Today we continue our series on the Disney resorts with the luxury-level category or Deluxe Resorts. I am super excited to talk about the diverse and and immersive theming and multitude of recreation options at these resorts. This week’s video was so long I had to split it into two so today I will cover the Deluxe amenities, concierge level perks, Animal Kingdom Lodge, Yacht and Beach Club and Boardwalk. Later this week I will cover the Magic Kingdom Area Resorts.
While these are the most expensive resorts on Disney property the location of these resorts make them extremely appealing. They are great if money is no object, you are only there a few nights or this is a once in a lifetime trip. Because there are a lot more Deluxe than Moderate Resorts and Disney price yields – or increase price as the hotel fills up the cost difference between a moderate and deluxe can be only a few dollars per night. So what do you get at a deluxe you don’t get at a moderate?
The first big difference is room size. Unlike the other categories there is not a consistent room size across the category. Some of the resorts (WL and AKL) sleep 4 on two queen beds in a 344 sq. ft room. They also have rooms with a queen and a bunk bed. This is an additional 30 square feet to the moderate resorts. On the Larger end of the spectrum Grand Floridian sleeps 5 on 2 queens and a twin sized daybed. in a whopping 440 square foot room. If you are sleeping 5 adults in a room these are a much better option than the small murphy beds in the moderates. But then again thats 5 adults and one bathroom – so really a family suite or villa might be better for you but we will talk about that next week!
Another big difference is views/ room location. In Value or Moderate your room type is standard or you upgrade to a ‘water’ view room or preferred room. For the Deluxe Resorts you have a MULTITUDE of room type choices. In fact – Standard views are extremely rare. At the contemporary for example you have a Garden Wing Room, Tower Room, Bay Lake View, and Theme Park View. Obviously the Theme Park view you pay a MAJOR premium but then you get to watch the fireworks from your balcony – they even pipe the music in. Animal Kingdom Lodge offers Savannah Views where you can watch the animals! Instead of outdoor corridors you get to your room via internal hallways. Some rooms are even located in the main building. Though these are mostly concierge level rooms. I mentioned concierge level briefly last week – Coronado is only value/moderate with one.
The concierge level of a deluxe resort can also be referred to as club level.. Here guests willing to pay a premium are treated to special services including a lounge, complimentary food and drink, and personalized service.Upon arrival concierge guests are taken to an exclusive area to be checked in and taken care of. Once guests are brought to the club level they will be introduced to the cast members on hand at two desks set up to be the resource for any special services they may need. These CMs are there to help folks with whatever they might need including ADRs, park tickets, and transportation options. Another special service provided to concierge level guests is a nightly turn down.
A more exciting benefit to staying Club is access to free food for most of the day. The breakfast offerings are relatively light so don’t expect to fuel up for a full day here. Later in the day snacks are available along with an assortment of drinks including soda, hot drinks like coffee, and beer. In the late afternoon/early evening the menu changes but appetizers are put out for guests to enjoy before they begin their evening. Wine and liqueurs along with desserts area served throughout the evening as well.
The recreation choices also increase in a Deluxe Resort. Most offer health clubs with some salon services. Some have full spas. There are campfires. cabanas for rent at some of the pools. Volleyball, tennis and basketball courts at most of the resorts, Surrey Bike Rentals. Many offer fishing and watercraft rentals. The Contemporary has a water sports marina with parasailing, tubing, waterskiing, wakeboarding. There are specialty cruises (Fireworks, Pirates, Private Dining) It is important to note you don’t need to be a guest at the resort to take part in the recreation options with the exception of Animal Kingdom Lodge safaris.
What you do need to be a guest to enjoy are the pools. The pools at the Deluxe resort are exquisitely themed. Will have water play or interactive elements. Will have at least one water slide. May have bonus water features such as waterfalls or sand play areas. Will have hot tubs.
The dining situation is also different at the Deluxe resorts. The options vary by resort but to generalize they focus more on fine dining. Most will have a signature restaurant, additional table service restaurants and a quick service. They will not have the food court style dining. Some of my favorite dining on property is at Deluxe Resorts – Ohana & Kona Cafe at the Polynesian – Boma, Sanaa and Jiko at Animal Kingdom Lodge are just a few. Of course you can make reservations at a resort restaurant without a reservation but it is a little more convenient if you are staying there.
Speaking of convenience — the Deluxe Resorts are conveniently located close to the theme parks. Almost all of the Resorts are connected to a theme park via a mode of transportation other than bus. The Magic Kingdom resorts are connected to the MK by monorail or boat or both! And you can take the monorail to the TTC to transfer to an EPCOT monorail. Guests staying at the Contemporary are a short walk away. Speaking of short walk The EPCOT resorts are all linked to both EPCOT and Hollywood Studios by walking paths and boat. Unfortunately Animal Kingdom Lodge is the only resort that requires bus transportation to all parks.
Animal Kingdom Lodge
Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge is one of the best themed resorts at Walt Disney World. Capturing the essence of an African savanna lodge, this resort is the perfect blend of nature and architecture. The unique feature that separates Animal Kingdom Lodge from not only all the other Walt Disney World resorts, but almost any hotel in the world, is the animals. Most of the rooms have a view of the hotel’s savanna with various wild animals roaming around. You may wake up one morning and have a giraffe looking in your window.
Animal Kingdom Lodge has two pools. The largest, Uzima Springs Pool, sits near the outside of the lobby at the front of the resort. At 11,000 square feet the pool is the largest in all of Walt Disney World. There is also a hot tub, kiddie pool and water player area.The other smaller pool is located at the Kidani Village wing of the resort.
Animal Kingdom Lodge Jambo House offers fine dining in a casual setting at Jiko: The Cooking Place. Twin wood-burning ovens are the focal point of the restaurant, which serves meals inspired by the myriad cuisines of Africa. Boma: Flavors of Africa, the family restaurant, serves a buffet with food prepared in an exhibition kitchen featuring a wood-burning grill and rotisserie. Tables are under thatched roofs. The Mara, a quick-service restaurant with extended hours, and Victoria Falls, a delightful mezzanine lounge overlooking Boma: Flavors of Africa, round out the hotel’s food-and- beverage service. Or Pop over to the Villa peice of the resort for African tapas with a view of the Savannah at Sanaa.
Yacht and Beach Clubs
The EPCOT area resorts are all similar in theming. The Boardwalk evokes the nostalgia of Atlantic City at the turn of the Century, Beach Club lets you enjoy the casual elegance of a New England seaside resort while the yacht club gives you the feel of a club on Nantucket or Martha’s Vineyard.
The Beach Club and its neighbor Yacht Club – they are connected via covered walkway and share many amenities so I will talk about them together. In my opinion they have two major advantageous over other hotels. One, you can walk to the International Gateway entrance of Epcot in less than 10 minutes. Thats the time it takes to get from your room to the buses at many of the values and moderates. And Two, it has the best pool of all the Walt Disney World resorts.The main feature of the pool is the large shipwreck along the outside the houses a waterslide. the sand that covers the bottom of much of the pool. There is also a hot tub, kiddie pool and water player area. There are two other quiet pools on either end of the resort. One at the Beach Club, One at the Yacht club.
Within the Yacht and Beach Club are nine restaurants and lounges and are within walking distance of Epcot and the BoardWalk. Transportation to other destinations is by bus or boat.
Cape May Cafe is a character buffet – featuring buffet staples as well as new england favorites like lobster, clam chowder. You will find Minnie, Goofy, Donald and Daisy here. Unfortunately there is no big cheese!
Beaches and Cream offers casual eats with a retro soda-fountain decor. Signature items include burgers (singles and doubles) and fries; giant hot dogs; hand-scooped ice cream including the gargantuan Kitchen Sink dessert, with five flavors of ice cream smothered in topping. Try the adult floats and milkshakes.
Hurricane Hanna’s Grill is a quick service restaurant located poolside at Stormalong Bay. Besides the usual assortment of Disney burgers Hanna’s has a Lobster, Shrimp and Scallop Roll that we’ve received positive feedback about. All seating at Hurricane Hanna’s is outdoors.
Beach Club Marketplace is small counter service restaurant with a very limited menu.
Yacht Club has some excellent dining options, including two table service restaurants and two lounges.
Yachtsman has a loyal following of locals- die-hard meat lovers who don’t mind paying for a good steak. Vintages from every major wine-producing region of the world complement the menu. Wood beams, white linens, and a view of the sandy lagoon at the resort make this steakhouse appealing. The menu features seafood, lamb, fowl, and vegetarian creations.
The Capatain’s Grille is a large dining room featureing a bright nautical theme with colorful pastels. Definitely not a dining destination, but a great place to grab a bite if you are staying at either resort, it’s quiet, the service is quick, and the food is dependable.
Ale and Compass Lounge and Crew’s Cup Lounge are Yacht Club’s two lounges. They both have indoor seating and a full drink menu, with several beer selections, wines, and a selection of spirits.
Both Yacht and Beach have clapboard facades with whitewashed-wood trim and elegant themed touches like nautical features and subdued paintings of 19th Century beach towns. The nightly price for rooms at Yacht & Beach Club fall in to the middle of all the other WDW resorts. Yacht Club does offer a convention center, fitness center, salon, barber shop, and a spa.
On the other side of crescent lake is the Boardwalk Inn. Detailed replica of an early-20th-century Atlantic coast boardwalk. Facades of hotels, diners, and shops create an inviting and exciting waterfront skyline. In reality, the BoardWalk Inn & Villas are a single integrated structure behind the facades. Restaurants and shops occupy the boardwalk level, while accommodations rise up to six stories above.The unique feature that separates BoardWalk Inn from other resorts is the attached BoardWalk shopping and dining district. It contains a number of unique restaurants, lounges and nightlife.
BoardWalk Inn has two pools. The largest, Luna Park Pool, sits in the BoardWalk Villas section of the resort near the the lobby at the front of the resort and features an insanely creepy clown. No really – this clown is CREEPY! There is also a hot tub, kiddie pool and water player area. The other smaller pool is located at the far east side of the resort wing of the resort.
BoardWalk Bakery, BoardWalk Joe’s, BoardWalk Pizza Window, BoardWalk To Go and Seashore Sweets are all counter service restaurants for those looking for something quick. If you’re looking to sit down and have a meal there’s Big River Grille & Brewing Works, ESPN Club, Trattoria al Forno and Flying Fish Cafe.
The fare at Flying Fish changes frequently as the Chef – a James Beard finalist is a huge proponent of sustainability and eating local. The restaurant offers an exclusive private chef’s dining experience if that is of interest to you. Trattoria al Forno features italian classics and a quick service pizza window. They just began a character breakfast featuring couples. I will be trying this on my next trip and will give you a review!
People often ask me where they can catch their favorite team play in the big game. Well the answer to that is the ESPN zone on the Boardwalk. It is a sports bar taken up 1000 notches. They have a basketball-court floor, sports memorabilia, and more television monitors than . The bar area has satellite sports-trivia video games. A large octagonal room with a wall of TVs serves as the main dining room. Not happy with one of the dozens of beers on tap? Head next door to the Big River Grille & Brewing WorksBif they serve handcrafted beers, including a light lager, a robust ale, and seasonal choices.