If your family is planning a Walt Disney World vacation, you may be tempted to stay at a hotel outside of the resort. The thing is there are so many benefits to staying at the park. Whether it’s the earlier and later access to the park or extending the magic, there are many reasons to stay at a Disney Resort. We will also look at 9 tips for for choosing your perfect Walt Disney World Resort for your family.
6 Reasons to Stay at a Disney Resort
Finding the perfect resort for your Disney vacation should never be stressful. Planning for your Disney extravaganza should be as memorable and fun as the trip to see the world’s most famous Mouse.
1. Earlier Access to Reservations
When you choose to stay at a Disney resort, you’re able to book FastPass+ reservations 60 days prior to arrival for the entire duration of your stay (up to 14 days). Those staying outside of Disney can only reserve their FastPass 30 days prior to each park day. This can make a huge difference in the attractions and times you are able to reserve. Some of the most popular attractions such as Avatar’s Flight of Passage will surely not be available at 30 days or have very little time choices.
2. Extra Magic Hours!
Resort guests also get the benefit of enjoying parks earlier or later into the evening. The schedule for which parks will open earlier or stay open later changes. However, this can make a huge difference in how much you get to experience at the Disney park. Being able to get into a park one hour earlier than others or stay up to two hours later can give your family so much more time for everything on your bucket list. Everyday there is at least 1 park that either opens early or closes late.
The ability to pop back to your room for a nap, swim or even a snack makes staying at a Disney resort a must. Imagine being able to put the little ones down for a nap. That’s not something you can easily do when you’re staying outside of Disney. This can make a trip to Disney much more enjoyable. After all, every parent knows the struggles of missing naptime.
4. The Pixar Play Zone (The Children Activity Centres are shutting down on August 1, 2018. This is the only one remaining open. This service is not just available to guests staying at a Disney hotel)
Children ages 4-12 can enjoy a Pixar-packed evening of fun, games and Character encounters at Disney’s Contemporary Resort. This kids-only experience from 6 pm to 10:30 pm also includes dinner and dessert! This centre allow parents to drop off their children and go experience the parks for themselves. If you want a bit of alone time, but don’t want your kids to miss out, this is perfect. You may even want to take advantage of this service a few times during your vacation. Reserving in advance is strongly recommended as space is limited.
No driving required, except for the Tomorrowland Speedway! No matter where you want to go on resort, Disney has bus (mostly), boat, or monorail services to get you there. They even offer a complimentary airport shuttle, Disney’s Magical Express, that will bring you to your resort with the option of letting them take your luggage directly from the plane to your room.
6. The Magic
Last, but not least, staying at the park enhances the magical experience. Going to sleep in a Disney resort room is simply magical for children. The more you spend on a room, the more decorative of a room you can expect. In other words, the value resorts aren’t as magical as some of the higher end resorts. If you want your children to have a room that’s as fun as the park, you’ll have to pay a bit more.
Now, let’s look at some tips for choosing a Disney resort!
9 Tips for Choosing a Walt Disney World Resort
Sporty, ultra-modern, elegant, exotic, and even a bit wild, the diversely-styled resorts at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida provide their guests with a magical escape from reality. With 23 individually-themed resorts, how do you choose the one that will make your wishes come true?
1. Know Your Traveling Party
How many kids will be in your group? All Disney resorts welcome children but some are better for younger kids, teens, and families on a budget. For example, if your party includes two children under the age of ten that love any game played with a ball, The All-Star Sports Resort would be a great choice and is suited to a young family’s budget. Larger families may like the Disney’s Beach Club Villa Resort with extra living space and kitchen accommodations. For a romantic stay, try the Grand Floridian Resort and Spa or a cozy hideaway for two at the Caribbean Beach Resort. Is your group a bit wild and loves all creatures great and small? The Animal Kingdom Lodge offers a late afternoon safari tour followed by dinner at its famous Jiko restaurant, but these special is only available to guests staying at the Animal Kingdom Lodge.
2. Determine Your Vacation Dates
If you are visiting Walt Disney World during the Value Season (usually Jan. 1-Feb. 13, Aug. 3-Oct.1, or Nov. 30-Dec. 18), resort prices are at their lowest and you might be able to upgrade to another resort that in the Peak or Holiday Season would not fit your budget. If you are planning a trip during the winter holidays, be sure to book far in advance as some resorts will book quickly during that season.
3. Disney Resorts To Choose From
Disney offers four price levels of resorts and each resort has complimentary resort transportation, Disney’s Magical Express Service, and extra Magic Hours to all resort guests.
Value Resorts: Big on everything but small on price. They include the following themed resorts: PopCentury, All-Star Movies, All-Star Sports, and All-Star Music.
Moderate Resorts: With amazing themed pools, slides, and recreation activities these include The Caribbean Beach Resort, Coronado Springs, Port Orleans French Quarter and Riverside. The Cabins at Disney’s Fort Wilderness are also included as a Moderate Resort.
Deluxe Resorts: These include Animal Kingdom Lodge , The Wilderness Lodge, The Grand Floridian Resort and Spa. Other Deluxe Resorts include The Contemporary, Disney’s Beach or Yacht Club Resorts, Disney’s Boardwalk Inn, and The Polynesian.
Deluxe Villa Resorts: Complete with kitchens or kitchenettes and extra living space, these six Villa resorts offer guests the comforts of home with the magic of Disney. They include the Animal Kingdom Villa, Saratoga Springs Resort and Spa, Old Key West, Beach Club Villas, Boardwalk Villas, and the Villas at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge.
Camping: Camping is available at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Campgrounds.
4. Location Location Location
Online you can check out the map of the Walt Disney World properties and see the locations of each resort in comparison to each theme park. If you know your family is going to spend most of your stay visiting the Magic Kingdom, check out the resorts located in that area: Disney’s Contemporary, Fort Wilderness, The Grand Floridian, The Polynesian, The Wilderness Lodge, or the Villas at The Wilderness Lodge. If your Disney vacation is a romantic holiday, you may enjoy the southern charm of the Port Orleans Resorts with their direct boat service down the Sassagoula River to Disney Springs and its fantastic dining, shopping, and evening entertainment.
5. Virtual Tours
Gather the family around the computer and take virtual tours of each Disney resort online to get a feel for each unique theme and style.
6. Get Recommendations
Talk to several different people and hear which Disney Resort they enjoy most. Talk to friends, family, and especially The Reservation Specialists at (407) 939-1936. You can call and talk to a Disney Reservation Specialist even before you are ready to book your trip. The Reservation Specialists are always helpful and will offer recommendations on resorts and pricing options.
7. Read Reviews
A valuable resource for information on how to find your perfect Disney resort is just a click away at Plan Disney. This site is home to the Disney Moms and Dads Panel and they are there to provide insight and information on Disney vacations. At the site you can read reviews and even post your questions.
Determine which amenities is a must-have for a magic visit. All resort rooms are air-conditioned, have cable/Satellite TV and internet access. Pak-n-Play cribs are available and each room is non-smoking. Each resort offers in-room babysitting, housekeeping, voice mail, wake-up calls and is wheelchair accessible. For a complete list of resort features on an easy to read comparison chart, check out the Disney Resorts page.
9. Visit Other Resorts
During your Disney vacation, stop by the other resorts and see first-hand if they might be your choice for your next Disney vacation. Talk to other guests in line while you’re waiting to visit the Haunted Mansion. Ask which resort they’re at and what they like about it.
There are many reasons to stay at a Disney resort. Not only do you not have to worry about driving to the park, but you also don’t have to worry about the traffic jams when trying to leave. There’s also the ability to book rides well in advance and leave your children in the care of others so that you can enjoy some alone time with your spouse. There is even an entire specialized profession (Authorized Disney Vacation Planner) that will help you plan the whole thing, like OMC Blogger, Jeremie from Pure Magic Vacations. Families should experience staying at a Disney resort at least once!
Disney Magical Express Photo credit: Jeremie Laviolette at Pure Magic Vacations