Benefits of Staying at Disney World Hotels
Are you planning a trip to Disney World? Great! Plenty of fun awaits you and your travel buddies. Before you get there, however, you'll need to make plans, including hotel reservations.
There is a dizzying array of lodging choices. You could choose to stay at one of the many Disney World hotels or off of the property. In almost every case, you'll find a cheaper nightly rate for comparable accommodations -- in some cases considerably cheaper -- away from Disney. But, you should consider overall costs, including car rental, gas, and parking, as well as the time and hassle it would take to travel between an off-property hotel and the Disney resort.
Also, consider the following perks when you determine the value of staying on site:
Free Ground Transportation: Guests staying at Disney World hotels can board complimentary Disney's Magical Express buses at the Orlando Airport that take them directly to their resort. And they can avoid the baggage carousel since Disney delivers luggage directly to guests' hotel rooms. On the return trip, which is also free, guests can save time at the airport by checking their luggage and getting their boarding passes at their Disney hotel.
Extra Theme Park Hours: Disney World hotel guests can jump-start their day by getting into select parks an hour before the general public. A lot of ground can be covered when the parks are less crowded. Also, parks remain open on certain evenings to resort guests up to three hours after closing to the general public.
MyMagic+: Learn how to pre-plan your visit, minimize lines, and maximize fun by taking advantage of the free program. On-property hotel guests qualify for complimentary MagicBands that can store all of your park info. Also, guests staying at the resort's hotels get to make FastPass+ reservations up to 60 days in advance of their visit (in contrast, non-hotel visitors can make FastPass+ reservations up to 30 days in advance).
Get the Full Disney Experience: By staying on property, you'll be completely immersed 24/7 in all things Disney. You'll get the Mouse's legendary service, and you'll be surrounded by the themes developed by the Imagineers for your hotel as well as at the parks (and everywhere else you go at the resort).
Other Perks: Guests at Disney World hotels can use the monorails and other resort transportation (as can everyone else), purchase packages that include park tickets and discounted meals, and take advantage of free package delivery to their hotel rooms.
OK, you've decided to stay at the Disney World hotels. But, which one?
Staying at Disney Value Resorts
You'll get stripped-down accommodations along with a decent price at the Value Resorts, but you'll still get a potent dose of Disney whimsy as well as all of the general benefits of staying on property at Walt Disney World.
Expect over-the-top themed design, nice pools, fast food, and an arcade. Don't expect table service restaurants (although you could dine anywhere throughout the resort, including at higher-level Disney hotels), a fitness center, a lounge, valet parking, a hot tub, or other amenities found at higher-priced resorts.
See photos and read about the Value property, Disney's Art of Animation Resort. It's a particularly intriguing option because it offers family suites as well as traditional hotel rooms. Also, the food court has some creative, delicious choices.
Disney value resorts include:
- Disney's Art of Animation Resort
- Disney's Pop Century Resort
- Disney's All-Star Movies Resort
- Disney's All-Star Music Resort
- Disney's All-Star Sports Resort
Staying at Disney Moderate Resorts
As the category implies, Disney's mid-level hotels strike a balance between the amenities and prices of its Deluxe and Value resorts. As compared to the Value level, expect a bit more space and a better finish in the rooms, more attention to the Moderate resorts' themeing and more varied dining options, including table-service restaurants. Also, you'll get small, but appreciated features such as hot tubs and bike rentals,
Disney moderate resorts include:
- Disney's Caribbean Beach Resort
- Disney's Coronado Springs Resort
- The Cabins at Disney's Fort Wilderness Resort
- Disney's Port Orleans Resort
Staying at Disney Deluxe Resorts
For its top-level resorts, such as the Polynesian, Disney puts on its (three-fingered) white gloves and delivers high-end amenities with at least a hint of luxury. This category offers the most number of resorts, each with its own backstory and a high degree of themeing.
The Deluxe Resort locations also offer prime locations, especially the three highly coveted "monorail hotels": the Grand Floridian, Contemporary, and Polynesian. Disney's Deluxe level includes features such as spa services, a fitness center, valet parking, character dining, and gourmet restaurants.
Disney deluxe resorts include:
- Disney's Polynesian Village Resort
- Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge
- Disney's Beach Club Resort
- Disney's BoardWalk Inn
- Disney's Contemporary Resort
- Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
- Disney's Wilderness Lodge
- Disney's Yacht Club Resort
Staying at Deluxe Villa Resorts
Disney has made quite a splash with its interval ownership properties, known as the Disney Vacation Club. Disney World lodging guests can sample the spacious accommodations by booking a stay in the Deluxe Villa Resorts.
The home-away-from-home villas offer amenities such as kitchens, washers and dryers, multiple bathrooms, and other conveniences. Configurations range from one-room studios to multi-bedroom villas that can accommodate as many as nine guests. They also offer all of the high-end features as Disney's Deluxe Resorts.
Disney deluxe villa resorts include:
- Disney's Animal Kingdom Villas - Jambo House
- Disney's Animal Kingdom Villas - Kidani Village
- Disney's Beach Club Villas
- Disney's BoardWalk Villas
- Bay Lake Tower at Disney's Contemporary Resort
- The Villas at Disney's Wilderness Lodge
- Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa
- Disney’s Old Key West Resort
Staying at Disney World Hotels not Operated by Disney
There are some third-party hotels on the Walt Disney World resort property. One of them, the Four Seasons Resort, is a true luxury property and offers amenities and service that surpass Disney's own Deluxe Resorts -- and, as you would imagine, luxury-level prices as well.
Other choices include the high-end and striking Walt Disney World Dolphin and Walt Disney World Swan hotels located near Disney's Hollywood Studios as well as the range of "official" Disney World hotels in the Downtown Disney area. All include free transportation around Disney World. Guests at the Swan and the Dolphin can take advantage of the Extra Magic Hours benefit (but not those staying at other non-Disney properties). None of the non-Disney hotels offer the complimentary Magical Express airport transportation.
Walt Disney World hotels that are not operated by Disney include:
- Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World Resort
- Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin
Downtown Disney resort area hotels include:
- Best Western Lake Buena Vista Resort Hotel
- Buena Vista Palace Hotel & Spa
- Doubletree Suites
- Hilton Orlando Lake Buena Vista
- Holiday Inn
- Wyndham Lake Buena Vista Resort