One of the first steps in planning a vacation at Walt Disney World for your family is deciding where to stay. There are several factors to think about when choosing a hotel including, budget, location, and how much time you plan to spend at the hotel. A trip to Disney World adds a few more items to the list for the more than 20 very unique resorts located within its borders, such as transportation option and amazing themes. Let’s take a look at several of the reasons I recommend staying at a Disney World resort; especially for first time visitors.
Reliably Clean and Well-Maintained Hotels
Cleanliness is something I value highly in any hotel and Disney has reliably delivered in this respect over the years. Their hotels are regularly maintained and refurbished so they do not appear outdated or run down. If you’re an early riser, you’ll awake to find an army of groundskeepers working in the gardens, power washing the sidewalks, and touching up paint or other minor details. A few hours later, after most guests have trotted off to the parks, the room cleaning staff rolls out with their carts. Kids also enjoy the little touches staff leave along the way, such as towels folded into animal shapes and chalk or water drawings of characters along the sidewalks.
Disney World resort guests receive free Magic Bands. These wrist bands are a small but powerful vacation accessory. Magic Bands serve as your hotel room key, theme park tickets, and FastPass+ ID. A credit card can also be linked to allow food and merchandise purchases. Resort guests can choose a color and have a name printed on their Bands online once hotel reservations have been made.
Early FastPass+ Selections
Resort guests enjoy the benefit of being able to book their FastPass+ selections 60 days prior to vacation. Other ticket holders can book 30 days out. FastPass+ is a system akin to digitally saving you a place in line so you can go off and have fun instead of standing around for 2 hours for your favorite ride. Early selection is a huge bonus when trying to snag hard to get reservations.
Free Airport Shuttle
Disney provides free ground transportation to and from Orlando International Airport (MCO). After making your reservations, enter your flight numbers online or by phone and your ride will be waiting. Even better, your luggage will be taken care of for many airlines. Disney will mail you special tags so the Orlando airport baggage handlers will forward it right to Disney for delivery to your room. This is perfect for early arrivals. Just check in at the hotel and head off to the parks.
Free Transportation Around Disney World
Another stand out benefit of staying at a Disney World hotel is the free transportation to the theme parks, water parks, and Disney Springs. All hotels offer buses to get your around and some Deluxe resorts connect by monorail or boat. This is also a great way to switch between parks if you have a Park Hopper ticket. Have your own car or rental on hand? Enjoy free parking at the theme parks, which will save you $20/day.
Disney Dining Plan
Hotel guests have the opportunity to purchase the Disney Dining Plan as part of their package. The DDP is an allotment of credits used to purchase snacks or meals and varies based on hotel class. Value resorts offer counter service packages, while Moderate and Deluxe resorts include table service options. For many it’s a convenience to have meals already paid for ahead of the vacation and can be used to add value if planned well. Disney occasionally offers free dining packages.
Early Dining Reservations
For serious dining fans, resort guests can gain a slight advantage in obtaining hard to get restaurant reservations. While anyone can book 180 days ahead, Disney hotel guests can book for any day of their stay starting 180 days from their arrival. So, up to a 10 day advantage.
Disney World Hotel Restaurants
One thing Disney World is well known for is its amazing array of restaurants. Many of these are actually located within the hotels and often regular guests take that into consideration when choosing where to stay. Deluxe class resorts offer the most options, such as the Grand Floridian which has everything from 24 hour counter service to character meals to the Michelin 5 star rated Victoria & Albert’s. Value class only have counter service, but typically have a decent range of cuisines to keep both adults and kids happy.
Extra Magic Hours
Another key benefit for Disney resort guests is access to Extra Magic Hours, or EMH. Each day of the week one park will be designated to either open an hour early or have an extra two hours after closing for resort guests. EMH parks often are more crowded during the day, so the Park Hopping ticket option works very well to really take advantage of this benefit.
Package Delivery Service
A little known benefit is package delivery from many merchandise locations. Disney resort guests can opt to have their souvenirs sent directly to their hotel for next day pickup at the hotel’s gift shop. On many occasions, our packages have arrived the same day and were waiting in the room when we returned from a day at the parks.
The convenience of having your hotel nearby can’t be overstated. In fact, our preferred way to spend time at Disney World is different than most vacations due to this benefit. Our day typically starts early, then when the crowds arrive at the park and the Florida heat kicks in, we head back to the hotel for lunch, a cool nap, or pool time. Later, we head out once again to one of the parks for fireworks and lower crowds. The proximity to the four theme parks, two water parks, Disney Springs, and other resorts makes it easy to enjoy several different places in one day.
Staying in the Realm of Fantasy
My favorite reason for staying on Disney World property is that I can completely immerse myself in the experience and forget the real world during my vacation. Each Disney hotel is designed and decorated in an unique theme. Value class resorts feature larger than life icons, such as 3 story high characters at the Movies hotel. Moderate and Deluxe resorts focus on various locations, such Central America at Coronado Springs or the South Pacific at the Polynesian Village. Whether you choose to stay within the Disney theme or explore an international destination, the feel of the resorts are very much a part of your vacation; more than just heading back to sleep at a generic chain resort.
As you can see, there are many excellent reasons to stay on site at a Disney World hotel. There are plenty of theme options and price ranges to meet the needs of any family vacation.