Choosing a resort hotel is one of the most important decisions you'll make when planning a Walt Disney World Resort® vacation. Not only does your resort choice affect the overall price of your vacation, but it also can affect many other aspects of your trip. While the price can make it tempting to stay at hotels off Disney property, I often recommend clients stay on-property for a Disney vacation. No matter which Disney resort you choose to stay at, you'll receive many added benefits only available to guests staying at a Walt Disney World Resort hotel. These resort exclusive benefits will make your vacation experience more magical, and in some cases, actually help to reduce costs for your vacation!
If you've ever tried to secure a FastPass+ reservation for the popular Seven Dwarfs Mine Train at Magic Kingdom Park®, you know it's important to book your FastPasses as soon as possible. Guests staying on-property are able to make their FastPass+ reservations 60 days prior to their arrival. Many guests do take advantage of this early access to FastPass+ reservations to ensure they are able to get reservations at their favorite Disney attractions. Often FastPass+ times go very quickly. The most popular attractions are often completely booked late in the day 60 days ahead of time.
Guests staying off-property are not able to make their FastPass+ reservations until 30 days prior to arrival. Because most of the guests staying on Disney property will have already made their FastPass+ selections, this means guests staying off-property may have difficulties finding FastPass+ times available for some of the extremely popular new attractions such as Frozen Ever After or Avatar Flight of Passage.
MagicBand wristbands are essentially the key to your Walt Disney World Resort vacation. These bands serve as the key to your Disney resort hotel room. They are your theme park and water park tickets. MagicBands also store your FastPass+ reservations, as well as, your Disney Dining Plan. Should you decide to set it up, your MagicBand can also be used to charge purchases to your resort hotel.
Guests of Disney resort hotels will have the opportunity to select one of eight colored MagicBands for their resort stay. The bands are available in gray, red, orange, yellow, green, blue, pink, and purple. MagicBands can also be customized with the guest's name on the back. Once you have customized your MagicBand in My Disney Experience, your complimentary MagicBands will be shipped to your home approximately 10 days prior to your vacation.
Guests staying off-property are able to purchase MagicBands for their vacation. The cost for solid color Magic Bands is $12.99. Additional designs featuring characters, attractions, and special events are also available to guests staying both on and off-property. Prices for these themed MagicBands vary by design and can reach up to $32.99 per MagicBand.
Disney Dining Plans are another added benefit of staying at a Walt Disney World Resort hotel. While these dining plans may not be complimentary like the other benefits of staying on-property, they are only available to guests staying on Disney property. When booking your Walt Disney World Resort vacation package, you will have the option to add one of three Disney Dining Plans for all guests in your party. When you add a Disney Dining Plan to your vacation package, you'll be able to dine at the Disney parks and resorts without having to worry about the cost, as it's already been taken care of. Just use your complimentary MagicBand to pay for your meals! With three different dining plans to choose from, the Disney Dining Plans are designed to fit a variety of budgets and appetites. Depending on how much your family likes to eat, the Disney Dining Plans can be a great way to save money on your Disney vacation.
When you choose to stay at a Walt Disney World Resort hotel, you will receive complimentary transportation between the airport and resort, as well as, between your resort and just about anywhere you may want to go on Disney property. Disney's Magical Express service can be added to your vacation package for free. These Mickey-themed buses will take you from Orlando International Airport to your resort and from your resort back to the airport when it's time to return home.
Once you've arrived at your Walt Disney World Resort hotel, you'll find Disney buses there to take to almost anywhere you may want to go on Disney property. The buses run on average about every 15 - 20 minutes. They will take you to the theme parks, water parks, and Disney Springs. Buses from these locations will be there to take you back to your resort.
Depending on which Walt Disney World Resort hotel you have selected, there may be additional types of complimentary transportation available to you. Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, Disney's Contemporary Resort, and Disney's Polynesian Village Resort each offer monorail service to the Magic Kingdom. Resorts located on the water offer transportation by boat to various locations around Disney property.
Should you prefer to drive rather than taking the complimentary transportation, guests staying on-property also receive the benefit of complimentary parking at the Disney theme parks, water parks, Disney Springs, and resort hotels.
Spending time in the Walt Disney World Resort theme parks is one of the most magical experiences of a Disney vacation. What if you had the option to spend even more time in the parks? When you stay at a Walt Disney World Resort hotel, you'll get just that! Extra Magic Hours are additional hours the parks are open exclusively for guests staying on-property. Extra Magic Hours are offered most days at one select theme park. Extra Magic Hours take place in the morning before the park opens and also at night after the park closes. Usually Extra Magic Hours last for one hour but are sometimes longer. In addition to allowing extra time in the parks, Extra Magic Hours are a great time to take advantage of shorter wait times at many of the popular Walt Disney World Resort attractions!
Each different Walt Disney World Resort hotel has many unique things to offer guests, but all of these resorts offer wonderful benefits to add to the magic of your Disney vacation. Between the early access to FastPass+ reservations, complimentary MagicBands, Disney Dining Plan availability, complimentary transportation & parking, and Extra Magic Hours, it's hard to pass up the opportunity to stay at a Walt Disney World Resort hotel!