One of the most frequent questions we get asked by family and friends with whom we’ve shared our WDW addiction is why do you always stay Club Level? It’s cheaper not to. You could go more frequently if you skipped that extra expense. It seems like a waste. There’s really not that much more you get for what you’re paying compared to a regular non-CL room. Yep, we’ve heard it all.
But we always, always continue to book Club Level. It’s part of the overall WDW experience for us now. It’s hard to imagine a trip without it.
That being said, however, Club Level isn’t the right choice for everyone, and we’ll be the first to tell you as much. Let’s start out by explaining the differences between booking a regular room and a CL room.
First, Club Level is only available at Disney Deluxe resorts. The only exception to that was the now-defunct Coronado Springs “Business Class” rooms, but the lounge offerings and other options available to those rooms were less than what you’d typically get at Deluxes. We never stayed at Coronado Springs’ Business Class, although I’ve heard good things from those who did. The new refurb/redesign going on over there meant Business Class got the axe, at least for the time being.
It’s typically around $100+ more per night to book a CL room, depending on time of year of course. Most resorts offer several different types of CL rooms, ranging from standard double-queens and kings to two-bedroom suites. If you’re booking a room online, you’ll see “Club Level” or “Club Level Access” in the room type, along with the kind of view you’re getting. Keep in mind that some CL rooms are only available by calling the reservation line. These are typically the rooms that resorts have very few of, like the honeymoon rooms at Wilderness Lodge, the standard 14th floor Tower Club rooms at the Contemporary, and in many cases the Presidential and Vice Presidential Suites at each resort. Odds are, however, the room you want is easily bookable online.
Each Club Level reservation gets you:
- Access to the Club Level lounge at your resort starting the day you check in until the day you check out. Yes, you can still hang out and partake of food and drink offerings after you’ve officially checked out of your room.
- Complimentary food offerings in the lounge each day of your stay. These include continental breakfast, mid-day snacks, a light dinner and appetizer selection, and evening desserts.
- Complimentary drinks, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic. There is always a nice pod-based espresso machine available, as well as cokes and waters, lemonade, iced tea, milk, and juices. Alcoholic beverages are unlimited, too, and include wine, beer, and cordials. No mixed drinks except mimosas or, in some lounges, sangria.
- Concierge staff on-hand from around 6:30am until 10:00pm each day to help with most anything you need during your stay. More on this later.
- Pre-trip itinerary planning from the new Disney Signature Services (DSS). These folks can help with booking your Advanced Dining Reservations (ADRs), booking events or tours, planning special extras like in-room celebrations and such, etc. We haven’t dealt with DSS yet, but we’ve heard positive reviews.
- Special check-in. You get whisked away to the Club Lounge for your check-in, instead of doing it at the front desk. It’s more intimate and welcoming, plus you typically get a nice tour of the lounge as well.
- Nightly turndown service in your room. Mousekeeping comes by in the evenings and draws your curtains, turns down your bedsheets and rearranges your pillows, empties your trash, lowers the lights, and leaves a chocolate on your pillow.
- Upgraded toiletries. The ones you get in CL rooms are the insanely-great-smelling Sea Marine H20 Spa products.
- Robes and, in some CLs, slippers.
- A chef from one of the resort’s restaurants planning different menu items for CL guests each evening for dinner.
- One of our favorite perks: packages and bags of stuff you purchase in the parks or Disney Springs are delivered directly to your room. You don’t have to go down to the resort gift shop to pick them up. It’s so convenient!
- An unadvertised perk, but a valuable one: CL concierge staff are able and willing to cancel an ADR less than 24 hours before the reservation time, so you can avoid the $10 cancellation charge. Just ask.
Besides the amenities listed above, some CLs have a few extras, such as:
- A welcome gift either in your room or given to you as you check in. These can include chocolates, a small gift basket, or, at Animal Kingdom Lodge, a beautifully-packaged bag of homemade trail mix.
- A signature welcome cocktail, typically offered when you first check in. The Contemporary does a “Monorail Mule,” Yacht Club a strawberry-infused sparkling wine.
- A chef during evening dinner hours preparing food in the lounge. Boardwalk Inn and Animal Kingdom Lodge both have amazing chefs cooking each evening.
- Restricted access to the Club Level floor, accessible only by MagicBand. Yacht Club, Grand Floridian’s Royal Palm Club, Wilderness Lodge, and the Contemporary (both Atrium Club and Tower Club) have this.
- Better views from Club Level rooms than non-CL ones. Some resorts keep their CL rooms on higher floors for optimal views, such as Yacht Club, Beach Club, Wilderness Lodge, Boardwalk Inn, and the Contemporary. Grand Floridian and Polynesian Village have separate, CL-only buildings with awesome views. Animal Kingdom Lodge CL rooms are all savannah view with prime spots for animal-watching.
- A prized viewing location for one of the park fireworks shows from the Club Level lounge. The most notable of these is the Contemporary’s view of the Magic Kingdom fireworks. Polynesian Village also has a view of these, as well, and each lounge pipes in the music to go along with the show. Boardwalk Inn’s lounge balcony has a slightly-obstructed view of Illuminations. One of the least-known is Animal Kingdom Lodge’s balcony right off the elevator bay from the lounge: it has a view of the fireworks at Hollywood Studios!
Perhaps one of the best amenities Club Level at WDW affords you is the concierge staff themselves. Each resort has a fantastic concierge team who can help you with so many things during your stay. Need to cancel an ADR last-minute? Done. Need to know what time the Electrical Water Pageant goes by Narcoossee’s tomorrow night so you’ll be sure to see it? They’ll make a phone call and get you the answer. Need a bandaid? No problem. Want a beer at 11:30 in the morning just for the hell of it? Here ya go.
Keep in mind, however, that the concierge staff cannot (at least in most cases) perform miracles. Want a 6:30 dinner reservation for 8 at Cinderella’s Royal Table tonight? If it’s booked solid, there’s likely not much they can do. The myth that restaurants “hold back” certain tables at high-priority restaurants each night for Club Level guests is just that: a myth. We’ve had several CL concierge staff confirm this. So please, for your own sake and for the sanity of the awesome concierge staff at your resort, do not expect the impossible from them. Sometimes, sometimes, pixie dust happens. It never hurts to ask if, say, they could be on the lookout for cancellations for that Be Our Guest reservation you’ve been stalking for months. It’s possible! But don’t assume, otherwise you very likely will be disappointed. In our experience, the concierge cast members almost always go above and beyond to try to make your experience extra-special. It’s well worth talking to them and taking advantage of their advice. It’s not easy to get to be a concierge working on Club Level, so these guys and gals know their stuff. They’re also often really fun to talk to. We’ve had some awesome conversations in the past.
So now that you know more about what you’re getting when you pay for a Club Level room, the question arises: is it worth it? For us, yes. We’re a couple. We are not “park commandos” who spend all day and night in the parks. We love relaxing at the resort. We drink alcohol and don’t make a ton of ADRs. We’re willing to spend a bit extra for a good view and a nice lounge because we use those things.
Who would we not necessarily recommend Club Level to, you ask?
- Park commandos. Unless you just want the extra amenities and can afford them without really using them to their fullest (hey, good for you! no judgement here), it’s probably not going to be worth it overall. You’d be better off saving the extra cash for snacks, drinks, and fun in the parks, so you don’t end up feeling like you’re missing out on the lounge offerings.
- Parents with infants. While we’ve definitely seen some parents with tiny babies taking full advantage of the club lounge (especially the alcohol, cause let’s be honest..), it’s probably not going to be worth it for you. The babies won’t eat the food offerings, and sitting in the lounge might be more of a chore than it’s worth (particularly maneuvering through with a stroller). Once the kids are a year or so older, however, Club Level might well be a perfect match. This blog is obviously geared more toward couples, but we figured we’d mention this anyway.
- Non-drinkers. Let’s be real here: a decent chunk of the “value” in Club Level stays comes from the fact you’re not having to fork over top dollar for expensive drinks in the parks and in the resort lounges. This is entirely subjective, of course, and I’m sure many non-drinking CL regulars will disagree. We’ve just found in our own experience that it makes CL seem less of a major splurge when we factor in the beer and wine we won’t have to buy while we’re there. It’s very nice.
- Guests with lots of must-do ADRs. If you have a list of places you’re dying to eat at each day of your stay, you might want to think twice about booking that CL room. Another big factor in the price of CL is the food that’s included. Breakfast, a light dinner, and desserts are part of your room cost. It can get really pricey eating on property, so in a case like this we’d likely recommend saving the difference in price between the regular and CL room for a nice dinner or three.
Other than these few exceptions, Club Level can really be a great addition to a WDW trip, especially for couples. We’ve found it helps us pace our days. For example, we get up, take some coffee back to our room to enjoy on our balcony, get ready, head to the lounge for breakfast (and more often than not, mimosas), then make our way to whatever park we’re visiting. We do our park stuff, then go back to the resort for a break in the late afternoon. We’ll have a snack or, if it’s later, eat a light supper in the lounge. We take some wine back to our room and hang out on the balcony, then figure out where, if anywhere, we want to go that evening. If a leisurely, more relaxing Disney trip is what you’re seeking, we can’t recommend Club Level enough.
It’s really impossible to quantify the “value” or perceived benefits of staying Club Level vs not. If you’re sitting there planning your trip and want to see a breakdown of how much money or time you’ll save by booking CL, you’re unfortunately wasting your time. The biggest question to ask yourself (after “can we afford this?” of course) is “what do we want our of this trip?” You can get a deluxe experience at WDW simply by staying at a Deluxe resort. Club Level adds on an additional layer of comfort in a lot of ways. Particularly if it’s a special occasion, like a birthday or anniversary, Club Level will take a fantastic trip to Disney World and make it that much more special. But be warned: once you’ve stayed Club Level, you’ll probably always want to stay Club Level!
Are we spoiled by what Club Level at WDW has to offer? Yes. Should you and your significant other be, too? Yes.
Thanks for reading, and feel free to comment with your own experiences. We’d love to hear them.