So you can either drive or book a flight to Orlando, but you need to know where to stay! Many people choose to stay off Disney property for a variety of reasons, but Disney gives you many “perks” for staying on property, and I would also personally recommend it.
The magical “perks” of staying on Disney property:
- Disney’s Magical Express If you fly to Walt Disney World and land at Orlando International Airport (MCO), Disney’s Magical Express (a large Disney-themed motor coach) will pick you up near the baggage claim area in the airport and take you directly to your resort for no charge. They will also grab your luggage from the baggage claim for you, so you do not have to wait for it! When you book your hotel room online through Disney, you can add this complimentary feature. They also offer a return service for when you leave.
- Bell Services “Magic Luggage” is what I call Disney’s bell services system. Once you check your luggage before your flight, you will never have to touch it again! It will “magically” appear in your resort room later that day. (With this being said, pack items you will need immediately in your carry-on and keep it with you on the Magical Express)
- Pre Check-In If you are staying on Disney property you have the option to check-in to your room before your arrival. You will be texted with your room number when your room is ready and your MagicBand works as your room key.
- Complementary MagicBands When you book your room reservation with Disney, you will be sent complementary MagicBands ($12.95 value) for everyone in your party. These MagicBands can be personalized ahead of time (name and color) and will be your BFF for your time at Disney. The MagicBand is a magical, water-proof bracelet that digitally stores your room key, credit card, dining plan, park ticket, fast passes, and photos. This allows you to travel lighter and without the stress of organization.
- Extra Magic Hours Extra Magic Hours are a benefit to only those who are staying in a Disney resort. Disney will open the park(s) either an hour early or two hours late just for resort guests. This allows you a chance to beat some of the crowds for an hour or two if you are there during the busy season. You can find out what the daily Extra Magic Hours are by checking a park Times Guide or checking with the Front Desk/Concierge at your resort.
- Extra FastPasses FastPasses allow you to “cut” in line at an attraction in the parks. You are allowed to book up to three FastPasses a day; however, if you are staying on Disney property and use all three FastPasses you booked-you are able to book one more “extra” FastPass for that day. You will also be able to make your FastPass reservations 60 days before you arrive which gives you an advantage over those not staying on property.
- Complementary Transportation & Parking Transportation is offered at all Disney resorts although depending on what level resort you are at transportation types may vary. At the minimum, every Disney resort offers bus transportation to all parks, waterparks, and Disney Springs. If you drove your own car or rented one, you have the benefit of parking at the parks for free. If you are staying in a moderate or deluxe resort, you may have other transportation options available such as boats, walking paths, or monorail (like a train).
- Room Delivery from Parks If you are a shopaholic like me, or just a sucker for Disney merchandise, then I can guarantee you that you won’t want to carry around shopping bags all day long while you are at the parks. Disney conveniently gives you the option to have items that you purchase shipped to your resort at no charge. At the end of your day, or your stay, you simply visit the gift shop in your resort and retrieve your shopping bags.
- Room Charges Your MagicBands link up to both a credit card and your room number so if you want to make a charge while on Disney property all you have to do is touch your MagicBand and enter your pin-code (you will set this up with your MagicBand). It is really that simple!
- Dining Plan Disney offers a variety of dining plans (which I will discuss later) in order to suit your family’s needs. Each resort has at least one restaurant. It is an easy way to budget for everyone’s meals and it makes it simple to order and pay. You are also given the advantage of booking dining reservations around 180 days before your vacation.
- Theming This benefit is overlooked, yet one of the greatest! Each Disney resort has its own unique theming and environment. Relax at the tropical islands of the Polynesian Village Resort, live in the African savannah at Animal Kingdom Lodge, or venture around the French Quarter at Port Orleans. With over 20 resorts to choose from, you are sure to find the perfect fit for your family-and you never have to leave the magic!
The resorts at Walt Disney World are divided into three major categories: Value, Moderate and Deluxe. Now as you can imagine, the categories vary in prices and amenities. I can assure you that no resort on property is “bad” or “cheap”. Disney cast members work extremely hard to make sure that every resort is held to a high standard of cleanliness and theming. I have found through my time at Disney, that the higher the price of the room, the more “perks” you will get staying at that resort. I have listed all the different resorts by category below, and if you want to take a closer look at each resort, check out the Explore tab. I put a star by the resorts below that I personally consider a “favorite”.
Disney’s All-Star Movies Resort
Disney’s All Star Music Resort
Disney’s All-Star Sports Resort
Disney’s Art of Animation Resort*
The Campsites at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort
Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort
Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort
Disney’s Port Orleans Resort, French Quarter*
Disney’s Port Orleans Resort, Riverside*
The Cabins at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort
Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge*
Disney’s Beach Club Resort*
Disney’s BoardWalk Inn
Disney’s Contemporary Resort
Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort*
Disney’s Wilderness Lodge*
Disney’s Yacht Club Resort
Disney’s Old Key West Resort
Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa*
Villas & Disney Vacation Club Rooms (part of the Deluxe Resorts already listed):
Bay Lake Tower at Disney’s Contemporary Resort
Jambo House at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas
Kidani Village at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas
Villas at Disney’s Beach Club
Villas at Disney’s BoardWalk
Villas & Bungalows at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort
Villas at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
Boulder Ridge Villas at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge