Continuing the comparison of each resort class, today’s in depth look is at deluxe resorts. These resorts are smaller than the moderate resorts, and have several differences than the moderates. All have interior hallways and entry doors and most are located in close proximity to at least one of the Disney theme parks. All have multiple dining opportunities including quick service, table service, and signature dining. Pools also have water slides and kiddie slides. Once again I’ll start with my opinion of “the best of”…
Best Pool: Stormalong Bay at Disney’s Yacht Club & Beach Club. This pool is more of an experience than a pool. There’s a whirlpool, deep end,
“quick sand” a little mini beach with a zero depth entry and more.
Best Grounds: This is a tough one. Animal Kingdom Lodge probably has a slight edge on Wilderness Lodge. At any point in time, take a stroll around the Animal Kingdom Lodge property and see animals roaming the savannah. This is all part of the experience.
Best Location on Disney property: Three way tie: Contemporary, Polynesian, Grand Floridian. If I had to break the tie, Polynesian wins the overall prize. These three resorts are located in very close proximity to Magic Kingdom and have monorail access to Magic Kingdom. Polynesian is set apart by the other two as it is walking distance to the Ticket & Transportation Center (TTC) which provides monorail access to Epcot. Grand Floridian and Contemporary also have monorail access to the TTC, however, it’s via transfer from the resort/Magic Kingdom monorail.
Honorable mention: The three Epcot area resorts – Yacht Club, Beach Club, and Boardwalk. These three resorts are within walking distance of Epcot and Hollywood Studios (you can also take a boat to both locations as well).
Best Bus system: Each one has their pros and cons as at times bus service is shared (especially depending on the time of year). Some guests have complained that the bus to Magic Kingdom from Yacht/Beach Club is slow and monorail area resort guests have said that the buses are slow to Hollywood Studios. The only resort of the group that is ALL bus: Animal Kingdom Lodge has good bus service, but it’s shared with the Villas down the way (which is the first stop).
Best Dining options: TOUGH choice! Contemporary has some of the most loved locations: Chef Mickey’s with a view of the monorail running through the building, Contempo Café and California Grill. I personally love the dining at Polynesian as it’s different and absolutely delicious. Grand Floridian has some great character and signature dining (Victoria & Albert’s – the only restaurant that’s no kids allowed and 2 other signature restaurants on property). The Boardwalk resort area provides a large array of dining options just steps away from your resort as well. For unique dining, Animal Kingdom Lodge has African and Indian style food that guests rave about over and over! So in short, I can’t make a concrete decision.
Best rooms for kids: Wilderness Lodge is consistently rated as the favorite resort of children. The woodsy atmosphere and fun activities for kids are probably a big reason. Plus, this resort has boat access to Magic Kingdom which is a fun and different mode of transportation for kids. For the animal lovers, Animal Kingdom Lodge has great activities and a fun pool area. Kids can be entertained for hours at this location at no additional cost. The only downside is the travel time to three of the four parks.
Best rooms for adults: Any club level room at any of the resorts is great for adults. For those looking to save a bit of cash, try a theme park view room at Contemporary. While it doesn’t scream ‘Disney’, it’s a nice relaxing and modern design. The conveniences and dining options make it a great adults only vacation resort. For those looking for a more extravagant vacation, the beautiful Grand Floridian and Spa have the most lavish amenities plus an on-site spa for a relaxing break to a busy vacation.
The good, the bad, and the ugly. Once again, it’s really about what is important to you for your vacation. If you’re thinking of staying deluxe, you really can’t go wrong with any location on property. With all the available dining, amenities, great service, and locations, close your eyes and pick one. You can either go based on theme or location.
At all deluxe resorts you have the choice of stay club level giving you concierge service and a nice lounge for breakfast, snacks, and beverages throughout the day. Beach Club is testing their lounge open 24/7. The others are typically open from 7 am – 10 pm.
Polynesian is currently undergoing major renovations including the pool beginning this summer through spring of 2015 and the Great Ceremonial Hall (the main building) beginning in March through the end of the year. This also includes some of the walkways, beautiful scenery and tropical feel of Polynesian as they introduce Disney Vacation Club property to this resort. My advice? Stay away until the renovation is complete. If you’re going to stay at a beautiful location like Polynesian, you want the complete experience!
Boardwalk is scheduled to undergo some renovation in June of this year and Beach Club has some conversations about updating their rooms as well. While this shouldn’t affect your stay as much as Polynesian, it may make a difference in your interest in staying at these resorts.
Cost wise, from lowest to highest goes like this…Animal Kingdom Lodge, Wilderness Lodge, Contemporary (Garden View rooms), Beach Club/Yacht Club, Boardwalk Inn, Polynesian, Contemporary (Tower rooms), Grand Floridian.
Not much “ugly” to report here. Some bus service can be slow or shared, but other than that, I find it difficult to really fault these great resorts!
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