Top 5 Reasons to Stay On-Site at a Walt Disney World Resort Hotel
The Orlando theme park area contains multiple hotel options for various budgets and offer a variety of enticing amenities. However, staying at a Disney World Resort hotel (“on-site”) while enjoying a Walt Disney World Resort vacation is still worth considering. In addition to the immersive theming of a Disney Resort hotel, on-site options offer a variety of complimentary benefits that can significantly enhance a visit to the Walt Disney World Resort theme parks. At the time of publication, all of the following benefits are available for guests who stay at a Disney Resort hotel.
Here are my top 5 reasons to Stay On-Site at a Walt Disney World Resort Hotel:
5) Free Airport Transportation
All resort guests who stay at an on-site Disney Resort hotel will receive complimentary Magical Express airport transportation. Upon arrival at Orlando International Airport, guests are whisked away to their resort on an air-conditioned motor coach located conveniently outside the terminal. This hassle-free transportation system removes the stress of locating a rental car and navigating the congested Orlando highway system of I-4 and International Drive. Further, guests who utilize Magical Express transportation can bypass baggage claim as their tagged bags will be automatically delivered to the room the day of arrival.
4) Complimentary MagicBands
This all-in-one device, or MagicBand, is a flexible wrist-band which is worn by all traveling parties throughout the vacation. The MagicBand is flexible, waterproof, and comfortable. It carries your ticket, wallet, resort reservation, dining reservations, PhotoPass photos, credit card, FastPass+ reservations, and so much more. It even serves as your resort room key! Disney’s MagicBands connects all the information contained within a guest’s My Disney Experience account to an all-in-one device. With MagicBands, touring the parks becomes simpler and more streamlined. When the check comes at dinner, there is no longer a need to open the wallet and look for cash or credit. Just scan your MagicBand. When entering the park, guests no longer need to dig through their park bag for tickets. Just scan the MagicBand. Looking for your room key? Not anymore! Just scan that MagicBand. As of this article’s publication, MagicBands are available for any guest of the Walt Disney World Resort for a fee of around $23. An average family of four would need to shell out almost $100 to purchase magic bands for their trip. However, guests staying on-site at a Disney Resort hotel get them for FREE!
3) Extra Magic Hours
Guests who stay at a select Disney Resort hotel receive an additional perk for staying on-site. Each day, at least one theme park opens 1 hour early or stays open up to 2 hours later than normal operating hours. This additional time, called Extra Magic Hours, is included with a stay at select Disney Resort hotels. Guests who arrive early to take advantage of morning Extra Magic Hours are rewarded with a less congested theme park, allowing them to enjoy popular attractions with minimal waits. For those night owls who like to stay up late, an additional 2 hours of touring time can provide ample opportunity to enjoy the theme park late in the evening with less crowds.
2) Free In-Room Delivery of Theme Park Purchases
Walt Disney World Resort offers multiple shopping options throughout the theme parks. Many of the products offered in the park can be unique to a particular attraction or location within the theme park. My favorite spot to look for souvenirs is Memento Mori in the Magic Kingdom. This gorgeously themed shop sells the most amazing merchandise themed around the Haunted Mansion attraction! On prior vacations, I have located the perfect souvenir at a theme park but debated about whether to buy it. Who wants to carry a souvenir around all day? And leaving it in a stroller or placing it in my park bag could result in damage. And if I wait until I leave the park, the shop may be located in a completely different area from where I am located! Guests staying at a Disney Resort hotel are provided an additional benefit which solves all of these issues! For no additional charge, guests staying on-site receive complimentary in-room delivery of theme park purchases. When checking out at a merchandise location, simply tell the cast member at the register that you would like the items delivered to your room and they will take care of the rest. Then … like Disney Magic … your purchases are there when you get back to the room. It’s simple, convenient, and hassle-free.
1) Early FastPass+ Booking
FastPass+ is a ride reservation which allows guests with valid theme park tickets to reserve ride times for up to three attractions at one theme park in advance of their visit. This system allows savvy visitors to reserve premium attractions, minimizing waits upon arrival at the Walt Disney World Resort theme parks. Only a specified number of FastPass+ reservations are available for each attraction/experience on a given day. Once they are gone, the only option to enjoy that attraction is to wait in line. Certain attractions are almost always guaranteed a wait due to newness or popularity. However, with an advance FastPass+ reservation, guests can skip the line and ride those same popular attractions with minimal wait.
For example, Peter Pan’s Flight is a popular attraction in the Magic Kingdom Theme Park. It is nostalgic, fun, and appealing to multiple age groups. Further, it uses an omni-mover ride loading system with a flying ship that holds 2-4 guests, depending on size. Unless you visit the ride within the first 30 minutes of park opening, during a parade, or at park closing, expect a wait. Accordingly, selecting a FastPass+ reservation for Peter Pan is a great FastPass+ option due to its popularity. Further, guests tend to flock to the newest rides at the Walt Disney World Resort theme park. The most recent attraction at Animal Kingdom – Flight of Passage – has garnered praise from guests and theme park experts as immersive and revolutionary. Attempting to redeem a Flight of Passage FastPass+ reservation has become virtually impossible, and will continue to be difficult until the newness of the ride fades. It is important for guests to understand that “the early bird gets the worm.” Thus, those who have an earlier booking window will be more likely to obtain these coveted FastPass+ reservations.
So … who gets the head start? On-site guests, of course! For guests staying at a Disney Resort property, reservations can be made up to 60 days in advance. This is one month EARLIER than guests staying off-site. I would bet a Mickey Bar AND a Dole Whip that guests with a FastPass+ reservation for the most popular attractions booked a stay on-site at a Disney Resort property. For guests (like myself) who dislike an unnecessary wait, being able to reserve FastPass+ reservations 60 days in advance is the number 1 reason to stay at a Walt Disney World Resort hotel.
In conclusion, most guests report that the biggest draw of staying at an off-site hotel is the rate per night cost savings. However, additional costs for guests staying off-site (such as airport transportation, rental car fees, parking charges, and MagicBand expenses) will quickly dwindle those savings away. Combine that with the intrinsic value available to on-site guests through early FastPass+ bookings and ExtraMagic Hours, staying on-site is worth consideration!
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