Planning a trip to Walt Disney World can be a very daunting task, especially if it is your first-time. There is a lot to consider when deciding to stay in a Disney resort or staying in a hotel outside of the world. After talking to quite a few people, it’s pretty clear that first-timers definitely grapple with this question and, I believe, end up not understanding the value of staying in a Disney resort. I can almost guarantee, I would have been one of them if I had not had the chance to stay in a Disney resort my first time without having to pay, but now we stay in a Disney resort every time we go! Here are some of the benefits of staying at a resort on Disney property:
Complimentary Transportation – Staying in a Disney resort means you do not have to worry about how you are going to get to anywhere in the World. Depending on where you are staying, your transportation could be the Monorail, buses, or ferryboats. There are buses from each resort that go to all the parks and Disney Springs and you can take a bus from park to park! Or, the Monorail between Epcot and the Magic Kingdom. Or the Friendship boats from Epcot to the Epcot area resorts and Hollywood Studios. Transportation usually runs on a 2o minute schedule so you shouldn’t have to wait that long for your next ride to get to you. Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean there won’t be a wait if you’re trying to get where everyone else is trying to get. Only then might you be waiting longer than the usual 20 minutes. One of my favorite things to do is to take a boat to where we are going!
Magical Express – After using this service for the first time last year, it is one of my favorite benefits of staying in a Disney resort. You can sign up when you first book your resort, just give them your flight information and Disney will send you baggage tags in the mail. Why the baggage tags? Once you drop your bags off at your home airport you don’t touch them until you get to your room! Arriving at the Orlando International Airport, Disney guides you on what bus you need to get on and drops you off at your resort. Going home works the same way, but in reverse. The only downside of going home is that you need to be ready very early in order to make it to the airport on time. Magical Express is a fantastic service that would be more than worth paying for, but with Disney it’s free!
Complimentary Parking – If you decide to drive down to Disney or rent a car when you arrive, staying at a Disney resort means you won’t be charged for parking at the parks. This can be a huge savings alone as parking will cost you around $2o a day if you don’t stay on property!
Advanced FastPass+ Reservations – Plan your day up to 60 days in advance. With a resort reservation and tickets purchased, Disney gives you the ability to reserve your FastPasses before anyone else can. This means that you can reserve those hard to get attractions before many other people can.
Complimentary MagicBands – MagicBands can make your stay even easier. With a MagicBand you can unlock your hotel door, enter theme parks, check-in at FastPass locations, check-in at restaurants, and pay for food and merchandise purchases! All of this without having to carry anything around except for a MagiBand. Staying in a Disney resort means you get one for each member in your party for free and you get to customize them before your stay with a choice of 7 different colors. Not staying in a Disney resort means you have to pay $12.95 per MagicBand.
The Dining Plan – The dining plan is a favorite of many people and if you happen to book at the right time it can be included in your stay. With the Dining Plan, you pay a flat rate for each night of the stay. This plan can be very good for budgeting purposes and if you are calculated you can save money using this plan. Don’t forget there are 3 different plans to choose from to better customize how you want to eat.
Extra Magic Hours – With Extra Magic Hours, when all the day guests have to leave, resort guests get to stay a few extra hours in the parks. What’s great about this is there is an opportunity to roam the park with a lot fewer people, and you get to enjoy much shorter lines at the popular attractions. Nothing is better than being able to wander the parks with a more relaxed feel. So, take time and smell the roses during those Extra Magic Hours!
Park to Hotel Merchandise Delivery – Found something you loved at one of the many wonderful shops at Walt Disney World, but its the beginning of the day and you don’t want to carry around that glass set? Luckily, Disney will take care of that for you! Just let the Cast Member know that you would like it shipped to your hotel and they will package it up and send it straight to your room!
The Disney Experience – This is the biggest benefit of staying at a Disney resort and can be hard to explain to someone who has never been before. But, when you cross those gates into Walt Disney’s world you are taken away from the real world and transplanted in a world that should be. Everything is meticulously maintained. Every detail is thought of, even if you don’t realize it. The Cast Members treat you like family and maybe even a little better than family. Disney allows your imagination to ignite again, to run wild, to dream. It encourages adults to become kids again and lets the real kids walk into a fantasy world that encourages creativity and curiosity. Once you step outside those walls you’re back into the real world and the real world isn’t so great anymore. So its best to stay in there as long as you can to keep the magic alive!