There are many choices of where you can stay when you visit Disney World. You can barely sneeze without it hitting a hotel in that area. There are many private vacation homes and even time shares…
But, my absolute favorite is staying ON Disney property. There is nothing more magical. Once I start my Disney vacation, I want to eat, sleep & breathe Disney. Once I stayed on Disney property, I have never gone back to the “other” hotels.
OK. I may sound a little extreme about it, but it really does make the best experience out of your trip. Think about the perks that only Disney Resort guests get:
- Extra Magic Hours – This is when one or more parks are open either before or after “regular hours” JUST for the Disney Resort guests. I have been there when they closed at midnight, but we got to stay until 3am! Talk about just walking onto the rides. (Of course, with 4 kids – and 2 tired adults, we didn’t make it until 3am. Ha!) Sometimes, a park may open at 8am for Disney Resort guests, but not open to the public until 9am. The extra magic hours vary every day (you can find out the times during your trip either on their website, or on the daily Times Guide that you can get anywhere on property), but there is some kind of Extra Magic Hours every day.
- Disney Transportation – One of the things I love is once we pull into the parking lot, we don’t have to touch our vehicle the rest of the trip. There are buses, boats, and monorails that take you anywhere on Disney property that you want to go. There are bus stops at every location, so you can just follow the signs to where you want to go, and get on the bus from there. If you get lost, there are helpful cast members that will help you figure out where you need to go.
- Dining Plan – Mmmm…I’m salivating just thinking about “Disney food”. The dining plan is available for purchase for any guest of the resorts. It is very convenient to have virtually every meal and snack paid for in advance, before stepping food in Disney. It also allows for so many food options. You end up saving up to 30% of your dining expenses by going with the plan. For example, if you have a plan that gives you Table Service credits, you can use that at any of the Disney restaurants that offer table service (there are a few that you have to use 2 credits for). Table service is equivalent to what most people call “sit-down” restaurants. Once you are seated & get your menu, you can practically order ANYTHING off of the menu for your entree. I would suggest to go for the expensive foods (ie the steak) – since it is all included in the price. You’ll get the best bang for your buck. **Plus, there are a few times a year where they will offer the Dining Plan for FREE as a special. Make sure to keep your eyes peeled for that one!
- Time – This is pretty much self-explanatory, but it is another amazing perk. You get more time in the parks. You get more time to rest. You get more time to swim. You get more time to shop. You get more time to do whatever you want. Since you’re so close to all of the action, you aren’t hassled with driving everywhere, finding parking, finding outside food, etc. You are already IN Disney – all the time!
- Magical Express – If you are flying to Disney & staying on property, you also have an awesome perk – FREE transportation from the airport to the hotel – and back. You don’t even have to touch your luggage once you leave your home airport! You receive special tags that you attach to your luggage, before you get to your home airport. Once they are shipped with you down to Orlando International Airport, the Magical Express cast members use get your luggage for you, pack it into the bus, and it will even be delivered directly to your room, so you don’t have to carry it there! (Make sure you bring any essentials in your carry-on bag. Sometimes it takes a couple hours upon arrival to get your bags to your room.) This service is pretty convenient, so you don’t have to get a taxi or a rental car. Be sure to let Disney or your Disney Travel Agent know you want to use this service.
- Cast Member Magic – This is what I call the amazing service that only Disney provides. They are all about customer service & making everything about your trip magical. Since you are staying on property, you are guaranteed to have that awesome magical touch from virtually every person you need assistance from. My personal favorite is when one of them say “Have a magical day!”
These are some of the best features and perks that staying in a Disney Resort offers. I don’t know if I could ever stay off-property again. The picture above is taken from one of my favorite resorts – Port Orleans Riverside. We have stayed there the last two times. I cannot wait until the day that I can say that I’ve stayed in EVERY Disney Resort. That may take a while, though. 😉
I love to hear my readers opinions. Do you usually stay on or off-property? What do you like or dislike about staying on Disney property? If you have never been, what do you think your decision might be when you finally get to take your first trip?