Roughing It - Confessions of a Deluxe Resort Fan Staying at a Moderate Resort: A Walt Disney World Resort Review

by Leslie Wiseman, PassPorter Guest Contributor
Last modified 03-27-2014

Photo illustrating Walt Disney World - Lodging

Our first two trips to Walt Disney World consisted of staying offsite visiting my aunt and uncle who were former Cast Members. They were by our side, showing us the ropes when we visited the parks, Downtown Disney, and all the resorts. The minute we stepped into Wilderness Lodge in 1996 my husband and I were smitten. We knew someday, somehow we were staying here.

Fast forward 11 years to better jobs, and the addition of an 8- and 6-year old; we decided to plan a visit. This would be our first time staying on Disney property before our daughter started school. I began looking at resorts trying to be "thrifty," but my husband said, "Quit looking at Value Resorts, we are doing it right and we are staying at Wilderness Lodge."

CSR_Ranchos photo

I still remember the first time we drove into Wilderness Lodge, after 18 hours in the minivan. It was pouring rain, but I remember opening my van door and the bell services person saying "Welcome Home, Wiseman Family." We were hooked. It was the best vacation ever, and my husband and I still recall moments from that trip seven years later. We made many return trips to the Lodge and it seems like my kids grew up in that resort. As my kids aged, ticket prices increased, dining plan prices increased, and transportation prices increased. We had to face the fact that if we planned to visit Disney every year, then we were going to be priced out of Wilderness Lodge.

The search began for a more conservatively-priced resort. Our last trip staying at Wilderness Lodge, we took a morning to visit all of the Moderate resorts, but as we toured, I began to reject those resorts; I didn't want to think about downgrading and figured I would always find a way to stay Deluxe. Then I planned our surprise holiday Disney trip. Since we were traveling at a more expensive time of year than our usual summer trip, our search for a more affordable resort began again.

I was a "Deluxe Brat," as were my children. I believe one of them even said "Do we have to go if we can't stay at Wilderness Lodge?" We booked at Coronado Springs because my husband liked the way the rooms looked and they had queen beds. Honestly, my expectations were low. I was excited for the trip, but not the resort.

A great flight, and a Magical Express ride later, we were dropped off. Check-in went smoothly and I loved the lobby's Christmas tree and fountain. We then began the trek to our room. It was quite a trek. We were placed in the Ranchos section, which is the more secluded part of the resort. We started our walk around Lago Dorado. Three hours earlier we were in spitting snow and our plane was being de-iced in Ohio. Now, it was a sunny 79-degree day. Trust me, we didn't mind the walk to our room. Though we entering the room from outdoors, and it was bit smaller than we were used to, we found our room to be well decorated. We loved the bedding and the wooden sliding door that adds privacy to the bath area. Yes, the room felt slightly smaller than Wilderness Lodge and I didn't have my balcony, or my closet with closet doors, but I was at Disney. We immediately headed to Magic Kingdom after a quick walk to the bus stop. Our bus pulled right up and we were on our way!

That evening we returned to our room and found our luggage delivered just as expected, and then headed to the Dig Site. I will have to say, this pool is awesome! My kids are older, but even for families with younger children this place is very kid friendly. A campfire and Disney movie playing over in the distance, my children had plenty of room in the "big pool" and enjoyed the slide, while my husband and I enjoyed the hot tub, one of the largest on property. The sky above the Dig Site's 46-foot tall Mayan pyramid was the prettiest color of midnight blue, and we could see every star. My husband said "Tonight's sky looks just like the Gran Fiesta Tour in Epcot. This theming is awesome!"

Our week at Disney included beautiful weather, and we loved the walks to El Centro (lobby, dining, and shops) and The Dig Site. This resort is gorgeous. I truly felt I was walking in a resort in Mexico. We found the food court to be good, and transportation to be quick. Our room was very well kept and we received lots of towel animals. I did miss my Wilderness Lodge H2O bath products, but I slowly adapted to the H2O Grapefruit ones. Though at first I felt like I was placed on a deserted island in the Ranchos section, by the end of the week I enjoyed how quiet, tranquil, and peaceful that area of the resort was.

One of our last nights of our trip, we returned "home" to Wilderness Lodge for a meal at Whispering Canyon Café. I admit it did make us homesick the minute we walked in the door, and I was tempted to steal H2O products from a Mousekeeping cart, but we were content to walk back into our Mexican paradise at the end of the day. Did I miss the boat ride to Magic Kingdom? Yes. Did I miss walking through the breathtaking lobby every day? Yes. Did staying at Coronado Springs ruin my trip? No. We had done it. We had survived a downgrade!

I felt our wait for the buses at Coronado Springs was even less than some of our waits at Wilderness Lodge. I also realized that the outside door didn't make things noisy; it may have even been less noisy than the hallways inside Wilderness Lodge. Yes, it was quite a walk at times to El Centro or the Dig Site, but to be honest, depending on where our rooms were located in the Lodge, we could have quite a walk to the pool and food court there, too. I learned on this trip that Disney is magical anywhere you stay, and to try to approach each new resort with an open mind.

I treasure the years I had gotten to stay at our favorite Deluxe resort, but found Coronado Springs to be just as memorable. In fact, my next trip is booked there again. Yes, I should probably try something new, possibly the new Art of Animation Resort? I would like to, but unfortunately I'm a Moderate Resort Brat now.

First Trip photo
First Trip

First Disney trip with my kids

About the Author:
Leslie works in the computer software Industry by day, coaches a high school cheerleading squad in the evening, and is the proud mother of a 15-year-old son and 13-year-old daughter. She is always saving for or planning the next Disney getaway for her family or her friends! She is a lover of Central Florida and everything in the Walt Disney World Resort! (Thanks to Sara, her next trip is booked for November 2014.)

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Reader Comments:

I've traveled many times to Disney always staying on property. In the early years drove motor homes and stayed in the campsites, also rented trailers from Disney and loved the experience. One of my trips stayed at the Coronado and was so disappointed. The walk to the busses and the wait time was horrible. I swore I'd never go back there again. My last visit stayed at Saratoga Springs and was much happier there. They have quite a few bus stops however so it takes a little time getting to the parks. I'm going back in October and trying to decide where to stay. Thinking of trying Wilderness Lodge! Thanks for your input!

     Tinatours on March 28, 2014 @ 2:11 am
We stayed at CS twice in the cabana section after staying seven times at the Poly! We enjoyed our stays there and loved the pool! We then went on to two stays at POFQ due to it's smaller footprint, loved it even more! Queen size beds are a must for us! We are going to stay at WL this coming July for the first time, looking so forward to it!

     baileygirlsmom on March 28, 2014 @ 6:45 am
Thanks for sharing this story! It's reassuring to hear that there is life after "deluxe"smiley for :D

I started as a Fort Wilderness kid; if we hadn't driven from New England, and stayed in the trailer with kids in the pup tents; we wouldn't have gone to Disney. We loved our time at FW! Fast forward to my honeymoon- my dream was to stay at a "deluxe", having never stayed in a hotel, ever, and certainly not at WDW. My DH and I were delighted with our "deluxe" experience at Polyneisan, and never looked back. We stayed with our babies and their grandparents in BWV or BCV. When they were teenagers we splurged for a 3 day trip in high season at the Contemporary Bay Lake Tower. Having the superb access was well worth it for our family, when the kids were little and we came back for naps, and when they were teens and we had to cram a lot into a few short days during their pricey winter breaks.

But times have changed and now it's just DH and I, and we will have more time to stay. We can take a slower pace, not worry so much about arriving at the park at dawn or needing to fit so much in during a single day. I've been thinking like you- maybe it's time to give another resort level a try. Disney does so much right at all their resorts, I'm sure we won't be sorry! And I'm glad you shared your experience!

     Familygoboston on March 28, 2014 @ 7:41 am
We are leaving tomorrow for a stay at the Art of Animation. We have stayed at Animal Kingdom Lodge the last few trips and absolutely love it. But, we are taking my Mother for her 80th birthday (her request - honest!) and the idea of a "Family Suite" is very appealing. Plus, my 5 year old thinks it looks "neat" and wants to watch movies in the pool while underwater to hear the speakers (I know - but she's 5 :smirk: )

We always enjoy visiting other resorts while we are there and even the "Value" resorts at WDW are better than most other hotels you will find. The biggest thing I think I will miss is the night-vision tour for guests at the Animal Kingdom Lodge, we did that last time and it was great.

A Value Resort at WDW is better than a cold rainy day in Kentucky anytime!

     brigao on March 28, 2014 @ 8:05 am
Excellent article! I was relieved to hear you enjoyed the moderate as much as the deluxe. I think every resort has something special to offer. smiley for :)

     Jennifer Marx on March 28, 2014 @ 8:18 am
I'm curious after reading your article to know why you are not DVC members if you visited the resorts so often?

     bosswife on March 28, 2014 @ 9:15 am
I totally agree. We go back & forth between moderate & deluxe stays, POR is our moderate of choice, and love it there.

     Sue M. on March 28, 2014 @ 12:29 pm
Great article. We too are Deluxe fans, usually staying at the Grand or the Poly. But in June we are trying something new and have a room booked at Port Orleans Riverside. I am actually looking forward to it and DD is excited that we have one of the updated Royal rooms.

     MickeyWatch on March 28, 2014 @ 12:32 pm
bosswife;4307889 >I'm curious after reading your article to know why you are not DVC members if you visited the resorts so often?

That is a good question and ask myself that often. smiley for :) My husband and I felt that when our kids were "younger" we couldn't afford it, we hadn't planned on going as much as we did, we just fell in love with it...and we thought as the kids aged they would grow out of wanting to go there. (They sort of did there for awhile, but a 2 year break is all they can take!) Now, that we are staring college in the face, we should have done it when they were younger. Now, we just think we will eventually quit going??? We just haven't yet?

If I had to do it over, I would have gotten in DVC our first trip!

     LESLIEW on March 28, 2014 @ 3:45 pm
We love that place but you forgot to mention the Library seating, it is the best place of all, never crowded very peaceful a wonderful respite from the overstimulation of Fantasyland and has a beautiful music box of Belle and the Beast in the center. Maybe it is a good thing not to mention it so we can have it all to ourselves when we go!


     TETMSN on March 28, 2014 @ 7:57 pm
We've done both deluxe and moderate. We had a great room in POFQ (corner room on ground floor), however walking through the smoke cloud to get to the main building is a huge turnoff. We prefer the controlled environment of WL. We are returning in 76 days.

     DisneyDaddy on April 27, 2014 @ 10:32 pm
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Updated 03-27-2014 - Article #1065 

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