Disney World deluxe resorts. What a wonderful thing! Even if you can't afford to stay at one, you can visit them and enjoy what they offer (which I do often)!
I love Disney World deluxe resorts! They are beautiful! There is so much to see and do at them, you could stay at the hotel, and never go anyplace else!
So lets just take a quick look at the Disney World deluxe resorts, and see what they have to offer.
I'm so excited! I LOVE THESE!!
Disney's Contemporary Resort
So let's start our tour with one of the two the original Disney World Deluxe Resorts, Disney's Contemporary Resort!
This is the big A-frame resort that you go through on the monorail! (Yes, the monorail goes THRU it!) It has 655 rooms in the tower and garden wing. Then there are an extra 295 rooms in Disney's Bay Lake Tower. That is the Disney Vacation Club resort at the Contemporary resort.
The Contemporary is a AAA 4 Diamond Resort. This resort opened on October 1, 1971. It sits on Bay Lake and has a great view of the Magic Kingdom on one side! The Contemporary is also the only resort that has a walkway to the Magic Kingdom. That is a really nice perk! Not to mention that you can take the monorail right from the inside of your resort! No other resort can make that claim! There is also a boat that will take you to the Magic Kingdom! So as you can see there are lots of transportation options.
The Contemporary has a marina where you can rent boats. It also has a nice pool with a water slide! That is really just the beginning of things to do at the Contemporary! There is also an arcade and several shops.
The Contemporary also has several dining locations, including a character meal at Chef Mickey's, a Signature Dining location at the top of the A-frame called The California Grill (this location has an awesome view of the Magic Kingdom fireworks!), the Contempo Cafe which is quick service, and an underappreciated restaurant called The Wave. There is a really good breakfast at The Wave, and their other meals are excellent also!
The last thing to mention is the mural on the wall in the main atrium! It is done with tiles, and is gorgeous! It was designed by Mary Blaire (who gave "it's a small world" it's distinctive look). The mural really set the tone for the whole place! It's really special!
And did I mention THE MONORAIL GOES THROUGH IT! So Awesome!
Disney's Polynesian Village Resort
The next place on this tour of Disney World deluxe resorts is the other original resort!
Disney's Polynesian Village Resort is another AAA four-diamond resort! The Polynesian opened on October 1, 1971, also! It sits on the Seven Seas Lagoon, and is themed to (you guessed it) the South Pacific islands! It is also a monorail resort. There is a monorail stop that will take you to the Magic Kingdom! Besides a monorail, you can take a bus or boat to the Magic Kingdom.
There are 492 rooms, and each building is named after a South Pacific Island. It is a wonderful resort (probably my favorite) and has such a relaxed feel about it. Nothing feels great big, and it is super friendly!
There a several stores to shop at. It also has several locations to eat. It has Ohana, which is their signature restaurant (and very popular). There is also Captain Cook's (see what they did there) that is their quick service restaurant. There is also a bar on the beach called the Oasis Bar And Grill. They have a place called Kona Cafe (you have to try the Tonga Toast!), and a snack place called Pineapple Lanai where you can get a Dole Whip (a yummy frozen pineapple swirl treat!)
It has a great pool with a fun slide in a volcano. There is also a beach where you can watch the Magic Kingdom fireworks from (they even pipe in the music for you). Watching the fireworks from here is one of my favorite things to do! Get an adult beverage, sit on the beach and watch the fireworks. Then you can stay and watch the water parade. They have been doing it almost as long as Walt Disney World has been open, and some of the floats are the same as they were back then!
This is a great family resort (as they all are), and as I said...it is probably my favorite!
Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
Since we are on the monorail, we might as well stay there. The next stop on our Disney World Deluxe Resorts tour is Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa.
Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa is Disney's crown jewel resort! This is a Victorian-themed resort that opened on June 28th, 1988. It sits on the shores of the Seven Seas Lagoon. Like the two previous resorts, it is a monorail resort and a boat launch resort.
The Grand Floridian has a five-story lobby and a replica cage elevator. It has Italian marble floors with several Disney characters and stained glass domes. It has 867 rooms and Disney Vacation Club villas. During the day there is a pianist playing the piano, and in the evenings is the Grand Floridian Orchestra playing in the lobby.
There are several nice shops and lots of places to eat! Some of the best dinings are here at the Grand Floridian. It has Citricos (a Mediterranean restaurant), Narcoosees (seafood restaurant), 1900 Park Fare (a character dining experience), the Garden View Tea Room, and the Grand Floridian Cafe, and Gasparilla Grill (quick service).
They also have several lounges, and the premier dining establishment on property, Victoria & Albert's. The gentlemen have to wear a jacket when eating at this location. It is a Prix fix meal and is the most amazing experience. You have your own waiter and waitress (Victoria & Albert), and a multi-course meal that is second to none! You can also do a wine pairing with each course, which just adds to the fun.
I know that this sounds like a stuffy resort, but it really isn't. While yes it is high end, they have done a great job of keeping it family friendly, and accessible.
Disney's Wilderness Lodge
Next, let's go to the last Magic Kingdom Deluxe Resort in our look at Disney World Deluxe Resorts. (They are called Magic Kingdom resorts because they are close to the Magic Kingdom.)
Disney's Wilderness Lodge opened May 28, 1994. It is also a AAA Four Diamond resort. The resort is themed like the national parks of the western United States. It has an artificial geyser (like Old Faithful), and an amazing pool. The lobby is 8 stories tall with Lodgepole pine brought in from Oregon. The lobby is truly breathtaking with the authentic totem poles, the 82 ft. fireplace, and stunning colors to depict the different levels of the Grand Canyon. There is a creak in the lobby that runs into the pool with a bridge over it.
The resort is on Bay Lake, and you can take a boat launch to the Magic Kingdom. It is bus transportation to all the other locations. There is a spa and work out center. They have an arcade, a kids zone, and babysitting. Also, there are lots of educational activities for children and adults.
There are several places to eat here. There is the Storybook Dining at Artist Point with Snow White (character meal, but great meal!). You can also eat at Whispering Canyon Cafe, which is a lot of fun (be sure to ask for the ketchup!) And you have Geyser Point Bar And Grill by the waterfront, and the Roaring Fork quick service.
If you want a beautiful resort that takes you away, this is your resort! It is beautiful, and one of my favorites!
Lets move to the next area of resorts, the EPCOT resorts.
Disney's Beach Club Resort & Disney's Yacht Club Resort
With this Disney World Deluxe Resorts, you get two for one! You may be asking why I would talk about both resorts in one section. It is because they are physically connected, and share so much of the same things, that it just makes sense to talk about them together.
The location of these resorts is great! You can walk to EPCOT, walk to Hollywood Studios (but it is a little bit of a hike), take a boat to both places, and you have access to all the activities on the Boardwalk which we will talk about in a few minutes! I love to be able to walk to EPCOT and go in the International Gateway. It's super easy, and not crowded (although that may change with the Skyliner going in.) It takes you right into World Showcase between the U.K. and France. I especially love it when I am there for a festival at EPCOT! It also makes eating at any of the amazing restaurants in the World Showcase very easy to get to!
The Beach Club is very light and airy. The colors and decorations remind you of being at a beach club. There are lots of fresh flowers, and it just feels relaxed. The Yacht club, on the other hand, is darker and more wood (as you would think of a yacht club) and feels more stuffy. There aren't flowers all around, and you kind of feel like your kids would not be welcome running through the lobby. Definitely more adult.
These two resorts share hands down the best pool of any resort! Stormalong Bay is incredible! So much so, that they check your magic band to make sure that you are actually staying in the resort. REALLY! There is a person standing at the entrances checking our magic band. Stormalong Bay has a pool that isn't really a pool. It is more of a small water park. It has a GREAT slide that starts in a shipwreck. Part of the pool has a sandy bottom. Yes, I said a sand bottom! It has a whirlpool area and a lazy river component. It also has a great kiddie area with a sandbar in it so they can do whatever they do in the sand! Just incredible! And we haven't even talked about all the activities at this pool throughout the day. I think my girls were happier here than at the parks!
The resorts opened on November 19, 1990. There is a convention center shared between the two resorts. They are on Crescent Lake and share a marina (even though it is technically at the Yacht Club)
There are several restaurants. Actually, a lot of places to eat!
- Yachtsmen Steakhouse - Signature dining!
- Cape May Cafe - Character buffet dining (think Clam Bake)
- Beaches And Cream Soda Shop - home of the kitchen sink (great ice cream)
- Ale and Compass Lounge
- Crews Cup Lounge
- Martha's Vineyard - a lounge for lunch or late night
- The Market At Ale And Compass - quick service
- Beach Club Marketplace - quick service
- Hurricane Hannah's Waterside Bar And Grill - out by Stormalong Bay
They have an arcade, The Sandcastle Club (a kid drop off location), a health club, a spa, the beach, and even a beach volleyball court (although I've only seen it used once). There are Disney Vacation Club villas at the Beach Club, but not the Yacht Club.
Of the two, I prefer the Beach Club Resort. It's more laid back and vacation like. It is also a little close to EPCOT. It's the little things...
Disney's Boardwalk Inn
Across Crescent Lake from the Yacht And Beach Club is Disney's Boardwalk Inn!
This Disney World Deluxe Resort is designed like a turn of the century (I'm talking about 1900) boardwalk and hotel. It has a lot of whimsy in its design, and definitely holds true to its theme! The pool is called Luna Park, and it has a slike where you come out of a clown's mouth at the end. It looks like a roller coaster, but I think the clown is a little creepy (and I'm not scared by clowns).
The Boardwalk first opened in 1996. Along with the hotel, it has its own boardwalk. The boardwalk has restaurants, games, ice cream, booths to get food, and in the evening it has a lot of fun entertainment. You can walk to either EPCOT or Hollywood Studios from the Boardwalk Inn. You can also take a boat to both of those places.
There are so many places to eat at the Boardwalk that I'm just doing to mention a couple. The signature dining is The Flying Fish. It is an outstanding seafood restaurant. One of my favorite places to eat! There is also the ESPN Club (which is exactly what you think it is), Trattoria Al Forno is an Italian restaurant, and Big River Grill and Brewing Works is a brewery. There are lots of small places to get food, and they have an amazing bakery and ice cream place called Boardwalk Bakery (great for a quick breakfast) and Ample Hills Creamery (some of the best ice cream on property. Sorry Beaches And Cream.)
You can rent a Surrey Bike which is a lot of fun (but also a lot of work). There is also a dueling piano bar called Jelly Rolls. Not my cup of tea, but I know people who love it! And as I said before, lots of games and lots of entertainment in the evening. There are also a few good bars and lounges. Check out the Disney World website to get a full listing!
Let's end this article with The Animal Kingdom.
Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge
The final stop on our tour of Disney World Deluxe Resorts is The Animal Kingdom Lodge! This is an amazing resort much in the same way that the Wilderness Lodge is. The lobby is HUGE! It opened on April 16, 2001. This resort allows you to see African wildlife up close! You can have a room that overlooks the Savannah, and wake up to a giraffe outside your room. No kidding! It's incredible!
The pool here is great! Not Stormalong Bay great, but pretty great! There are all sorts of activities at the resort for both adults and kids. There is even a hidden Mickey search that is not easy! It also has one of the largest African Art Collections in the United States! So many beautiful and interesting things to look at, there is never a dull moment.
There is not a lot of dining here, but what is here is second to none! Boma - Flavors of Africa is a buffet that has amazing African cuisine. But don't worry, there is also food for the non-adventurish eaters in your family or group. The Mara is a quick service restaurant. There are two pool bars (Maji and Uzima Springs), and several lounges. Then there is Jiko, the signature restaurant here. It is AMAZING! Such a great restaurant and experience. Definitely worth your time.
And I have saved what I think is the best for last...Sanaa! This is my favorite place to eat in all of Walt Disney World. The food is fantastic and the view is even better! It is located at Kidani Village (the Disney Vacation Club Villas) on the lower floor. While you are eating you are looking out a large window at the savanna! Incredible! Animals can walk right up to the windows. You have an amazing view of the animals and may have to keep your kids focused on eating instead of the animals. The food is incredible, and make sure you get the bread service!
That's All Folks!
So that is a brief overview of all the Disney World Deluxe Resorts! As you can see, there a quite a few, and they are all very different! Choosing one really depends on what kind of vacation you want. With my older daughter, we stayed at the Contemporary. But my younger daughter loves animals, so we stayed at The Animal Kingdom Lodge. And when I went alone last time, I was at The Polynesian Village. All very different, but great in their own ways. If you decide to stay at a Disney World Deluxe Resort, you really can't choose a bad place. They are all beautiful and special.
I'm not sure I made your decision any easier. There is no bad choice!
Have you stayed at a Disney World Deluxe Resort? Which is your favorite? Leave a comment and let me know!