Congratulations! You’re going to Disney World! It is so exciting, whether it is your first time or your 51st time. Some people feel very strongly that they should not stay on property – they believe that it’s too expensive, that they won’t be able to handle that much Disney, or they want to be able to go other places too and don’t want to be “stuck” at Disney. Well here are some benefits to staying on Disney property that you might want to consider before you make that decision.
Disney Resorts 101: What You Must Know About Staying On Property At Disney World
11. Family-Style Suites:
Disney World hotels are absolutely top quality and are designed with families in mind, with many suites sleeping up to 6 people. The All-Star Music and new Art of Animation resorts offer affordably priced Family Suites with separate bedrooms, a living room, a kitchenette and two bathrooms so that a family can get up, get ready and get out there into the parks a lot faster! Several of the mid-range to luxury hotels also offer studios with a kitchenette, or one, two, or three bedroom villas with full kitchens, one- and- a-half or two full bathrooms and in-room laundry. These are the same villas that Disney Vacation Club members pay a premium to purchase an interest in, but Florida law requires that they be made available to the general public.
While the villas tend to be pricier, they can sleep multi-generational families or groups of travelers who may be sharing the cost, making it a comparable, but more luxurious option than renting multiple separate rooms. It also allows a large group to have the privacy of separate rooms, yet also have communal space. While doing laundry in your own suite may not sound that special, I can tell you that it is worth a million dollars when your party includes members of the messy eater, leaky diaper, nauseous traveler set, or anyone at all, as a matter of fact, in the middle of July! It is also really nice to arrive home the night before going back to work with suitcases full of clean laundry!
It is a misconception that a Disney vacation has to cost an arm and a leg. Disney offers a full-range of hotels, from the reasonably priced value resorts to the high-end luxury of the Grand Floridian. You can even rent a campsite for as little as $49 a night, although you should book early because these are often fully booked up to a year in advance. If price is really a factor, keep a look out for low-season deals. Disney often offers packages at low travel times featuring significantly discounted rooms, which sometimes come with free dining or park tickets. When these items are factored in, it may be even more cost-effective to stay on property.
9. Quality and Theme:
Whether or not it is more cost-effective, there are certain benefits that you can rely on from Disney hotels. For one, Disney hotels are all top quality, well-maintained, renovated frequently, and are very clean and convenient. On top of this, they are designed with Disney charm and character. Each hotel skillfully immerses its guests in some Disney-related theme, whether it is the New Orleans atmosphere of Port Orleans, the South Pacific feel of the Polynesian or the pirate-themed rooms of the Caribbean Beach Resort. The Disney resorts are a destination unto themselves, which can greatly enhance your feeling of having actually gotten away.
8. Disney’s Magical Express:
Disney’s Magical Express is a complimentary shuttle that transports you and your luggage between the Orlando International Airport and your Disney resort. Although other hotels might offer shuttle transportation, the Magical Express lets you completely avoid the hassle of dragging your luggage around yourself. You will receive luggage tags a few weeks before your trip, which, once attached, let you forget about your luggage once you check in at the airport. Disney will claim your luggage and deposit it in your room later in the day. This lets you begin relaxing right at the outset of your vacation as you ride to your resort in air-conditioned comfort.
7. Airline Check-in at Your Resort:
If you are flying a qualifying airline from the Orlando International Airport, you are also able to check yourself and your bags in for your flight right at your hotel. You then board the Magical Express to the airport without having to worry about the long check-in lines. You can do this hours before your flight is scheduled, which leaves you free to do some nostalgic last-minute wandering around the resort before departure.
6. Complimentary Disney Transportation Within the Parks:
When you stay at a Disney hotel, you are able to use the complimentary bus, ferryboat and monorail transportation system that takes you straight from your hotel to any of the parks, water parks and Downtown Disney. You do not have to worry about navigating a strange area in your car, finding parking, or trudging miles through a crowded parking lot with your exhausted travel party to a car that has been baking in the Florida sun all day. Instead you can travel in style!
5. Extra Magic Hours:
Extra Magic Hours are offered only to guests of the Disney resorts. Each day, one of the parks opens early or stays open late, often by several hours. This allows Disney resort guests to get a head-start on other guests or to stay and finish off their day when the parks are less crowded and likely less hot. This is a great time to squeeze in character greetings with some of the popular princesses or ride the high demand rides that you just couldn’t get a FastPass for. Disney is able to distinguish between resort and non-resort guests and those not staying at the resorts will be asked to leave.
4. Purchases Shipped Directly to Your Resort:
While you are enjoying those Extra Magic Hours, you will be shopping and it is extremely convenient to simply have your packages shipped from the parks to your resort where you can pick them up from the resort gift shop. This is far better than lugging around the toy Cinderella’s castle or build-your-own-lightsaber that you will need to buy while you try to go on rides, or lugging your purchases out to your hot, hot car and then lining up to get back into the park again. Think about that!
Guests of the Disney resorts are also eligible to purchase the Disney Dining Plan, which allows the guest to pay a pre-set price per day for a certain number of meals, snacks and beverages from most of the Disney park, hotel and quick-service restaurants. There are a range of plans to choose from, offering everything from only counter-service to the full-range of high-end signature restaurants, but all provide a great deal of food at what is usually a lower price than for a la carte purchases.
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2. Disney Dining Reservations:
Dining reservations can be made up to 180 days in advance. However, guests of a Disney resort are able to make dining reservations for their entire stay 180 days before the first day of their vacation, giving them an advantage over non-resort guests. If Be Our Guest is on your wishlist, this might be the difference between getting a reservation and being disappointed!
1. Magic Bands:
Magic Bands are what everyone is talking about right now! They are the waterproof bracelets that are the key to all of the conveniences of your Disney vacation and are only provided on a complimentary basis to Disney resort guests and annual passholders. Simply by waving the band in front of a sensor, the Disney resort guest can access their Magical Express and FastPass reservations, open their guestroom door, gain entry to the parks, pay for purchases at dining and retail locations and access their Disney Photopass photos. Guests not staying at a Disney resort do now have the option to purchase Magic Bands at the parks, but will then have to take the time to link everything to the band, while the Disney resort guest has already breezed through and hit their first FastPass ride!
All of these benefits of staying on property add up to an unparalleled experience, which allows you to get the most out of your Disney vacation. As well, you can stay at Disney and still go off-property quite easily. Car rental is available onsite and you can always arrange transportation to another Orlando-area destination through your concierge. But if Disney is the biggest part of your vacation, you likely won’t be able to beat these perks by staying elsewhere!