This post comes partly from the many times I’ve been asked this question from friends, family members, and potential clients and partly because of the recent release of a video from Disney Parks. There are so many perks of staying on property that it definitely makes up for any cost savings you might incur (or may not in the long run if you take other factors into account). This post will serve as an overview of all the benefits of staying on property and how that may translate into possible cost savings and a better overall experience.
First… the Video!
Before we begin, take a few moments to watch the video released by Disney Parks that provides a brief overview of the benefits with a little “flare.”
Now a Bit More Detail….
A bit cheeky, I know, but hey! That’s Disney! Now that you’ve got the gist, let’s talk about each point the video makes in a bit more detail.
“With more than twenty fun hotels you get to pick your theme…”
While theming may not be at the top of your mind on other vacations, at Disney theming is top notch and can completely transform your stay into your own “disney dream.” Experience the tropics of Hawaii with a pool overlooking the “beach” at the Polynesian, the relaxing ambiance of the Louisiana Bayou at Port Orleans Riverside, or watch animals right outside your window in savannah view rooms at the Animal Kingdom Lodge. It’s basically a real life “Choose Your Own Adventure.”
The thing to drive home here is there are MANY choices of all different price ranges from Deluxe and Villa Accommodations to Moderate Level priced rooms and even Value resorts, each with their own distinct theme and ambiance.
“There are water sports all kinds and sorts that fill the seven seas..”
There are so many different recreation options to enjoy at Walt Disney World resorts. Well themed pools with waterslides (moderate and deluxe) and sometimes whirl pools, are just the start! At the various resorts (depending on location) you can find boats for rent, fishing, fishing excursions, parasailing, archery, horse back riding, horse drawn carriage rides, bike riding (regular and surrey bikes), and more (all for various fees).
Looking for FREE things to fill your non park days? There are plenty of those too! Many resorts (depending on location) offer planned activities by the pool, outdoor movies, theming tours, and campfires as well as other children’s activities in the various recreation areas. Some places have specialized free activities as well like borrowing night vision goggles to watch the animals after dark at the Animal Kingdom Lodge or sitting on the beach for the Electric Water Pageant (and Magic Kingdom Fireworks) at the Magic Kingdom Area resorts.
There is definitely enough to do at the resorts to fill a couple days without setting foot inside the park. This can allow for a more relaxing vacation and help you save money on ticket costs.
“… Restaurants for beauvivants, such fine amenities..”
You can always find great meals in the parks if you know where to look… but some of the BEST restaurants are at the resorts on Disney property. There are so many options from counter service to fine dining and everything in between. Some of the quick service locations have more options than those in the parks and seating is often less crowded. If fine dining is what you’re after, there are many signature restaurants at the resorts to choose from including the creme de la creme Victoria and Albert’s at the Grand Floridian!
You can find a variety of cuisines for just about anyone’s palate by doing a little resort hopping. African and Indian flavors abound at the Animal Kingdom Lodge while Hawaiian and Asian fusion can be found at the Polynesian. Don’t worry though there are plenty for pickier eaters to! Steakhouses, Italian dishes, American pub style restaurants, barbecue, and more. Many places have kids menus and all can make accommodations for dietary needs or allergies.
Remember, with free in resort transportation you can easily hop to a resort other than your own for dinner, lunch, or some sightseeing!
“Since your resort hotel can be so near a Disney Park, you can play all day with Mickey and see fireworks at dark.”
This is a big one, especially for those with children. By staying at a Disney resort you can easily go back to the resort to take a break and recharge before watching the fireworks. Even with base tickets (without the hopper option) you are welcome to come and go freely from the same park each day. It is a great option to go back to the resort for a midday nap, swim, and lunch/snack break before returning for the fireworks. This allows you to avoid the hottest part of the day and typically the longest lines of the day.
In order to do this while staying off property you’d probably need to rent a car (which can add a huge cost to the total of your trip). Some off property resorts have shuttle services but they are typically few and far between and can be inconvenient to locate which adds to the “commute” time. Driving yourself can also be a hassle in having to locate and get back to your car, driving a considerable distance back to the resort and doing the process in reverse when returning. As I will talk about a little later, Disney makes this process relatively painless with their free in resort transportation system.
“Stay right here with us and then you’ll get some magic powers. Extra time inside the parks we call it extra magic hours.”
For those guests going on adults only trips or trips with older children and/or teenagers this is probably the biggest perk. Each day at least one park either opens an hour earlier or stays open up to three hours later ONLY for Walt Disney World Resort guests. A schedule of these hours can be found on Disney’s Park Hours Calendar.
During these hours, lines are considerably shorter allowing resort guests to get in a lot of their favorite rides with lower wait times. By utilizing extra magic hours well, you are more likely to hit all of your “must do” attractions and leave time to enjoy the pool! You may also be able to fit more in a day and, if you wish save on the added costs of an extra day on park tickets.
“We’ll give you each a magic band, wear it on your favorite hand.”
Magic Bands are your key to EVERYTHING while at the Disney resort. They become your room key, your park tickets, your fastpass+, your photopass, and even your credit card (should you wish to allow for charging privileges to the one linked to your account). If you wanted to, you could walk around with just your Magic Band and be completely prepared!
Non- resort guests can buy these on property should they wish (with no charging privileges or access to resorts) but again an added expense.
“To cut down on your wait, make a fastpass date, we’ll help you get on through.”
Fastpass+ is another great perk for resort guests. Fastpass+ allows resort guests to make reservations for attractions per day of their stay up to 60 days in advance of their check in date. Non-Resort guests can still make these reservations, but not until 30 days before the day they’d like their Fastpass+ reservations.
This is especially important for the most popular attractions, shows, and character meet and greets. Fastpass+ for rides like Seven Dwarves Mine Train and Toy Story Midway Mania, shows like Fireworks and Parades, and character meet and greets like Anna and Elsa may no longer be available at 30 days. These attractions can have wait times upward of 2 hours at times so the Fastpass+ reservations can make a huge difference in your day. Time spent standing in these lines could be time spent on other attractions, beating the heat in the pool, or relaxing in the air conditioning.
“We can pick you up with our airport bus. Drop your bags and you at your doorstep PLUS with the drive off your mind leave your worries behind. Transportation it’s on us!”
Alright, we all know that traveling is the least fun part of the trip. You may have to get up at the crack of dawn to get to the airport hours before the flight to get through security. There may be long lines in checkin bags or getting through TSA. The airport food isn’t great, flights are cramped, sometimes bumpy. When you arrive at Orlando airport, you then have to wait in baggage claim, maneuver around with your bags, figure out how to get to the hotel and pay an expensive fare to do so… Wait. Rewind!
When staying at a Walt Disney World resort, Disney takes care of you once you touch down at MCO. All you need to do is navigate your way to the Magical Express area. If you arrive before 10pm Disney can even grab your bags off of the carousel and deliver them to your room (please allow up to three hours for this process after check in). Once at the Magical Express desk, all you need to do is tap your Magic Band and the cast member will point you in the right direction for a bus to your resort. With the new online check in process, you may be eligible to get your room number sent to you via text message allowing you to go directly to the room once it is ready and skip any check in lines.
Flight got delayed? No problem, Disney provides this service round the clock (minus the bag service after 10pm). You do not even have to call to change your transportation, it will be there waiting for you!
Though some other offsite hotels may have shuttle transportation to and from the airport, most do not. The last time I took a cab (in 2008 to meet a friend) it cost $68 one way from the airport to Downtown Disney (and has probably gone up). Other methods may be cheaper but may require additional coordination particularly when you have flight delays or other interruptions. Here, Disney can save you money, time, and frustration.
“Take a monorail or a boat or bus. There’s no fee, no charge, there’s no mess, no fuss! With the drive off your mind leave your worries behind. Transportation it’s on us!”
Not only is transportation provided free of charge to and from the airport, it is also provided throughout the Walt Disney World Resort. You can get from any resort to any park, water park, or Disney Springs (formerly Downtown Disney) by taking either a bus, boat, or monorail. You can also get from park to park, and from resort to resort (though it may involve a transfer at another destination). There is no need for the added cost of a rental car or parking costs at the parks or your resort. If you do, however, bring or rent a car parking is free to all resort guests at all parks, Disney springs, and the resort.
While some non-Disney resorts offer some shuttles to and from the parks, they are typically (again) few and far between. You may not have opportunities to go back and forth from your resort easily during the day. Disney makes this process, along with park hopping, getting meals at another location, and checking out different recreation opportunities at the resort easy!
Now that you know all the great benefits of staying on property at the Walt Disney World Resort, it’s time to begin planning your next trip!
Let me help you plan the most magical vacation possible! I’ll work with you to find the best possible price for your vacation, continue to look for promotions that can be applied, take care of your dining reservations, help you with Fastpass+ recommendations and more all free of charge to you! Contact me today for a free quote at firstname.lastname@example.org!