If you’ve never booked a stay at a Walt Disney World resort property, you may be scared off by a serious case of sticker shock. Staying on property, as opposed to booking a nearby hotel, can seem prohibitively expensive. But, as you’ll find, there are many benefits to booking all aspects of your trip with Disney and once you read this post, you may decide that the price premium is in fact worth it.
Wide Range of Hotel Options
There are three main types of hotels at Walt Disney World. Value, Moderate, and Deluxe Hotels are the primary options. They all have pros and they vary for each person and family.
Value Resorts are the lowest-priced, they are the farthest away from the parks of all the resorts. They are: All Star Music, All Star Movies, All Star Sports, Pop Century, and Art of Animation.
The theming for these hotels is very bright, full of color, and great options for families with young children.
Moderate Resorts are the mid-range resorts. The biggest difference between the value resorts and the moderate resorts is the size of the beds and the size of the rooms. The beds are typically queen beds, in most value resorts they are full sized. The rooms also typically sleep 5 instead of 4 and have about 60 square feet more than the values.
The moderate resorts are: Caribbean Beach Resort, Coronado Springs Resort, Port Orleans – French Quarter, Port Orleans – Riverside, and The Cabins at Fort Wilderness.
While the theming at these resorts is not as loud as they are at the value resorts, you have the option at two of the resorts for themed rooms. At Caribbean Beach you have Pirate rooms, and at Port Orleans Riverside you have the Royal rooms. These rooms tend to be the farthest from the main building, but for those who enjoy this theming, it will certainly be worth it.
It goes without saying that the Deluxe Resorts are the most expensive resorts on Disney property. However the perks of staying at a deluxe resort are amazing. Most of the Deluxe Resorts are within walking distance of one park, or have access to the monorail from the front of the resort.
The Deluxe Resorts are: Animal Kingdom Lodge, Beach Club, Boardwalk Inn, Contemporary Resort, Grand Floridian Resort, Polynesian Village Resort, Wilderness Lodge, and the Yacht Club Resort.
If you are staying on Disney property you have the opportunity to take free transportation to and from the airport. The Magical Express will pick you up and drop you off, you just need to make sure that you reserve your spot.
There is also free transportation from the resorts to all the parks and Disney Springs. This includes the busses, monorail, boats, and soon the gondola’s.
Nothing beats being 15-20 minutes away from the parks, and many of the resorts are closer than that. If you are staying off-property you are either paying for a shuttle service that may not run as often as the Disney transportation or you may be paying out-of-pocket for ride sharing services. If you drive your own car, you may be paying more money for parking.
If you have members of your party that needs a mid-day break, going back and forth to your off-property resort may be difficult.
Whether or not you are staying at a Disney Resort, you can make Advanced Dining Reservations (ADR’s) 180 days prior to your trip. Guests staying on property are able to make dining reservations at 180 days plus 10 additional days, which will cover most families entire trip.
If you are staying off-site you can only make your dining reservations one day at a time.
The ability to make reservations many days in advance is that the hard to get reservations; Be Our Guest, Cinderella’s Royal Table, ‘Ohana, etc…, give those staying on property an advantage to getting the days and times they want. Those staying off property may not get the day or time they want, or get the reservation at all.
FastPass is one of the most valuable pieces of anyone’s trip to Walt Disney World. Each guest has the ability to book three FastPasses a day. A FastPass is basically a ticket to go to the front of the line of a ride. If you are staying on Disney property you can book your FastPasses at 60 days prior to your trip, for the length of your trip. Like dining reservations, there are FastPasses that “sell out” faster than others. Rides like Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Slinky Dog Dash, The Haunted Mansion, Soarin’, Flight of Passage, etc… can be hard to get if you don’t get them at the 60 day mark.
If you stay off property you cannot make your FastPass reservations until 30 days out, and like the dining reservations, you have to make them one day at a time, and many of the highly sought after FastPasses are gone by then.
Extra Magic Hours
Extra Magic Hours is when different parks open one hour early or stay open one or two hours later than normal operating hours. Only guests who are registered at on property resorts can go on rides or visit attractions during these hours.
If you stay on site, you receive your MagicBand for free, of course you can buy one if you are staying off-site, but if you are trying to save money on extras, having the MagicBand for free is great. If you need to know how to use your MagicBand check out all that information here.
Disney Dining Plan
If you are staying on property you have the option to purchase a Disney Dining Plan. There are a few different dining plans, but what it does is it allows you to pre-purchase meals and snack to use at your leisure during the length of your stay.
The Dining Plan is beneficial if you want the feeling of an inclusive vacation, but you need to do the math to see if it actually saves you money based on the dining reservations you have made. If you are staying off-site there is no option to purchase a dining plan.
Using your MagicBand to make charges at your resort, the parks, and shops can be incredibly useful. While not all the vendor carts take payment via MagicBands, almost everything else does. Keep in mind every resort has a maximum that you can charge before they run your credit card. You can also go to the front desk to pay off your bill prior to it being charged on your credit card.
If you end up buying lots of souvenirs, or your kids have lots of gift cards to spend, you aren’t going to want to cart those souvenirs throughout the park all day. If you are staying on property, you can have the packages delivered to the gift shop at your resort. Disney just have time guidelines, so make sure you are aware of those before utilizing this service.
Staying on property may not be possible, or you may have points to use at a Hotel chain. There are a few Disney and Disney Springs area hotels that you can stay at, that give you some of the same benefits that you would get if you stayed onsite.
Staying on Disney property is convenient, can be accessible for all budgets, and has many benefits. Have you ever stayed on-site? What is your favorite resort? Let us know in the comments below. Or, until next time, have a magical trip.