A Walt Disney World vacation is never cheap. You may be comparing resorts and wondering why the Disney resorts are priced higher than something else nearby. First make sure you are comparing apples to apples – I break down the added costs of staying offsite here so you can add them to get an accurate comparison. Even if it is still a bit higher to stay onsite, the benefits can far outweigh the added cost. I have laid out those benefits for you to see how staying at a Disney resort is a good value for you.
The biggest benefit to staying at a Walt Disney World resort is location. Many resorts are located within steps of a theme park. The property is 40 square miles, so even if a resort is near the “main gate” it could be another 30 minute drive to a theme park. When you consider your limited vacation time, that extra travel adds up.
Disney offers a complimentary airport shuttle called the Magical Express. They will pick you up at Orlando International Airport and bring you directly to your resort. And there is no such thing as baggage claim when you are visiting a Walt Disney World resort: you get off the plane, on the shuttle, and into your vacation. Your luggage will be delivered to your room within a few hours. They also offer onsite luggage check for your return trip. We like to book evening flights, check our luggage in the morning and get a whole extra park day out of our trip.
There are buses, boats, monorails, and even a new skyliner that will transport you from your hotel to the parks. Most methods of transportation operate every 20 minutes, so you will never have to wait long for your ride, miss the bus, or have to worry about shuttle schedules. If you want a little more information about what transportation Disney offers and their routes, check out this post.
If you do have a vehicle and want to drive it to the theme parks, parking is complimentary for Disney resort guests. That is a savings of $22 a day!!
Most resorts in the Orlando area charge a resort fee for use of the hotel amenities. This is a mandatory fee whether you use them or not. Disney does not charge a resort fee but it is important to note that there is an overnight parking fee.
Disney offers complimentary wi-fi.
You don’t want your investment in the perfect Walt Disney World vacation to be spent waiting in lines or navigating crowds. Staying onsite offers you the added benefit of Extra Magic Hours (EMH). EMH is time reserved for Disney hotel guests to enjoy selected attractions before or after the theme park opens. There is usually one park with an early EMH each day, and one or two with evening EMH (usually 2-3 hours) per week. Check the park schedule for to see which parks are offering it on each day.
All Disney Advanced Dining Reservations open up 180 days in advance. If you are staying at a Disney resort you can make your reservations for the length of your stay 180 days before the date of check in. This not only saves you from having to get up at 6am and call in multiple days in a row, it also gives you a major advantage in scoring hard-to-get dining reservations.
This one is HUGE. Disney resort guests are able to make their Fastpasses a whole thirty days prior to the general public. This gives you a major advantage in getting the attractions and time slots you want. Usually by the time offsite guests are allowed to book, all of the attractions that typically have more than an hour wait time are fully reserved.
While you have the choice to use magic bands staying offsite, when you stay with Disney they are included in your resort stay. That is a $12/person savings. Your magic band links your park tickets, fastpasses, dining plan credits and more. At your Disney resort it is even your room key. Because you don’t need to get a key when you check in, you can do online check in on My Disney Experience, skip the front desk, head straight to the parks and they will text you when your room is ready.
When using your magic band in the park you have the ability to use it to charge any in-park spending back to your room. You don’t have to take out your wallet, just scan your band, enter your pin and go.
You don’t even have to carry your purchases around! This is one of my favorites. I love Disney merchandise but I HATE carrying it around the parks. Sending everything to my resort and picking it up at my resort gift shop is an AMAZING perk.
You can only use the Disney Dining Plan if you are staying at a Disney resort. There is debate about whether or not it actually offers a cost savings (I will do a full comparison for you if you book your vacation with Showcase the World, to see if it is a good value for you.) But it is a huge convenience. The dining plan allows you to purchase dining credits in advance so you don’t have to worry about the food bill on vacation. Everything is super easy and flexible and if you want a dole whip… just scan your band and go!
There is something special about staying at a Disney resort. The theming is incredible and you feel transported into your favorite movie, African savannah or South Pacific island. And whether it is games by the pool, outdoor movies at night, or the cast member that goes out of their way to make your stay great, there is just something magical about staying at a Disney resort. It is not tangible or measurable, but you just feel that little bit of pixie dust…it is called the Disney bubble after all.
Choosing where to stay really is the biggest decision when planning your Walt Disney World vacation. There are so many options when it comes to choosing accommodations. If you need help choosing the best disney resort for your family, download The Ultimate Guide to Choosing the Best Disney Resort below.
Did you know that there are over 25 hotels at Walt Disney World? Yes really! When you have this much choice, it can be difficult to find the time to research every one to be sure you’re choosing the right hotel for you. Luckily, ‘The Ultimate Disney Resort Planning Guide’ covers every aspect you need to know about each Disney hotel to start narrowing down your choices. Helping you decide what is the best for you in terms of themes and transportation, dining and experiences, and of course, rooms and price points – this guide will ensure you choose the right hotel for your family.
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