8 Fun Benefits of Staying at a Disney World Resort

Benefits of staying at a Disney World Resort: Donaldo at All-Star Music Halloween Party

Walt Disney World is our happy place. There’s nothing like driving under those famous arches to let us know we’ve officially arrived to the parks! Truth? We do enjoy staying both onsite and offsite. While there are advantages of offsite lodging (budget pricing, larger rooms), we can’t help but admit there are amazing perks of staying at a Walt Disney World resort. From pixie dust to morning calls from Disney characters, here are eight benefits of staying at a Disney World Resort.

Benefits of staying at a Disney World Resort: Gorgeous resrts
The massive lobby at Fort Wilderness Lodge in Walt Disney World. Photo Credit: Karyn Locke

 

  1. No Transportation Worries
  2. Option of Adding the Disney Dining Plan
  3. Character Wake-Up Calls
  4. The Disney Bubble
  5. Extra Magic Hours
  6. Early Access to FastPass+ Planning
  7. Free MagicBands
  8. Free Package Delivery to Your Resort

As a family that visits Walt Disney World a few times a year, we’ve stayed both onsite and off-property. While, both have their perks, the benefits of staying at a Disney World Resort are plentiful. Here are my top reasons to consider staying on-property. 

1. No Transportation Worries

WDW for First timers Transportation Monorail first Walt Disney World Trip
The famous Walt Disney World Monorail at Ticket and Transportation Center. Photo Credit: Karyn Locke

This perk is twofold: if you fly in to the Orlando International Airport and are staying at an onsite resort, Disney’s Magical Express will pick you up when you arrive, grab your luggage, load it, carry you to your resort, drop you off, and even unload your luggage and have it sent to your room- for free! If you choose to drive in (this is our main means of getting to WDW), you can park your car in the resort parking lot and leave it there. Please keep in mind that WDW does now charge an overnight fee to park in one of its resort lots and it’s anywhere from $13, $19, or $24 per night depending on which resort tier you choose. 

Not staying onsite? You can rent a car at the airport or drive to the parks- or use Lyft or Uber. Parking fees at the time this article was published are $25 per car if you’re not an Annual Passholder.

 

2. Option to Add the Disney Dining Plan

Benefits of staying at a Disney World Resort: 'Ohana at Walt Disney World shrimp skewers
All the grilled shrimp at “Ohana, a sit down-style restaurant in Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort.

There are folks on either side of the Disney Dining Plan (DDP) coin, but for my family it works well sometimes. I love paying for our meals ahead of time and not worrying about budgeting for them once we arrive. If you plan your vacation around free dining offers (they are a great deal!), you’ll save some serious cash. If you purchase the plan (or receive it complimentary with a special offer package), you’re able to schedule your advanced dining reservations at 180 days away from the first day of your vacation.

Not staying onsite? Pay for meals out of pocket.

Is the DDP for you? Check out this post that weighs both sides of the Disney Dining Plan.

 

3. Character Wake-up Calls

We love taking advantage of this onsite perk: Call the front desk and ask for a character wake-up call! Although you won’t get to choose which character will phone your room, you will get an extra smile in the morning- and you’ll make sure you don’t sleep in.

Not staying onsite? Ask your resort front desk for a standard wake-up call.

4. The Disney Bubble

Benefits of staying at a Disney World Resort: fun resort pools
All-Star Music’s Main Pool area. Photo Credit: Karyn Locke

There’s nothing like leaving the world behind for a few days and thinking of nothing but Disney! Walt Disney World is our happy place for sure, and the ability to drive under those famous Disney arches and forget about the world for a few days is priceless. Whether it’s a Value Resort or a Deluxe one, we love the submersion, aka escapism that they provide.

Not staying onsite? You can still have an amazing vacation with offsite resorts!

5. Extra Magic Hours

Benefits of staying at a Disney World Resort: Extra Magic Hours Magic Kingdom
Nightly fireworks at Magic Kingdom. Photo Credit: Karyn Locke

Each day, Walt Disney World schedules Extra Magic Hours at at least one theme park for guests staying onsite at WDW resorts. Disney transportation runs early (or late depending it they’re in the morning or at night) and it’s a great way to hop on those super popular rides that always have lengthy queues. Check the official schedule before you go so you can figure out which parks to hit on which days.

Not staying onsite? You have to obey each park’s opening and closing times.

6. Early access to Fastpass+ Planning

Benefits of staying at a Disney World Resort: Early FastPass planning
Check the Extra Magic Hours in the My Disney Experience app – on-property guests receive early access to planning FastPasses.

Staying onsite at Walt Disney World allows you to schedule FastPass+ selections at 60 days out plus a 10-day grace period. Head to the official Walt Disney World website and sign up for a My Disney Experience account to choose selections.

Not familiar with My Disney Experience? From dining to resorts to photos, here are the 11 best My Disney Experience tips and hacks. 

Confused? So was I at first, so here’s an example. Let’s say I’m visiting WDW in October and my check-in date is October 1st. 60 days before my check-in date of October 1st I can begin choosing FP+ selections for 10 days in a row.

Not staying onsite? With valid theme park admission it’s 30 days out. If you’re an Annual Passholder you can choose selections at 30 days out as well unless you’re staying onsite- then it’s 60 days out.

Planning your Disney World vacation and not sure whether to stay on-property or not? Here are eight fun benefits of staying at a Disney World Resort! #Disney #DisneyPlanning #Travel #FamilyTravel #Orlando #VisitOrlando #VisitFL #WDW

7. Free MagicBands

Benefits of staying at a Disney World Resort: Free MagicBands
Free Magicbands when staying at a Walt Disney World Resort is just one of the perks of staying onsite. Photo Credit: The Kid.

With a Walt Disney World room reservation, each member of your traveling party will receive a free standard  MagicBand. At this point there’s seven cool colors to choose from, and the bands can be personalized on the inside to include a name- great for when members of the same traveling party select the same color.

Not staying onsite? You can use your theme park ticket for entrance and FastPass+ selections or purchase a MagicBand in the parks.

We all love the benefits of MagicBands, but do you know the no-nos? Here are five things NOT to do with Disney’s MagicBands. 

8. Package Delivery to Resort Rooms

All Star Music Resort Premium Room exterior

One of our favorite perks of staying onsite is the ability to have our purchases sent directly to our resort room. The Kid loves saving up her money throughout the year to spend it all on souvenirs, and it’s a snap to ask to have it sent to our chosen resort. There is a catch- you can have packages delivered to your resort up to the day before your last day onsite as it takes an entire day to get them there.

Not staying onsite? Carry your purchases or rent a locker and store them.

 

What are your favorite benefits to staying at a Disney World Resort? Please let me know in the comment section below!

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3 Thoughts to “8 Fun Benefits of Staying at a Disney World Resort”

  1. PegP

    If planning a trip to Disney World, really (and I mean REALLY) look at the cost of the Disney Dining Plan. Unless you’re going to do a lot of buffet meals, you’ll lose money. A lot of money! We went in October and didn’t do any character meals this visit. I figured out what the meals would cost us at each place we intended to dine at, and found that if I didn’t get the dining plan, I’d save over $300! And that’s just for one adult and one child! Now I’ll save even more because my child is 10, which means she has to be on their adult dining plan. She obviously doesn’t drink alcohol (added in 2018) and she still only eats the kids’ meals, so the cost of the dining plan far exceeds what we’d pay out of pocket. You really only get your money’s worth if you plan on doing a lot of character meals because they’re very pricey.

    Also, even if you don’t get the dining plan, you can still make your ADRs 6 months ahead of time. You don’t have to have the plan in order to do that. You make them in the same way you would if you had the plan and the reservations are still linked to your MyDisney account.

    I’d also caution to check the price of their “free” dining plan. It’s not really free. If you choose to get the dining plan, you won’t get a room discount. There’s usually specials throughout the year (except for peak periods) that offer up to 25% off a room. With the “free” dining plan, you can only get the Quick Service plan if you book at a value or moderate resort. You only get the regular dining plan (one table and one quick service meal) if booking at a deluxe or deluxe villa resort. And you don’t get nearly the choice of times for your vacation. It’s pretty much only offered during peak hurricane season right when the kids have gone back to school. The resort discounts vary monthly.

    So check carefully and you might find that the dining plan isn’t as cost-effective as you thought, which is important when budgeting for an expensive vacation like Disney. Also check Disney’s other specials and you might find that the “free” dining plan offer isn’t really free.

  2. […] seems like a good idea at first: you plan an “away from the park” day at Walt Disney World so you and the family can spend some precious hours to relax and recharge, but, after only a few […]

  3. Great Article. Loved your piece. This is really helpful for me and i guess it will be for everyone as well.

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