Disney Vacation Club Resort Rankings


Disney Vacation Club has some excellent resorts; so many that it’s hard to determine which is best. My top Disney Vacation Club resorts are based upon a variety of factors, including theming, dining, pools, seasonal decorations, and the inarticulable “x-factors.” If you are deciding whether you should purchase Disney Vacation Club, you should read our DVC Buying Guide before reading this post.

What’s interesting about this list is that even the last place resort on my list is a resort that I really enjoy. Some of my best adult memories at Walt Disney World are at Saratoga Springs, where my wife and I stayed on our first real trip together in 2007, and again in 2008. Walking back to Saratoga Springs after a night at the Adventurers Club was great, and even though there’s presently no reason to visit Downtown Disney, Saratoga Springs is still a really fun resort. In fact, all of these resorts are fun.

This is interesting to me, because the most ardent opponents of Disney Vacation Club tend to be those who loved “The Vacation Kingdom of the World,” which is what Walt Disney World presented itself as in the 1970s. The construction of timeshare properties doesn’t preclude expansion elsewhere (unless Disney is weary of too much CapEx), but despite this, Disney Vacation Club has been viewed by many as the villain in the quest for theme park improvements. I don’t see this concern as valid. If anything, it makes Walt Disney World more well-rounded, and absolutely should not prevent expansion elsewhere. It has become a red herring, of sorts. But that is another discussion for another day…

Which hotel reigns supreme? Let’s get right into the list:

7. Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa

I’m admittedly a nostalgic person. Oddly, the Disney Vacation Club resort for which I have the most nostalgia is Saratoga Springs. This is because Sarah stayed here when we took our first serious Walt Disney World trip together as adults. It’s what caused us to fall in love with Walt Disney World again (it, and an amazing first night at California Grill…and an amazing monorail ride to the Magic Kingdom) and it’s the resort we eventually chose as “home” for our Disney Vacation Club purchase (for purely economic reasons). Some of my favorite memories of Walt Disney World include walking home to Saratoga Springs after some fun nights at the Adventurers Club, and it’s almost difficult to rank a resort at which we’ve had so much fun as last. But that’s where it lands, due to its theme (or lack thereof) and location. Read more in our Saratoga Springs Resort Review.

6. Old Key West Resort

Although these rankings are entirely mine, Sarah’s dislike of Old Key West does influence me a bit. By contrast, I love Old Key West. I love that it’s so spread out (walking it gives me something to do in the morning), and I love that the foliage has really matured here. It also has the largest Disney Vacation Club rooms, and was recently refurbished. Even viewing Old Key West in the most favorable light, though, it pales in comparison to other resorts, which have better dining, better entertainment, and better location. Old Key West will likely always be divisive among Disney Vacation Club owners, and I suspect most will place it near the top or the bottom of their own lists.

5. Bay Lake Tower

Bay Lake Tower is Sarah’s number one Disney Vacation Club resort, and I totally understand why…because we stayed here for New Year’s Eve and had a Grand Villa. Talk about an amazing experience! That experience is not representative of most stays, I suspect. I actually find it a bit difficult to give Bay Lake Tower a high or low rating. On the one hand, I love the theming, which has been panned by some, and I also think its location is great (something few would dare deny). It also has access to the monorail, and great dining at the Contemporary. It might be another divisive resort for many, but I love it. I just don’t love it as much as the top 4 on this list! Here’s our full analysis of Bay Lake Tower.

4. Animal Kingdom Lodge Villas

We’re getting to a point on this list where any of the resorts remaining could be my number one, depending upon the day of the week. Animal Kingdom Lodge Villas offer incredibly amazing (the best, actually) rooms, and the dining at Animal Kingdom Lodge is also the best at Walt Disney World. So what faults does it have? Well, location, but that can be minimized if you’re a fan of Disney’s Animal Kingdom or if you’re taking a trip to enjoy the resorts. It’s also amazing at Christmas, which is when I would encourage anyone to stay here. This is the one resort that should sneak to number one for a lot of you if you don’t agree with my number one.

3. BoardWalk Villas

Animal Kingdom Lodge’s rooms are better than Boardwalk’s, but I place a high value on location. Walking from the Crescent Lake resorts to Epcot is one of my favorite things to do at Walt Disney World, and I’ve weighted my top resorts in light of that. If the walk isn’t fun for you, you will likely view these resorts differently. The pool at BoardWalk is awesome, the food is great, and the theming is a lot of fun. The rooms may not be the greatest, but everything else helps minimize that. Unlike some other entires, BoardWalk has no real weaknesses, and is pretty solid on every front.

2. Villas at Wilderness Lodge

The fact that I’ve used a photo of myself to illustrate what I love about this resort should be pretty telling. I love the ambiance of Wilderness Lodge at Christmas. Love actually might be too tame of a word. Looking at this photo takes me back to the night it was taken. We were in some park until well after midnight, but I still decided to take photos when we got to Wilderness Lodge. I don’t even remember which park, but I remember wandering around the empty grounds of Wilderness Lodge in vivid detail. This photo is absolutely posed, but a subsequent photo (which is not as good) caught me actually falling asleep next to the fireplace. So, admittedly, I am biased towards Wilderness Lodge at Christmastime due to my own personal experiences there. That said, objectively, Wilderness Lodge has great theming, great food, and is gorgeous at Christmas. I think you’d be hard-pressed to find someone who has stayed there around Christmas who doesn’t have a similar bias. Is a widely held bias really a bias? Or does it demonstrate something more?

1. Beach Club Villas

The top five spots of this were tough for me, and number one is really, really tough. This is mostly because I was underwhelmed by the Beach Club Villas rooms. Very underwhelmed. Based on the room alone, I’d rank Beach Club last or second to last. So how does it secure the top spot given that?! The pool. The amazing pool. But also its location and incredible dining options. Delving a bit deeper into the location, the Beach Club Villas are close to Epcot and offer the amazing Crescent Lake ambiance of the other resorts around there, but also has its own secluded, popcorn light-lit pathway. Given everything else that the Beach Club Villas offer, you will find yourself far less worried about the room here than you will anywhere else. That, plus the fact that the beds are pretty comfy helps it earn the #1 spot. Read our full Beach Club Villas Review for more.

Itching to Join DVC?

If this article has you excited about the prospect of becoming a Disney Vacation Club member, we highly recommend that you read our Disney Vacation Club Buying Guide to see if membership is right for you. That Guide includes every variable you should consider, and provides an objective approach to buying into Disney Vacation Club, rather than the emotional pitch the Disney salespeople will give you.

If you’re not interested in buying into Disney Vacation Club, but still want Deluxe Villa accommodations at Moderate Resort prices, we highly recommend renting points Disney Vacation Club points, as you will save considerably over booking directly from Disney (typical savings over even a discounted Deluxe Villa price are around 50%). Renting is also a great way to try Disney Vacation Club before buying to see if it’s really right for you.

Looking for Disney trip planning tips? Make sure to read our Walt Disney World Trip Planning Guide and Disneyland Trip Planning Guide.

For updates on Walt Disney World, the latest news, discount information, and tips, sign up for our free monthly newsletter!

Your Thoughts…

Are you considering buying into Disney Vacation Club? What are your Disney Vacation Club rankings? Share your thoughts in the comments!

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38 Responses to “Disney Vacation Club Resort Rankings”

  1. Katie says:

    Hmmm gotta disagree with you about Beach Club – was not impressed when we were there – kind of felt like the pushed out cousin. Heres mine

    7) Saratoga Springs- never stayed here

    6) Old Key West – never stayed here

    5) Wilderness – wish it had more to look at but the proximity to MK is nice – that lobby is AMAZING though

    4) Beach Club – This ONLY beats out Wilderness because of its proximity to EPCOT (a little too close for
    me actually)

    3) Bay Lake Tower – my OTHER DVC home – can’t beat fireworks in your PJs from your own balcony

    2) Animal Kingdom Lodge – To quote myself “THERE ARE ZEBRAS RIGHT BELOW US!” Doesn’t get much better…even if it is a little far from everything. The lobby and the Savannah view and the restaurants make up for it

    1) Boardwalk Villas. Love being close to EPCOT but not too close that we have a nice walk home, great restaurants, great entertainment, great pool, great decor.

    But I’d be happy at any of them just as long as Im at Disney

    • Tom Shaffer says:

      1. Animal Kingdom Lodge My biggest challenge is to pick Jambo or Kidani. Love the view, Love the rooms. only minus is the distance to most parks.
      2. OKW biggest and nicest rooms at Disney. Low points for a grand villa, and very relaxing
      3. BLT — Smaller rooms, but walking distance to MK and views of wishes. Art in the rooms is fantastic.
      4. Saratoga Nice rooms, treehouse villas and the pools make this a great choice.
      5. Wilderness Lodge. Close to mk, Feel like you are on vacation. another relaxing resort
      6. Boardwalk: not my cup of tea. Loved the ESPN zone though, but other than that and walking to Epcot…
      7. BCV – see above

  2. Todd says:

    9. Old Key West – The oldie is still a goodie!
    8, Saratoga Springs – Two feature pools and great DTD views.
    7 Beach Club – Wonderful ambiance and proximity to Epcot, but limited food selection within the resort and room views are of either the quiet pool or the woods. However, BC is a must stay for F&W Festival.
    6. Wilderness Lodge – Wonderful lobby with great lake views, WL is a quiet gem.
    5. Bay Lake Tower – Same great lake views, but within walking distance to the Magic Kingdom. And with access the Top of the World Lounge… Its a fireworks lover’s dream come true.
    4. Boardwalk – I could sit on the balcony of a Boardwalk View room all day and never move. BW’s biggest con is her hallways. It can feel like the Shining at times…
    3. Aulani – Very tough with this one. The most beautiful resort Disney has every built… but the dining options are atrocious and way overpriced, even by Disney standards.
    2. Animal Kingdom Lodge – AMAZING Savannah views, two of the best sitdown restaurants of any resort in Jiko and Sanaa, (not to mention that The Mara could be the best counter-service restaurant of any resort) and AKL is the only DVC with a Conceige Lounge
    1. Grand Californian Hotel – Gorgeous throughout the entire resort, Napa Rose, Dedicated DCA entry, and if you have a DCA view, You can watch World of Color from your balcony. WINNER!

    • Tom Bricker says:

      The great thing about DVC is that each resort has something to bring to the table, so it’s difficult to really disagree with any rankings.

      …although I don’t know about SSR above WL, Beach Club, and Boardwalk! ;)

  3. Mike says:

    We just got back from a week at Old Key West and Beach Club Villas and I have to say I was surprised by OKW. While I do not like how spread out it is a la Saratoga Springs, it is the only DVC in which studios have two beds, rather than a bed and a pullout. Having two daughters age 10 and 7, this puts OKW at the top of their list. Surprisingly, the 10 year old actually preferred the slide at OKW’s pool to BCV.

    I think I’d say Saratoga is 7th, probably OKW 6th (don’t tell my kids), BWV 5th (neverending hallways and limited counter service options…), VWL 4th (haven’t stayed there though…), BLT 3rd (though i loved Wishes from Top of the World, the points are too high for us to stay there), Beach Club 2nd (agree with Tom, great pools and blah rooms), and AKL 1st (pool and water play area at Kidani rock, plus Savanna views).

  4. NancyB says:

    More details, please, as I’m looking seriously at a DVC purchase and looking at Beach Club and Boardwalk as top choices because of the location. What are the negatives about the rooms? Just blah, as Mike said, or bad layout/views/no theming/something else?

    • DemeG says:

      I own at BWV. Reasons I love it: Location. Close to Epcot lots of Restaurants on boardwalk, a bakery (awesome!) Pizza window, extra entertainment in early evenings, boat service to/from Epcot and DHS, putt putt across street from swan (a 15 minute walk), and if you have a car, downtown disney is 10 minutes away. DOWNSIDE: parking is a little far unless you use valet services which charge now. Hallways are long, rooms are nice but not modern. Comfortable and clean, theming and colors are relaxing to me, boardwalk view is nice at night and can see epcot fireworks. CON(can be a bit noisy if near jellyrolls or low floors till midnight) Pool is great but not as nice as BCV. Point value at BWV is better than most. Dues are getting higher but they all are. VERY easy to rent out points here. I sell one years points to cover 2 years of dues. And the year I go, I go 3 weeks and purchase the annual pass at DVC discount. WIN WIN
      check out mouseowners.com GREAT INFO. on all things DVC. username:djgrab :)

    • Sharon C says:

      Nancy, I recommend staying at any resort during the time you will be using it if you plan to purchase there. You can get the villa from Disney like a regular resort room (often the most expensive way, but there are specials) or rent points from another owner. We own at both Boardwalk and Beach Club and love them both for their location. For March school vacation week we stay at Beach Club for the pool. We just got back from a Dec 27- Jan 3 stay at BoardWalk and Jan 3-5 stay at our first Grand Villa at Jamba House. If you have kids, Beach Club has a 2 bedroom option with 2 beds in the second bedroom which we will try this March. Boardwalk just has one bed in the second bedroom and a pull out sofa for the second bed. We get a one bedroom villa for ourselves and a two bedroom works best for my daughter and son-in-law with their 2 young children. However, the 3 bedroom Grand Villa was really nice and we may try that at the Aulani next summer.

  5. A Newton says:

    So far we’ve only stayed at OKW and AKV (both Kidani and Jambo). We liked the grounds at OKW, but the room was really bad – there was grime everywhere, in the light switches, the baseboards, the fixtures. Really really needed a complete refurb in that room.

    We have designs on staying at all the places named above, just a matter of the right time. I’ve kinda pushed for a Beach Club or BLT stay a couple times… but when it comes down to making the reservation, my wife always really wants to go back to AKV!

  6. Keith LeLievre says:

    We’re staying at the Beach Club Villas this October for Food and Wine and I am sure we won’t be disappointed. It’s our first DVC resort, and we rented points to get it. I have to say I am very excited to try it out. May be renting points in May for our wedding too, but not sure where to stay.

  7. David says:

    Looking at your photos my eye hardly focused on the resorts – some of those skies are incredible! If Disney ever built a resort in the clouds I think I’d become a permanent resident!

  8. Justin M says:

    Great Photos of the DVC resorts Tom! I also got to stay at Disney DVC Vero beach which is very nice.

  9. I personally love Old Key West. Its also my wife’s favorite. We are a little biased because it was our honeymoon resort. My parents own points in the resort so it was our home resort for many years. Its always nice staying in the large one bedroom villa and it was great when we had the whole family on vacation with us. I have also stayed in the boardwalk with less impressive results. Call me lazy but I like having my car within a 50-100 feet of our resort door, especially after spending the entire day walking around in the parks.

  10. Ian Olexsak says:

    I can not believe you did not put the Grand Californian on the list. It should be #1! It is the only US Disney hotel and Vacation Club resort that is located in a Disney theme park. You open up your curtain, step onto your balcony and you are looking directly at Disney California Adventure, and at night, you have a great view of World of Color, which in my mind is the best night time show Disney puts on. The lobby is nicer than Wilderness Lodge, has one of the best dining locations in SoCal, Napa Rose, and you have your very own private(resort guest only) entrance into DCA. Can not beat this resort!

    • Tom Bricker says:

      I should have titled the list “Walt Disney World DVC Rankings,” as it’s only meant to rank the Walt Disney World DVC resorts. Grand Californian is great, you’re right!

  11. I Finally found a dream resort,I enjoyed your articles and photos,and Resort activities are awesome.I plan for summer vacations.

  12. Jodi says:

    Anyone with kids should consider at least staying at BCVs once. Otherwise, I don’t think you can go wrong staying on any property at WDW. Every resort has their pro’s & con’s. They all have great ameneties AND you can pool hop to most to enjoy the other pools when you are a DVC member :)

  13. Chris says:

    Great post. We just bought at AKL, pretty excited about all the trips we’re gonna take.

  14. We love Old Key West, even though it’s the oldest DVC resort. It’s quiet and relaxing and has some of the largest rooms.

    • Tom Bricker says:

      Sometimes, old is a good thing. Newer resorts have smaller and smaller rooms, which is obviously by design. OKW has also had a chance for its vegetation to fully mature.

  15. Janet says:

    These places look amazing! I need to try staying at one sometime!

  16. Jacky says:

    My husband and I stayed at the Vero Beach resort for two days on our honeymoon. We initially did not want to stay here because 1. We got married in December and we knew we were not going to be able to get in the ocean ( it was 17 degrees when we checked in) and I just wanted to stay in Disney not Vero Beach. We were stuck staying here because our wedding date changed not by our choice and when we changed reservations there was nothing available in DVC in Disney until Tuesday. That said, this would be a great beach vacation getaway and the bonus is that it’s Disney themed. It was absolutely beautifully decorated for Christmas. There was barely anyone at the hotel. We ate the two nights at the same restaurant and the same guests were there both days. It’s not so far from Orlando, but definitely not close enough to go back and forth each day.

  17. Emily says:

    My family and I hopped around a while back from resort to resort, staying at a different one each trip. That is, until we got to the Wilderness Lodge. We fell in love that first trip, and wouldn’t dream of going anywhere else. You see, we live in Northern CA, and when we aren’t visiting family in Florida or going to Disney, we often go camping. The wilderness lodge just perfectly captured all of the best parts of camping with little sprinklings of pixie dust here and there. I don’t care what anyone else thinks, The Wilderness Lodge will always be my Disney home!

  18. Ruben says:

    WOW, my order is very different! Here’s mine…

    1. Bay Lake Tower- I love the rooms and it’s proximity to Magic Kingdom!

    2. Animal Kingdom Villas- I love the fact that you have animals roaming outside your window/balcony! I also love the theme! If it weren’t for its location, AKV would of been my best.

    3. The Villas at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge- Love the feel and ambiance of the hotel. Also its location. The only “nahh” thing about the resort is that it has ugly kitchens. Other than that, great resort!

    4. Old Key West Resort- Love the rooms, that’s pretty much it.

    5. Beach Club Villas- IMO, the only thing I like about this resort is it’s location and pool.

    6. Boardwalk Villas- I only like the location.

    7. Saratoga Springs- Sorry, there’s really nothing I like about this resort.

  19. Ray says:

    Honestly….I think you’ve got the list backwards especially if you have a car. Granted OKW is our “home resort”. I love the look of the Wilderness Lodge and the AKL but if you are parking a car…you’re parked in the next county. I’ve never stayed at the AKL Villas but I’ve heard some horror stories about the potential length of the walk to your villa. Even with the buses…but more so with a car….you’re right at your villa with OKW and fairly close with SSR.

    • Ray says:

      Actually…the foliage and the spread out nature of OKW is what I love about it. I love how you don’t feel like you’re at WDW. I love the seclusion.

  20. Tiffany Elston says:

    Which one is the best for a couple looking to go for an anniversary without the kids? (Just big Disney kids at heart) We were thinking about booking the Animal Kingdom??

    • Tom Bricker says:

      Animal Kingdom Lodge is great for a relaxing, slow-paced vacation–especially if you like animals or African culture. Really, all of the DVC resorts cater to adults, though.

  21. Kristi says:

    This may be a dumb question, but aren’t there also DVC villas at The Grand Floridian? Did this not make your rankings?

    Thanks!

    • Tom Bricker says:

      Those didn’t open until this fall, which was over a year after this article was written. Stay tuned for an update with our thoughts on the Grand Floridian Villas, once we stay in them!

  22. Blair says:

    I’m anxious for your thoughts on GF…my family has been DVC members since 94 and we are looking to stay there in August for a trip to celebrate my 30th. Of the WDW DVC properties, we have only stayed at OKW, Saratoga & Boardwalk. OKW is our ‘Home’ & we will always have a special place in our heart for it because of that, but Boardwalk was by far our favorite. I too really value proximity to the parks after the time eaten up by ‘bus time’ when we were at Saratoga. I have asked for us to stay somewhere new this trip, We are looking at both Contemporary & GF. I’ve also been considering Wilderness because of all the fab reviews I’ve read, but it’s never really popped up on my radar before…I’m a little gun shy of the guys in AK in August because of the odor I’ve read about and the theme it’s as appealing to me as some of the other resorts. Also, we stayed at GF on our 1st ever trip to WDW (pre-DVC), and it would be fun to go back to the villas. I keep looking for an article ranking the DVC resorts that includes the new GF rooms on the list, just to see where they fall…

    • Tom Bricker says:

      I walked the Villas at the Grand Floridian over the weekend (unfortunately, no room) and overall, I was impressed with the hotel. The lobby is gorgeous, and I’ve heard great things about the rooms. Unfortunately, we won’t be staying in them anytime in the near future, so I can’t offer any more assistance than that. Good luck! :)

      • Blair says:

        Thanks for the reply! Right now we are going to try & switch to GF when we hit the 7 month mark at the end of January. We are trying to come up with a second choice, because we are thinking they might already be booked…I lean towards Contemerary & Boardwalk because of proximety, but find the theme at BLT kind ‘meh’ and we’ve stayed at Boardwalk before…My next choices would be one of the Animal Kingdom Villas or Wildreness, although AK is SO far from everything else & the theme at Wilderness isn’t really my cup of tea. (I sound like such a brat right now…..)

  23. Todd S says:

    We just returned home from a stay at the GF villas. We were in a 2 bedroom villa. I have to say Disney hit a home run with this one. The rooms were beautiful. Very spacious with high end amenities. The villas are close to pools and a 2 minute walk to the monorail station. The staff were very helpful as well.

  24. Ben B says:

    I am wondering what are your thoughts about a villa vs. 2 adjoining rooms. Our next trip will most likely be with son 23 and g/f, daughter 19 and friend and then me. I really don’t like the value resorts and I am not to keen on the moderates either. We love Wilderness Lodge staying there twice in last 3 years. We have stayed at Poly and Animal Kingdom as well. Budget is a factor but having a kitchen and not using it seems to be a waste. Having three women and two men, 2 bathrooms would be a bonus. I am thinking of Beach Club because of location to Epcot. What are your thoughts?

    • Tom Bricker says:

      The floor plan of a 1BR or 2BR villa is going to be far superior to 2 studios, but if fitting more people is the sole criteria, the better option will be the 2 adjoining rooms.

      I absolutely love Beach Club. It’s a great option for being close to Epcot. You really can’t go wrong with it or Boardwalk.

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