There are tons of ways to experience the Walt Disney World Resort. You can drive to Central Florida, take the Auto Train (if you’re on the East Coast), or fly. You can park hop or get base park tickets (one park per day). You can pre-pay for one of several Disney Dining Plans or pay out of pocket for all of your meals and snacks. And you can decide whether to stay off-site somewhere or to stay right in the middle of the magic, on Walt Disney World property.
Here are my top five reasons to stay on Disney property!
5. Disney’s Magical Express
One of my favorite perks of staying on property is taking advantage of Disney’s FREE bus service to and from the Orlando International Airport, Disney’s Magical Express. For years I actually refused to use it and rented a car at the airport on every trip. When my children were born and lugging two strollers in and out of a rental car every day became tiresome, I decided to give the Magical Express a try, and man, am I so glad that I did!
Imagine checking your bags at your departure airport and the next time you have to deal with them, they are in your Disney resort hotel room. Or imagine not having to check in at the airport, but instead checking in at your resort before you leave for the airport, including checking your bags. This is what makes the Magical Express so magical!
Plus, as soon as you get on, the driver plays a movie that tells you all about your upcoming WDW adventure! Oh, and did I mention, it’s FREE?!
4. Early Check In
Did you know that if you are staying on WDW property for your vacation, you can check into your resort 60 days before your trip begins? This means no stopping by the front desk to check in when you get to your resort. The cast members already know you are coming and will email you or text you with your room number once it is ready.
This is amazing if you are someone who likes to get out and go straight to the parks or enjoy some shopping and dining at Disney Springs as soon as you get on property in Walt Disney World! When you are ready to finally head back to your room, there’s still no need to stop by the front desk. You can use your MagicBand as your key to open up your resort room’s door!
If you’re staying on Walt Disney World property, about a month before your trip, WDW will send you your MagicBands. While guests who are staying off property can purchase MagicBands throughout the parks and resorts, guests who are staying in WDW get them at no extra cost.
The great thing about the MagicBand is it’s everything all rolled into one. The band acts as your room key, your park tickets, your FastPass+ reservations, your PhotoPass card, and even your credit or debit card where you can have all of your purchases in the parks and resorts charged right to your room. You can even also use your MagicBand as your ticket for the already mentioned Disney’s Magical Express.
So, basically, if you are staying on property you’ll have almost everything you need for the parks on your wrist at all times! How cool is that?!
I often hear how every single thing in Walt Disney World tells a story or revolves around a story. This idea carries over to the on property resorts in a BIG way!
Each Walt Disney World Resort hotel has a very distinct theme that takes you away to a completely different time and place the moment you step foot inside (or even outside in the parking lots!)
Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort takes you away to the islands of the South Pacific with amazing architecture, beautiful landscapes, luaus, and more.
Disney’s Wilderness Lodge instantly transports you to the Pacific Northwest of the United States with it’s majestic lobby seemingly carved entirely out of wood, rustic woods and scenery, and even a geyser that erupts outside the lobby.
Disney’s Port Orleans Resort places you in the French Quarter of New Orleans or in the bayous of Louisiana, complete with swamps, terraced balconies, and even freshly-made beignets!
These are just the tip of the iceberg. When you stay on property in Walt Disney World, you aren’t just watching the stories, you are right in the middle of them!
1. Extra Magic Hours
One complaint I hear all the time in my line of work is, “There just wasn’t enough time for me to see everything I wanted to see in Walt Disney World.” Well, guess what? If you stay on WDW property, you will be able to experience Extra Magic Hours.
These are hour blocks (either at the beginning or at the end of the day) where on property guests get to experience a park without all the hustle and bustle and crowds. Off-property guests aren’t able to enter the park when Extra Magic Hours are going on, which means there’s a whole lot more room to move around and enjoy the parks and also way fewer guests in line for your favorite attractions.
Morning Extra Magic Hours are my absolute favorite! I will usually schedule FastPasses a little bit later in the day for the big, headliner attractions, then get there about a half hour before the park opens for EMHs. Then, while everyone is heading to the headliners right away as the park opens, I head for the second tiered, not as popular attractions. That way, you’re guaranteed to get your favorites in later in the day and also have the chance to bang out as many attractions in that first hour as you possibly can!
I know staying on property can be more expensive and that’s why I’d never push it on someone who was adamant about staying off property and saving the money to spend elsewhere. But, in my honest opinion, staying on Walt Disney World property is truly the best way to spend your money and enjoy your Walt Disney World vacation.
If you’d like more information about staying on WDW property, please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks so much for reading this, as always, and the next time you’re looking to plan a Walt Disney World trip, look me up!
Do you always stay on-site when visiting Disney World?