We have come to the next part of the hotel series: deluxe hotels. Anyone trying to do Disney on a budget should stay far far away from these guys. The deluxe hotels are available in themes to match anyone’s interest and needs. Since there are 8 deluxe hotels on property, I am dividing my posts up so as not to overwhelm anyone with the amount of exciting Disney knowledge. This post will focus on the Magic Kingdom resorts which include The Grand Floridian, the Contemporary, the Polynesian, and the Wilderness Lodge. Each vastly different from each other, and each awesome in their own right. Unlike the value and moderate resorts which closely resemble each other, deluxe resorts march to the beat of their own drum. I have stayed at 3 of the Magic Kingdom resorts, and been a frequent customer at the Contemporary. Allow me to break down what amenities each resort possesses, along with some pros and cons you might experience.
Grand Floridian Lobby
The Grand Floridian Resort and Spa
Notably the most expensive resort on property, the Grand Floridian does try to live up to its grand name. This Victorian themed resort has multiple buildings, restaurants, and entertainment. Many people wonder with such an expensive resort (rates typically are around $400 a night or more) will they feel out of place dressed in a tee shirt and flip flops. The answer is no. Everyone is in the same boat you are. They are spending the days in the park, they are walking to the pool, they are exploring the hotel. Occasionally you will see people dressed up, but it’s usually because they are on their way to dinner.
Grand Floridian Orchestra
One of the most enjoyable parts of this hotel for me was the live music. Every night in the lobby they either have a pianist or an orchestra serenading you with your favorite Disney classics. While this hotel is beautiful, I have to say I was not a fan of the room décor. Victorian is just not my cup of tea so I didn’t want to hold it against them, but then I saw the room pictures from the new Grand Floridian villas and those look beautiful to me. So in my opinion it might be time for a room remodel. Again, my opinion. This hotel is conveniently situated on the monorail line, but you also have the option of taking a boat over to the Magic Kingdom. At this time, you cannot walk to the Magic Kingdom since there is a waterway in the way, but there are nice walking paths on property. Some things to consider when staying at the Grand Floridian, while you are super close to the Magic Kingdom, everything else will be pretty far away.
Club Level is always stocked with delicious treats.
Do not be surprised if it takes you an hour or more to get back from Downtown Disney, so as always, plan accordingly. I was unexpectedly upgraded to club level when I was there on my 21st birthday which was fantastic. Food and drinks are provided all day long. Tip: If you are doing a club level, I would not recommend the dining plan and vice versa. There comes a point where you physically can not eat anymore food and you start to feel gluttonous and wasteful. I would pick one or the other so as not to gain an additional 20 pounds on your vacation. FYI, the club level does include alcohol, so let that sway you one way or the other.
Bay Lake side of Contemporary Atrium.
I have had some really fantastic stays at the contemporary resort. This hotel always screams Disney to me when I see the iconic monorail pass through the building. I have an entire post dedicated to interesting tidbits about the Contemporary resort so I will try not to repeat myself. This hotel has a modern feel to it. You have the main atrium and an additional garden wing where you will have your more affordable rooms. The rooms at the contemporary are my favorite of the deluxe hotels. Clean white sheets and pillows, giant square sinks in the bathroom, modern desk, and even a day bed that could sleep an extra child. If you have a room in the atrium, you will either have a view of the Magic Kingdom or Bay Lake. FYI, Chef Mickey can be loud if your room is close to that side of the building. Some people prefer the garden wing for this reason.
The monorail is quieter than Chef Mickey.
Strangely enough, the monorail is very quiet, and you will never notice it going though when you are in your room. My absolute favorite thing about staying at the Contemporary is the walkway to the Magic Kingdom. It is literally a walkway just for you, and will get you there faster than taking the monorail. While these deluxe hotels are pricey, you are really paying for the convenience of being close to the action. The contemporary also has a nice marina on the Bay Lake side where you can parasail. One thing this hotel doesn’t have compared to some of the other resorts are nice walking paths.
The huge hospitality suite
While Bay Lake is fun to look at, I was never wowed by the grounds themselves. I was also upgraded while staying at the Contemporary to the hospitality suite/club level. I literally felt like a millionaire and got a taste of what celebrities might do when they go to Disney. Connected to a regular room was a huge living room, complete with kitchen, couches, dining room, and extra bathrooms. It was unbelievable big. And the club level is located on the Magic Kingdom side of the atrium which means incredible views and again, all you can eat and drink throughout the day.
Enjoy the Spirit of Aloha
While I have never stayed at the Polynesian, I definitely plan to after the extensive rehab that is currently happening. The Polynesian will be going back to its original opening name of the Polynesian Village Resort. This hotel houses a lobby and 11 additional long house buildings. Each will have a different view or will be closer to something. For example, you can request rooms closer to the pool, closer to the main building with the monorail, the bus stop, etc.
Self serve Dole Whips
Since this hotel is also on the monorail line, you can hop on in the main building, or have the option of boating over to the Magic Kingdom. The tikiman http://www.tikimanpages.com/poly/ can give you some great updates on what is actually happening to the resort and how your stay might be affected if you have an upcoming trip planned there. The Polynesian does have some great dinner entertainment, with the Spirit of Aloha luau dinner show. This hotel also serves Dole whips which have becoming something of a cult classic refreshment. FYI, while this hotel is situated on the beach of the Seven Seas Lagoon, you cannot swim in the lake. Apparently flesh eating bacteria is just waiting to take hold of some unsuspecting tourist. Don’t let it be you.
View from Wilderness lodge room.
The Wilderness Lodge has a very rustic/lodge feel. The lobby is very beautiful and has a stream that flows through the hotel to outside and eventually shoots off as a geyser. This hotel is great for the family looking for deluxe amenities, but doesn’t want to pay top dollar. Often the rooms here will be $100 less than the contemporary or other deluxe resorts. While this hotel is not on the monorail line, it is a Magic Kingdom resort, so you will be transported to the Magic Kingdom by boat. This hotel sits close to Bay Lake and has a nice walking path out the the boat docks.
Bunk beds room, love ’em or hate ’em.
While I think the hotel is beautiful, I did not find the rooms to be as nice. This resort offers a bunk bed option, but I found that made the room seem smaller. However based on your families needs, this could work out perfectly. This hotel is very close to Fort Wilderness and a nice walking/biking path links the two resorts. Wilderness Lodge has some very nice restaurants and is home to Whispering Canyon Cafe, a western/comedy/audience participation family style dinner.
More on Deluxe Resorts
What you get with a deluxe resort is a theme of a place and/or time and less in your face Disney (This doesn’t mean there aren’t tons on hidden Mickey’s to find). These resorts are far smaller than your value and moderate hotels, so there is more of an intimate, personal atmosphere.
Interior hallways in the deluxe resorts
All of the deluxe resorts also have interior hallways, meaning the walk to your room is inside a building unlike the values and moderates where you walk outside, similar to a motel. This means that your window view will not have people walking past it like the values and moderates, so it’s up to you if that view is worth shelling out a little more dough. Keep in mind, the deluxe resorts don’t really have food courts, and what they do have is often very small and get’s very crowded at breakfast time. If you are not super into breakfast, consider eating in your room, or grabbing something at the park. On the flip side, the deluxe resorts offer way more table service dining options (buffets, character meals, dinner shows, elegant dining). These can be fun and tasty, but pricey too. So if it’s in the cards, go for it, if not, you have plenty of great options all over the Disney World Resort to choose from. Stay tuned for part 2 of this post where we will look at the Epcot resorts, Beach Club, Yacht Club, and Boardwalk, and the Animal Kingdom Lodge.