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Is staying on property at Disney World really worth it? Absolutely! While staying at a Disney hotel is more expensive than staying offsite, it comes with many benefits that make it worth the higher price. These benefits will save you time and headaches. For us, staying on property is a huge part of the experience. Our trip wouldn’t be the same if we didn’t stay right in the middle of the magic. Here are 12 reasons why staying on property at Disney World is worth the extra money.
1. The Disney Bubble
Disney World can completely transport you to a fantasy world. For me, it erases all my stress and problems of the real world. It lets me feel like a kid again. I don’t want to lose that feeling each night by going back to an offsite hotel. Staying in that bubble for a whole week allows me to completely recharge. I have never found another place that gives me this same sense of escape.
2. Daily Naps
A trip to Disney World can be exhausting. Not only are you getting up early and staying up late, but you are also walking a lot! So, it’s nice to be able to take a nap during the hottest part of the day. This is especially helpful when you have little ones with you. For us, daily naps are a must. Staying at a Disney hotel makes it easy to go to the parks in the morning, head back to the room for a nap and shower, and then hop back to the parks in the evenings. This isn’t as easy to do if you stay at an offsite hotel.
Walt Disney World has its own transportation system which runs to the parks, resorts, and Disney Springs. This means that when you are staying on property at Disney World, you can go anywhere you want within Walt Disney World without having to worry about traffic, getting lost, or finding a parking spot. We have rarely had to wait for more than 20 minutes for a bus. Additionally, the drop off points for the buses are much closer to the front gate than the parking lot, especially at the Magic Kingdom.
Taking Disney transportation is also part of the experience. Kids love taking the monorail and the boat. The buses always play Disney music. It has a way of getting you excited for a day at the parks.
4. Magical Express
Staying on property at Disney World also comes with free transportation to and from the Orlando airport, compliments of Disney’s Magical Express. All you have to do is give Disney your flight information. Disney will send you special luggage tags for your checked bags. When you arrive in Orlando, you can go straight to Magical Express. Disney will get your bags and deliver them to your hotel room. When it’s time to return home, you can check your luggage and get your boarding pass at your hotel. This will save you time and hassles at the airport.
Most hotels are boring. Disney hotels, however, are different. Each one has a theme which is elaborately carried out throughout the resort grounds. Some are more detailed than others. But, there is nothing standard about any of them. For my family, this is a plus because it adds to the our fun. There are also little Disney touches woven into each theme. Some are over the top, while others are cleverly hidden and almost impossible to spot.
6. Free Parking
Typically, parking at Disney World will cost you between $20-35 per day. However, if you stay at a Disney resort, you get free parking at all of the parks. The cost of daily parking and the gas you use going to and from the parks each day eats up a big portion of the money you would “save” by staying offsite at a cheaper hotel.
7. Extra Magic Hours
Each day, one of the parks will open either 1 hour early or will stay open 2 hours later for guests staying at a Disney hotel. This can greatly add to your park time and allow you to experience many of the attractions without much of a line. During morning extra magic hours, you can walk onto many rides if you take advantage of the whole hour. This can be a significant benefit.
8. Early Access to Fastpass+
With Disney’s Fastpass+, you can reserve a time to experience a particular attraction instead of waiting in line. You get three fastpasses per person per day, which you can reserve in advance of your arrival. If you are staying on property, your window for fastpass reservations opens 60 days prior to your arrival. People staying off property have to wait until 30 days prior to arrival. This may not sound like a big deal, but if your kids are dying to ride Slinky Dog Dash, that extra 30 days is huge. For more information on Fastpass+, click here.
9. Disney Dining Plan
The Disney Dining Plan is only available to those staying at a Disney resort. We love the dining plan and get it on every trip. It allows you to pre-pay for your food before arriving at Disney World. We like that we don’t have to worry about the cost of food once we get there. We eat better with the dining plan than we would without it, which my husband enjoys. Plus, who doesn’t love dessert with every meal?!?! For more information on the Disney Dining Plan, click here.
10. Online Check-in
Staying on property at Disney World allows you to check into your hotel online up to 10 days before your arrival. Then, when your room is ready on your arrival day, you will get a text or email telling you your room number. This means you can skip the front desk and go straight to your room. Talk about speeding up the check-in process! Of course, the front desk is still available if you need them.
11. Package shipments
Anther advantage to staying on property at Disney World is being able to ship packages from the parks to your hotel. It is a pain to buy a souvenir at a theme park and have to carry it around all day. For Disney’s onsite guests, if you buy something in the parks, the gift shop can ship it to your hotel for you. At the time of your purchase, you simply fill out a short form. A day or two later, you drop by the hotel gift shop at your convenience and pick up your package. This sure beats carrying a fragile snow globe around all day!
12. Character Wake-up Calls
What kid wouldn’t love a wake-up call from Mickey Mouse? If you are staying on property at Disney World, this can be a reality for your kids. That’s because at Disney hotels, the wake-up calls are made by the characters. It may be Mickey Mouse, Stitch, or even Olaf. Disney routinely rotates the character making the calls. This may not seem like much, but it can be a dream come true for a kid.
The extra cost of staying on property at Disney World isn’t as much as it seems at first blush. Once you figure in the money you save on a rental car, parking, and gas to get to and from the parks, plus add in the convenience that these Disney benefits provide, you may find that a Disney hotel is a much better deal than you thought. Before you dismiss the idea of staying at a Disney resort simply because of a higher price, take the above benefits into account. You just might find that it is worth the extra money to stay on property. For more help planning your Disney World trip, check out my step-by-step guide and my quick tips for planning your trip. Happy travels!