Ranking Deluxe Resorts at Disney World
Our rankings of all Deluxe Resorts at Walt Disney World, the highest tier of hotels there, take into account theme, value for money, amenities, location, pools, and more. These luxury accommodations have a lot to offer, and can be great for a splurge. They’re all easy to love…if you don’t get sticker shock first! (Updated January 30, 2023.)
Honestly, it’s really difficult to rank the Deluxe Resorts at Walt Disney World. There are pros & cons to each, all have downsides & upsides nice, and ultimately each bring something unique and special to the table. Consequently, the rankings really can vary based on what you need, want, or how much you value that unique quality.
Due to this, it might make sense to group the hotels by areas, and first determine if you want to be close to the Magic Kingdom, Epcot, or somewhere else, and go from there. It also means which might be right for you depends more upon what type of theme appeals to you, which amenities matter most, and the “style” of your vacation.
Again, we want to emphasize that the Deluxe Resorts are really difficult to rank. This is something we’ve discussed between the two of us from time to time in the past, and we have never really been able to agree on anything. Worse yet, our rankings seem to change from day to day. As such, you’ll probably find more value in parsing the descriptions to see what matters to you than simply looking at the numbers and using those as a hard guide with your own planning.
It’s even more difficult this year, as one of our (historically) least-favorite resorts and one of our favorites are in different phases of major refurbishment projects that are either wrapping up or kicking into high gear this year. We’ll address that in the rankings, but you can check out our Worst Resorts at Walt Disney World for 2023 and our Best Resorts at Walt Disney World for 2023 for a comprehensive explanation.
Finally, it’s worth noting that there’s some overlap between the hotels on this list and those on our Deluxe Villas or DVC Resort Rankings. However, the results are sometimes very different. In fact, in several scenarios the rankings on that list influence the ones here, which is why the #1 pick there is near the bottom of the list here. Sometimes, the unique selling point of a resort is undercut by it having an alternative option that is vastly superior. That may not make sense now, but hopefully it will once you’ve read the lists!
With that out of the way, let’s dig into our list of the best & worst Deluxe Resorts at Walt Disney World…
8. Disney’s Contemporary Resort
There is something special about staying in that A-frame for Walt Disney World fans. Opening the door to your room and seeing a monorail zoom past is one of those quintessential “magic moments” and standing on your balcony watching the Electrical Water Pageant or gazing off at Cinderella Castle in the distance is something special. After being mesmerized by gliding through this “fancy” resort on the monorail as a child, staying at the Contemporary for the first time as an adult was magical–true wish fulfillment for a lifelong Walt Disney World fan.
Contemporary Resort ranking dead last despite that should be a testament to the strength of the Deluxe Resort lineup at Walt Disney World. For some fans, the above experience–which is hardly unique to me–is going to be more than enough. There’s a lot to be said for the uniqueness of the Contemporary and its proximity to Magic Kingdom. If you’re excited about staying here, you certainly shouldn’t let me rain on your parade.
Despite all its 50 year old magic that persists to this day, Contemporary Resort has a number of modern day faults. The cluttered atrium is a hodgepodge of 1970s and 1990s styles that does the otherwise grandiose space no favors. It and other areas around the Contemporary desperately need to be modernized, as they do not hold a candle to other Deluxe Resorts at this point.
The new rooms are a little more taste-dependent, as the Incredibles-inspired redo is a bit of a mixed bag. They are very unappealing to me, which also factors heavily into the poor ranking. Many other fans disagree with this perspective, and that alone could tip the scales and catapult the Contemporary into the top 5 for you.
Other recent changes have been made at Disney’s Contemporary Resort that are unequivocally positive. The lobby looks fantastic, paying tribute to the Vacation Kingdom of the World via historical photos as well as artist Mary Blair. This is a huge upgrade, showcasing how the hotel could marry mid-century modern with Disney themed design.
Convenient monorail access and being walking distance proximity to the Magic Kingdom are big selling points. Disney’s Contemporary Resort also has some strong dining options with Contempo Cafe, Steakhouse 71, and California Grill. Chef Mickey’s is overrated, but it’s certainly a draw for anyone wanting to meet the characters while eating.
7. Disney’s BoardWalk Inn
For the 2023 update, Disney’s BoardWalk Inn falls a few spots for two reasons. The first is its rooms; these remain thematically strong, but are really showing their age. Second is the resort reimagining. That will fix the issue with dated rooms, among other things, but there’s currently construction at the hotel as a result.
Unfortunately, we still don’t really know the scale or scope of the project, nor do we have a timeline as to how various areas of the resort will be impacted. From a practical perspective, it’s difficult to recommend booking BoardWalk on that basis alone, as construction is already noticeable along the promenade and could get worse inside the hotel.
In analyzing its main strengths, let’s compare BoardWalk Inn to the Beach Club. First, there’s the design and style. While thematically different than the Beach Club, they are pretty similar. Most people are probably going to consider this a wash unless personal preference skews towards one or the other.
Next up is location. Both are near Epcot’s International Gateway entrance, and you’d probably need a stopwatch to calculate which is closer. However, BoardWalk is closer to Disney’s Hollywood Studios, should you want to walk. Dining is another consideration. Both offer solid high-end choices and leave something to be desired for counter service.
On balance, Beach Club has the edge. Pools factor heavily into that, and Stormalong Bay at Yacht & Beach Club wins that by a colossally wide margin. This really leaves BoardWalk Inn’s selling point as an inarticulable “X factor”, which is a tough basis for ranking a hotel.
Our personal take is that BoardWalk Inn has a lot of this X factor. Objectively I feel like I can’t support why I love the BoardWalk Inn so much, but I just do. There’s a sort of vague romanticism about strolling along the BoardWalk, then heading up through the hotel, which balances the elegance and whimsy of a bygone Atlantic City inn, and to your room. Serious bonus points if that room has a balcony overlooking the BoardWalk.
6. Disney’s Yacht Club Resort
This is where things really get tough. We’re actually big fans of Yacht Club and think it’s underrated, especially the new rooms. The resort has a certain masculine look to its common areas and feels refined almost in a flagship-esque way that the Grand Floridian should feel. At the same time, it just doesn’t have the inviting sense of fun and charm of its sister resort, the Beach Club.
I don’t want to call Yacht Club stuffy, because I think that’s definitely extreme, but to me, the way this resort “feels” just doesn’t jive with the overall character of the Yacht & Beach Club (which might as well be lumped together for common area purposes). It falls in this slot of its list not because there’s anything wrong with it, but because I think the Beach Club is the superior option, and it’s easy to rank Yacht Club lower as a bit of a cop-out since picking resorts for the top 5 is difficult.
Aside from theme, the strengths of Yacht Club are shared with Beach Club, and are its location near Epcot (especially nice during Food & Wine Festival or if you plan on stumbling back from World Showcase after adult evenings in the park), its incredible pool, and a great selection of on-site dining options. Yacht Club is a strong option for guests who love the Epcot Resort Area, but want a hotel with a more adult or sophisticated tone than Beach Club or BoardWalk Inn.
5. Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort
This is the first time in years that Grand Floridian hasn’t ranked dead last. In our view, the “insurmountable obstacle” to a higher ranking was that the regular guest rooms were among the dullest at Walt Disney World. You’d be hard-pressed to distinguish them from a mid-range Hilton or Marriott. Well, that obstacle is now being surmounted!
Grand Floridian is also taking massive leaps forward with new rooms that transform them into something both distinctly Disney and luxurious. We love these new rooms, which are identical to the Resort Studios that have been added on the DVC side. See Grand New Rooms at Walt Disney World’s Flagship Resort for a look inside.
Then there are restaurant reimaginings and the likelihood of more improvements to come in 2023. The only wildcard that could throw a monkey wrench into all of this is an overhaul of the lobby or other common areas. If that occurs and is a massive project, it’ll definitely dampen our enthusiasm. But that’s a big “if” at this point. Regardless, the new rooms cause the Grand Floridian to move up considerably. (Grand Floridian likely will rank even higher in the second half of 2023.)
However, the Grand Floridian still isn’t perfect. Refurbishments have been all over the place, with some refreshes retaining thematic integrity and nicely modernizing whereas others (like the Beauty and the Beast bar) have been incongruous and inert. This cuts to the crux of the problem with the Grand Floridian: it does not live up to its flagship, luxury hotel status. There are still areas of the otherwise luxurious and well-appointed common areas that come across as an early-1990s take on Victorian instead of an actual Victorian theme.
Grand Floridians strengths are numerous. The dining here is some of the best at Walt Disney World, the grounds are lovely, and the location near the Magic Kingdom is a strong selling point. This last one in particular is huge, as the ability to walk, take the monorail, or a boat to Magic Kingdom is huge, and the convenience cannot be overstated, especially for those with small children or who enjoy midday breaks.
For me, though, most of the areas where the Grand Floridian excels is delivered upon similarly by other hotels at lower price points. It’s also difficult to overlook the absurd price points, which are higher than the Four Seasons at Walt Disney World, a nicer hotel by just about every criterion that doesn’t use the word “magical” or “monorail.” The Grand Floridian is going to appeal most to those who want the status of staying in Walt Disney World’s flagship hotel or those who really like the Victorian theme.
4. Disney’s Beach Club Resort
I love the Beach Club. From the grounds to color palette of the hotel to the pool and beyond, Beach Club has the perfect vibe for a relaxed vacation. The biggest downside is guest rooms, which are a bland and weaker than counterparts at Yacht Club or BoardWalk Inn. Nevertheless, they’re perfectly comfortable and sufficiently nice, just a bit duller than we’d like.
In terms of the main draws of Beach Club, the incredible Stormalong Bay really can’t be overlooked. I am a total sucker for lazy rivers–as is just about every person who likes things that are awesome–and this pool with that and sand at the bottom really can’t be beat.
The Yacht & Beach Club dining is generally strong, with standout options at every level, all of which edge or clearly surpass those at BoardWalk Inn. The highlight is Yachtsman Steakhouse–steaks bigger than your head being another thing people who are awesome like. Beaches & Cream is also beloved among fans, but the reputation is better than the reality. The lack of a compelling counter service option is a downside to the dining scene, but even that has improved of late with upgrades to Beach Club Marketplace.
Walking distance proximity to Epcot’s World Showcase is another big draw. In the end, unlike the Magic Kingdom Area Resorts, which are all clearly distinguishable from one another in objective terms, so much of the Epcot Area Resorts comes down to personal preference due to shared amenities and walking distance proximity to one another. If we’re being honest: my infatuation with Beach Club is probably part of why it sits in the #4 spot here, whereas both Yacht Club and BoardWalk Inn–very similar resorts–rank lower.
3. Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort
This is the ranking that has us the most anxious. As of right now, the Poly is our #3 resort at Walt Disney World, and that’s even as construction on the new tower at the Polynesian begins on the periphery of the current resort’s grounds. For now, that work is not visible or audible from most guest rooms.
However, there’s nothing to say that’s the only construction that’ll occur at the Polynesian in 2023. The resort infrastructure will need to accommodate hundreds of additional rooms, and it’s likely other modernizations will occur to the existing buildings to help them blend together better. If this does happen, it’s likely to be in the second half of this year or in 2024. So for now, the Polynesian remains our third-favorite Deluxe Resort, and #1 monorail loop option.
The Poly ranks so highly because it does an excellent job at keeping one foot in the past, paying homage to both its own legacy and those of kitschy tiki resorts of a bygone era. Since its reimagining a few years ago, it also feels like a modern luxury resort, with updated amenities, grounds, dining, and an improved pool, among other things. Guest rooms are also spacious and nice, and have been given Disney character–quite literally–during the recent redesign. (See our Review, Photos & Video: New Moana Rooms at Polynesian Village Resort.)
However, not all of the changes at the Poly in the last several years have been for the better. The removal of the waterfall in the lobby was a mistake, and the grounds lost some of their lushness in the process. However, the modernization of the resort has done wonders for it. The resort’s biggest shortcomings are its high price point, loudness of the lobby during peak times, and the lack of a true Signature Restaurant. Dining at Disney’s Polynesian Resort is solid, it could use something high end.
The Polynesian brings a lot to the table with its theme, which feels like a dose of tropical tiki culture in a laid-back, high-end setting. From Trader Sam’s to ‘Ohana to the vibrant, kitschy decor abounds throughout the Poly. It just exudes a sense of island fun that is unique among Walt Disney World hotels and has led the Poly to have a loyal following. Its location near the Magic Kingdom makes it appealing to families, but really, it’s an alluring hotel for just about any demographic from kids to retirees.
All of this is arguably enough to elevate the Polynesian into the #2 slot–and for many Walt Disney World fans, it’s #1–but with more construction on the horizon in the next couple of years to build a New Tower at Polynesian Village Resort, that’s a tough sell.
2. Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
If I could only stay in one resort for the rest of my life, Wilderness Lodge would be my pick. No doubt about it whatsoever. This is my personal favorite at Walt Disney World, and that’s based almost entirely on my thematic preferences and the feeling I get sitting in a rocking chair in the lobby sitting by the fireplace.
Setting aside my strong personal feelings, Wilderness Lodge still makes this list as the best Magic Kingdom Area Resort. Considering the heavy hitters in the area this is probably both high praise and a bit surprising. The key to Wilderness Lodge is the mood its theme evokes. While other hotels in the Magic Kingdom area convey their themes effectively, I don’t think you can get lost in those themes.
At Wilderness Lodge, all it takes is a walk outside on the walkway through the thick woods and past the geyser, or sitting in an alcove by a fireplace, and you are instantly someplace else. Then there’s Christmas at Wilderness Lodge, which is totally next-level and unlike anything you’ll experience elsewhere. The main advantage Walt Disney World’s highly “Imagineered” resorts have over their real world counterparts is theme, and Wilderness Lodge is top-notch there.
The other big strength of Wilderness Lodge is the price. In terms of value for money, no other Magic Kingdom Area Resort comes even remotely close. Add to this some truly great (and often overlooked) dining options, plus great boat transportation, and I think you have a hotel that is tough to beat.
The rustic theme of Wilderness Lodge isn’t going to be everyone’s cup of tea, but even the recent room design does a good job of balancing the outdoorsy style with modern luxury and features. (See our Review, Photos & Video: Wilderness Lodge New Rooms.) If you like those rooms, the resort’s theme as a whole, and want to be convenient to Magic Kingdom, Wilderness Lodge is a can’t miss choice–and not just at Christmas.
1. Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge
Animal Kingdom Lodge brings a lot to the table. First, let’s focus on what it doesn’t bring: location. Just about any valid knock on Animal Kingdom Lodge can be summed up as having to do with its remote location away from any theme park that isn’t Animal Kingdom. Many guests identify location as a main reason to stay on-site at Walt Disney World, so that can’t be overlooked. This location also means there are no novel forms of transportation–boat, monorail, Skyliner, etc–between AKL and the parks. It’s all buses.
Now let’s take a look at everything it brings to the table. First, the rooms were recently redone and Disney did an awesome job balancing theme and modern touches. Second, AKL is arguably the best themed Walt Disney World hotel. From the meticulous design that makes it feel like an extension of the Animal Kingdom theme park to the art collection that you can see by perusing the common areas, Animal Kingdom Lodge is a hotel that really rewards those guests who are willing to spend the time drinking in its details.
Oh, and that doesn’t even address the living, breathing animals that graze on the 4 savannas outside of the hotel. This is the resort’s main draw and selling point, and the tradeoff for Animal Kingdom Lodge being relatively isolated. These savannas are something you won’t find at any real world hotel in the United States, and are the reason Animal Kingdom Lodge is a “destination” resort unto itself. You could sit and watch the wildlife for a long weekend, never even venturing to the parks. That’s what ultimately gives Animal Kingdom Lodge the edge over Wilderness Lodge, even if we personally favor the latter.
Then there’s the dining situation. With the Mara, Victoria Falls Lounge, Boma, Sanaa, and Jiko, Animal Kingdom Lodge literally has one of the best dining options are every single dining tier. In fact, I would put it ahead of the Grand Floridian in terms of overall dining quality, and that’s really saying something. Then there are rooms that wonderfully toe the line between theming and luxury (skewing, as always, towards theming), which are some of the best at Walt Disney World.
Finally, there’s the price point; while expensive, Animal Kingdom Lodge is often the least expensive of the Deluxe Resorts. All of this makes Animal Kingdom Lodge my current pick for the #1 Deluxe Resort at Walt Disney World. This is especially true if you’re going to be spending a lot of time in your hotel (this would be our easy pick for a “hotel weekend” that would involve no park time), albeit considerably less true if you’ll be spending a lot of time in the parks and little time in your hotel.
At the end of the day, depending upon the day and our moods, almost any of these hotels could climb or fall the list. We cannot reiterate enough how much this list can vary based upon what’s important to you or the focus of your trip. We mentioned three categories at the beginning of this post: Magic Kingdom Area, Epcot Area, and Other Area, and you might notice the top 5 have hotels from each, which is deliberate, as you should definitely keep these zones in mind when considering which hotel to book.
To that end, if you need personalized advice about which resort is best for your family–since there’s no one size fits all answer—we recommend contacting a no fee “Authorized Disney Vacation Planner” (Disney’s term for a travel agent) to get a quote and to help you plan. They get their commission from Disney, so most of the authorized (key word) planners will charge you for booking their trip and helping. Here’s one such fee-free Authorized Disney Vacation Planner that we highly recommend. Request a quote from them, and then discuss your specific priorities and preferences so they can help you choose the Deluxe Resort that’s perfect for you!
Planning a Walt Disney World trip? Learn about hotels on our Walt Disney World Hotels Reviews page. For where to eat, read our Walt Disney World Restaurant Reviews. To save money on tickets or determine which type to buy, read our Tips for Saving Money on Walt Disney World Tickets post. Our What to Pack for Disney Trips post takes a unique look at clever items to take. For what to do and when to do it, our Walt Disney World Ride Guides will help. For comprehensive advice, the best place to start is our Walt Disney World Trip Planning Guide for everything you need to know!
Which Deluxe Resort at Walt Disney World do you think is best? Worst? Have your own rankings? Do you agree or disagree with our picks? Any questions we can help you answer? Hearing your feedback–even when you disagree with us–is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!
“However, not all of the changes at the Poly in the last several years have been for the better. The removal of the waterfall in the lobby was a mistake…”
Such truth deserves capitalization, boldface, underlining and a 72-point font.
Beach Club is just the perfect summer resort, due to the theming matching with Stormalong Bay, with the Yacht Club neck and neck. With Boardwalk, and to a lesser extent Swan, Dolphin and Reserve, they also have easy access to the Skyliner and all the Amenities along that line, and easy entrance to Epcot. The Poly remains nice and, yeah, the best monorail choice, though the new Hampton Inn they’re adding next door has me worried. Nothing wrong with GF that isn’t being fixed, though the pool setup, like that of the Contemporary, is underwhelming.
The ultimate Christmas resort is the Wilderness Lodge, but even in the heart of summer it is a refreshing place. The pool is wonderfully themed but on the small side due to its courtyard location, However, it has a pleasantly “deep” section, something that can be lacking in certain resort pools. I see that Galactic Wallet-Bruiser isn’t considered deluxe.
And then there’s your number 1, AKL. It has many, many fans for many, many reasons. But there’s a reason it’s never going to be my # 1 for as many reasons: Location, location, location. It is remote and isolated from all other resorts, understandably so due to the nature of Animal Kingdom. You just can’t achieve what they’ve done with the animals here and put it on the monorail loop, or on Crescent Lake. However, isolation and remoteness achieved. My advice, bring or rent a car if you’re staying here.
For me it’s a trifecta that’s virtually interchangeable: Beach Club, Wilderness Lodge and Polynesian Resort. However, that was pre-Poly current construction. I will say this: They could downgrade the Holiday Inn Express they’re building next door to a Red Roof Inn, and if they put the water feature back in the Lobby, the Poly would be in permanent # 1 status. As it stands, I find myself flip-flopping between the three, as they all offer wonderful yet different positive strengths. Looking back, I find it amazing that they never put in an equivalent of Geyser Point at the Polynesian before the bung-your-view-allos were put in place. The reservations I have are the following: When Beach Cub is unavailable, Yacht Club slots into that spot, and the current construction at the Poly. Right now, I’d target Beach/Yacht Club or Wilderness Lodge. But people’s mileage WILL vary on this issue, and that is fine, and that’s how it should be. Just know what you’re getting where you’re going especially for the prices the deluxe resorts charge.
My family recently did a split stay at Yacht Club and the Polynesian. Theme-wise, I can understand why people love the Poly and undervalue Yacht (I am a sucker for a theme, and Wilderness Lodge is my all-time fav Disney resort). But what shocked me on this recent trip was the stark difference in the level of service at these two Deluxe resorts. Staff at Yacht Club and all of its restaurants went above and beyond even Disney levels of service. Despite the fact that we were there during Hurricane Nicole and many staffers were overtired and overworked, every single cast member was incredible. The Polynesian was a totally different story. We had problem after problem and the consistent response from both cast members and resort management was a cold “nothing we can do”. I got the clear impression that construction at the Poly has caused problems they simply cannot deal with, and a decision was made on-high to not worry about it, because the Poly will sell out even if people have terrible experiences. I fear the situation at the Poly will only become more dire once the new DVC tower is built, because that resort simply doesn’t have enough dining, space and pools for the number of guests and constant visitors it gets.
We went to AKL on our first family trip in 2017- it was very nice and holds special place being it was the first. However we did not like the long bus rides with double stroller and young kids. The following year we tried wilderness lodge and loved it- it is our favorite resort as of now. We tried grand floridian after wilderness which was very nice as well- but the next two trips returned to wilderness lodge. This past December we tried contemporary and really didn’t like it- we regretted our decision almost instantly but made the best of it. The next trip to DW we want to try polynesian – it looks nice but we probably won’t be to Orlando until 2025.( although this article has me wanting to try beach club). This summer we decided to try Disneyland for first time- I assume the grand californian is best bet there? Then in 2024 we try Disney paris- it also works out so we can be back to Orlando when the new splash mountain opens
Two thoughts — There is no right or wrong here, but your rankings really show you personal high prioritization of theme (the top 3 themed resorts are you top 3 resorts) and your low prioritization to location (your top 2 are probably the worst 2 in terms of location).
Secondly, I’d argue it’s time to include DVC Resort Villas to this list. For the guest booking a cash room, a cash studio room at SSR or Riviera isn’t really any different than booking one of the official resorts. Someone considering the Contemporary may also want to consider a cash room at Bay Lake Tower. Someone considering the Yacht Club or Boardwalk may equally consider the Riviera.
So for a guest looking to rent a cash room through Disney’s booking, there really isn’t a difference between Deluxe resorts and deluxe villa resorts.
Personally, if I was adding deluxe villas to a combined list — Old Key West and Bay Lake Tower would be near the bottom. Riviera and Kidani would be in the top half. (and Boardwalk Villas, Beach Club Villa, Polynesian Villas, Grand Floridian Villas and Copper Creek would simply be merged with their sister deluxe hotel). (If it has it’s own pools and dining, then I’d treat it as a distinct entity).
I understand your tension between theming and location. This is something I always struggle with. Jambo is my favorite resort for the theming, food and general vibe. On our last trip we went to the Bpardwalk for the location and left feeling disappointed and missing AKL. In March we will return to Jambo House. I agree with the article. Oh, we got 25% off from our Chase card.
Tom definitely prioritizes theme, and honestly I get it; that’s the one thing Disney does better than “real” hotels. I don’t know if he is discounting location so much as he is prioritizing price. The hotels with the best locations (when judged with proximity to the parks) are also the most expensive, and in my opinion their pricing way outpaces the added value you get for being closer to the parks.
There’s also the question of what is the focus of your trip? I would argue if you focus is going to primarily be the parks, I’m not sure it makes a ton of sense to book *any* deluxe resort from a pricing perspective. If you aren’t going to be at the hotel except to sleep and eat one or two meals, it doesn’t matter how nice the hotel amenities or its theming is. In which case, is being on the monorail loop or around Crescent Lake *really* worth 2-3x what you’d pay for a moderate resort a little further from the parks? You do get the extended evening hours, but you could also get those at Swan and Dolphin for less money and a *slightly* longer trip to the parks than if you were at Boardwalk or the Beach & Yacht Clubs.
What price is “worth” what level of stay, what amenities, is purely a subjective question.
Honestly, for me, if a on-site hotel doesn’t have a good location, then even a value resort isn’t “worth” it, as I may as well stay offsite.
For me (not right or wrong, purely subjective), staying in a high quality resort with large beautiful rooms and easy access to parks is “worth” quite a bit. If I concentrated too much on whether it’s really “worth” the astronomical prices charged by Disney, I’d just stay offsite. But when we are comparing a $600 room with a $800 room, a better location is typically “worth” it for me.
I’m delighted that Animal Kingdom Lodge made it to the top of your list. We stayed there for three nights last February and were blown away by the gorgeous lobby, the room furnishings, the variety of restaurants, and most of all by the animals that we stared at for hours from our balcony. We just booked a room there for one night at the end of April so that I can wake up on the morning of my birthday to the sight of zebras, giraffes, and antelopes grazing on the savanna. It just so happens that our annual passes expire that day (we won’t be renewing for various reasons), and we can’t think of a better way say farewell to Disney. And the AP discount we get for that stay makes it an even sweeter way to say goodbye!
Good list. I’d rank Polynesian at #2, and I prefer the design of Yacht Club to Beach Club so would swap those around. Beyond that it’s hard to argue.
Contemporary is hard — I’d probably it rank higher, but only IF you have as theme park view. So it’s very much a conditional ranking. A non-theme park view should be about where you put it.
Also just side note, but I drool thinking back on the food I’ve had at AKL. It’s so absurdly good.
Why is riviera not included in the rankings?
Riviera Resort is a Deluxe Villa–same goes for Old Key West, Saratoga Springs, Kidani Village, etc.
“Opening the door to your room and seeing a monorail zoom past is one of those quintessential “magic moments” and standing on your balcony watching the Electrical Water Pageant or gazing off at Cinderella Castle in the distance is something special.”
Fully agree. We were able to get a room that could see the park in Bay Lake tower in 2021 after Covid. While there were no fireworks or parade, being able to sit on the balcony and see the Monorail whiz into the A frame or sit and look at the castle was one of my favorite things I have seen at WDW. The resort itself was ok, but that view truly was magical.
We LOVE AKL. We don’t mind the remoteness from the parks, as that is one positive draw to the resort. My only negative complaint was that it seemed like the location of the bus pickup area was the furthest out in every park. Being that buses are AKL only transportation, sure was hoping for more VIP parking spots.
Our top favorite deluxe resorts are Wilderness Lodge and Animal Kingdom Lodge. Both have a specific feel that is hard to beat. There’s times we go to DW that we want the resort to be its own experience separate from the parks – somewhere to linger and soak up the ambience. When we are prepared to shell out for a deluxe resort trip, I want it to compete with the parks! Love returning to AKL or WL after a park day. Morning coffee is a thing all of its own at these resorts. Never tire of strolling through or lounging at these two!
Our family’s experiences at the Disney Hotels has been exceptional until we visited Animal Kingdom’s Kidani Village. As a Vacation Club Member, Kidani Village, the personnel, the condition of the property and our 2-room villa was a nightmare from the moment we arrived. The front desk personnel were the first disappointment; they were not magical by any means. They were most likely new to their positions with no mentoring. They messed up our reservation which had been confirmed twice with communication to substantiate the same. They made us wait over 3.5 hours while they researched their errors; hence, we couldn’t even use the property or the parks because they were not ready to enable our “magic bands.”
Our room was not the normal Disney clean; we had insufficient towels and other hand soap for bathing and washing after using the restroom. The walk to our room sure provided us with enough steps between meals and activities. It was way at the end of the property. The carpet on our hike was filthy and ripped at the seams. The wallpaper was coming apart at the seams. Both were highly visible and reflected a lack of care and pride. Whoever is the GM of this property should be ashamed and he or she should be terminated.
Something was “off” with the animals. They were scant at best and the Savannah area in which they were supposed to roam was in poor condition.
The park visit was a pleasure as always and we had some wonderful meals during our visit. All in all, this property is a disgrace. Outside of the art collection, there was nothing to “wow” us. I am flabbergasted to read a rave review. Either the review is old or it’s one that surely cannot be respected. As a vacation club owner, I was devastated. We tried our best to think of the other lovely properties and focus on the happiness while visiting the parks.
Honestly……..the hotel should be closed for renovations and the reception staff should be properly trained. The property soured us and our hope is that no other family experiences such a horrid stay.
The ONLY deluxe hotel i have stayed at is AKL.
It was for my Disneymoon in 2011. We LOVED IT. Savannah room. We got upgraded to CLUB LEVEL as a surprise which we LOVED. We loved JIKO. I loved pool and hubby liked Hot tub. Arcade brought out the KID in me. Loved sipping on Coffee in morning on Balcony watching Animals.