Which Disney World Deluxe Resort is right for you? All of them, duh.
Each hotel boasts different high points such as theme, amenities, dining options, proximity to parks and overall atmosphere. Deciding which of these aspects is most important to you will help you determine which resort is right for your vacation.
Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort:
I am OBSESSED with this resort. I mean, who doesn’t love Hawaii?
Not only is this hotel a stunning representation of Polynesia, but it has a wonderful sense of Disney nostalgia that you don’t get at many other resorts. As one of the opening day resorts (along with the Contemporary), there’s something really special about wandering about with all the tiki goodness and Disney magic. I wish I could describe it better, but it really does just feel a little bit different, a lot a bit special, and very, very magical. Not to mention the recent renovation of the hotel sparked a renaming from the Polynesian Resort back to its original 1971 name Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort. I can’t even. The Disney geek in me is swooning.
Okay. The mushy-gushy aside, let’s get on to the actual review of the hotel. The Polynesian is all about the spirit of the Aloha and is a total oasis with tropical plants, lush vegetation, and those beaches! The decor is a true testament to Polynesia as each building, called longhouses, are inspired by a different island of the region. Each longhouse offers different views, including park view, lagoon view, or standard view. [Note: My fave is Tonga] The main building dubbed the Great Ceremonial House is where you can check in, has multiple gift shops, and is where all the dining is located. The Great Ceremonial House has a wonderful ambience that emulates the laid back vibe of the islands. Plus, I really like the name 🙂
The upscale dining is definitely found at ‘Ohana, a family-style restaurant where they serve your entire group varieties of meats and other South Pacific inspired cuisine. There’s no menu, so the experience feels a bit luxurious in that the wait staff basically starts serving you deliciousness right away. No work. No deciding on an entree. They just bring you what you know you’re gonna love!
Also the Lapu-Lapu drink is to die for. So fun drinking out of a pineapple!
I like this hotel a lot. It’s themed as a 1920’s era boardwalk resort (and it’s actually on a boardwalk – Points!) which is really fun. I think it’s one of the few that has a true sense of fantasy, and you feel like you’re in a different time and place. The coastal palette and pastel color scheme are super relaxing and offer a really nice getaway if you’ve had a crazy day at the parks. The pool is fun, albeit you have to be fond of clowns (read: HUGE clown face water slide).
My favorite thing about the Boardwalk is at Christmas time, they put a life-size gingerbread carousel featuring different Disney icons and characters in the design. It’s different every year, and makes the hotel smell AH-MAY-ZING.
True to its name, this ultra-modern resort hotel has spectacular views of the Magic Kingdom and is within walking distance from the park. It’s one of three Monorail Resorts along with the Poly and Grand Flo, so it definitely has the convenience factor on point.
This hotel is fun because it has kind of a mid-century modern vibe, which I really like. It’s a modern throw back to the days of Disneyland and has the sense of Walt’s retro Tomorrowland. Basically, if the 1960s version of the space age were compacted into a cool hotel, this would be it. Throw in tons of Disney magic, amazing dining, all the amenities of a deluxe resort, and you’re looking at a pretty cool place to stay for vacation.
I feel like this is the hotel that would be in the world of the Incredibles. This isn’t to say that it’s not a stunning structure. The architecture is unique, the clean lines in the interior of the hotel feel very upscale and luxurious, and any hotel with a Monorail running through it is alright in my book.
There are WAY too many great dining offerings here for me to go into detail (save that for another post), but to give you an idea here’s a list of the restaurants in the resort:
- California Grill
- Chef Mickey’s
- The Wave
- Contempo Cafe
- Contemporary Bar
- Cove Bar
- Outer Rim Lounge
Not bad, right?
Wilderness Lodge Resort:
This resort has a serious wow factor. Like, it is stunning.
Patterned after the national forests of the American Pacific Northwest, or PNW as locals call it (I can speak to this – I used to live in Washington), Wilderness Lodge is one of those resorts that transports you to a different place. It sports a rustically grand lobby entrance that just sets the tone for the rest of the hotel.
The pools are serene and beautiful and there’s just something about being wandering through lush, forested paths surrounded by perfectly kept Disney topiaries. I mean, awesome, right?
The dining options are totally killer, too. I love Trail’s End. Though not a high end dining option, this restaurant has one of the best quick service menus on property, which I think speaks to the overall level and quality of the resort as a whole. If this quick service menu is this high quality, imagine what the high end is like.
The signature restaurant Artist Point has a gorgeously rustic ambience with amazing art deco details. I really like that this restaurant is more low-key than many other signature restaurants on property, making it feel like a well-kept secret for Wilderness Lodge guests. You get an incredible meal but not a lot of crowd to fight to get there.
Basically, Wilderness Lodge is the bomb. It’s a little less Disney-ish than other resorts, but that’s kind of nice since it offers you a real retreat, especially after being in a busy theme park all day. It’s quiet. It’s beautiful. And it’s definitely my go-to resort.
Animal Kingdom Lodge:
I have such a soft spot for this resort. I remember working in Disney World when it was being built, and sometimes on my days off, I would wander around the grounds, and could only imagine what this place was going to look like. And let me tell you – it does not disappoint.
This resort is the most remote on property, which is really nice if you want a true getaway from the parks and crowds. The theming, while it may not be for everyone, is so immersive and authentic to the African culture and spirit, it will make your jaw drop. I promise you, you will be impressed. And if you’re like me, you’ll be rendered speechless.
AKL also offers wonderful dining options, including a very cool safari dinner departing from the signature restaurant Jiko where you dine on African themed cuisine after embarking on over 46 acres in a private safari vehicle across the grounds. Victoria Falls Lounge is a great spot to enjoy a cocktail in a relaxing environment. The remaining restaurants, Boma and Sanaa are some of the top tier quick service and full service locations on property, respectively.
If the amenities and dining don’t sway you, this resort also carries a spa, fitness center, nightly campfires, a pool complete with water slide and other children’s activities, and not to mention over 30 species of exotic animals roaming right outside your hotel window.
As the flagship luxury hotel of Walt Disney World, this resort conveys Victorian elegance with a modern flair. The lobby immerses you in the experience with a live orchestra playing jazzy versions of popular Disney melodies, offering you just a taste of the remaining luxury and extravagance the resort has to offer.
The Grand Floridian seriously has some of the best dining on property, and even in the country. Victoria and Albert’s has been rated a AAA five-star dining location since 2000 and is THE location for marriage proposals on property (Hint, hint, guys).
This resort is one of two that offer a full spa and is one of three monorail resorts in close proximity to the Magic Kingdom. I love that it is close enough to enjoy the fireworks light up over Cinderella Castle making for a truly magical experience that you can’t get at many places. The pools are fabulous and the timeless elegance is nicely captured in the Victorian theme.
Disney’s Yacht Club:
This resort is patterned after a New England-style yacht club. While it’s a bit formal, I still find it quite relaxing with its masculine decor giving off a sense of warmth and coziness. And I love the nautical details! The pool, affectionately dubbed Stormalong Bay is a kid’s dream.
I think the Yacht Club feels the most upscale of all the resorts, and is certainly a more formal variety of its sister resort, Disney’s Beach Club. Both are conveniently located within walking distance to Epcot and are just short boat ride to Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
Disney’s Beach Club:
Like the Boardwalk Resort, Disney’s Beach Club has a casual elegance that I love. It also carries a New England-style decor, but in a more playful way than its masculine counterpart the Yacht Club.
It shares many amenities with the Yacht Club, including Stormalong Bay, and is within walking distance to Epcot and a boat ride to Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
Let’s not forget the fabulous Beaches n’ Cream at The Beach Club where you can order the colossal “kitchen sink.” One of the more popular desserts on property, the kitchen sink is LITERALLY a sink filled with every single ice cream flavor at Beaches n’ Cream. It’s crazy! To think, Disney has it all, including the kitchen sink! (See what I did there?)
Hopefully this overview was helpful for you in choosing a deluxe resort. For me, the most important things are immersive theming, a relaxing ambience and fun dining options. But, come on – they ALL look terrific!
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