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Save and Splurge: Walt Disney World Resorts

Whether you're looking for a deal or dreaming of a luxury getaway, Walt Disney World resorts are the perfect places to stay on a theme park vacation.

disney world resorts

Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa (Photo: M. Musto)

There are many perks to staying at Walt Disney World resorts during your Disney vacation. Guests who are staying on property have access to the Disney Dining Plan, free transportation, Extra Magic Hours in the theme parks and more. And because of their wide price range, you don’t have to break the bank to stay at Disney World resorts. Whether you’re looking for a deal or dreaming of a luxury getaway, there’s a Disney resort for you.

Budget

Stay: Any of Disney’s value resorts will be a great place to crash at the end of a long day. These resorts, like Pop Century and the All-Star collection, have everything one could need, from a cafeteria to a huge pool. Art of Animation is Disney’s newest value resort, and it has the most transporting theme – Disney animation. Rooms are modeled after different Disney movies, like“The Little Mermaid” and“The Lion King.” Everything is new and fresh and delightfully colorful. It’s the perfect place for a young family to stay.

Do: Enjoy sculptures of iconic moments from Disney movies, like Simba, Timon and Pumbaa singing “Hakuna Matata” while walking across a gigantic log. Want to cool off? Play in the largest hotel pool of any Disney resort – the Big Blue Pool, inspired by “Finding Nemo.”

Dine: Landscape of Flavors is the best budget cafeteria at any Disney resort, serving up breakfast, lunch and dinner amid a colorful atmosphere of Disney concept art.

disney world resort

(Photo: Manakin / Editorial RF/ iStock Editorial / Getty Images Plus)

Mid-Range

Stay: The moderate Disney World resorts offer a step-up from their value offerings. The theming here is more realistic, less plasticky and technicolor. The Port Orleans Resort (split into two parts: Riverside and French Quarter) is the perfect place to stay on a moderate budget. Lush, Louisiana-inspired decor will transport you and your family straight to New Orleans.

Do: There’s always something to do at Port Orleans Riverside and French Quarter. Take a horse-drawn carriage ride, play in one of the many pools or go to a Cajun campfire at nightfall. Take part in the paint classes, offered every Wednesday by a Disney instructor.

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Dine: At the French Quarter you can enjoy live jazz in Scat Cat’s Club and Bar. At Riverside, you and your family can get a good meal at Boatwright’s Dining Hall, which serves Louisiana comfort food like jambalaya, catfish, grits and slow-roasted prime rib. Afterward, head on over to River Roost Lounge for a rollicking cabaret act and after-dinner drinks.

Luxury

Stay: There’s never a shortage of luxury experiences at Walt Disney World. You can’t go wrong when choosing a Disney deluxe resort – they’re all excellent. My personal favorite deluxe resort is the Wilderness Lodge, which is a great stay for the whole family. The cavernous lobby sports exposed log beams, giant totem poles and an indoor geyser. The Magic Kingdom is a short (and picturesque) boat ride away. In 2017, the resort completed a long refurbishment, so everything looks brand-new.

However, I would be remiss to exclude the Grand Floridian, which is undoubtedly Disney’s most beautiful and luxurious hotel. The Grand Floridian is a plush resort across the lagoon, with beautiful Victorian finishes and a glut of deluxe amenities. Unlike the Wilderness Lodge, the Grand Floridian is on the Magic Kingdom monorail circuit – so the journey to and from the park is as painless as the rest of your visit.

Do: Both resorts offer boat rentals and fishing in the Seven Seas Lagoon and Bay Lake. Both have unique pools and great views of the Magic Kingdom fireworks. The Grand Floridian offers a suite of specialty cruises, like a fireworks cruise and a pirate adventure cruise for kids aged 4 to 12.

The Grand Floridian is home to Disney’s Senses Spa – a full spa that offers facials, full body massages, wraps, baths, manicures and pedicures. No matter where you’re staying, Senses is worth a visit.

Dine: Both resorts offer many dining experiences – so here’s just a taste. At the Wilderness Lodge, you can find fine dining at the Artist’s Palate. But if you’re looking for something a little bit wilder, head on down to the Whispering Canyon Cafe in the lobby. It’s a rollicking, Old West-themed eatery with literal buckets of food (it’s all-you-care-to-eat). The waiters at the cafe are known for ribbing their guests and initiating hobby horse races in the middle of a meal.

The Grand Floridian’s claim to fame is Victoria and Albert’s, a date-night destination for parents who want to have a slice of their vacation to themselves. It’s the only AAA Five Diamond Rated Disney restaurant, and it has the menu to match. If you’re really splurging, go for the Victoria and Albert’s Chef’s Table – an opportunity to dine in the heart of the kitchen, with a bespoke menu and one-on-one attention from the head chef. The Grand Floridian is also home to 1900 Park Fare, a restaurant that specializes in character dining experiences. You could be sharing a meal with Mary Poppins, Cinderella, Alice in Wonderland and more!

Have you ever stayed at any Disney World resorts? Which one is your favorite? 

Click here for more information on Walt Disney vacations and Disney Parks discounts with AAA. 

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