Pros and Cons of Using Walt Disney World’s Online Check-In Service
When it comes to prepping for your Walt Disney World getaway, a question I get asked by my clients quite often is whether it pays to go through the online check-in process prior to your visit or if it’s better to wait and just officially check-in when you arrive at your Walt Disney World resort. The short answer is that you can’t go wrong with either option but there are some things to be aware of when going the online check-in route. That’s why we here at MickeyBlog thought we’d give you a quick rundown of online check-in pros and cons!
PROS Of Online Check-In Service:
Make Room Requests
Prefer to be close to the elevators, on a lower floor for easy access or close to the lobby? Online check-in is a great way to make your preferences heard. As you are going through the Online Check-in process via My Disney Experience, you’ll be able to make a few basic requests regarding where you’d like your room to be located. Guests should note that though this system DOES NOT allow you to request a specific room or building (you need to contact your Travel Agent or Disney to make this request) you are often able to select what sort of view you want, whether you want to stay on a higher or lower floor etc. Though Disney doesn’t guarantee that your specific requests will be honored, I find that more often than not they’ll do their best to accommodate your wishes!
Let Disney Know When You’ll Be Arriving
This is my favorite thing about online check-in! Though Walt Disney World doesn’t guarantee that your resort room will be ready until 3pm, you can use the online check-in tool to give the resort an indication of when you’ll be arriving on property! For those getting to the resorts early, this means that when possible, your resort will endeavour to have your room ready by the time that you arrive! By giving them a bit of warning via the online check-in process you may be able to check in before 3pm meaning more time to enjoy all your amazing resort has to offer or to drop off your things before heading to the theme parks. And if that isn’t awesome enough Disney will also use the contact details you supplied during online check-in to let you know via email or text message that your room is ready along with a map showing you where you’ll find your room! Let me tell you that there is nothing more special than getting a message with your room location while you’re driving to the resort!
Skip Those Lengthy Check-In Lines
If you’ve checked-in online, you’ve already given Disney a lot of the details they typically ask for at the front desk. This includes payment details, arrival times, room requests etc. Being able to hand over those details early means that you won’t need to set aside a lengthy period of time to queue at the check-in desk, or supply a ton of details when you arrive. Rather, you can make a stop at the Online Check-in Desk for an expedited check-in process or breeze by and head straight to your room! (More on that below!)
Bypass the Lobby and Head Straight to Your Room
If you’ve booked a Walt Disney World vacation package, in most instances you’ll receive your MagicBands well in advance. These MagicBands hold all the important details for your stay including tickets, dining reservations, Fastpasses and more! They even serve as your Walt Disney World Resort room key! Under Disney’s mobile notification service (which I spoke about above) if you get the notification that your room is ready you can bypass check-in upon arrival and head straight to your resort room. Your MagicBands serves as your room key so any member of the party can use their band to gain access to the room. This is perfect for those wanting to head straight to the pool or freshen up before heading to the parks!
Cons of Disney World’s Online Check-In Service
Room Requests May Not Always Work To Your Benefit
When it comes to Online Check-In guests do have the option of making some basic room requests as part of the process. Though this can be beneficial for those opting for a higher floor or wishing to be near the elevator, these requests at times can also be confusing. I remember requesting a landscape view at All Star Movies once only to find myself in a rather dark back corner of a building which was technically considered “landscape”. Disney HAD honored my request however I didn’t really have an understanding of what I was requesting at the time! So when making these suggestions, be careful and if you aren’t quite sure what a selection means, just leave it blank!
You May Lose That ‘Welcome Home’ Feeling
There is absolutely something to be said for the convenience of being able to go directly to your Walt Disney World resort room and bypass the often lengthy check-in process. However, many Disney regulars would agree that by doing so you sort of miss that personal touch that Disney is so renowned for! There is something super special about walking through the lobby for the first time, chatting with cast members or getting your first visit buttons as soon as you arrive. By skipping the Front Desk process you also don’t get a chance to pick up helpful documents like resort maps and activity calendars which can really enhance your visit! However, even if you bypass the lobby when you first arrive, I ALWAYS recommend that you double back on your arrival day to make sure you have everything you need for your stay (more on that in a minute!)
Your MagicBands May Not Be Linked Properly
This is the MOST COMMON complaint I get from clients who check-in online! Not visiting the front desk when you arrive at the resort can lead to occasional problems with the way that MagicBands work during your visit. Common problems can include, not having a credit card properly linked meaning you can’t charge items to your bands, the dining plan not being fully activated, or MemoryMaker not being linked to your band properly. If you wait until you arrive at the theme parks to discover that there’s a MagicBand problem then you may have to wait in the lengthy theme park guest relations line for a fix. Instead, as I mentioned above, I recommend popping by the front desk BEFORE you head to the parks for the first time to make sure everything is working properly.
Missing Out On Specific Rooms or Free Upgrades
One of the things that worry clients the most about online check-in is that you can’t request specific rooms or you may be taking yourself out of the running for a FREE upgrade! I agree that there is something pretty darn magical about getting a FREE upgrade at Disney World. In my many trips to the Mouse, sometimes I’ve been surprised by an upgrade when I check-in and other times I’ve asked only to be turned down. This little extra sprinkling of pixie dust is NEVER a given. Though going through the online check-in process may mean rolling with whatever room you’re assigned, it DOESN”T necessarily mean you’re out of the running for upgrades or room requests. For upgrades, it never hurts to stop by the front desk at your resort even if you’ve checked-in online. For specific room requests supplement your online check-in requests by contacting Disney or your travel agent prior to your visit!
For more information about the online check-in process check out this handy video from Disney:
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