Moderate vs. Deluxe. Can you tell the difference?

posted in: Resorts | 0

Moderate vs. Deluxe.  Can you tell the difference?  For the answer is clear, yes!

The premise of my post was to reflect on the differences, but after I got writing it was clear I am bias and there was no way I was going to give moderates the reviews they need to show a comparison for I am addicted…addicted to deluxe resorts. I have to admit, the first 2-3 times I went to Disney, I thought it was crazy to even consider paying a lot for a hotel room. You are in the

Animal Kingdom Lodge Lobby

park all day, why pay more for a shower and a bed? Then I went on my honeymoon to the Animal Kingdom Lodge.  All of a sudden my opinion changed and I drank the “deluxe Kool-aide”.  From the moment we stepped foot into the African tribal inspired architecture, ate amazing African inspired cuisine and watched wild life from our balcony while relaxing on lounge chairs sipping on wine, I had to wonder why we would even want to go to the parks?  The lodge features artifacts right out of African and if my mommy-brain serves me, Disney is one of the only locations in the country to have such art.  The grandeur of the lobby  featured here is but a taste of the magnificence of this resort, another post to spotlight this vacation in the future.

On paper its obvious the price.  At Disney World you pay for time.  Your resort’s location means more or less time on Disney transportation. And depending on where you are headed and what time of year you are going could be upwards of an hour commute (between waiting for and traveling to your location).  For some, that time is worth price tags that can range up past $1000 a night.  As a momma, my time is precious, but until I discover gold, a $1000 a night is not going to happen.  However, each time I go back to WDW I want to stay at a deluxe resort.  So why?  Outside of saving time,  should one pick to pay deluxe prices? Furthermore, is there a clear difference to justify the price?

Let’s view possible differences:

  • location
  • price
  • room size
  • resort theme
  • restaurants
  • recreation/amenities

Location: All deluxe resorts are within mere minutes of a theme park.  The monorail loop resorts- Grand Floridian, Polynesian and the Contemporary- are truly minutes from Magic Kingdom.  At the Contemporary you literally walk to the park- staying here for my first runDisney event in November!  Its nearby neighbor, the Wilderness Lodge (a personal favorite) is a short boat ride away.    Jumping over to Epcot you can walk from the Beach Club, Yacht Club and Boardwalk resorts.  I have yet to stay on this side of the world, but that streak will end when I stay at the Beach Club for my agency’s team building event at the end of 2017. Stay tuned for a full review!  Lastly, Animal Kingdom Lodge- you guessed it, is a short bus ride to Animal Kingdom.

The difference for moderate resorts, unlike the deluxe resorts who have one bus-stop location, moderates can have multiple, which may not seem like a big deal until you travel to 3-4 stops before leaving for your destined park.  I stayed at Port Orleans Riverside, a resort that takes you back to southern plantation mansions and the bayou- I loved the theme; however, after the fourth bus stop I realized we had not even left the resort.  There is an exception to the rule, Port Orleans- French Quarter, a New Orleans inspired resort, has but one stop but can share their bus route with Riverside.  The other two options in the moderate category- Caribbean Beach and Coronado Springs all have multiple bus stops.  So is time worth the money, that is for you to decide.

Price: There is no arguing, the prices are different.  Moderates, pending on time of year, can range from $166 to upwards of $445 per night of stay.  While the deluxe, again ranging on time of year can vary from $289 all the way up to $1418 a night, that is not a package price you are seeing, per night.  Numbers are numbers, can’t change them, but at the same time never think that you cannot afford them either.  Check out my post and learn how I earned over $1000 in free Disney cash.

Room Size: Moderate rooms are approximately 314 square feet while deluxe can range from 344 square feet to 440 square feet.  I have to admit here is where the differences can get grey.  Having stayed at Port Orleans Riverside and Animal Kingdom Lodge- I did not see much difference in room size.  In fact 20 square feet was all the difference between the two and if I am paying for deluxe prices I rather not have to step over the people I am vacationing with, so for this difference I would say deluxe price is not worth the space allotted in some of the resorts.

Resort Theme:  It is here that the deluxe resorts sold me, the theming! Don’t get me wrong all Disney resorts are wonderfully themed from the lobby décor to the wall art to the bed spreads, Disney goes all out from value on up to deluxe categories.   However, yes here comes the but, but at the deluxe there are extra touches that make you feel you are truly whisked away to another land.  At the Grand Floridian you can find Disney characters etched in the marble floors or the Wilderness Lodge tepees hang from the lobby ceiling.  Without a doubt you are transported to whatever theme the resort has selected and with free tours to share the history on the hotel, like at Wilderness Lodge or the Boardwalk,  there truly is no need to visit the parks.

For those moderate lovers out there, I would agree the theming is excellent, but for me there is just something different deluxe provides.

Restaurants: And let’s not forget about the restaurants, with deluxe you have a variety of table-service options to select from, once again all fitting hand in hand with the resort’s theme. If I am on vacation, I am not cooking for myself and to have more than a food court option is music to my ears.  Some of my favorites include Kona Café at the Poly, Boma at Animal Kingdom Lodge or Whispering Canyon Café at the Wilderness Lodge.  Reflecting upon all of  these features, I need to add to my bucket list a Disney vacation without the parks, instead resort hop.  I would be remised to not acknowledge nearly all moderates have table-service as well, but I find the food a notch above when dining at deluxe.

Recreation/Amenities:   All resort rooms come with the basics: Wi-Fi, TV, mini fridge, alarm clock, small safe, hair dryer, coffeemakers and laundry services.  So to look at the differences in amenities for moderate vs. deluxe you need to look at pool layouts, fitness centers, spa/salon services, etc.  I once was a diehard gym rat and then I had two kids in two years, now Jillian Michaels DVDs are my exercise outlet, but that is not to say the gym won’t be my home in the future.  So if a fitness center is a need for you, at the moderates only Coronado Springs offers an exercise room for it is also a conference center location; whereas, all deluxe locations offer fitness rooms.  Next the pools, wow Disney knows how to design pools and to this feature, moderates have some really great options as well, such as the Mayan pyramid at Coronado or the colonial Spanish fortress over at the Caribbean beach.

While on vacation a manicure or massage is always an option.  Each deluxe resort location offers a salon, as well as spa, where they differ is the Grand Floridian and Saratoga Springs have more elaborate spa sanctuaries whereas the other deluxe offer mini versions if you will of the two grandeur locations.   I have yet to go to the spa at Disney, but believe me its on the bucket list.   Looking at the moderates, once again only Coronado Springs offers a salon/mini spa due to their convention center status.  I surprised my sisters with a pedicure at La Vida Health Club, it was very simple just a smaller sized salon with two pedicure chairs so we had to take turns.  If that being said if you have a larger group going you will want to entertain the actual spas Disney has to offer at the Grand and Saratoga Springs.

I have only touched but the tip of the iceberg when it comes to seeing all the options both moderate and deluxe resorts have to option, in fact I probably missed key details.  So what is your difference? What details have I missed?