Planning a Disney Trip with a Special Diet: Deluxe Resorts

We first dished out the details for planning your Disney trip while staying at value resorts. Then we covered the moderate resorts. And now, of course, it’s time for those deluxe resorts.


Unlike the Value and Moderate resorts, there are more than just five resorts to choose from. When it comes to the Deluxe, there’s eight: Animal Kingdom Lodge, Beach Club, BoardWalk Inn, Contemporary, Grand Floridian, Polynesian, Wilderness Lodge, and Yacht Club. You can likely tell from their names, but each one features pretty incredible themes.

They range in size from huge (Animal Kingdom Lodge has over 1200 rooms!) to a little more quaint (with nearly 400 at BoardWalk). Like all of the resorts, they all have pools, but have the added bonus with other on-site recreation, such as boating; an except is Animal Kingdom, but there’s the whole “live animals outside your window” thing – pretty amazing in itself!

And like the others, all resorts offer complimentary wi-fi Internet, have mini-fridges, and full spec sheets are available straight from Disney.

Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge

What We Love:

  • You can’t really go wrong with a 33-acre savannah with free-roaming animals available for viewing at any moment of the day
  • The food! With Jiko, Sanaa, Boma, and the Mara, these restaurants tend to be the most allergy-friendly due to naturally dairy and gluten-free offerings. If you love yourself a big meal, don’t forgo Boma’s buffet, and if you’re a wine lover, you can’t miss out on Jiko’s wine list.
  • Got kids? Check out their unique children’s programming, including the possibility of Junior Safari Researcher or Junior Chef of the Day opportunities.

What We Could Pass On:

  • If incessant drumming isn’t your deal, you might want to eat elsewhere; a myriad of djembes and other African drums can spontaneously erupt during mealtimes.
  • It’s a little farther out from the parks so, other than if you’re heading to Animal Kingdom Park, you might be on the buses for a bit.


Disney’s Contemporary Resort

What We Love:

  • Monorail access! Get on the monorail right from your building and travel easily to EPCOT and Magic Kingdom. Magic Kingdom is walkable distance, too.
  • Want to dine with Mickey? Go no further than Chef Mickey’s; he’ll come over to the table to say hello. But the real magic is watching Wishes from the observation deck at California Grill. They dim the lights, stream in Wishes music, and you have front and center viewing with wine glass in hand

What We Could Pass On:

  • Being one of the older resorts, Contemporary isn’t all that Contemporary anymore—it’s feeling a little tired. For modern pizzazz, you might want to head elsewhere.


Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort

What We Love:

  • If you’re feeling not-so-up-to-par (and have a bit of money to burn), you can head over to the beauty salon or full-service spa for some pampering. You can also hit up the health club to complement your walk-filled days with a morning sprint.
  • Home to the best deluxe restaurant ever (says one of us!): CITRICOS. Hands down!
  • Like Contemporary, the Grand Floridian Resort also has access to the monorail, making getting around easy.
  • Want to get married? No problem. They have a spot reserved for that.
  • If afternoon tea is your thing, be sure to book the Grand Floridian Tea Room in advance and note your Special Diet — you can totally be accommodated!

What We Could Pass On:

  • If you love glitz, glam, and royalty, this is the spot for you. If you’re more into fun or adventure, head elsewhere.


Disney’s Wilderness Lodge

What We Love:

  • Familiar with Old Faithful Inn at Yellowstone Park? Designed with that in mind, it features cozy fireplaces, a hot spring and waterfall, and an erupting geyser.
  • We love that we can access Wilderness Lodge via boat from Magic Kingdom.
  • Out of all of the Disney accommodations, this one feels the most removed; like you are somewhere else completely. For some, this might be the appeal.
  • The bus system is super efficient

What We Could Pass On:

  • The only way you can get to Magic Kingdom is by boat–this can be a good thing, but sometimes, you might just prefer to have hopped on a bus


Disney’s Polynesian Resort

What We Love:

  • Similarly to Contemporary and Grand Floridian, the Polynesian can access EPCOT and Magic Kingdom via monorail.
  • The lush landscaping makes you feel like you are in the Hawaiian tropics
  • So many fantastic, allergy-friendly food options, including Ohana, Kona Cafe (and Sushi Bar!), and Capt Cook’s – even Spirit of Aloha dinner show is pretty good for special diets options… and dinner shows are super fun!
  • Consider spending the night on the beach… because that is one of the places you can watch fireworks and electrical water pageant

What We Could Pass On:

  • It’s currently a bit of a mess, undergoing a massive refurbishment. This might not be done for a November trip.


Disney’s Yacht Club Resort

What We Love:

  • It’s super convenient: walking distance to EPCOT, walking distance to the BoardWalk, walking distance to Hollywood Studios. Boat access, too.
  • It shares its land with Beach Club, so you’re basically getting two resorts in one… complete with the white, sandy beaches.
  • Feel like watching Illuminations from the beach? You can definitely do that here!

What We Could Pass On:

  • It’s among the most expensive of the Deluxe resorts, but not without its extra perks.
  • The word “club” makes you think country club–a “higher end” location that might not been everyone’s taste.


Disney’s BoardWalk Inn

What We Love:

  • One of the best things about staying at the BoardWalk is that it is walkable to both EPCOT and Hollywood Studios and serves as an approximate halfway point between the two of them. It’s also along the path of Yacht and Beach Club resorts, and the Swan and Dolphin. If you don’t want to walk, a boat is available, too.
  • Because you’re on the BoardWalk, you’re planted in the centre of a pile of restaurants and night clubs, with lots of outdoor live entertainment and storefronts, too.
  • A 200 foot waterslide. That’s right.
  • Another one with Illuminations from the beach!
  • It’s a little less popular than the other deluxe resorts, so reservations tend to be a little easier.

What We Could Pass On:

  • Some people (one of us, included) aren’t the biggest fans of clowns. If you’re one of them, you might want to steer clear.
  • That whole “bus sharing thing”

Disney’s Beach Club Resort

What We Love:

  • Like Yacht Club (who it shares its land with), it is walking distance and has boat access to EPCOT, the BoardWalk, and Hollywood Studios.
  • You can watch Illuminations from the beach, and it has an awesome pool.
  • Cape May Cafe is really workable for a lot of special diets (seafood aside) because most of the items are steamed.
  • If you are apart of the Disney Vacation Club, there are villas attached to it.

What We Could Pass On:

  • Like the others, it shares buses with so many other resorts be prepared to wait and be on the buses for a long time–in most cases, you’re better off walking to a park or taking a boat and going from there.
  • Some people find it a little… stuffy. Check it out before you book it; it might not be for you.

So this is the latest instalment in our Friday Trip Planning series. We’ve touched on most of the other resorts, but still have the Villas to go. Like always, be sure to share with us your own stories and questions in the comments or via email.


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9 thoughts on “Planning a Disney Trip with a Special Diet: Deluxe Resorts

  1. Despite the bus rides (and we walk to Hollywood Studios & EPCOT), I’ve had great experiences at the Boardwalk and the Yacht Club! The first time we went to WDW with my Celiac diagnosis we stayed at the Boardwalk (over the Yacht Club) because they have villas with small kitchens. But after eating so well (and safely) on our last trip, we’re going to return to the Yacht Club on our upcoming trip (and just pack a few extra snacks). You guys do such a great job on these Planning A Disney Vacation posts. I absolutely love it! And, Happy Celiac Disease Awareness Month!!

    • We love those resorts too! Sarah frequently stays at the Boardwalk – it’s so convenient! It’s great to know what other GF folks think of the various resorts & the special diets accommodations. Disney sure does make it extra magical! :) Thank you! We love writing these posts & sharing all about the Disney magic! Happy Celiac Awareness Month to you too! :)

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