Q: Is a stay at one of Walt Disney World’s Deluxe resorts worth the money?
A: This is a question that tends to come up quite a lot when families are starting to budget for their first Walt Disney World vacation. The answer to this question is pretty subjective and will depend largely on what it is you want out of your vacation. If you want the easy of being on a monorail line or plan on spending lots of times at the resort taking advantage of all of the amenities than a Deluxe stay can be a great choice. However, if budget is key and you view your resort merely as a place to lay your head at the end of a long theme park day then it won’t be the best value for money.
For those on the fence, here’s a list of our top reason why a Deluxe Resort may work for your family:
You want a magical time and are willing to splurge – If this is a once-in-a lifetime trip and you’ve saved your hard-earned cash to do Disney in style than a Deluxe Resort may be right up your street. Where all of the Value Resorts and all of the Moderate Resorts generally have the same price points, when it comes to a Deluxe stay there are a wide range of prices. Resorts like Animal Kingdom and Wilderness Lodge often have rooms for around $350 a night whereas some of the monorail resorts can be in excess of $1000 a night. There’s a lot of wiggle room when finding a deluxe resort that works for your budget but even on a discount its unlikely you’ll go lower than $300 – $400 a night.
You want special services like concierge rooms and extra amenities – Resorts in the Deluxe categories are luxurious and by booking a stay at one you are able to take advantage of a ton of fantastic amenities that you wouldn’t get at the Values or Moderates. There’s amazing feature pools with spectacular water play areas for the kids, busy resort activity calendars where families can enjoy everything from pool parties to cooking classes and even night vision goggle safari viewings at Animal Kingdom Lodge. Several of the Deluxe Resorts offer babysitting clubs and a range of fantastic shops. The Deluxes also offer (at an additional cost) Club Level or Concierge Level rooms. Staying in this class allows you to grab sandwiches and snacks in a private lounge and even comes with a turn down service.
You want lots of dining choices without having to venture to the parks – If you consider yourself a bit of a foodie then there’s a lot to love about Deluxes dining options. The resorts in this category will have quick service restaurants for those that prefer their food on the go, cafes for more casual dining, buffets, character dining (in some) and gourmet (Signature Dining) restaurants. If food is your thing then staying at a Deluxe means you’ll be spoiled for choice.
You want a slightly larger room – All of the Deluxes have bigger standard rooms and come in at anywhere from 344 – 440 sq. ft depending on the resort and class of room. Several of the resorts also offer balconies. This means more room for your family to unpack, unwind and spread out. The beds on offer are queens (rather than the doubles offered in the moderate category) and several of the resorts also come with a daybed option that allows a family of 5 to sleep comfortably.
You don’t want to bus to the parks. If the thought of being corralled onto a Disney resort bus to head to the parks each day doesn’t sound appealing to you then a Deluxe Category room may be the way to go. Several of the resorts offer transportation by boat, monorail or in the case of some of the Epcot Resorts you are able to walk to the theme park in 5 minutes. If you’re the sort of family that likes to visit several parks in one day or wants to cut down on travel time, then you may consider it worth the splurge for the comfort of being able to get too and from the theme parks quickly.
You want more sophisticated theming – Some of the Disney resorts (especially the Values) can be very in your face with larger than life Disney characters around every corner. If you prefer the ease of staying on property at Disney but don’t want to constantly feel like you’re in a Disney animated film, then the Deluxes do offer an escape from the bright colors and loud surroundings of the parks. The themes of each of the Deluxes is much more adult with beautiful interiors, landscaped gardens, magnificent lobbies and serene courtyards.
These are just a handful of the reasons why booking a stay at a Disney Deluxe Resort may be a nice option for your family. When it comes to Cons, the ones most popularly mentioned are as follows:
They’re too expensive – Cost for many families can be an issue. When you add up the nightly cost of a resort stay, the cost of theme park tickets and the $70 a day per person that the dining plan costs then suddenly your Disney visit can quickly be approaching five digits. Again for a once a lifetime trip it may be just the ticket but may not be the best choice for those looking to keep costs at a minimum.
They’re a bit too adult for my kids – One of the bits of negative feedback that I get from families the most when it comes to Deluxes is the resorts don’t have that “wow I’m at Disney” factor that you can find at some of the Values. For those with smaller children, you may want to stay in a room themed after Finding Nemo, see a 4 story Lady and the Tramp outside of your resort room or swim in a pool shaped like a giant bowling pin. If that’s the case then a Value Resort may be more your style. The Deluxes are more sophisticated and with that comes theming that is much more subtle. These resorts cater to families but are also popular with couples, older visitors, conventioneers and those in the area on business. This means that your surroundings may oftentimes feel very neutral.
Still on the fence about Deluxe Resorts? One of the things that may sway you is the fact that when Disney releases deals like room discounts or Play Stay and Dine packages, the Deluxes always get the largest discounts. Let’s take a room discount for instance. When Disney releases discounts on a resort stay, the savings are usually staggered by category. Those staying in a Value are likely to get a discount of around 15%, Moderates are usually around 20 – 25% and Deluxes anywhere from 25% – 35%.
So if cost is an issue you may get a nice bit of savings come discount time that suddenly make a Deluxe resort a viable option. This is where a good travel agent comes in. They’ll be able to cost out packages for you, let you know when discounts become available, and can apply discounts to your package even after you’ve booked. Though there’s no guarantee that discounts will be released year-on-year then can also give you an idea of what your savings might look like should Disney release similar discounts this year.
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