Hands down, this is the topic that comes up the most whenever I talk about Disney World with others. Where you stay will definitely impact your vacation experience. We stayed in rooms both on and off property over the years. I, personally, prefer staying in the “Disney Bubble” especially after considering all of the conveniences afforded to on-site guests. My vacation is essentially worry-free! However, I do include some benefits of staying off-site at the end of this post! But first, here are my top benefits of staying on-property at Disney World:
The first benefit of staying on-property at Disney World is being able to take advantage of free transportation. Buses, monorails, and boat launches connect all areas of The World! You absolutely do not need a car to get around. However, Disney transportation can be a bit tricky to navigate and is notorious for delays. Stay tuned for a separate post that will include my tips and tricks!
Staying at a Disney World resort also includes rides on the Magical Express to and from the Orlando International Airport (OIA)! They will even collect your luggage from the airport and “magically” deliver them to your resort room. No need to wait at baggage claim! On your trip home, you can check your bags in at your Disney resort saving time at the airport. This is a very convenient perk!
An underrated mode of “complimentary” transportation is, well, your own two feet! Nothing beats being able to walk from your resort room directly to the neighboring theme park! This saves us every time my son has a meltdown and just needs to be back at the hotel for a midday break and nap. It is also great for an impromptu date night! Our favorite resort is the BoardWalk Inn because we can easily walk to and from Epcot and Hollywood Studios.
FastPass+ and Advance Dining Reservation (ADR) Perks
Another benefit of staying on-property at Disney World is that you are eligible to make Fastpass+ reservations 60 days (as opposed to 30 days for off-site guests). Additionally, guests staying at a Disney resort can make FastPass+ reservations for the entire length of their stay. This means you can log in to My Disney Experience at the 60 day mark and make FastPass+ reservations for your entire vacation! This gives you the advantage when it comes to those hard to get passes!
Similarly, on-site guests have an advantage with securing Advance Dining Reservations (ADRs). All guests visiting The World can make ADRs 180 days in advance, however, Disney resort guests can make them for up to 10 days of their stay. Essentially, these guests have 190 days to make ADRs. Again, this is helpful for getting those difficult reservations!
Extra Magic Hours
Every day, guest staying on Disney property benefit from exclusive time in one of the theme parks! A park will either open 1 hour early or up to 3 hours in the evening following closing. This can even apply to the 2 water parks: Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon!
Your stay at a Disney resort will include a (free!) solid color MagicBand. This will save you $14.99 USD (plus tax). Disney just recently added an upgrade option for MagicBands. See the Sunday Snippet for details! This band links you to your theme and water park tickets, saves any pictures taken by PhotoPass photographers, is your resort room key, and allows you to make charges directly to your room!
Option to Purchase Disney Dining Plans (DDPs)
Disney resort guests have the option to book a “Magic Your Way Package“. This links the hotel reservation and theme park tickets and offers the option of adding a Disney Dining Plan (DDP). All together, this provides a more “cruise-like”, all-inclusive vacation experience. Some guests like this, however, you can read my honest thoughts about the DDPs in a previous post!
Benefits for Select “Off-Property” Resorts
In my mind there are 2 types of off-property resorts: those that share some of the Disney perks and those that do not. Some hotels have an agreement with Disney that, for example, allow their guests to book FastPass+ reservations 60 days in advance (for more on this read a previous post!). However, all of the off-property hotels have these benefits:
- More bang for your buck! You can open memberships or credit cards with certain hotel chains that give you special rates or points to use toward resort stays. This can save you a ton of money! Additionally, these hotels have better prices overall compared to Disney resorts.
- Escape the “Disney Bubble”. Being completely absorbed in all things Disney may get exhausting! Staying off-property can give you a much needed break to truly get some rest and relaxation 🙂
I hope you find this post helpful when deciding if staying at a Disney-owned resort is right for you!