Which Deluxe Villas Resorts are best & worst at Walt Disney World? These Disney Vacation Club rankings cover our top picks and least favorite based on theme, rooms, restaurants, pools, location and more. We cover the pros & cons of each property, and why we love each of them. (Updated February 5, 2024.)
We’ve re-ranked the resorts on this list once again for 2024 following room redesigns at a couple of resorts (with a new #1 pick!) and more on the horizon. As Deluxe Villas are our favorite category of accommodations at Walt Disney World, this list is in large part not just our favorite DVC properties, but our favorite resorts at Walt Disney World, period.
Before you close this post out as “irrelevant” if you’re not a Disney Vacation Club member, it’s worth noting that you do not need to be in DVC to stay at these resorts. For one, all are bookable directly from Walt Disney World, they’re the “Deluxe Villa” tier, which is treated just like a traditional hotel. For another, you can use our Tips for Renting Disney Vacation Club Points to step into the shoes of a DVC member–and save money in the process!
With that said, we do want to make clear is that there’s nothing objective about these Disney Vacation Club resort rankings. We initially tried that approach, but realized it’s a fool’s errand. For one, we have a lot of nostalgia wrapped up in our various vacations, and it’s tough to separate out our own biases from the basics of each property.
For another, this involves inherently apples to oranges comparisons. Unlike hotels as a whole, there are quirks to the DVC resorts. How does a purpose-built resort like Old Key West compare to an add-on like Bay Lake Tower or room conversions like the Polynesian Villas? Speaking of the Poly, does it get penalized for not yet having 1-bedroom units? Are common areas shared with the hotel included? Are sister resorts ranked separately? Does point cost come into play? What about the difficulty of booking certain resorts or categories if they’re not your home resort?
It’s impossible for a simple list of rankings to account for all of those variables. As a result, this is more about our personal preferences and where we’d recommend family and friends stay, with some caveats in mind, than it is an attempt at anything definitive or comprehensive. Such a list is not possible, so we’re not going to try.
There’s also the reality that this list is really competitive. Several of the resorts that had major weaknesses–quite often a result of room refurbishments in the last decade that removed the charm while not adding any functionality–have since remedied those. In some cases, this has been via upgrades and enhancements to the amenities, but it’s mostly been the result of a new wave of room reimaginings that has better balanced form and function. As those projects continue throughout 2024 and into 2025, we anticipate the gap to narrow further between the best and “worst” resorts on this list.
Finally, even the bottom resorts are places we enjoy. Some of my best adult memories at Walt Disney World are at Saratoga Springs, where we stayed on our first real trip together. Walking back to Saratoga Springs after a night at the Adventurers Club was great, and proximity to Disney Springs gives it a lot of appeal. Likewise, Bay Lake Tower’s short walk to Magic Kingdom might be enough for many to put it at the top of this list.
Really, it seems like each resort has a strong selling point that could make it #1. From the spacious rooms and laid back vibe of Old Key West to the wildlife and self-contained “resort” experience of Animal Kingdom Lodge, each brings something to the table. Beyond that, so much depends upon the purpose of our trip (e.g. is dining at Disney Springs a priority?), time of year we’re visiting (is enjoying Christmas in the Pacific Northwest important?), and more. All resorts compliment one another incredibly well, and part of the appeal of Disney Vacation Club is the ability to experience its many, varied resorts.
All of this leads to the caveat that this is all either just for fun or an exercise in futility, depending upon your perspective. With that on mind, on with the rankings…
10. Old Key West Resort
Although these rankings are entirely mine, Sarah’s dislike of Old Key West does influence me a bit. By contrast, I love Old Key West. I love that it’s so spread out (walking it gives me something to do in the morning), and I love that the foliage has really matured here. It also has the largest Disney Vacation Club rooms, and was recently refurbished. It also has Olivia’s, which is beloved among longtime DVC members–and for good reason.
Even viewing Old Key West in the most favorable light, though, it pales in comparison to other resorts, which have more well-rounded dining rosters, better entertainment, and more convenient locations. Pretty much everything that OKW does well, another resort does better. Whether it be the isolation and seclusion of Animal Kingdom Lodge or the rooms at Saratoga Springs, which compares to OKW in a lot of ways and gets the edge in most of them.
Old Key West will likely always be divisive among Disney Vacation Club owners, and I suspect most will place it near the top or the bottom of their own lists. I certainly don’t hate it and would happily book a stay here, which should further underscore the top-to-bottom strength of the DVC lineup at Walt Disney World.
9. Bay Lake Tower
With each subsequent update to this list, Bay Lake Tower falls further. One of the big reasons for this is that our experience with the rooms in the last few years has been negative, with them looking worse-for-wear and prematurely worn. The build quality and finishings are just not on par with everything that came after BLT, and it shows. (This overdue room overhaul is finally going to happen in late 2024 and throughout 2025.)
Another reason is that Grand Floridian is also within walking distance of Magic Kingdom, meaning that Bay Lake Tower has lost its main selling point for us. Same goes for the Polynesian Villas, which aren’t as directly comparable, but are also far superior as far as monorail loop DVC resorts go.
Previously, being the closest resort to Magic Kingdom and a less than 10 minute walk to the park made up for a lot that BLT is otherwise lacking. And it’s still pretty compelling, especially if BLT has availability and Villas at Grand Floridian or the Polynesian does not. But otherwise, we won’t book Bay Lake Tower over the monorail loop alternatives (or even Wilderness Lodge) until the rooms are redone.
Nevertheless, Bay Lake Tower is a good option if you have small kids who will frequently want to take a midday break–or be in bed ~10 minutes after exiting Magic Kingdom at the end of a long day in the park. Even though it’s no longer the only DVC resort within walking distance of Magic Kingdom, it’s still the shortest walk, which counts for something. Bay Lake Tower also has access to the monorail, and solid dining at the Contemporary.
On the other hand, the rooms are smaller than counterparts at other resorts, the finishing isn’t quite as nice (we’ve had rooms here in rough shape a couple of times, which I’m told is not uncommon). Nevertheless, we really like Bay Lake Tower. We just don’t love it, as we do the other entries on this list!
8. Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa
I’m admittedly a nostalgic person. The Disney Vacation Club resort for which I have the most nostalgia is Saratoga Springs. This is because Sarah stayed here when we took our first serious Walt Disney World trip together as adults. It’s what caused us to fall in love with Walt Disney World again and it’s the resort we eventually chose as “home” for our Disney Vacation Club purchase (for purely economic reasons).
Despite this, Saratoga Springs landed in last place on this list for a while. It was too bland, too far from everything worthwhile, and the rooms were nothing special. For years, it reminded us too much of a condo community we could find at home, and offered nothing to make us overlook those parallels.
However, Saratoga Springs Resort has aged like a fine wine. (It’s like the opposite of Bay Lake Tower, in that regard.) Over the last decade, thematic enhancements have been made to the pools and other common areas, and it now looks truly themed (albeit more lightly than other resorts) while also feeling fresh.
The latter point is thanks to a comprehensive, multi-year refurbishment project that brought nice new rooms. All of that, plus the superlative dining and shopping options within walking distance at Disney Springs makes Saratoga Springs a winner. Years after Pleasure Island closed, Saratoga Springs is once again a place we loved staying. Read more in our Saratoga Springs Resort Review.
7. BoardWalk Villas
We place a high value on location and the resort’s overall theme, and BoardWalk scores highly in both regards. Walking from the Crescent Lake resorts to Epcot or Disney’s Hollywood Studios is one of my favorite things to do at Walt Disney World, and the overall atmosphere at BoardWalk Inn is exceptional.
I can already tell you that the ranking of the BoardWalk Villas will skyrocket in the second half of 2024, as I’ve seen photos of the newly-redone rooms and they’re a colossal improvement. (We haven’t stayed in them yet and they’re not totally done, so no re-ranking just yet.) Prior to this, the last room refurbishment at BoardWalk left them dull and like an ordinary chain–and we’ve avoided BoardWalk as a result.
Between those new rooms and the exceptional BoardWalk View rooms (alternatively, the cheapest studios are a great way to conserve points), we can’t wait to return to the BoardWalk Villas. Even though the pool isn’t as good as Stormalong Bay over at Yacht & Beach Club, there’s so much to love about this resort.
6. Disney’s Riviera Resort
I’ll admit that Disney’s Riviera Resort has grown on me since it opened. Perhaps I’m getting used to the thematic shortcomings or maybe I’m focusing more on the practicalities of actually visiting Walt Disney World and using the accommodations–probably a bit of both. Regardless, it’s a resort we find ourselves wanting to book more than most on this list, and it arguably deserves a top 5 spot as a result of that.
There’s a lot to like…but also a lot to dislike…about Disney’s Riviera Resort. The biggest downside is that Disney has taken a region rich in beautiful architecture and lavish design, and made one of the most thematically boring and uninspired resorts. That’s a huge disappointment, and it feels like so much potential has been squandered here.
The biggest upside is the luxurious accommodations and the high end finishing of the rooms. Moreover, the restaurants slate is formidable and Disney Skyliner access to Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios is huge. The location is less appealing than Crescent Lake or Magic Kingdom DVC resorts, but Riviera Resort has enough to put it above Saratoga Springs and Old Key West. Read our full Disney’s Riviera Resort Review for more.
5. Beach Club Villas
The Beach Club Villas score highly because of the amazing pool, location within walking distance of two parks and the Skyliner gondola station, and reasonably good dining options. This is also another resort that received a room overhaul in the last year, but we got unlucky and stuck with the old (and underwhelming) rooms last summer.
Delving a bit deeper into the location, the Beach Club Villas are the closest resort to Epcot and the International Gateway Skyliner station. Beach Club Villas offer the amazing Crescent Lake ambiance of the other resorts around there, but also has its own secluded, popcorn light-lit pathway. Given everything else that the Beach Club Villas offer, you will find yourself far less worried about the room here than you will anywhere else. Read our full Beach Club Villas Review for more.
4. Animal Kingdom Lodge Villas & Kidani Village
Animal Kingdom Lodge – Jambo House and Kidani Village arguably should be broken out and ranked separately given that the former is a room conversion and the latter is a quasi-stand alone resort. Yet, they’re a short walk from one another, have similar rooms, and largely share amenities. We see no material differences between them, and book interchangeably (with a conservation of points being our main goal).
The strength of both has long been the savanna, which is perhaps the best “amenity” offered by any Walt Disney World resort that no other hotel in North America can offer. This alone makes AKL a great “staycation” or resort-only experience, and would be enough to secure Jambo House and Kidani Village spots in the top half of this list.
But that’s not all that they offer. Both sides of the Animal Kingdom Lodge Villas offer solid rooms that do a good job of balancing theme and quality, the dining at Animal Kingdom Lodge is among the best at Walt Disney World, and the feature pools are underrated gems at both.
So what faults do they have? Well, location. That can be minimized if you’re a fan of Disney’s Animal Kingdom or if you’re taking a trip to enjoy the resorts. It’s also amazing at Christmas, which is when I would encourage anyone to stay here. This is the one resort that should sneak to number one for a lot of you if you don’t agree with my number one. Read our full Animal Kingdom Lodge – Kidani Village Review for more info and photos.
3. Polynesian Villas & Bungalows
Disney’s Polynesian Villas & Bungalows have a laid back South Pacific theme, plus a convenient location on the Magic Kingdom monorail loop. Now that the hotel overhaul is finished, the arrival experience is even better and the grounds are looking nicer. (Undoing a bit of the damage from the previous reimagining.)
The recent room refurbishment to the Polynesian Villas also elevates the resort. Although this project was a soft goods refresh rather than a full reimagining, it was one of the most thorough soft goods renovations in recent years. The functional improvements to these new rooms coupled with the finished resort refurbishment are big wins for the Poly Villas.
The style here hits the nail on the head, balancing Disney theming with high-end luxury. The atmosphere at this resort is top-notch, the pools are great, transportation is a breeze to Magic Kingdom or Epcot (a short walk to TTC), and the dining options are good (don’t sleep on Kona Cafe–despite its ordinary appearance, it’s better than ‘Ohana).
However, the Poly Villas are lacking in room varieties and are on the precipice of another colossal construction project that’ll impact the Polynesian for the next two years. As a result, the resort made the List of Worst Hotels for 2024 at Walt Disney World. The impact won’t be as significant to the DVC Villas, but it’s still enough to drop the Poly a few spots from #1 to #3.
2. Villas at Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
Less than two years removed from its big room overhauls that massively improved its standing, Grand Floridian falls out of the #1 spot. Nevertheless, we love the new rooms at the standalone Villas at Grand Floridian, which replaced the sofa sleeper with the innovative pull-down Murphy bed that first debuted at Disney’s Riviera Resort. We’re also huge fans of the transformed Big Pine Key, which converted hotel rooms into “Resort Studios” (see Grand New Rooms at Walt Disney World’s Flagship Resort for a look inside).
There have also been a slew of subtle improvements to the resort as a whole. The Villas at Grand Floridian benefit tremendously from the walkway between Grand Floridian and Magic Kingdom. That’s a game-changer, and makes VGF really attractive for us, as we’d rather walk than wait in long monorail lines at the end of the night. Grand Floridian also has excellent dining, pools, and entertainment. It’s one of the best resorts at Christmas, and there’s always something happening here.
There are a couple of reasons why it drops down to #2 for 2024. The first is that Wilderness Lodge has improved. More directly, there’s the wildcard of the ongoing overhaul of the lobby and other common areas. Even as the outer buildings are all fully finished and walls are down, what’s going to happen with the main lobby is (somehow) still unknown. It could have phased construction for pretty much the entirety of 2024, or simply have the furnishings refreshed during the overnight hours over a couple weeks. That’s quite the wide range of possibilities, but enough of an excuse (honestly, we were looking for one) to knock Grand Floridian down to #2 for now.
Nevertheless, if I had to be more objective and recommend a resort to someone else without knowing anything about their personal preferences (e.g. you), it would be the Villas Grand Floridian. Thanks to the room quality and layout, proximity to Magic Kingdom, and the overall atmosphere, this is the flagship Walt Disney World resort once again.
1. Villas at Wilderness Lodge (Copper Creek & Boulder Ridge)
Remember how I said this was not an objective list of rankings? Well, this is where my bias potentially comes into play. For a Walt Disney World first-timer debating where to stay, the Magic Kingdom monorail loop resorts or Crescent Lake hotels within walking distance of EPCOT are hard to beat. Wilderness Lodge offers boat transportation to Magic Kingdom, which I love and think is underrated, but admittedly, the consensus on it isn’t as strong as other non-bus transportation.
Wilderness Lodge is far and away my favorite resort at Walt Disney World year-round, but I really love it at Christmas. Love actually might be too tame of a word. Looking at this photo takes me back to the night it was taken. Admittedly, I am biased towards Wilderness Lodge at Christmastime due to my own personal experiences there.
Objectively, Wilderness Lodge has great theming, solid pools, and great food. Geyser Point is an underrated gem and Storybook Dining at Artist Point is now one of the hottest character meals in all of Walt Disney World. And then (again)…there’s Christmas at Wilderness Lodge. I think you’d be hard-pressed to find someone who has stayed there around Christmas who doesn’t absolutely love the place.
Note that we don’t differentiate between Copper Creek and Boulder Ridge here, but I prefer Boulder Ridge. That might be an “unpopular opinion” given that Boulder Ridge isn’t in the main building, but it’s such a short walk that it doesn’t even matter, and the new rooms in Boulder Ridge are excellent–my favorite in all of Walt Disney World and a big part of what pushes Wilderness Lodge into the top slot. You can read about the pros & cons of each in our Ultimate Guide to Disney’s Wilderness Lodge.
Itching to Do DVC?
If this article has you excited about the prospect of becoming a Disney Vacation Club member, we highly recommend that you read our Disney Vacation Club Buying Guide to see if membership is right for you. That Guide includes every variable you should consider, and provides an objective approach to buying into Disney Vacation Club, rather than the emotional pitch the Disney salespeople will give you.
If you’re not interested in buying into Disney Vacation Club, but still want Deluxe Villa accommodations at Moderate Resort prices, we highly recommend renting points Disney Vacation Club points, as you will save considerably over booking directly from Disney (typical savings over even a discounted Deluxe Villa price are around 50%). Renting is also a great way to try Disney Vacation Club before buying to see if it’s really right for you.
Planning a Walt Disney World trip? Learn about hotels on our Walt Disney World Hotels Reviews page. For where to eat, read our Walt Disney World Restaurant Reviews. To save money on tickets or determine which type to buy, read our Tips for Saving Money on Walt Disney World Tickets post. Our What to Pack for Disney Trips post takes a unique look at clever items to take. For what to do and when to do it, our Walt Disney World Ride Guides will help. For comprehensive advice, the best place to start is our Walt Disney World Trip Planning Guide for everything you need to know!
What are your Disney Vacation Club rankings? Favorite resort? Least favorite? Are you considering buying into Disney Vacation Club or renting points for your 2024 Walt Disney World vacation? Do you agree or disagree with our rankings? Any questions we can help you answer? Hearing your feedback–even when you disagree with us–is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!