The Pros and Cons of Staying Inside the Walt Disney World Resort: The Pros

The videos promoting the joys of the Walt Disney World Resort say it best: if you want to get the most of the magic, you should stay in the middle of it all.

Well, what does that mean? Does it mean staying at Mickey's house for a few nights? Does it mean staying at a fairy dust-filled hotel near the park? Does it mean staying inside a huge castle?

Well, staying in the middle of the magic means staying at one of the hotels the Vacation Kingdom has to offer. They range from themes suited for your liking, such as music, movies, African safaris, and modern art. But staying at the resort hotels gives you the benefits that make your Central Florida trip extra-memorable that you want to book and book again (providing that money is not too much of an issue).

So how do you benefit from staying in the middle of the Disney magic?

Note: certain hotels near and around Downtown Disney and the Bonnet Creek, Swan, Shades of Green (military only) and Dolphin Resorts have some Disney resort hotel benefits, but they are not true ones. I disregard them here.

Complementary Airport Transportation

Arriving in Orlando is the same process as arriving in, say, New York City. Claim your luggage, rent a car, and off you go. But Disney eliminates the tiring process for you via Disney's Magical Express, a complementary airport transportation system. Simply reserve a spot for the service when booking your Disney vacation, fly to Orlando International Airport on the first day of your vacation, and head to the welcome center. Board a motor coach to your desired resort hotel.

Worried about lost luggage? Don't fret - attendants collect your luggage and send them to your room within 4 hours of checking in. It's proof that you really don't need to rent a rental car for your mouse trip!

Where Does The Bus Take You?

Complementary Resort Transportation

You really don't need to rent your car to enjoy Walt Disney World. There are plenty of free complementary resort transportation options around. Free shuttles (buses), operated by Disney Transport, take you virtually anywhere within the resort.

But what if you stay in the Contemporary and Polynesian Resorts and the Grand Floridian Resort and Spa? Well, you are on the monorail line! If you want to go to the Magic Kingdom (or Epcot, via transfer from the Transportation and Ticket Center), simply high-tail it to the monorail! If you are staying at any Fort Wilderness resort, take the ferry to that park - no shuttle required.

If you happen to be at any Epcot area hotel (Disney's Boardwalk and Yacht and Beach Club), you can either walk your butts (if energy allows) or take the Friendship boats to Epcot or Disney's Hollywood Studios.

What if you want a day off from the four theme parks? If you are staying at Disney's Old Key West Resort, both Port Orleans Resorts, and Disney's Saratoga Springs Resort, you can take the ferry to Downtown Disney.

If you rented a car already, are an Annual Passholder, or drove to the World for vacation, you don't have to pay for parking. Just show your resort parking pass (Keep it!) and just enjoy the parks without a care! (Keep in mind that there's no direct parking to the Magic Kingdom, so you have to take the bus, ferry, or monorail there!) Oh, and the four theme parks are closer than you think!

With all that free parking and complementary resort transportation said, both options allow you to take breaks from the theme parks as travel experts say. Doing so can help you recharge and refresh. Have autistic children with you? They can take a breather from all the overstimulation going on. It's especially effective with any yearly pass and tickets with the Park Hopper option.

I strongly suggest that you buy an Annual, Premium Annual, or Florida Resident Seasonal Pass or add the Park Hopper to your Magic Your Way Base Ticket! It's helpful if you are taking a break at your hotel between two different parks!

The Disney Dining Plan Thing

Want to eat with less money spent at Walt Disney World? Choose a Magic Your Way Vacation Package with the Disney Dining Plan. If you have done so, simply show your Key to the World Card at your participating restaurants of choice without paying much on vacation. But be forewarned, certain numbers of credits are allotted by meal: quick service, snack, and table service. Despite that, the plan can save you a bundle on dining at the World!

(Tip: make sure you reserve spots by calling ahead or booking online ahead in at most 180 days for popular table-service meals, especially with those in the Disney Character Dining field. Cinderella's Royal Table takes up 2 of your table-service credits.)

Worried about carrying a huge purchase around? No problem - present you Key to the World card in the store and they will deliver it free of charge!

Extra Magic Hours

Want to spend less time waiting in the queues for coasters, boat rides with repetitive songs, and the like? Extra Magic Hours (providing that it's the early version) might be the top choice if you happen to stay at a Disney onsite hotel. One park opens in the morning or evening just for you to enjoy before the crush of the general public stomps you in terms of lines. It allows you to take those much-needed midday breaks to help you regroup.

Perks aside, you, as resort Guest, can revel in your Extra Magic Hours glory! Just show your resort ID and valid ticket and sidestep a lot of the crowd crush!

Hate Crowds Like This?

Why not stay at a Walt Disney World resort hotel and take advantage of Early Extra Magic Hours?
Why not stay at a Walt Disney World resort hotel and take advantage of Early Extra Magic Hours?

Best of All, Theming is Everywhere!

Not all Disney resort hotels are created equal. Each one of them has a distinct theme to suit one's taste. (Price, especially with the All-Star and Pop Century Resorts, is a different story.) People who love pirates can stay at specifically-themed rooms at the Caribbean Beach Resort. Business travelers and modern art lovers lean towards the Contemporary Resort, Those who want a slice of home in waterfront New England prefer the Yacht or Beach Club Resorts.

Besides prices, hotels on Disney turf have their own themes designed to suit travellers' moods, like yours.

For Romantic Couples...

Try booking a room at the Grand Floridian Resort and Spa if money allows! Not only does it have a great spa and atmosphere, but it has a restaurant where you can dine with no screaming kids under 10 in sight!
Try booking a room at the Grand Floridian Resort and Spa if money allows! Not only does it have a great spa and atmosphere, but it has a restaurant where you can dine with no screaming kids under 10 in sight!

Want to get the most of your soiree with Mickey? Want to save some money in the long run? Want to delight the kid in you while doing both? Why not book an onsite Disney hotel and just enjoy yourself?

Have You Booked a Room at a Walt Disney World Resort Hotel?

  • Yes - at least once!
  • I'm booking one!
  • I'm considering it!
  • No - it's too pricey...
  • I haven't decided to book one yet!
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Comments 4 comments

Lady_E profile image

Lady_E 4 years ago from London, UK

Very interesting and useful. Your tips will help people save money and time. I love what Walt Disney did. He had a beautiful dream and sure created it perfectly.


KellyG05030 profile image

KellyG05030 3 years ago from New England

My family and I are Disney World addicts. We started off staying off Disney property but found that the advantages of being at a Disney resort were well worth the price. I sign my email address up for a multitude of Disney Discount sites, and I'm always alerted when a sale comes up. One of the greatest things about Disney has been that they would knock money off our reservation if a sale during our scheduled dates came up after booking. I received $1000 back one year, and that was a nice chunk to add to our spending cash! Thanks for a great article!


WiccanSage profile image

WiccanSage 3 years ago

I think when people consider on site or off site they just compare room rates. Frankly I find with other expenses you save on site, it balances out, because if you stay off site you pay more for gas, a daily parking fee per day, not to mention spend all that extra time in transit.

If you are taking your own car, off site might be a bit less expensive but not that much less than staying at a Disney value resort. Plus you can be sure of a nice experience (some of the cheaper motels in Orlando are not quite the greatest).

If taking a plane, it's way cheaper to just stay on site and use the Magic Express and Disney transit than it is to rent off site, rent a car, pay daily parking fees, pay gas, etc.

Great hub, great info people need to think about.


VJGSA profile image

VJGSA 20 months ago from Texas

We have stayed at the Coronado Springs resort on the Disney property for two consecutive years. You are right. The perks are awesome. Last year, we wanted to visit Universal Studios. Of course, Disney Transportation don't take you there. But you can make arrangements with the company that owns the Disney Magical Express buses that take you from/to the airport/resort. The company is called Mears Transportation and they pick up for at your Disney resort and take you to your off resort destination. For us it was Universal Studios. There is a cost, but the cost is probably the price of a car rental, fuel and parking.

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