“My family is going to Walt Disney World, should we stay on property?”
“Are there any benefits if I choose to stay onsite?”
“If I stay offsite, will I still have a magical time?”
These are some of the most common questions I come across when people are in the beginning stages of planning their Walt Disney World vacation and deciding ultimately where to stay. I have experienced both types of vacations myself, and I cannot stress enough the benefits of staying on Disney property.
Benefits of Staying at Walt Disney World Resort Hotel
- Make FastPass+ (FP+) Reservations 60 Days in Advance — The benefits begin even before you leave for your vacation. By staying onsite, you are allowed to make FastPass+ reservations for the most popular attractions and entertainment up to 60 days in advance for the length of your stay (provided you have tickets linked to your My Disney Experience account).
- Free MagicBands — As a resort guest, you will also be sent MagicBands for your family that can be customized by color using My Disney Experience. (MagicBands are RFID enabled wristbands that act as your room key, theme park tickets, FP+ reservation access, can have charging privileges and more! I will do a post explaining MyMagic+ which includes MagicBands, My Disney Experience and FP+ soon!)
- Extra Magic Hours — Most days, a different theme park will open either 1 hour early or stay open 2 hours later than the normal posted hours. These “Extra Magic Hours” are for resort guests only so they can take advantage of many attractions with shorter wait times. You would be very surprised what you can accomplish in 1-2 hours!
- Disney Transportation plus Free Parking — The Walt Disney World Resort has a boatload (pun intended) of transportation options. The monorail, ferry/boat launches and bus system make it easy to get around the World even if you don’t have a car! No worries if you do decide to have a car on property because parking is free at all theme parks and resorts because you stay on property!
- Disney’s Magical Express — If you are traveling by air into Orlando International Airport, you may take advantage of Disney’s Magical Express, a motor coach that will take you and your luggage directly to your resort hotel and return you and all your precious belongings to the airport on your check out day. All arrangements must be made through Disney in advance and information and luggage tags are sent to you prior to departure.
- Package Shipping — There is nothing worse than having to carry heavy bags of souvenirs around all day long. If you stay on property, you can have your purchases shipped to your resort hotel’s gift shop for free to be picked up by you in the next day or two. Note that there are limits to this service dependent on your check out day to ensure enough time is allotted to get the package to your resort before you leave, but even then you can have the package shipped to a location near the theme park entrance to be picked up before you leave (the “Ship to the Front” option is available to all guests staying either on or off site).
- Disney Dining Plan option — Resort guests have the option of adding a dining plan to their vacation package. There are different plan options all of which allow you to prepay for your meals/snacks so you do not need to worry about having enough cash to cover your dining expenses. At different times during the year, Disney also sometimes offers a free dining plan to be added to new/existing vacation packages. Disney Dining Plans can only be used by those staying onsite.
- More Flexibility for Midday Breaks — Since the transportation options make it easy to get around, you can take an advantage of a midday break should you choose. Head back to your resort hotel for a dip in the pool or put the little ones down for a nap and take one yourself. Midday breaks can give you a real energy boost, especially after multiple park days and you can feel rejuvenated for an evening of fun in the parks and you can rest assured that you will be there in no time!
- Different Themes and Experiences — One of my favorite things about staying on property is that each hotel is so unique and different. They all offer a different experience/theme. For example, you can feel like you are on an African adventure, escaping to a Caribbean paradise or entering your favorite Disney movie.
- Hotel Lobby Concierge — These cast members are available to help you with any last minute planning and questions about the Walt Disney World Resort you may have. They are a great resource which you can only find if you stay onsite!
- Always Immersed in the Magic — There is something special about staying on Disney property for the duration of your vacation. From the moment you arrive, you are swept away to a whole new world, escaping reality. You are greeted by friendly, smiling faces at every turn and can truly feel like a child again.
If you are on the fence about where to stay and you have the opportunity to stay onsite, please do it! We have done both offsite and onsite vacations, and we always joke that we will never go back to staying off property, in fact, we joined the Disney Vacation Club to make sure that happens!
This is not to say, however, that if you stay off property you will not have a great time, it is just a different experience and may take a little more creative planning. One day, I will do a post about our off property experiences.
Thanks for reading!