’ve found your best option.
Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge provides the opportunity to stay in a room that looks out onto a savanna of African animals! It doesn’t get much better than that.
In addition, it’s one of the few resorts that’s worth upgrading your room view. Waking up to animals grazing outside your room is pretty surreal.
At Animal Kingdom Lodge, the main portion of the resort is known as Jambo House. Next door sits the DVC portion of the resort called Kidani Village. Either of these resort hotels provide a relaxing place to spend a week-long vacation.
If you don’t opt for a room view upgrade, the resort has numerous viewing areas for guests to see the animals on the savanna. But there’s something extra special about waking up to a giraffe grazing nearby outside your room.
Seriously, where else can you have such an experience?
Related: Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge Review
Final Thoughts on the Best Disney Deluxe Resort
This concludes our rankings for the best deluxe resorts at Disney World. Before we wrap things up, let’s briefly go over those key points that set the deluxe resorts apart from the other categories:
- Deluxe resort guests are eligible for extended after hours on select evenings at the theme parks.
- Guests of deluxe resorts are eligible for early theme park entry benefits.
- Deluxe resorts offer multiple forms of transportation. The only exception is Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge.
- You’ll find lounges, quick service, pool bars, table service, and signature dining at every deluxe resort.
- Every deluxe resort has themed feature pool areas along with quiet pools. The feature pools all have water slides.
- Deluxe resorts offer club level, which is a concierge floor with special privileges if you would like to upgrade.
- All deluxe resorts offer interior room access. By this I mean, you’ll walk through a lobby and interior hallways to access your room.
Hopefully, these factors will help you decide if the deluxe category is right for you. While these resorts are the most expensive, they definitely have a few benefits that command a high price tag.
Now if you’re wanting truly luxurious, there are a few nearby off-property resorts that you might like to consider. For starters, there’s a Four Season located only minutes away from Magic Kingdom.
And check out our review of the Waldorf Astoria Orlando. That resort provides tons of amenities at a reasonable price.
Some favorites include:
- Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress Review
- Orange Lake Resort Review
- Wyndham Grand Orlando at Bonnet Creek Review
- Hilton Signia Orlando Review
In the comments: What are your thoughts on the deluxe resorts? Do you agree with our assessment of the best deluxe resorts at Disney World? Share your thoughts below.