twenty "on property" resorts at Walt Disney
World. Ninteen are open to the general public and one
(Shades of Green) is leased by the U.S. military for the
benefit of armed services personnel. Of the rest,
seventeen are operated directly by Walt Disney World, and
two (Dolphin and Swan) are operated by other lodging
companies. All twenty benefit from Walt Disney World's
internal transportation system, as well as their
proximity to Disney's theme parks and the amenities at
the other on property resorts.
Walt Disney World groups their accomodations into four
categories: Deluxe, Moderate, Value, and Disney Vacation Club (formerly "Home Away
From Home"). Within each grouping Disney tries (and
succeeds) to offer a variety of experiences, to suit the
varied tastes of the public. Walt Disney World offers
everything from Chief Executive-level villas to tent
platforms, and everything in between.
Disney Vacation Club resorts is an
odd category. It groups together those resorts that offer
mostly villa or suite accomodations. These facilities
work well for families and friends who need room for
larger groups and want to cook at least some of their
meals in their rooms. Some are quite deluxe, while others
are comfortably middle-class. Fort Wilderness offers a
wide variety of facilities, from tent and trailer sites
to "cabins" for six which are actually
well-disguised "manufactured housing".
Some factors to consider beyond price
include "theming," proximity to specific theme
parks, in-resort dining options, health club and
recreational facilities, and on-site childrens programs.
"Theming" is purely a matter of style. Do you
wnat to stay in a grand hotel from the turn of the last
century? How about an island resort, a Southern
plantation, or a majestic mountain lodge? At times it's
hard to tell if you're staying in a hotel or a theme
park, and we wouldn't have it any other way. Since you're
here to enjoy Disney magic, go wild, and see if you can
make a fantasy come true.
The Deluxe resorts enjoy the best proximity to the major
parks. From a Deluxe resort you can board either a boat
or monorail to the nearby park(s). In some cases you can
even walk. With the exception of the Fort Wilderness
Campground and Resort, which also offers boat
transportation to the Magic Kingdom, the remaining
resorts require a bus or car ride to get to the parks.
In-resort dining may not be a factor for you, as you can
dine at every park and can take easy advantage of the
restaurants at other resorts. If you expect to spend a
lot of time relaxing at your resort, though, this may be
a significant factor. As you may imagine, in-resort
dining is most extensive at the Deluxe resorts. The
Deluxe resorts all offer a choice of full service
sit-down restaurants, along with less formal fare and
room service. Most of the Moderate resorts offer a choice between
one full service restaurant, a reasonably-priced food
court and either room service or pizza delivery (the exception is Port Orleans French Quarter, which does not have a full service restaurant). The
Value resorts only offer a food court and pizza delivery.
The dining options at the Disney Vacation Club resorts are
varied, as each addresses a very different clientele.
Health club and recreational facilities vary widely
between resorts. Some Deluxe resorts have world-class
health spas and extensive health club facilities.
Although any Disney guest can take advantage of "the
World's" 99 holes of golf, you may prefer to be
adjacent to the 18th fairway. Most Deluxe and several
other resorts are graced by tennis courts, and the
majority of resorts have some sort of marina with a
variety of water craft available. Every resort has at
least one pool, and some have pool complexes reminicent
of a water park. If a soak in a hot tub spa is high on
your list of "must" factors, be sure your
resort has one. Most do, but there are exceptions.
Finally, most of the Deluxe resorts offer an (added-cost)
evening child care program, which makes it simple for Mom
and Dad to take a well-earned evening off at Pleasure
Island or Epcot's World Showcase. Guests at other Disney
resorts can generally also take advantage of the
facilities, but you still have to go out of your way to
drop the kids off and pick them up again. (Yes, you do
have to take them home with you.)
The Deluxe resorts are: Animal Kingdom Lodge, Beach Club, BoardWalk Inn, Contemporary, Dolphin (managed by Sheraton),
Grand Floridian, Polynesian, Swan, and Yacht Club.
Moderates are: Caribbbean Beach, Coronado Springs, Port Orleans Riverside, and Port Orleans French Quarter. Value resorts are: All-Star
Movies, All-Star Music, All-Star Sports, and Pop Century. The Disney Vacation Club resorts are: Beach Club Villas, BoardWalk Villas,
Saratoga Springs, Fort Wilderness, Old Key West, and Wilderness Lodge Villas.
A final factor in your choice may be discounts or special
needs. Although all resorts accomodate the
differently-abled, some resorts have a fairly limited
number of wheelchair-accessible rooms. This site gives a
good rundown of what to expect. When it comes to saving
money, if you hold an
Annual Pass, or take advantage of other discount
programs, you can make a decision based on what deals are
offered. You may have to schedule your vacation based
upon availability, but you may also get the opportunity
to sample one of the pricier resorts without a major
stretch of your budget. This is a great way to make
dreams come true!