6 of the Best Disney Resort Amenities
The Walt Disney Company does everything possible to entice guests to stay onsite. Many of their resort amenities are the envy of the hospitality industry. In fact, it’s hard to choose which ones are the best. I’m about to try, though. Here are six of the best Disney resort amenities.
You aren’t simply staying at a hotel when you stay at an official Disney property. Intentionally or not, you’re committing to a theme. Every Disney hotel possesses its own storyline, one that the hotel’s designers have carefully integrated into the very fabric of the campus.
At Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort, you’ll see reminders of the South Seas wherever you go. And the gentle island vibe will relax you during a hectic vacation. At Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, you’ll enter a zoo of sorts. Your room may include a view of zebras playing in a natural habitat. At Disney’s Port Orleans – French Quarter, every day feels like Mardi Gras.
Thanks to their focused vision for the design of each property, Imagineers have created roughly 20 different hotels, each of which feels like it’s located in an entirely different time and place. Thanks to this stylistic choice, you can vary your vacation every time merely by staying at a different hotel. The Disney resort amenities at the resorts are incredible.
One vacation, you’ll walk back in time to an era when everyone hung out at the Boardwalk. On your next trip, you can feel like you’re living in 19th century Saratoga Springs. It’s something that no other hotel chain in the world offers.
When you’re at a Disney theme park, you WILL want to buy stuff. Merchandising is the most underrated part of the Disney empire. While people obsess on park attendance and blockbuster movie box office, Disney stores continue to clean up with ridiculous profit margins on their products. One of my favorite Disney statistics is that Cars is a $10 billion franchise, and nobody realizes it. That’s how much Disney has made in toy sales…and that number is from 2011!
I use this example to point out that when you’re in the parks, you’re going to spend money on merch. The problem is that when you’re in the parks, you don’t want to lug around merch all afternoon. Sure, you can get a locker, but that decision forces you to traipse back and forth all afternoon, adding an annoying number of steps to an already-hectic day.
When you stay at a Disney resort, you get a bonus amenity. You get to ship your purchase back to the hotel. For free. Better yet, you don’t have to do anything. Disney has a system in place for these transactions.
You’ll simply tell the cast member that you want your item sent directly to the hotel. Then, you’ll feel out a form. The following day, you’ll receive a phone call in your hotel room verifying that your item is available for pick-up. Then, you’ll walk to the hotel store and get it. The process is seamless and saves you a lot of aggravation during your trip. This is one of the most conventient of all Disney resort amenities.
Who doesn’t love to take a dip in the pool during a vacation? Your standard Olympic size swimming pool is perfectly satisfactory at a standard hotel. When you’re at Disney, however, you expect more. And you get it!
Disney resorts have such spectacularly themed pools that they’re almost dangerous to your trip. You’ll have so much fun swimming that you’re at risk of losing track of time. You may find yourself short on park time because you accidentally spend two or three hours at the pool!
Don’t laugh. I’ve done this. In my defense, Stormalong Bay at Disney’s Beach Club Resort is basically a water park that happens to be close to the hotel lobby.
Free Park Transportation
While all Disney resorts are glorious cathedrals where you’ll want to spend a lot of time, you’re visiting for the theme parks. Disney executives understand this and do everything possible to get you to the parks quickly and efficiently.
The transportation you’re most likely to use is the bus system. When you’re at a hotel that has a waterway, however, you’ll have boating options, too. The best of the best is better than either of those vehicles, though. It’s the monorail system, a system of travel so closely linked to Disney theme parks that people find excuses to ride it during their trips. How many other hotels in the world have free monorail access?
Extra Magic Hours
Everyone has a favorite Disney resort amenity. Extra Magic Hours is mine. With this benefit, you receive rare park access each day. Disney rewards their loyal guests staying onsite by giving them an extra hour in one of the parks every day. On some days, you can even double up with a morning AND evening Extra Magic Hours option.
Extra Magic Hours is easy to understand. Let’s say that Disney’s Hollywood Studios ordinarily opens at 9 a.m. On days when it has Extra Magic Hours, it will open at 8 a.m. This window is only open to Disney resort guests, though. For evenings when Hollywood Studios regularly closes at 9 p.m., Extra Magic Hours keeps the park open until 10 p.m.
To use Extra Magic Hours, you simply need to show up at the park early or stay when the park has technically reached closing time. You’ll get in line for the various attractions that interest you, at which point a cast member will check your Magic Band to verify that you’re staying at a Disney resort.
An extra hour may not seem like much, but clever park guests know how to maximize this time. You can ride one of the most popular attractions like Avatar Flight of Passage, Slinky Dog Dash, or Frozen Ever After without having to wait in a full line. The only other guests in the line queue are also staying at Disney resorts. My rough estimate is that the parks are only 20 percent as full during Extra Magic Hours, a huge boon to you.
Movies under the Stars
This one appeals to the romantic in me. Like everyone else, I grew up watching Disney movies. Their animated classics define not just my childhood but almost the entirety of my life.
Thanks to Movies under the Stars, I get to watch some of the classics in a new and different way. It’s a public projection screen showing of Disney classics, one that takes place out on the grass of a resort lawn. People bring blankets and picnic baskets to camp out during the films, creating a familial vibe that reminds us that our mutual love of Disney is what unites us.
It’s a genteel way to wrap up the evening. Plus, Disney shows current releases soon after they’re available on home video, meaning that you’ll sometimes see a film for the first time at Movies under the Stars.
When you think about planning your next Disney vacation, make sure to take these wonderful Disney resort amenties into considertaion when selecting your resort. You’ll be so glad you did!