As an annual passholder for Walt Disney World, the number one question I usually get from anyone planning a trip is “Should I stay at the Disney Hotels?”
This is a loaded question with a not so simple answer. If you are a first timer (have never ever been to Disney World before) then I always say yes. You can read more of my tips for first time goers here. But sometimes staying on property isn’t an option or it may not 100% be a good fit for your family. So I’m going to share the pros & cons of staying at one of the Walt Disney World Resorts and I hope it helps if you’re a planning a visit.
Disney World has over 25 hotels to choose from with prices ranging from what they categorize as value to deluxe villas. You can see a full list here.
Let’s start with the Pros.
- First off, if you are traveling by plane, you have access to Disney’s Magical Express, a complimentary bus service from Orlando International Airport to any Disney Resort hotel. You can choose this option when booking your reservation by phone or online.
- The magic of Disney starts with the hotel! When you stay at a Disney Resort, you begin your trip feeling like you are in a real magical land. Isn’t that what we all want? Each resort on property is themed and fun to add that special touch.
- You have 24 hour Disney concierge. I know other hotels have a concierge but at the Disney resorts, the front desk employees are trained to answer all your Disney related questions. You can also book dining, experiences and pretty much anything right from your hotel!
- Transportation to and from the Parks is free for all resort guests by way of bus, monorail or boat depending on what hotel you’re staying in. This saves you money on parking which is $20 at each park.
- Online check-in is available through your My Disney Experience account prior to your trip. You can check your account and connect all your reservations with the free app on your phone or online.
- The resorts are filled with activities and events for the whole family!
- You can take advantage of Extra Magic Hours, which are extended hours at the parks only for resort guests.
- FREE Magic Bands are sent to every member of your party included in the room reservation.
- NO RESORT FEE & FREE Wifi
Now on to the Cons.
- Prices can be high even for the “value” resorts. For what is a very standard room, Disney prices can be expensive depending on your budget. There have been times when we haven’t been able to stay at our favorite value resort because it cost too much. When I say it costs too much, I mean the actual value of the room versus what they charge. I just don’t believe their rooms are worth what they charge during certain times of the year but it’s also taking the ambiance into account. When you pay for a room at Disney, you are not just paying for a regular hotel, you’re also paying for the whole experience.
- Rooms can be very far from the lobby of the hotel. Disney resorts are HUGE because they each are made up of multiple buildings, not like an average hotel. This means you could have a room in the furthest building from the front of the hotel and just adds to the amount of walking you’ll be doing daily.
- You are literally inside of Disney World so you can’t just walk to a Target or Walmart. You’d need to drive anywhere you wanted to go and it could be 20-30 minutes outside the property. Can be inconvenient if you don’t have a car or need to call for an Uber/taxi.
Check out what’s in my Disney parks bag here!
What do I prefer; on or off property?
I love staying on property for all the reasons I listed above and will always choose a Disney resort when I’m able to. Staying on site makes the whole visit extra special for all of us and when we can afford it, we stay at our favorite value resort, Pop Century.
My only issue with staying on site is the price. Honestly, I can find bigger rooms in other amazing hotels for MUCH cheaper rates any time of the year. My sons are bigger now and sharing a bed with them is so uncomfortable and we really can’t afford the prices for the suites at some of the Disney hotels. Also, we like to pack food and the value hotels only come with a tiny fridge. It’s not horrible but I’d rather have a full kitchen if possible.
For us it’s not a huge deal staying off site because we do have annual passes so we have complimentary parking and we go so much we know our way around. If you are someone that’s not so familiar with Disney it can be overwhelming and staying at a Disney Resort helps with this a lot.
Going with small kids? Read my Top 10 Must Do Attractions!
So what do I recommend, Disney resort or not?
It’s important to know your budget and plan with that in mind. Don’t feel pressured to do what other people are doing because not everything works for everyone. Ultimately, I think staying on site has more pros than cons and it’s what I always choose when I can but it’s all about what is affordable for your family. Take the time to research rates for the time of year you are going and compare prices with off site hotels. Don’t forget to add in resort fees, parking and any extra charges you will need to cover for other hotels. Disney resorts don’t have hidden fees and it’s important to consider everything when making a decision.