It’s no secret that life has been a bit of a roller coaster for everyone the last few years. If you’ve taken a vacation more recently, I suspect you may have noticed some changes in the way traveling has changed. When talking about vacations to Walt Disney World in particular, I’ve had several people ask what the benefits are to staying on Disney property; I thought it was the perfect opportunity to share some key reasons why we should (still) stay at a Walt Disney World Resort hotel.
Reason #1: Location, location, location!! This one is a no-brainer. You can’t beat the proximity of the Walt Disney World Resort hotels to the parks. You can take advantage of all that the resort has to offer without worrying about how you’re going to get to and from the parks, being on a tight schedule to catch a bus, or get lost trying to follow signs (especially if you’re not a seasoned Disney guest that knows your way around) … which brings me to…
Reason #2: Disney Transportation. Yes, your off-site resort may offer transportation to/from the parks. But does that shuttle come every 20 minutes (or less)? Is that shuttle complimentary? Do you need to make an advance reservation for that shuttle? When you stay at a Walt Disney World Resort hotel, even if you just saw your resort bus pull away, there will be another coming right behind it. No need to keep an eye on the time and worry about a bus schedule or the “reservation” you made to go back to your off-site hotel. Disney has buses, the monorail, the skyliner, and boats to help you get around property. Plus the buses will run until every last guest has exited the parks to ensure nobody gets left behind.
Reason #3: Some resorts are actually WALKING distance to parks!! Some people may not want to walk to/from the resort since there’s already a fair amount of walking on a Disney vacation, but some people absolutely love to have this option. Where can you walk to/from?
- You can walk to the Magic Kingdom from Disney’s Contemporary Resort
(including Bay Lake Tower), Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, and Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort (though I will caution that the walk would be a bit longer to/from the Polynesian, so I don’t recommend it).
- You can walk to EPCOT and Hollywood Studios from Disney’s Beach and Yacht Club Resorts, Disney’s BoardWalk Inn, and the Walt Disney World Dolphin, Swan and Swan Reserve Hotels.
- You can walk to Disney Springs from Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa. If you love shopping and dining (especially in the evening), this is a great resort to consider!
Reason #4. Complimentary Parking. Are you driving to Orlando, or perhaps considering renting a car upon arrival? If so, you’ll be happy to know that self parking at the Walt Disney World Resort hotels is now COMPLIMENTARY!! And guests staying on-site at a Walt Disney World Resort hotel will also have complimentary parking at the parks if you want to drive to the parks rather than utilizing the Disney transportation!! If you stay off-site, you will be charged the current parking rate to park at the theme parks (parking at the theme parks currently starts at $25 per day), plus your hotel may also charge a parking fee – so be aware of this if staying off-site is on your radar – those parking fees at both the hotel and as well as at the parks can really add up quickly!
Reason #5: Early Park Entry and Extended Evening Hours. When you stay on-site at a Walt Disney World Resort hotel, you’ll get to take advantage of Early Park Entry – this means you’ll be able to enter ANY of the four theme parks 30-minutes early EVERY DAY. This is the perfect opportunity for you to get into the parks and walk right on to some of the rides that tend to have longer wait times before the park gets too crowded. You’ll be surprised how much you can accomplish when you arrive early. BONUS: If you’re staying at a Deluxe or Deluxe Villa Resort, you’ll have the added perk of Extended Evening Hours. On select nights at select parks, guests staying at a Deluxe or Deluxe Villa Resort will have 2 extra hours to stay in the park without the crowds. This is also a huge timesaver – can you imagine being able to practically walk right on some of your favorite rides that usually have long waits all day long?! I literally walked right on Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure, Frozen Ever After and Test Track on my last visit during Extended Evening Hours – it was AWESOME!! Plus we still made it to Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind with the Virtual Queue (yes, that’s offered for Extended Evening Hours too!!!)
Reason #6: Mid-Day Breaks. Do you like to take mid-day breaks from the parks to rest or swim before heading back into the parks at night? Staying at a Walt Disney World Resort hotel makes this SO much easier, especially when utilizing Disney’s transportation. Hop on a bus (or monorail, skyliner, or boat) back to your resort. Take a nap. Go for a swim. Get refreshed, and then head back to the parks for the evening festivities (and hopefully fireworks!)
Reason #7: Charging Privileges. Do you love to keep your vacation on one bill? When you stay at a Walt Disney World Resort hotel, you will have charging privileges to your room via your MagicBand (or via MagicMobile or Key to the World if you choose to forgo the MagicBands). No need to worry about carrying cash or credit cards with you. Just charge everything to your room and you’ll get your final bill upon checkout via email!
Reason #8: Book All Your Dining Reservations at Once. Currently, dining reservations can be made 60-days prior to your check-in date (and for up to 10 days into your vacation) when staying at a Walt Disney World Resort hotel. If you’re staying off-site, you won’t have access to book all of your dining at once – in other words, you’ll need to book each day’s dining reservations separately when that respective day is 60 days away. This means you run the risk of not landing that coveted dining reservation at the hard-to-get restaurants as Walt Disney World Resort hotel guests will get the first chance to snag those reservations for the entirety of their trip. While it may not be impossible to get those reservations as your trip gets closer, it will certainly not be easy either.
Reason #9: Bundle Your Room and Tickets With a Package. This sounds straightforward, but let me explain. Disney offers some of its best deals when you package tickets and your resort stay together. Plus, when you book your vacation as a package (especially with a Travel Advisor), you only need to pay a $200 (refundable!) deposit for your vacation package. The balance of your package will be due 30 days prior to your arrival. You can also make payments in any amount at any time through your Travel Advisor if you prefer to pay for your vacation in increments ahead of time. This makes it much more manageable for many to not feel overwhelmed paying for their vacation all at once and budget ahead of time. Buying tickets separately when you’re staying off-site means paying for them in full at the time of purchase and they are also non-refundable. And since Disney is currently requiring you to make park reservations for entry into the parks each day, you’ll want to have those tickets linked to your account as far ahead of time as possible to be sure you are getting into the park you’d like each day.
Reason #10: Be Fully Immersed in the Disney Magic. Here’s a truth bomb… I’ve stayed off-site before, and there’s nothing wrong with it, but it wasn’t the same and I wouldn’t do it again. There’s nothing like staying in the middle of the Disney Magic – especially if you’re traveling with your family. If you’re planning to visit the parks more days than not, staying at a Walt Disney World Resort hotel gives you that full Disney Experience that you won’t get anywhere else. The theming at every resort is amazing, and there’s truly something for everyone when you’re picking among all of the incredible resort options at the Walt Disney World Resort.