The Ultimate List of Disney Deluxe Resorts Ranked

Want to wake up to giraffes grazing outside your window, or step out of your hotel room to the monorail zooming by? These are the experiences that take magic to the next level at Disney Deluxe Resorts. With incredible amenities, impeccable service, and convenient locations, these resorts are worth it despite the high price tag. As a Florida family of four, we have visited all of the Disney Deluxe resorts. This is our ultimate list of the Disney Deluxe Resorts ranked by our family for your family.

Alice and Wonderland themed splash pad at the Grand Floridian

How are the Disney Deluxe Resorts Ranked?

Really, we just sat around the living room, took a survey, and put pen to paper.  With the sound opinions of our four year old, seven year old, and two seasoned Disney parents, we tried to make this list thinking of families like us.

The great thing with the Disney Deluxe tier resorts is you really can’t go wrong. They all have great theming, friendly staff, and amazing amenities.  Depending on your priorities, each of these resorts might suit your needs for different reasons.

We created our list of bests to try to help families who are looking for specific things from their Disney trip.  We wish you an amazing vacation, and hope this helps!  If you want more information on planing a Disney trip, visit our Beginner’s Guide to Disney World Trip Planning.

Splash pad at the Polynesian Resort

The Best List

Best Pool: Disney’s Beach Club and Disney’s Yacht Club
Best Location: Disney’s BoardWalk Inn
Best Club Level: Royal Palm Club Level at the Disney’s Grand Floridian
Best Theming: Animal Kingdom Lodge
Best Splurge: Bungalows at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort
Best Firework Viewing: Disney’s Contemporary Resort
Best Water Features: Disney’s Wilderness Lodge

7. Disney’s Grand Floridian

Sunset at the Grand Floridian Resort

The bottom of the list was a struggle. Disney’s Grand Floridian is epic and really “practically perfect in every way.” It certainly has the right place for the right type of vacation.

If you celebrating a honeymoon or a special occasion, the Grand Floridian is the place to be. (If you really want a splurge, check out the Grand Floridian Club Level.). However, if you are planning a family trip to Disney, there are other hotels that will give you more bang for your buck with a bit more Disney flare.

Hands holding a cup of coffee in front of a window overlooking water at the Grand Floridian Resort

When listing the Disney Deluxe Resorts ranked, there is a lot to love about the Grand Floridian.

The property is truly gorgeous. It is situated on the Seven Seas Lagoon across the water from the Magic Kingdom. This makes for gorgeous sunsets, and views of the Magic Kingdom fireworks and the Electrical Water Pageant.

Alice and Wonderland themed splash pad at the Grand Floridian Resort

Little details like tiled Disney characters in the floor, and live piano music every afternoon make the Grand Floridian stand apart from other resorts. The service is the best of all Disney resorts, and I bet they reserve special cast members to work at this location.

Large chandelier in the lobby of the Grand Floridian Resort

It is located on the monorail, making transportation to the Magic Kingdom convenient and fun.  You also can take a boat from their marina.

The Grand Floridian has some of the best dining in the Disney World Resort featuring Citricos and the adult only fine dining restaurant Victoria and Albert’s. The Enchanted Rose is also one of the most elegant cocktail bars on the Disney Resort.

The Grand Floridian Spa

The Grand Floridian is also home to one of the only full service spas on Disney property. It has two large pools, as well as an Alice and Wonderland themed splash pad.

If you do decide to stay at the Grand Floridian, consider splurging for the Royal Palm Club Level.  I have stayed here once, and the service and food options were amazing.  It also gives you access to the nicest part of the main building with views of their elegant lobby, as well as convenience to the pool, restaurants, and monorail.

6. Disney’s Beach and Yacht Clubs

The front of Disney's Beach Club

While these are two distinct resorts, they are next to each other and share most amenities, so it seems to make sense to treat them together.  If I had to choose, I would definitely pick the Beach Club over the Yacht Club due to the theming.  

There are two main things that make Disney’s Beach and Yacht Club special.  

The first is location.  The Beach Club and Yacht Club are located in the Epcot Resort Area near Disney’s Boardwalk.  They are walking distance to Epcot’s International Gateway Entrance.  If you are an Epcot lover, you know that this is a big deal.  We tend to end most of our days in Disney World at Epcot, so it’s nice to be able to walk home from the parks.

The second thing that sets the Beach Club and the Yacht Clubs apart is the Stormalong Bay Pool.  It’s basically a waterpark unto itself with 3 acres of water activities.  The pool itself manders around the property, and there is a lazy river, waterfalls, and a waterslide.  

The waterslide is located inside a shipwreck, and to access it you have to walk up onto the hull of the ship.  There are also several kiddie pools, one inside the ship, and the other with a sand bottom allowing kids to get a beach experience in a safe way.  

If you like to plan rest days into your trip, and you have young kids, the Beach Club and the Yacht Club are a good choice. There is tons to do on your off days.

Aside from the pool and location, the Beach Club and the Yacht Clubs are otherwise pretty standard.  When listing the Disney Deluxe Resorts ranked, they end up towards the bottom mostly because of their lack of uniqueness.  They have the same high standards for cleanliness, service, and elegance.  However, if you are looking for that special Disney feel, you might move higher up on the list.

5. Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort

Tropical design sign that says Polynesian

Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort is everything you are looking for in a Disney Deluxe Resort.  From lush tropical theming, to amazing pools, and beautiful property grounds, the resort transports you back to the simpler time of Disney’s roots.

Polynesian tiki statue below lanterns at the Polynesian Resort

Our biggest issue with the Polynesian Village Resort is the crowds.  The resort has grown significantly since its origins.  Unfortunately, while Disney has added rooms, they haven’t added much to the common areas.  Swarms of people descend on the Polynesian’s central building every day, making the restaurants and stores overcrowded.  

The bar at 'Ohana Restaurant at the Polynesian Resort

We typically book reservations for Disney meals, but didn’t think we would need it for breakfast.  We were wrong, and it was impossible to walk in for any table service meals at the resort.  Quick service restaurants were also very crowded.  Trader Sam’s is one of the coolest bars in Disney World, but you need to get there an hour before they open in order to get in.

Mini mouse in a grass skirt wearing a lei

When we stayed at the Polynesian Resort, we felt like we had lots of great amenities at our resort that we didn’t have access to due to crowds.

The Polynesian Resort has a lot of advantages.  It is located on the monorail, so it is a short and convenient ride to the Magic Kingdom.

waterslide at the splash pad at the Polynesian Resort

The Polynesian Resort also has great pools. The Lava Pool, the busier of the two, has a towering volcano, waterfall, and 142 foot waterslide.  They also have a really cool tiki themed splash pad for kids.

Waterfall and waterslide at the pool at the Polynesian Resort

The Polynesian Resort also has our favorite place to stay in all Disney world – the Polynesian Bungalows.  If you have Disney Vacation Club, or are rolling in money, these places are totally worth it.  Located on the Seven Seas Lagoon with a private plunge pool and deck, you won’t want to leave to go to the parks. We definitely recommend them if you can afford it.  

4. Disney’s BoardWalk Inn

Disney’s BoardWalk Inn has the benefits of Disney magic, convenience, and unique amenities you can’t find anywhere else.

The location of the BoardWalk Inn is a big plus.  Located in the Epcot resort area, it is walking distance to the International Gateway entrance. 

It is close by the Yacht Club and the Beach Club.  While they both have the benefits of location, the Boardwalk has special theming that elevates it above the others.

It is situated along Disney’s BoardWalk which features live performers, gift and ice cream shops, and surrey rentals.  There are also several dining options from pizza and boardwalk margaritas to the high end restaurant Flying Fish. 

The Luna Park Pool is themed as a vintage amusement park.  There is a bar in the style of a carousel, and a waterslide themed like a wooden rollercoaster.  While not as vast as the Beach and Yacht Club pools, families can definitely spend a rest day soaking in the sun here.

There is something special about the feel of the BoardWalk.  This area is full of Disney magic, and  it transports you a beachside resort town in the 1920s.   If you can get a room overlooking the BoardWalk, this will definitely elevate your experience.

3.  Animal Kingdom Lodge

4 giraffes eating from trees at the Animal Kingdom Lodge

The Animal Kingdom Lodge is one of the most amazing resorts, likely in the country.  You can stay in a rooms that have balconies overlooking animals like giraffes and impala grazing on the savannas.  

The theming of the Animal Kingdom Lodge is also incredible.  You are transported to a magical environment with African roots and modern influences.  Every detail of the resort is perfect.  We highly recommend visiting at Christmas time, where the already elegant theming elevates another notch.

African themed decor in the lobby of the Animal Kingdom Lodge

There are two great table service restaurants at Animal Kingdom Lodge.  Sanaa is an Indian inspired restaurant which has great views of the animals.  Jiko – The Cooking Place, is one of the best adult dining restaurants in Disney World.  With South African influences, they serve interesting and delicious cuisine in an elegant setting.  We recommend booking ahead if you want to dine at these restaurants, as they are both popular.

There are two things to know about the Animal Kingdom Lodge that rob it of first place status.  The first is that it can be a far walk from your room to the common area. Because most rooms line up with views of the animals, the design of this hotel creates very long hallways.  It can be up to 1/3 mile from your room to the bus.  

The second is that it is the farthest resort from all of the theme parks.  It is a solid 15 minute drive from the Magic Kingdom and EPCOT.  I know that doesn’t sound like a lot, but when you add waiting for the bus, after a 1/3 mile walk from your room, it adds up.  Tired legs coming back from the theme parks can really feel this distance, especially after a few days.

Finally, we definitely recommend staying in Jambo House if you decide to stay at Animal Kingdom Lodge.  While it costs more money, Kidani Village has a bit of a motel vibe, and can be a bit disappointing when you have splurged already to stay at this property.  Jambo House is the real deal, with incredible theming and gorgeous decor. 

2.  Disney’s Contemporary Resort

Gift shop in the lobby of the Contemporary Resort

Our family loves Disney’s Contemporary Resort.  Nothing beats waking up, opening your window, and seeing Cinderella’s castle on the skyline – and somehow each time that monorail pulls into the station, it brings out the kid in all of us.  

Pool in front of the Contemporary Resort

One of Disney’s iconic original resorts, you can feel the Walt Disney vision in the design of the hotel. It’s fun, exciting, and full of childhood wonder.

Fire works over Space Mountain viewed from the Contemporary Resort

We highly recommend staying in the main building and splurging for a firework view room.  That’s where the magic of the Contemporary Resort really happens.  

The garden rooms really aren’t worth it, and still have a high price point without the amenities of being in the main hotel.  Bay Lake is very pretty, but provides more of an adult feel.  

Cupcakes and Pastries at Chef Mickey's in the Contemporary Resort

As a family, our favorite table service restaurant in Disney – California Grill sits on the top floor of the Contemporary Resort.  Each evening, diners can step out onto the rooftop and see the Magic Kingdom fireworks with an incredible view.  This restaurant can be hard to get into, so we recommend booking 60 days in advance.

Chef Mickey's sign

Another popular spot is Chef Mickey’s where you can dine with a view of the monorail while meeting all of your favorite characters.  It’s another spot that can be popular, so book ahead.

1.  Disney’s Wilderness Lodge

Underrated, but a true gem, Disney’s Wilderness Lodge tops our ranked list for the best of the Disney Deluxe Resorts.  It has it all, from theming, to location, to fun dining.  From the moment you walk in, you feel the unfiltered Disney glow.  

Themed after the National Park lodges, there are towering totem poles, a large fireplace, and a stream that meanders through the lobby of the hotel. The stream continues outside and becomes a waterfall that is the focal point of the hotel.

A waterslide meanders through the rocks into Copper Creek Springs Pool, a focal point of the resort.  Geyer Point Bar and Grill is one of our favorite secret spots in Disney, where you can relax with a drink, a snack and take in the fresh air of Bay Lake.  

We enjoy the courtyard view rooms that overlook the pool.  The balconies are functional, and are a great place to sit after a long day at the parks.  The rooms have bunk bed options which our kids love.

Transportation to the Magic Kingdom is via boat.  There is no monorail transportation, which might be a con for some folks, but we think The Wilderness Lodge makes up for it in charm.

We hope you found our list of Disney. Deluxe Resorts ranked helpful. If you need more help planning your Disney trip, read more at our other Disney blog posts:

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