[Updated June 2016]
Disney World hotels are designed for a variety of interests, budgets, and travel needs. The 20-some-odd hotels are divided into four resort categories: Value, Moderate, Deluxe and Deluxe Villas. The latter are ideal for those who’d like some extra space and the comforts of home while on vacation.
The Deluxe Villa resorts are made up of suites with studios and one-, two- and three-bedroom units, depending on the property. Some even have two-story Grand Villas. These resorts are primarily used by members of the Disney Vacation Club, Disney’s timeshare program, but non-members can stay when inventory is available.
So what’s there to know about staying at one of these resorts? Read on to find out.
1. Many Deluxe Villa resorts adjoin Deluxe properties but have their own freestanding complexes. Bay Lake Tower is at the Contemporary Resort, and the Beach Club Villas are next door to the Beach Club Resort. Similarly, the Wilderness Lodge has the Wilderness Lodge Villas, while the Grand Floridian Villas were recently added to the grounds of the Grand Floridian Resort. Animal Kingdom Lodge is unique in that some of its studios and villas are in the main hotel building while its second building is made up entirely of studios and villas. The Polynesian Village Resort converted some of its guestrooms into villa accommodations, while also adding over-the-water bungalows to the property. The BoardWalk Villas and the regular hotel rooms at the BoardWalk Inn are in the same single building. The Saratoga Springs and Old Key West resorts are the only Deluxe Villa resorts that don’t sit on the grounds of a Deluxe hotel, and are therefore standalone properties.
2. All Disney resorts charge a nightly fee for each additional adult staying in a room beyond the first two adults. The Deluxe Villa resorts don’t levy such a fee, which is good since those units are among Disney World’s priciest.
3. For many, cooking is the last thing you want to think about on vacation. But some would rather cook than pay hefty restaurant bills. Those bills can especially add up when you’re a family of four or more. If you’re in that category, keep in mind that one-, two- and three-bedroom villas come equipped with full kitchens stocked with cookware and flatware. The only thing you have to worry about is buying groceries if you do decide to use the kitchen. Grocery stores are nearby but naturally you’ll need a car to get there. Also, an online search will quickly turn up a list of grocery stores that deliver to the Disney World hotels. Studio units have a kitchenette with microwave, mini fridge, coffeemaker and wet bar.
4. What’s one way to avoid over-packing for your trip? Doing your laundry at your hotel. Of course, you’ll have to schlep all the way to your hotel’s laundry facility and pay by the load, or shell out for expensive washing and drying by the hotel staff. Fortunately, guests staying in the Grand and one-, two- and three-bedroom villas have their own washer and dryer right in the unit. All they have to buy is detergent.
5. Even though the units of most Deluxe Villa resorts are housed in a building that is separate from the adjoining Deluxe hotel, guests have to use the same bus stop (and monorail stop and boat dock, where available) as the related Deluxe hotel. This means some guests may have to walk further from their unit to get to the transportation services. Kidani Village is the one exception since it has its own bus stop.
6. Except for the Grand Floridian Villas, all the Deluxe Villa properties have their own pools. Therefore, villa guests don’t have to go far to take a dip. Guests of the Grand Floridian Villas are welcome to use the pool facilities of the original hotel.
7. Generally, there’s little to no onsite dining for the Deluxe Villa properties that are on the grounds of a Deluxe hotel. As exceptions, Kidani Village has a pool bar and a table-service restaurant called Sanaa, and Bay Lake Tower also has a pool bar but no actual restaurant. The Deluxe Villa properties at the Grand Floridian, BoardWalk, Beach Club, and Wilderness Lodge have to go to the adjoining Deluxe hotel if they wish to eat on site. Saratoga Springs and Old Key West both have a variety of on-property dining options.
8. Each year, members of the Disney Vacation Club are given a certain number of points that they can allocate towards a stay at a Deluxe Villa property. Sometimes members don’t use their points and opt to sell them to non-members. The rate at which the members rent/sell the points is usually much less than nightly rack rates at those properties, which can go for upwards of $300 per night. Buying/renting points can be done directly with the member or through a company that specializes in this sort of transaction. Note that your desired resort may have limited or no availability when renting points so it’s good to be flexible.