One thing I notice when people start planning a Disney vacation is that they seem to get caught up in the importance of the different resort categories. If you’re new to Disney, those categories are deluxe, moderate, and value, and while you may think they have a lot to do with the defining the resort itself, their more practical use is to give you a hint at what you’ll be paying. This is because while it’s true that each category presents a certain type room and of amenities, the truth is that the labeling is just as important in aiding your perception of where you’re staying. Call it a brilliant marketing strategy, but don’t get caught up in it.
The unfortunate result in focusing on these categories is that doing so can make you overlook a more appropriate resort and more importantly, it can make you spend too much money. I see this most often when people make the jump from the values to the moderates, where there’s an assumption that there’s a direct correlation between the increase in price and your resort experience. This just isn’t true. Look at it objectively and decide if a larger bed, more “grown up” theming, and a slightly larger room is worth paying $50 to $100 more per night, but don’t be swayed by the term “moderate.”
So, how do you choose a resort? Well, throw out all your ideas about resort categories and choose what you love and, most importantly, what you can afford. Don’t let snobbery cause you to make a decision that hurts you in the end, but make sure you don’t overlook important issues like theming and location. I have guests who are hesitant to stay at the values because they think they’re “low-rent,” but value guests are some of the most travel savvy visitors on property because they didn’t get caught up in the hype. And you might be surprised at how many of them can afford the Grand Floridian but don’t choose it because it doesn’t fit how they travel. Finally, it’s not just budget travelers who get caught up in the name game. Ironically, the least expensive deluxe resort on property, Animal Kingdom Lodge, is also the most well-themed, but guests sometimes blanch at staying there because it’s considered a lower level of deluxe resort.
The terms “value, moderate and deluxe” are all designed to elicit certain feelings from the buyer. All but the term “value” is intended to upsell your vacation. Banishing these three words from your Disney vocabulary can help you make a smarter decision about where you’ll stay on your next trip. A value isn’t “budget” or “low class” and a deluxe won’t make your trip better. So choose your resort based on what’s works for you, not on what some marketing expert is trying to sell you.