Value v. Moderate Resorts at Disney World

Moderate v. Value Resorts. Many guests planning Walt Disney World trips wonder whether it’s worth saving money or paying extra for better amenities, pools, transportation, dining, etc. This comparison weighs the pros & cons of each tier and gives our verdict as to which accommodations are the best picks for different types of travelers. (Updated February 9, 2023.)

For starters, this post assumes you’ve already determined that you want to stay on-site at Walt Disney World and have narrowed your search to these specific categories. If not, you might want to start with a different comparison: Off-Site v. On-Site Walt Disney World Hotels.

As for this comparison, we break it down to a bunch of different categories (price, theme, rooms, recreation, dining, transportation) because the ultimate answer as to which is better is going to be [spoiler alert] “it depends.” What it depends on is how important each of the considerations below are to you. With that said, let’s try to analyze the five most important features of Walt Disney World hotels to see where each tier has advantages…

Before we get going, we need to offer a caveats about this overarching comparison: it’s really clunky. Arguably, Walt Disney World has outgrown the Value, Moderate, and Deluxe Resort tiers. Nowhere is that more apparent than in these two tiers, which include everything from standard rooms at the All Stars to Family Suites at Art of Animation to Cabins at Fort Wilderness to Executive Suites at Gran Destino Tower that border on luxury accommodations. (Some of them are nicer than Deluxe Resort rooms!)

To the greatest extent possible, we’re going to “smooth over” this range of room categories by focusing on standard options at each resort. This makes things easier for us, and also more practical for you since the standard accommodations are the most common category. Realistically, you’re probably not debating between a barebones room at All Star Sports and an Executive Suite at Gran Destino Tower. If you are…maybe this isn’t the post for you!

Anyway, let’s turn to the comparison categories of Value Resorts versus Moderate Resorts at Walt Disney World…


Standard rooms at all Value Resorts are cheaper than standard rooms at all Moderate Resorts. Again, the Art of Animation Family Suites, Cabins at Fort Wilderness, and various room types in Gran Destino Tower are outliers here in that they’re not an apples to apples comparison with the other hotels in the categories, we won’t give them much consideration.

According to our highly unscientific calculations, Moderate Resorts are about $70 more expensive than Value Resorts per night (sometimes less, sometimes more). This difference varies widely based upon season, discounts, etc., but expecting to pay about $70 more per night at a Moderate Resort is a good baseline.

One complicating factor with this comparison is the Skyliner Resorts, which are discussed in greater detail in the transportation section. Just as Moderates cost more than Values, there’s a “Skyliner Surcharge” within each category. As a result, the price difference between a standard room at Coronado Springs is typically much cheaper than one at Caribbean Beach, and between the All Stars and Pop Century.

Conversely, the gap between Coronado Springs and Pop Century often is not as significant. Regardless of the actual number, it’s true that, on average, standard rooms at the Moderates cost more than a good chunk of change more than Values on a nightly basis.

Advantage: Values


Moderate Resorts generally offer more nuance and subtlety in the way of themed environments. You have a lot of ancillary details that come together to form a cohesive backstory and more convincing environment that transports you away from Walt Disney World. This is especially true at the Port Orleans Resorts, where you can spend a lot of time exploring to pick up on morsels of the theme.

By contrast, the Value Resorts convey their style through larger than life icons. At the All Star Resorts, these are primarily oversized Disney characters. If you’re traveling with kids, don’t underestimate how much they might enjoy these icons. Most adults will be less intrigued by the theming at Value Resorts, which generally attempt to distract from the “boxy” plain, motel buildings that comprise the hotels with the eye-grabbing icons. There is nothing nuanced about the theming at these hotels, and adults will almost always prefer the more engaging, interesting, and oftentimes romantic theming of Moderate Resorts.

Advantage: Moderates


On average, standard guest rooms at Moderate Resorts are larger by about 60 square feet. (Caribbean Beach is even larger.) We have a post that offers a break-down of the size difference of all Walt Disney World hotels.

It used to be the case that the Moderate Resorts had nicer rooms with better bedding and superior themed design. It was also the case that the All Star Resorts were looking tired, with faded and dated decor. That has changed with the most recent room designs, which are relatively consistent at Pop Century and all of the All Stars.

There have been some complaints among Walt Disney World diehards that these rooms are light on theme and feel sterile and cold as a result. While it’s true that they favor function over form, the consensus among regular guests (read: non-fans) has been resoundingly positive. For our part, we love these new rooms, finding them to use space exceptionally well, and having thoughtful features, and more.

Moderates still have a better sense of themed design and feel more upscale and less utilitarian as a result. However, some of these are now feeling tired and overdue for updates. They also lack the same space-saving features found in the new rooms at the Value Resorts, which do help bridge the gap in terms of size.

Really, this comes down to your priorities. Our personal favorite rooms are at Coronado Springs Resort, which offer the best of both worlds. However, we also are big fans of the functionality of the new rooms at the Value Resorts. They don’t have the most elaborate designs, but they really get the job done and serve their purpose well!

Advantage: It Depends


Each Moderate Resort has a table service restaurant (except French Quarter, but it’s a 10 minute walk from Riverside, and a brief boat ride from Disney Springs), some of which are pretty good. They’re not Deluxe-caliber restaurants (the kind of restaurants that draw non-resort guests to them), but they’re not bad. Basically, they’re good options if want to do dinner at your hotel.

All Moderate and Value Resorts have counter service restaurants. The advantage here also goes to Moderate Resorts, as they offer more varied and interesting menus. By contrast, the food courts at the Value Resorts are much more utilitarian. (Even this has exceptions–the food courts at Pop Century and Art of Animation are both Moderate-caliber.)

This only really matters if you’re going to be at your hotel to eat these meals. We usually eat every meal in the parks or at hotels near the parks, so dining at Moderates and Values is always a non-factor for us. It is a factor when for Deluxes, but usually not these categories. (For example, if you’ll be leaving Disney’s Hollywood Studios for a meal at Yachtsman Steakhouse, for example, staying at the Yacht or Beach Club makes it easy to make a pit stop at your room before or after dinner.)

Advantage: Moderates


All Moderates have themed pools with water slides, and each of these pools is pretty cool. Value Resorts also have lightly themed pools, sans slides. Aside from Art of Animation’s Big Blue Pool, no Value Resort Pool made our list of the Top 10 Pools at Walt Disney World, whereas several Moderate pools made the list.

Moderate Resorts also offer bars/lounges and various other forms of activities, like boat rentals, that aren’t available at the Value Resorts. The advantages here universally belong to the Moderate Resorts, which unquestionably have better amenities than the Values.

Without question, the most/best amenities are found at Coronado Springs. This is Walt Disney World’s primary convention hotel, and it shows. That’s why Gran Destino Tower was added, and it has a ton of amenities for adults. Multiple restaurants, bars & lounges, fitness centers, hot tubs, and more. If these things matter most to you, Coronado Springs blows away the competition–it’s more like a Deluxe Resort than a Moderate in this regard.

It’s really more of a question of whether you’ll use use these amenities. If your party will spend a significant amount of time at your hotel each day, these recreation options could be pretty important. It’s also worth noting that, Moderate Resorts are typically more spread out (French Quarter excepted), so if you are firmly opposed to walking, the Value Resorts might be slightly more appealing. Conversely, this added space offers more areas to explore, and the Moderate Resorts are great for a leisurely stroll in the evening or morning, giving them a true resort (rather than hotel) vibe.

Advantage: Moderates


This is where things get complicated, and the distinction between the Value and Moderate Resorts really breaks down. You might think that transportation is an important amenity, and those paying extra for higher-tier resorts would be rewarded with more efficient transportation. You would be wrong. Transportation is not consistently better at more expensive hotels, especially when it comes to bus transportation.

In reality, this category is all over the place. The worst transportation at any of these resorts is at Coronado Springs, followed closely by Port Orleans Riverside. That’s because both of these larger resorts have internal bus loops, which is tedious and time-consuming. Coronado Springs the worst due to the addition of Gran Destino Tower, which means more people and strain on the buses.

In the middle are the All Star Resorts (all of them). On occasion, these can share bus service to the parks, but we have not experienced that recently–it seems pretty rare now. More importantly, they each have single stops at each resort. The All Star buses can be a wildcard. Sometimes, buses will be dispatched for each resort and will be running quite often, making them incredibly efficient. Other times, there will be huge lines in the morning or otherwise long waits. Our recent experiences with bus service at the All Stars has been generally positive–a big improvement as compared to a few years ago.

It’s a similar story with Port Orleans French Quarter. This resort has a more compact footprint than its sister property, and bus service is generally efficient.

The best transportation is at any of the Skyliner resorts, which include Art of Animation and Pop Century, plus Caribbean Beach. These offer aerial gondola service to Disney’s Hollywood Studios and EPCOT, which is an absolute gamechanger. The downside is that they do offer bus service to Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom, where the two Value Resorts have a slight option since Caribbean Beach Resort has an internal bus loop.

The Skyliner is efficient and predictable, so long as you aren’t visiting during storm season. (Even then, we’ll take the Skyliner resorts.) These are not all equal–Caribbean Beach gets the slight edge since this is the Skyliner hub resort, with two stations that are convenient–meaning direct access to both parks.

We place the Skyliner advantage on par with or perhaps slightly above that of the monorail. That’s really saying something, as the monorail resorts are all Deluxes and charge a significant price premium. The advantage of being able to hop aboard a continuously-loading aerial gondola cannot be overstated, making it exceedingly easy to get to EPCOT and DHS for Early Entry, or taking a midday break. For us, this is the ultimate trump card–and why we’ll usually opt for the Skyliner Resorts over anything else in both of the Value and Moderate Resort categories, unless there’s a significant price difference, unavailability, or discount exclusions. All of those things do happen often, unfortunately.

Advantage: Skyliner Resorts, spanning both Value and Moderate Resorts


As is probably clear by now, Value v. Moderate Resorts is not a clean comparison. So it thus should not come as a surprise that this is not a neat verdict, with one category being the obvious winner. To the contrary, the outcome is very circumstantial, and often comes down to specific hotels being better options rather than broad categories.

Whether it’s worth it for you to pay more for a Moderate Resort depends upon your preferences, budget, and how much time you’ll be spending at your hotel. If you like a richly themed environment, the Moderate Resorts score points. If you’re primarily interested in how much your kids will enjoy a resort, give the Value Resorts a second look. To the bewilderment of some adults, kids absolutely love those large icons.

If money is an issue, the premium pricing you’ll pay at a Moderate may not make a whole lot of sense. Even then, the surcharge is not equal across the board. Skyliner Resorts are typically more expensive within their respective categories, and there’s also a surcharge for Gran Destino Tower, which is really more like a Deluxe Resort, albeit an isolated not. We warned you at the outset that this is very much an “it depends” topic, and now you should see why that’s totally true.

Ultimately, what we can offer is our personal perspective as we regularly stay at both Value and Moderate Resorts. Assuming we’re doing it for enjoyment and not a resort update, we usually choose Skyliner Resorts for a quick weekend trip or when the parks are our primary focus. Pop Century is my preferred resort for this type of trip, especially when I’m looking for the best value for money.

If our budget is a bit healthier, we choose Caribbean Beach Resort. Its added amenities are nice, as is the added convenience of being the Skyliner hub. We also like having access to better dining, even though we (admittedly) often don’t take full advantage of it. Then there’s the pool. Even when we don’t use these things, having access to them is nice.

If it’s a longer trip or we’re looking at stretching our budget further, that’s where the other Value and Moderate Resorts come into play. Thanks to the new rooms, the All Stars have really grown on me, especially at times when they’re not hosting youth events. If I’m doing a longer solo trip, the parks are a priority, or I’m trying to keep costs down, I choose whichever of these is cheapest.

Then there’s Coronado Springs Resort. When we’re traveling together and will be spending a bit more time at the resort, this option usually wins out. Its rooms are better, base rates are lower, discounts are better, and sometimes we luck into an upgrade to Gran Destino Tower. We also prefer the fitness center, pools, and restaurants. We find ourselves doing late night meals at Three Bridges after the parks close quite often, and also love Toledo Steakhouse and the lounges in Gran Destino.

Finally, there are the Port Orleans Resorts. These were once our favorites, and still are exemplars of themed design, with beautiful grounds that make for romantic evening walks. We still very much love the idea of the Port Orleans Resorts, and with each visit, we fall in love with them all over again. But if I’m being honest, we don’t have the same pull to return to any of these as the above options. Each of those have functional advantages, whereas it’s all about the form of Port Orleans. To each their own, though. I certainly wouldn’t discourage anyone from booking the Port Orleans Resorts!

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!

Your Thoughts

Is it worth it to you to stay at a Moderate Resort, or if you’re paying more, do you just splurge all-out by staying at a Deluxe Resort? Or, do you just save as much money as possible by staying at a Value Resort? Share where you normally choose to stay (and why!) in the comments!

151 Responses to “Value v. Moderate Resorts at Disney World”
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