If you’re anything like me, you’ve likely faced the same dilemma time and again: ‘Should I stay on Disney property?’
It’s the age-old question that haunts even the most seasoned Disney-goers. As an out-of-state Disney World annual pass holder, I face this question all the time.
Sure, the cost can be a bit steep, but what about the value?
Are there exclusive perks that make it worthwhile?
How convenient is it to stay on-site versus off-site?
In this comprehensive guide, we’ll delve into the benefits of staying on Disney property, so you can make an informed, magical decision for your next trip. Trust me, you won’t want to miss this!
1. Advance FastPass selection
Staying on Disney property allows you to book your FastPasses 60 days from your check-in date.
Each park day, you can pre-book 3 FastPasses to use at the park of your choice.
Those staying offsite can only reserve 30 days in advance.
Speaking from experience, FastPass selections for Seven Dwarfs Mine Ride, Slinky Dog Dash and Flight of Passage will NOT be available at 30 days out. If you want a FastPass for those attractions, you need to book a Disney resort.
2. Magical Express
I think this is one of my favorite benefits of staying on Disney property. The Magical Express is Disney’s bus transportation from the Orlando International Airport to your Disney hotel.
In fact, Disney mails you luggage tags to attach to your checked bags so that once you drop them off at your home airport, you don’t see it again until it’s delivered to your hotel room.
No waiting at baggage claim – just go to the Magical Express check-in area at the airport and be directed to your bus.
Even more fun is the fact the busses play a video highlighting Disney World and Disney trivia. This really gets you in the mood for your magical vacation.
3. Extra Magic Hours
Want more time in the parks? You can with Extra Magic Hours (EMH). Each day, one Disney park opens early or stays open later specifically for Disney Resort guests.
Cast members scan your Magic Band to verify eligibility.
Use this time and enjoy shorter wait times for your favorite rides. We rope dropped at the Magic Kingdom for EMH and rushed to Seven Dwarfs Mine Ride with only a 15-minute wait.
4. Free Disney Transportation
All Disney Resorts, whether that’s Value, Moderate or Deluxe, shuttle you between all four parks, the two water parks and Disney Springs.
Take the monorail, bus, boat or Skyliner, depending on where you are and where you are going.
Rental cars are not necessary at all when staying on Disney property unless of course, you want to venture off somewhere besides Disney.
5. Free Magic Bands
After linking your resort reservation to My Disney Experience, you have the opportunity to customize your Magic Bands.
Choose the free, solid colors (which is what we did) or upgrade to one of the patterned ones.
Disney mails them to you approximately 2 weeks before your check-in date. Keep these in your carry-on bag because they are your ticket to board the Magical Express.
The Magic Bands act as your room key and your Disney ticket.
6. Purchase delivery
Those staying on Disney property also benefit from having purchases delivered directly to your hotel gift shop.
No need to carry those fragile ornaments or bulky sweatshirts around. Use the purchase delivery option to pick them up at your hotel. This works at both Disney Springs and the parks.
You must not be checking out the following day in order to take advantage of this benefit.
7. Room charging privileges
Use your Magic Band to charge everything to your room from anywhere within the Disney Resort.
This alleviates the need to take any credit cards with you, although I still do carry a little cash.
In addition, everything is put on one final bill at your hotel upon check-out.
8. Airline check-in
As sad as it is to leave your Disney resort, they do make it a little easier on you. The night before you check-out, you receive your flight boarding passes with a letter instructing you how and when to drop your bags off at the airline check-in desk.
Each resort has a dedicated airline check-in area. At Port Orleans French Quarter, it was outside to the side of the lobby.
The attendants take your luggage and tag it through to your final destination, just like at the airport.
No more standing at the airline check-in counter to drop off bags. Just go straight to security.
9. Disney Dining Plans
While some people swear by the Disney Dining Plans, others do not. I, for one, have never used it, but I’m always a little jealous of those that do have them.
A Disney Dining Plan can only be purchased as part of a package including hotel room and park tickets. There are some exceptions for DVC owners as well as annual pass holders.
Several different plans exist depending on how much food you intend to eat or how much you want to spend. You essentially are buying food credits in the terms of snacks, quick-service meals and table service restaurants.
In addition, each member of your party receives a free Disney refillable mug that is good for your entire stay and can be used at any resort quick-service restaurant.
A cast member scans your Magic Band and deducts the appropriate credit from your total.
Do the math to see if a Disney Dining Plan works for you. Sometimes, Disney offers free dining as part of its bounce-back offers.
10. Advanced Dining Reservations
While anyone can log in to My Disney Experience at 180 days before and make dining reservations, Disney Resort guests can make reservations from 180 days from check-in date for the entire length of stay.
This could come in handy for those coveted ADR’s such as Cindarella’s table, Be our Guest or an 8:00 am reservation before a park opens.
There are many people who plan a Disney trip many months, if not a year, in advance.
While I mostly have stayed at offsite Disney hotels, the benefits of staying on Disney property have made me want to stay there more often.
I truly love the Magical Express and the Extra Magic Hours. Also, you’re kept inside the Disney bubble if that’s where you want to be. I personally love seeing anything Disney any part of the day.
What about you? Have you stayed at a Disney resort? If yes, what are your favorite benefits of staying on Disney property? Let me know in the comments.
For more Disney tips, check out the following:
- 15 Disney Mistakes Not to Make
- How to Survive the Heat at Disney
- 15 Essential Items you Need in your Disney Park Bag
If you need help planning your Disney vacation, download this free Disney planning guide and organizer. It tells you when you need to start making reservations for meals and FastPasses and provides you an organizer to keep track of everything.
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