January and February are very busy months when it comes to families planning their Disney vacations for 2017. If you’re thinking about heading to the Mouse for the first time this year, then chances are you’re having the great “Should I stay on-site or off-site debate.” Though there is certainly something to be said for the sometimes rock-bottom rates you can find at hotels in the Orlando area, there are several on-site perks of staying at a Walt Disney World resort that tend to even the score. So if your on the fence about staying at Disney World resort, here’s our list of the 10 perks of staying on-site.
1.Disney theming. If you want to really immerse yourself in the magic of Disney, there’s no better way than to stay at one of Disney’s 25 resorts. Where else can you swim with Nemo and friends, feel like your on an African Safari, stay in a Pirate Room or a Royal Guest room filled with Disney Princess touches. From the Cast Members that great you when you check in, to the Gift Shop piled high with Disney must-haves, there’s no doubt your’e in the middle of the Magic. Disney also offers 4 resort categories: Value, Moderate, Deluxe and Deluxe Villas and includes options for all tastes and budgets, making deciding where to stay as much fun as planning out your park days.
2. Disney Resort Transportation. Imagine being able to leave your car parked at the resort and not having to worry about driving until the day you check-out. Each of the resorts at Walt Disney World offer transportation to the four theme parks, water parks as well as Disney Springs. Whether its by bus, boat, or monorail, you can let a Cast Member navigate through the traffic so that you don’t have to. Also, not having to drive means not having to spend money on gas which can really add up if your are staying further off-site.
3. Free Parking. Another fantastic cost-saving perk of staying at a Walt Disney World resort is the fact that as an on-site guest you do not need to pay for parking whether at the resorts or theme parks. This is often one of the first things I mention to guests having the on-site/off-site debate. Even though you might be saving $50 a night by staying off property if you chose to drive you can expect to pay anywhere between $20 – $35 a day to park depending on the size of your vehicle and whether or not you opt for a priority parking space. Visit the parks over 4 or 5 days and this quickly adds up.
4. On-going Savings. With most off-site resorts, or for those booking through sites like Expedia or Travelocity, once you book a reservation you’ve locked in your rate and it will stay the same no matter what other discounts are offered. However, for those opting to stay on-site and who book through Walt Disney World or a Disney Travel Agent, you are eligible to nab applicable discounts that might pop up before your travel dates. So if you book tomorrow at full price but three months down the road a 25% room discount offer comes up, you may be able to nab it!
5. Flexible payments with generous policies on cancellations and adjustments. One of the things I love most about staying onsite is the flexibility that comes with booking a Disney stay. First let’s talk payment. For those booking a Walt Disney World Vacation Package a deposit of only $200 is required to book your stay. The remaining balance isn’t due until 30 days before you are due to arrive at Disney but guests are free to make as many payments as you like in the interval. You pay when you want. For resort only stays, a deposit of a one-night stay is due up front with the remainder being due upon check-in.
If you’ve booked a Walt Disney World vacation package but want to change your days, resort or dining plan, its no problem. Disney allows you to make changes without penalty during that 31 day window. So, there is piece of mind in knowing that if your plans or budgets change you may have options that don’t involve cancelling your vacation. But, if you do need to cancel, you’re also covered. Do so within the 31 day window and you’re entitled to a full refund or within 5 days if you have booked a room-only reservation.
6. Dining Plans – Disney’s three main Dining Plan options are a great way to make your vacation all-inclusive by pre-paying for your meals. If you book a Walt Disney World Vacation Package (eligibility may also include Military, DVC, Annual Passholder and Florida residents), depending on the plan, you’ll get to enjoy Counter Service, Table Service, delicious Disney snacks and also character dining and dinner shows. Under the plan you also get unlimited soft drink, tea and coffee refills with your Resort Mug. Also each Walt Disney World resort comes with convenient dining options. From food courts, table service to gourmet restaurants, you may not need to travel too far from your resort room to enjoy Disney dining at its best.
7. Magical Express – By staying at a Walt Disney World resort, you get to take advantage of their complimentary airport transfer services. Magical Express is located right in Orlando International Airport with buses on stand-by waiting to whisk you away to your resort of choice. What makes this service even cooler is that they’ll send you special luggage tags allowing Cast Members to pick up your checked bags and transport them to your resort where they’ll show up in your room as if by magic. Depending on the airline that you fly, you may also be able to get your boarding pass from your resort and even check-in your bags there to save you the trouble when you get to the airport.
8. Extra Magic Hours. Opinion is sort of divided on the advantages of this on-site perk but its still worth mentioning. For onsite guests only, on select days, a theme park will either open their gates one or early to resort guests only or stay open later in the evening. Know as extra magic hours, this perk can be a great way to squeeze in an extra ride or two. However, there are avid planners that argue that the Early Morning Magic Hours should be avoided as the park holding them is guaranteed to be the busiest of the day and thus you’re not really cutting down on your wait times too much. That being said, I’m a huge advocate of the evening hours especially for adults and teenagers. During this nighttime perk, the crowd really starts to dwindle and you can squeeze in a lot.
9. Book your FastPasses 60 days in advance. FastPasses are a perk that can be enjoyed by all guests both onsite and off. However, onsite guests have the option of being able to book their Fastpasses in advance, using My Disney Experience, 60 days before your vacation. Offsite guests currently must wait until the 30 day mark. This means that you get first dibs on the rides and times that you want rather than having to pick what’s left over. It definitely allows you to plan your days out in a way that you want!
10. Amazing Customer Service. Disney has a reputation for offering amazing customer service and nowhere is this more evidenced than by staying at a Walt Disney World resort. From the Cast Members that check you in and mousekeeping, to the ones greeting you each evening when you arrive back from a long day at the parks, there’s just something refreshing about knowing that Disney is there to take care of it all. In the off chance, should something be less than perfect with your Disney resort stay, the team at your resort will nearly always be quick to remedy the situation and send a bit of pixie dust your way.
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Find articles like this helpful? Then why not consider booking with an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner? As an agent with MickeyTravels, I’ll be on hand to help you find your perfect package, make sure your getting the best discounts, nab those hard-to-get dining and FastPass reservations and share tips and tricks to help you get the most out of your time at Disney World. Best of all, my services are absolutely FREE. Get in touch at 1.800.801.4025, via email at [email protected] or follow along on Facebook.
Images copyright Disney.
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