There are so many decisions to make when planning a Disney World trip—where to eat, which activities to take part in (some are even free!), how to build a schedule that works for everyone in your family—but the biggest decision is definitely whether or not to stay on property.
What makes staying at a Disney resort so magical? We have 6 perks of staying at a Disney Resort that might surprise you!
Exclusive Extra Time in the Parks!
We all want to make the most of our time while on vacation and what better way than to utilize the perk of extra time in the parks!
Extra magic hours vary, so make sure you check the My Disney Experience app to see which parks are offering the additional hours during your stay. Here’s a quick way to check: On the homepage, scroll all the way down to see each park’s hours for that day. See more days by clicking “All Hours”.
Early Theme Park Entry
Guests of all Disney Resorts have access to early theme park access to select attractions, shops and dining before regular hours. Get a jump start on your day and beat the rush to your favorite attraction before regular ticketed guests arrive. Most early entries add an additional 30 minutes of park time to your day.
Extended Evening Hours
This is an exclusive perk for guests staying at Disney Deluxe Resort Hotels and Disney Deluxe Villas. Enjoy select attractions, shops and dining after regular park hours. Unlike Early Theme Park Entry, this perk usually adds about 2 hours of park time to your day. Although it is not offered at each park every day, there’s bound to be a day or two during your stay in which you can take advantage. Availability can be checked on the My Disney Experience App.
Exclusive Dining Plan Options
To ease the stress of budgeting for food while vacationing, Walt Disney World has created two Disney Dining Plans when you book your resort stay as a vacation package. Although the specifics for each differ, the biggest stress of “finding food” during your stay is essentially taken care of.
Disney Quick-Service Dining Plan
If you plan on spending most of your vacation time on-the-go jumping from park to park and attraction to attraction, this is the plan for you. Each person will enjoy two quick-service meals and 1 snack/non-alcoholic drink per night of stay plus 1 resort-refillable mug.
Disney Dining Plan
This dining plan is perfect for the family who enjoys sit down meals, themed/character dining and savoring the many unique cuisines of the Walt Disney World Resort. Each person will enjoy one quick-service meal, 1 table-service meal and 1 snack/non-alcoholic drink per night of stay plus 1 resort-refillable mug. To amplify your dining experience, Disney offers patrons of the Disney Dining Plan to use two table service credits for select fine/signature dining experiences. Refer to the Disney Dining Plan webpage for full details.
Regardless of dining plan choice, meals and snacks can be redeemed at any time during your stay. This means that unused meals and snacks will roll over from day to day and only expire at midnight on the day of checkout.
One of the best parts of both dining plans is the resort refillable mug. These cups can be refilled at any quick service location throughout the Walt Disney World Resort.
Depending on your chosen Disney Dining plan, advance reservations for sit down restaurants are recommended.
Complimentary Resort Transportation/Complimentary Parking
Complimentary Resort Transportation
One of the best perks of staying on property at Walt Disney World Resort, is utilizing its complimentary transportation system. Get from one part of Disney property to another by using buses, boats, monorails, the Skyliner and various walking paths.
Available transportation is specific to each resort and desired destination, but there is at least one way to travel to each theme park, water park and Disney Springs. While most modes of transportation are continuous during park operating hours, bus schedules can be found specific to your resort on the My Disney Experience App.
If you’re a family that likes to be in control of your transportation, staying on property allows you the ease of driving your vehicle to each destination and parking for free (upgraded charge for Preferred Parking is not included).
Not only is standard parking complimentary at the theme parks, but unlike most off-site hotels, there is no parking fee when staying at a Disney Resort Hotel. With some hotels charging $25-40 per night for parking, this perk is HUGE!
Ease the organization of your vacation by utilizing the MagicBand+ system. Streamline your resort activities like: unlocking your hotel room door, entering theme parks, checking in at Lightning Lane entrances, making food/beverage/merchandize purchases, connecting PhotoPass images to your account and discovering surprises throughout the property by using one MagicBand+ per family member.
If traveling with younger children, you have the ability to limit the transactions in which they can make with their MagicBand+ by visiting the front desk at your hotel.
Exclusive Early Access for Reservations
We all like to have advance access to perks and experiences when planning our vacations. When staying at the Walt Disney World Resort you have the opportunity to gain early access in several ways.
Dining and Experience Reservations
Do you have a particular restaurant that is a must to dine in while on vacation? Is there a certain themed dinner show that you cannot miss? If staying on property, Disney offers guests advance reservations for these experiences. Instead of the usual 60 day window open to annual passholders and guests not staying on site, Disney allows on-site guests the ability to advance book these experiences 60 days PLUS the length of your stay. For example, if you’re planning a 5 night stay, your booking window will open 65 days before your arrival. With so many popular restaurants and experiences being booked as soon as the 60 day window opens, It is your best chance to secure that highly coveted reservation for your family.
Early Access to Purchase Lightning Lane Passes
Most guests visiting the Walt Disney World Resort are looking to experience the latest and greatest attractions. When staying on property, guests may start booking these highly coveted attractions at 7:00am. While these passes are sold separately and available to only a few rides/shows at each park, they guarantee access to some of the most popular attractions on site. Guests not staying on site may not purchase these passes until the park opens. This head start for on site guests is very advantageous!
Proximity to the Magic/Resort Activities and Amenities
Proximity to the Magic:
With Orlando and surrounding area traffic being wildly unpredictable, staying within the Disney bubble eliminates commuting on our most congested roads. You’re close to all theme parks, water parks, shopping areas and other activities whether you use Disney transportation or drive yourself. Without having to plan an extra hour or more in drive time, you can maximize your time in the theme parks.
With being so close to the magic, many resorts offer amazing views of the evening fireworks. Book a room with a theme park view, plan a dinner around fireworks time or simply take advantage of specific seating at certain resorts to see the show from afar. It is an experience not to be missed!
Resort Activities and Amenities:
One of the best perks of staying on site is the ability to get away from the theme park crowds and enjoy more fun at your resort. Not only is each resort uniquely and exquisitely decorated to its theme, but each resort has its own distinctive cuisine and experiences to enjoy. There’s enough to do and see at each resort that it’s highly recommended to save a half or full day to experience all its activities. From pools/slides and playgrounds to crafts, lawn games and outdoor movies, each resort has plenty of activities to keep everyone engaged. What’s even better is that activities vary according to resort and season, which means when staying at different resorts, you’ll never have the same experience.
At first glance, planning a Disney Vacation can seem like a daunting task. However, by staying on property and utilizing its many perks, you’ll spend your vacation less stressed and making countless magical memories with your family.
First published 2/20/2020, updated 2/6/2024