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Three Words to Banish from Your Disney Vocabulary.

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.


  1. I completely agree! We are leaving Saturday for our little family’s 3rd Disney World vacation and it will be our 3rd time at Pop Century. Since we have only 1 child “upgrading” to a moderate resort didn’t make sense. We spend all of our “Disney time” in the parks so spending more where we sleep, and comfortably at that, didn’t fit into our budget.

    We have found Pop to be just perfect; great cafeteria, pool and fast busing system. Also by not upgrading our room we can stay within budget and upgrade our meal plan, and with a 5 year-old eating with a princess is way, way more important than sleeping in a bigger room!

  2. Thanks for the comments, guys.

  3. We stayed at the Animal Kingdom Lodge because my children love animals and we may never get a chance to go on an African Safari. They loved it and the decor was fantabulous. We are going again for Christmas in 2012 and we plan again to stay at the AKL

  4. I have to agree with this completely. Taking time to think about where you want and will go for vacation is the key to a wonderful and fun holiday.

  5. I keep vascillating on this. I reserved AKL for my zoo obsessed child but the price is an insult to my frugality. Since we will probably have to spend extra time at the hotel due to my child’s age I lean towards AKL. However the Values would save us a fortune! He is still young enough that a cardboard box would be a thrilling birthday gift. What to do what to do…

  6. I wish the more convenient resorts on the MK monorail (contemporary and polynesian) had more kid friendly theming. I would to stay at a value resort- for the theming and price- but with a family of 5 that inlcudes 3 kids under 5 (1,almost 3 and 4.5) I just can’t place theming over the transportation convenience of the monorail. We will likely spend the most time at MK (at least 2 days). I really wish AKL had better options for transportation!

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