Welcome to another Tip Tuesday!
This week, I wanted to begin a discussion about the benefits of staying at a deluxe resort on property, as opposed to a value or moderate resort. I have four personal favorite deluxe resorts, and I'm going to share why I feel these resorts provide so much value to justify the extra cost.
First up is the Grand Floridian Resort (my #1a favorite). Located on the western shores of the Seven Seas Lagoon near the Magic Kingdom, the Grand Floridian is the flagship of the deluxe resorts at Walt Disney World. As such, it is often the most expensive. The GF offers a number of fantastic features that make it worth staying there, especially during certain times of the year. First and foremost is location, location, location. The GF is one monorail stop away from the Magic Kingdom, something that's especially handy for families with younger children.
The resort is elegantly themed with one of the most beautiful lobbies on property. The GF also has one of the best resort-based character dining options (1900 Park Fare) featuring different characters for breakfast and dinner. In all, the Grand Floridian offers the most elaborate fine dining of any resort with Narcoosee's, Citricos and the ultra-upscale Victoria and Albert's.
During the Christmas season, the Grand Floridian truly shines with the best resort holiday theming on property bar none. The gingerbread house at the GF is worth it alone. Add in the live holiday music, the gigantic lobby tree, the Photopass studio shots in the evening with the tree as a background and the innumerable poinsettias all over the place, you'll quickly see why the GF is the best place to be during the holidays, especially during the value season.
Now, all this being said, the GF is not the best option year round. During the most expensive holiday season (between Christmas and New Years), I don't recommend the GF as the cost skyrockets. The GF, however, is my #1 recommendation for the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas. It's value season and you can't find any better resort, especially if Disney offers a good discount.
While I like the GF, it's not my #1 recommendation for the warmer (ok, blistering!) summer months. That's because there's another resort that's my #1b favorite...
The Yacht/Beach Club
If you're coming to Walt Disney World during the hotter half of the year, you need to stay somewhere where you can cool off, and there's no better place than the Yacht/Beach Club resorts -- and that's because of Stormalong Bay. Stormalong Bay is the largest resort pool on property and it's also the largest sand-bottom pool in the world. Stormalong Bay is a mini waterpark in itself and it's fantastic.
Personally, I prefer the Beach Club over the Yacht Club because of the closer access to Epcot (remember, location, location, location). From your room, it's less than a five minute walk to the International Gateway. Also, all the great restaurants and shops at the Boardwalk are only a few minutes away.
The Beach Club also receives a holiday theming overlay during November and December and it's pretty nice as well. Of course, it's more beach-oriented and is not as grand as the GF. Still, the Beach Club is a nice option for the winter months. Oh, and don't think that you can't enjoy Stormalong Bay during the cooler months -- the water's heated!
And now for the others...
The GF and Beach Club are my two favorite resorts, but I also really like three other resorts: The Contemporary, the Polynesian and the Boardwalk. I like these for some of the same reasons I like the GF and the Beach, and these reasons are:
Location, location, location -- the Polynesian and Contemporary are on the monorail and offer quick access to the Magic Kingdom and Epcot. The Boardwalk is within walking distance of Epcot and Hollywood Studios. Each resort has outstanding theming, large rooms and excellent dining options.
So why should you think deluxe?
Well as I've said several times, location, location, location and theming, theming, theming.
Think about it. How much time do you spend waiting for a bus to get to a resort? The average is 20-30 minutes (each time). How much time do you spend waiting for a bus to go back to your resort? Depending on when you're leaving the park, it could be quite a long time - upwards of an hour. Staying at a deluxe resort literally can save you several hours during your trip (to say nothing about being much less stressful). It's a lot nicer to be able to walk back to your resort (Yacht/Beach, Boardwalk or Contemporary) or take a monorail (Contemporary, Polynesian, Grand Floridian) as opposed to waiting in a huge line to catch a bus.
And then there's all the other benefits of staying at a deluxe resort that you don't get at a moderate or value.
The first is space. Deluxe rooms are much larger than rooms at value or moderate resorts. You'll appreciate that additional elbow room after being in a small room for a few days. Along with the extra space comes the ability for extra guests. I have a family of 5. That means I really can't stay at any of the value or moderate resorts (Port Orleans Riverside excepted) because they can only accommodate four people. Nearly all the deluxe resorts (Wilderness and Animal Kingdom excepted) can accommodate 5 to six people. It's really nice to keep the family in one room without having to book a second room.
The second is another benefit of location, location, location. Not only do you have a short travel time to get to a nearby park, you also have the ability to watch the evening fireworks, possibly from your room or on the beach. This is especially true for the Magic Kingdom area resorts. The picture shown above was taken from the balcony of our room at the Polynesian in March. You can see the same angle from the beach at the Polynesian -- and the music is piped in. You get another great angle over at the Grand Floridian, especially by the main dock for the resort launches.
You really have to ask yourself how much is your time worth? How much is convenience worth? How much is theming and atmosphere worth?
There's an old saying... once you go deluxe, you'll never want to go back. Personally, I think they're right.