Why stay at a Disney Resort?
In addition to the magic of staying at a Walt Disney World Resort, there are many other benefits that can help you make the most of your vacation. Here are six ways that staying on Disney property can improve your vacation experience.
#1- Extra Park Time
Extra time in the parks can be a game changer. With less people inside the parks comes shorter lines, meaning you can ride a lot more. This is especially helpful for those rides that are known for having waits of two hours or more. Coming early or staying late allows you to experience these attractions without having to spend your entire day in a line, or spend extra on Lighting Lanes.
Currently, Disney offers two opportunities for extra time in the parks-
- Early Park Entry: Available every day and allows you to enter a park 30 minutes before the official opening time
- Extended Evening Hours: Allows you to stay two hours after park close.
Early Park Entry is available to all guests staying on property, and a few Good Neighbor Hotels. Extended Evening Hours are less frequent, usually on Monday and Wednesday nights and only happen at one park per night. These evening hours are also only available to guests staying at a deluxe resort, such as the Contemporary or Animal Kingdom Lodge.
In my opinion, this is the best reason to stay on property. When I go to the parks, I want to get the most out of my visit. The option to go to the parks with smaller crowds is worth the cost of a Disney Resort, because you’re able to do more each day.
The second biggest reason to stay on property is for the complimentary transportation to the parks, water parks, and Disney Springs.
Disney offers a variety of transportation options including bus, boat, monorail, and the Skyliner. What each resort offers varies, but each has at least one, if not more transport options. These services make it easier to get to and from your resort and the parks. Buses run 45 minutes before park open and an hour after close so you never have to worry about being stranded at the parks.
You can also order a Minnie Van, which is the Disney equivalent of a Lyft. These vans also have car seats for kids, and can bring you right up front to the parks, where an Uber/ Lyft might not be able to go.
You don’t need a car, but if you do have your own vehicle, you can enjoy free parking at all parks in Walt Disney World.
I’ve found that having this free transportation has been immensely helpful. If you’re traveling with a large party, its much easier to take the bus rather than ordering multiple Ubers. It can also be helpful if you want to explore more of the property. If you want to have dinner at another resort or visit Disney Springs, a bus can take you there.
#3- More Access to Reservations
When booking reservations for restaurants or places like Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique, everyone is able to book starting 60 days before their trip. However, Disney Resort Guests are able to book their entire trip at once (up to 10 days), while those staying off property have to do each day individually.
While this doesn’t sound like a major difference it can absolutely mean being able to get that reservation or not. Reservations tend to go quickly, usually within minutes of the window opening, especially if it’s a popular location. If you’re set on going to a popular spot like Oga’s Cantina, you might want to consider staying on property.
As a resort guest, you also get first access to Individual Lightning Lanes (LL). You can purchase these at 7 am, instead of at the official park opening time. This makes it easier, as you won’t have to fumble with your phone trying to buy a LL and get through the gate at the same time. Lighting Lanes can also sell out rather quickly. Lighting Lanes for Rise of the Resistance can sell out within a minute, and it’s not often that guests staying off property have the chance to purchase one.
In addition to transportation and extra park time, Disney also provides world class service to all their guests. This can be helpful if something does happen to go wrong, or there is a sudden change in plans.
When you stay on property, there is always someone to help you. Cast members are available 24/7 to help you if you have questions, want to change a reservation, or are looking for recommendations. There is also a 24/7 chat line that you can use to instantly connect you with a cast member who can answer any of your questions.
Disney also offers those staying on property the option to use a payment plan, rather than paying for the whole trip up front.
Staying on property puts you right in the middle of the magic. It’s quicker to get to the parks, meaning you’ll spend less time driving and more time having fun. In some cases, you’re so close that you can even walk right up to the park gates!
You may even be able to catch the fireworks shows right from your hotel. If you’re staying close enough to see the fireworks shows, the soundtrack of the show is played around the resort so you can experience the show from the comfort of your room. Some resorts even have their own special nighttime shows, such as the Electrical Water Pageant on the Seven Seas Lagoon.
#6- The “Disney Bubble”
You may have heard of something called the “Disney Bubble”. When you stay inside the “bubble” of Disney Property, it feels almost as if you’re in a completely different place. You are immersed in the magic of Disney from the moment you wake up each day, making your stay feel that much more special.
Disney theming, cast members, characters, and exceptional Disney service all go into the magic you feel inside this bubble. When staying on property, your resort is as much a destination as the parks.
There are also a lot of additional activities and services that add to your experience. At the pool, cast members host poolside parties and trivia games. At night, you can find campfires with smores and movies playing on the lawn.
Some resorts even have childcare centers, where kids ages 4-12 can enjoy supervised playtime and activities with Disney counselors for an additional fee. They also serve dinner and snacks to kids, so you can have fun knowing your child is being well taken care of.
Bonus Tip- Good Neighbor Hotels
When booking your Disney Vacation, it’s important to consider what is most important to you and your party. There are a number of reasons that someone might not want to stay directly on Disney property. Staying at a Disney Resort may not be ideal, and there are other options if you’re looking for something different.
Disney partners with local hotels, in a program called “Good Neighbor Hotels”. These offer a different type of accommodation, while also giving you some of the perks of staying on property. Good Neighbor hotels offer transportation to Disney parks and have guest services desks to assist you with any of your WDW questions. However, whether or not transportation is complimentary depends on each location. Transportation schedules and destinations also vary by location so it’s important to make sure that their schedule lines up with your needs. For example, some shuttles only go to Magic Kingdom, making it more difficult to get to the other three parks.
The Swan and Dolphin Resort is another special location. It is owned and operated by Marriott, but is located inside Disney property, near EPCOT and Hollywood Studios. Guests can use their Marriott rewards points here, while taking advantage of the proximity to the parks and extra perks like boat transport to EPCOT.
To Stay or Not to Stay
It’s important to consider the perks of staying on property when booking your Disney vacation. The benefits provided by a Disney Resort can add a lot of value and extra magic to make your trip even more enjoyable.
Do you prefer to stay on property when traveling to WDW? Let us know in the comments!
About The Writer
Hi, I’m Katherine Pesce! I’m based just outside of Raleigh, North Carolina. With over 20 years of experience in the Disney parks, I’ll make sure you have everything you need, plus lots of tips and tricks to make your experience all the more magical. Whether you’re looking for a relaxing getaway for two or a thrill-filled trip for the entire family, I can help you create the vacation of your dreams. All you’ll have to worry about is what to pack!
You can find me on social media at @diznkatherine, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.