For the most magical Walt Disney World experience, staying “on property” (Disney speak for official WDW accommodations) at a “deluxe” resort is the way to go. Immersive theming, luxurious amenities, signature dining, and—the big one—proximity to the parks: checks all around. Want to take it up another notch?
Disney’s deluxe resorts include some sprawling and truly spectacular accommodations perfect for a multi-family or multigenerational trip or a grown-up getaway (think: couples escape or bachelorette party). The best part? Sharing the cost across families or becoming a Disney Vacation Club (DVC) member (more on that later) and booking with points can make the price seem downright reasonable.
Seriously—a stay in one of these eight show-stopping spaces can set you back as little as $99-200 per person, per night, depending on the resort and dates of your stay. Do the math and you’ll find that to be comparable to the rates for standard rooms at many of these resorts.
Polynesian Village Bungalows
If you’re dreaming of an island getaway but your kids are begging for pirates and princesses, get the best of both worlds in an over-water bungalow at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort. If it weren’t for the stunning view of Cinderella’s castle across the Seven Seas Lagoon (don’t miss the Magic Kingdom fireworks with accompanying music from your private deck and plunge pool), you’d swear you were in Bora Bora.
Tropical décor and island touches like surfboard headboards and hanging wicker chairs on the terrace make you feel instantly transported to the South Pacific. The two-bedroom bungalows sleep up to eight adults and, like all of the properties on this list, include the conveniences of home like a washer and dryer, pack and play and high chair for your little ones, and plenty of space for the group to spread out. Order groceries on Instacart and take advantage of your full kitchen and dining area to save some money for splurges in the parks.
Saratoga Springs Treehouse Villas
What kid, or kid at heart, wouldn’t love to spend the night in a treehouse? Hide out in your own private treetop escape at the Treehouse Villas at Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa, an homage to the historic resorts of late-1800s upstate New York.
Little ones will love channeling Chip and Dale, who feature adorably in the bunk bed room, while big kids and grown-ups hang in the open-plan kitchen/living area. These forest hideaways sleep nine, and are perfect for groups seeking a laid-back, secluded respite from the action of the theme parks. Grilling and dinner al fresco on your private deck? Yep, that’ll do.
Copper Creek Cabins at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
Take one look at a Cascade Cabin at Copper Creek Villas & Cabins at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge, then tell me a stay there didn’t just hit your bucket list and I won’t believe you. This is Disney theming meets modern luxury at its absolute finest, Pacific Northwest-style. Wander the forested path from the jaw-dropping rustic grandeur of Wilderness Lodge’s lobby, past Geyser Point Bar & Grill (hands-down the best outdoor eating and drinking experience on property), to one of the 26 waterfront cabins dotting the shores of Bay Lake.
The two-bedroom, two-bathroom cabins sleep up to eight and feature next-level amenities like a wraparound screened-in porch, indoor/outdoor fireplace, and a private hot tub. If you like your great outdoors with a side of five-star luxury, this is the place for you. The only problem? These cabins are so impressive, you might struggle to tear your family away long enough to hit the parks.
Grand Villas at Bay Lake Tower
Disney’s Contemporary Resort is as iconic to those who’ve grown up on Walt Disney World as Big Thunder Mountain or Space Mountain. Nostalgia aside, there’s a reason the resort remains one of the most coveted on property: location, location, location. Bay Lake Tower (BLT), a Disney Vacation Club property (though, like all DVC properties, still open to the general public for cash booking) is a newer high-rise structure connected to the Contemporary via an elevated walkway. BLT shares the Contemporary’s easy access to Magic Kingdom, a five-minute walk where you breeze through a separate security checkpoint. The monorail runs through the interior of the Contemporary and will whisk you off to Epcot in a flash.
You’d be hard-pressed to find a better space to accommodate a multi-family or multigenerational family trip than BLT’s three-bedroom Grand Villa. It sleeps 12 and provides not only that easy access, but also a quick escape from the Magic Kingdom for tired toddlers and other maxed-out family members. A giant laundry room and dining-table seating for 12 just might make this place more comfortable than your own home for a holiday family gathering. If that weren’t enough, BLT is also home to some of the most jaw-dropping views to be found anywhere at Walt Disney World.
Grand Villas at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
Nothing beats Bay Lake Tower’s ease of access to Magic Kingdom, but this one comes close, and in exchange you’ll find yourself calling the Mother Ship of all Walt Disney World resorts home. The Grand Floridian’s elegant yet playful Victorian theming carries straight through to Main Street USA at the Magic Kingdom, which you can access easily via boat or monorail.
The Grand Floridian continues to set the bar for Disney service and amenities—its signature restaurant, Victoria and Albert’s was voted No. 2 in the United States by Trip Advisor in 2017—and the three-bedroom grand villa is no exception.
Grand Villas at Disney’s Boardwalk Resort
The “monorail resorts” (Polynesian, Contemporary, Grand Floridian) aren’t the only ones that provide crazy-easy access to the parks. Disney’s Boardwalk Resort, one of three “Epcot” resorts, along with Disney’s Yacht Club and Beach Club, is an easy walk or boat ride to both Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios. And, parks aside, the Boardwalk is a destination in its own right. Imagine you’re at Coney Island or Atlantic City as you stroll along the pristine boardwalk, play a carnival game, catch a magic act or just grab a hot dog or funnel cake from one of the many shops and stands.
The Boardwalk is also home to one of Walt Disney World’s best restaurants, Flying Fish, as well as Trattoria al Forno, where you can enjoy the fan-favorite Bon Voyage Adventure character breakfast. Grown-ups will love the adult nightlife options like AbracadaBar for cocktails and Jellyrolls for dueling pianos and audience sing-a-longs. The Boardwalk’s Grand Villa sleeps 12, and wows with its sweeping views of Crescent Lake, Disney’s Yacht and Beach Club, and Epcot’s Spaceship Earth. Kids will love the colorful pool area and massive roller-coaster-themed water slide.
Grand Villas at Animal Kingdom Lodge—Jambo House and Kidani Village
Want to know what’s a lot more expensive than a trip to Walt Disney World? An African safari. But at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, the moment you enter the lobby of Jambo House or Kidani Village, the resort’s two main branches, you’ll be surrounded by the artwork, architecture, and even the animals of Africa. That’s right—book a savanna-view room and your balcony becomes your own personal wildlife viewing area, where you’ll marvel at the giraffes and zebras roaming beneath you. There are also plenty of viewing spots throughout the resort, complete with knowledgeable cast members ready to answer your every question.
Between the incredible pools and awesome splash areas for kids, to some of the best dining anywhere on property (if you don’t try the bread service at Sanaa, you’ll have no one to blame but yourself), to a nighttime safari, this resort is a destination in its own right, and perfect for multigenerational travel. You’ll find the 3-bedroom grand villa, like all of the room types at this resort, to be among the most immersively themed on property.
Grand Villas at Disney’s Riviera Resort
Disney Vacation Club’s newest Walt Disney World Resort, Disney’s Riviera Resort, isn’t opening until December 2019, but if the model rooms are any indication, this property, is going to be a stunner. The European-inspired resort will surround guests with the elegance and comfort of a “modern European retreat” in a setting that’s also rich with old-world grandeur.
Riviera’s room types range from a new DVC unit that accommodates only two guests, the Tower Studio, all the way up to the 3-bedroom grand villas, which sleep up to 12 guests. We’re putting our money on Riviera’s grand villas—and the views they’re sure to have—being absolutely breathtaking. Another big selling point? The resort will be accessible via Disney’s new Skyliner gondola system, which will quickly whisk guests to Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
Check out my previous article for lots more photos and information about what guests can look forward to at Riviera.
The Best Way to Really Save
All of these luxe accommodations are officially Disney Vacation Club properties, but they can also be booked by the general public as a cash reservation, dependent on availability. As I’ve mentioned above, sharing the cost of these accommodations across multiple families, and reducing your dining spend by utilizing the expansive kitchen and dining areas to enjoy meals in the room can definitely help take the edge off the sticker shock of a cash reservation.
But, if you’d like to return with your family again and again, becoming a Disney Vacation Club member is where you’ll find the real savings. Far more flexible than a traditional timeshare, DVC allows you to purchase a certain number of points per year (with contracts expiring between 2042 and 2070, depending on the “home” resort), which can be used across all DVC resorts and room sizes. Purchase enough points for your nuclear family to visit Walt Disney World year after year in a smaller space, or bank and borrow to utilize up to three years of points to book one of these sprawling spaces. The possibilities are truly endless.
Try Before You Buy
If you’re not ready to take the plunge and become a DVC member yet, there’s still another way to save some cash on booking one of these luxe spaces. Rather than book direct from Disney, you can often find significant savings by renting points from an existing DVC member. There are quite a few companies out there that help make the process smooth and easy for everyone on both sides of the transaction, including David’s Vacation Club Rentals and DVC Rental Store. DVC members benefit from this option by not losing out when they aren’t able to use their points, and you’ll almost always spend less than you would if you booked the room with cash direct from Disney.
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