When deciding on a resort it is important to realize all of the different benefits you get when staying in a property that is owned and operated by Disney World. Disney has resorts in four distinct categories, Value, Moderate, Deluxe, and Deluxe Villas, and each of those categories offers all of the benefits that we have listed below. As always, make sure you comment below if you have any questions and one of us will be by to help out.
- Location, Location, Location! – One of our top reasons to stay on property when visiting Walt Disney World is the location and ease of getting to the theme parks. Instead of the hassle of driving, parking, riding the tram, and all of the other steps involved when staying off-site when you stay on-site you are just a bus, monorail, or boat ride away from the theme parks. The Disney Transportation system is not perfect, but for the most part the location of being on Disney property is a great positive.
- Flexibility of the Booking – One great positive to staying in Disney World hotels is the flexibility you will have when making a booking as well as making changes along the way. The easiest way to take advantage of this is to use a travel agent specializing in Disney travel, like our friends at Big Dreams Travel, but this is a positive when booking on your own as well. First, the deposit on any package reservation is only $200 per room and the balance is not due until 30 days prior to your trip. This is a major improvement over many online booking agencies such as Priceline or Travelocity. Add to it that the $200 deposit if fully refundable and/or changeable up until that 30 day mark. So if you want to cancel, change resorts, apply a discount, or anything else you are free to do so until the final payment date. We think this is a huge benefit to staying and booking in a Disney Resort as it allows you a lot of flexibility when planning and gives you the chance to not be locked in to one single rate. Do keep in mind there are some differences when booking a room only reservation, with no park tickets included, but most of the rules are the same. The first major differences is that the final payment is not due until check in (Unless you book online at DisneyWorld.com then your final payment date is 30 days in advance of the trip date). The other difference is that with a room only reservation the deposit is equal to one night’s room rate instead of $200. Other than that most policies are the same. We do still recommend using a travel agent who can help you through all of the ins and outs of a Disney package or room only booking.
- It’s All in the Theme – Another of our favorite reasons for staying in a Disney resort is that you get to be completely immersed in the theme of a Disney resort, known to us Disney nerds as the “Disney Bubble”. The theming of Disney resorts are above and beyond anything off-property and it just makes you feel like you are on vacation.
- You Mean I Am Actually Saving Money – Although the price of staying in a Disney resort is often higher than staying off-site you do get some features that could actually save you some money on your vacation. First, due to the free use of Disney’s Magical Express as well as the Disney Transportation System you can save on the cost of a rental car as well as gas money while in Orlando. When staying off-site it is almost impossible to do a trip without renting a car which can cost $250 or more for the week. Add that $250 to the cost of gas while you are in Orlando as well as $20 per day to park at the theme parks you could have an expense of close to $400 for transportation which you save when staying in a Disney Resort. This is an area you must look closely at when planning a trip and see where the biggest bang for your buck is.
- Disney’s Magical Express – One great feature of staying at Disney World is the added feature of free use of the Disney’s Magical Express service.
- Extra Magic Hours – Disney really markets the use of Extra Magic Hours when staying at their resorts. We don’t actually recommend the use of this time a whole lot, but it is still a nice program when every day one park opens an hour early or stays open two hours late for only Disney resort guests.
- Use of the Dining Plan – Another benefit many people enjoy that is only available when staying on-site is the availability of the Disney Dining Plan, which in effect allows you to purchase your meals as part of your vacation package. Disney will market that the dining plan saves you money and it certainly has the ability to do that, but we do urge you to make sure you consider your family’s eating habits to figure out whether or not it is right for you.
- Uniqueness of Repeat Trips – This final reason we love Disney resorts is that when staying in these resorts complete with their fantastic themes you can take repeat trips to Disney World, but it feels like a completely different vacation destination. You can stay in a Caribbean Beach Resort on one trip and then return the next time to a relaxing stay in the Pacific Northwest at Wilderness Lodge. We feel that repeat trips being a unique experience for a family is a great positive for Disney Resorts.
Please leave a comment or question below about this topic and a “Mouse Dreamer” will be by to answer your question as soon as we can.