by Disney Magic Diva
Planning a vacation to Walt Disney World Resort can be a daunting task. There are so many options! When is a good time to go? How many days should you plan to stay? Should you get a Base Ticket or add a Park Hopper? Is Memory Maker worth the cost? Where (or should?) you make advance dining reservations? Which attractions should you select for your FastPass+ choices? The list goes on and on! And then, of course, one of the biggest and most hotly debated questions is whether you should stay “on property” at a Disney resort or perhaps save some money by choosing an “off property” hotel. Here are six reasons to choose a Disney resort.
Magical Express Since our family always flies to Disney World, we love to take advantage of Disney’s Magical Express. This is a complimentary bus service for Disney resort guests from the Orlando International Airport to your resort. And to make the service even better, they handle your luggage too! To take advantage of this service let Disney know your flight information, either at the time of booking or, later if you book before you have flights secured. A few weeks before your vacation, Disney will send you personalized yellow luggage tags. These are long sticker tags similar to the ones airlines place on your luggage at the airport to indicate your flight destination. Just place these yellow stickers (along with your normal identification tag) on your luggage before you check it at your departure airport. When you arrive in Orlando there’s no need to go to baggage claim – Disney will collect your luggage and it will magically appear in your resort room later that day. (If you arrive after 10:00 pm, you’ll need to collect your luggage from baggage claim.)
TIP: Be sure to pack anything you may need in the first few hours after arrival in your carry on bag. MagicBands, medications, phone chargers, swimsuit, an extra change of clothes, even pajamas for little ones if you arrive later in the evening. Disney advises to allow 3 hours for your luggage to arrive in your room, and sometimes it may be longer. Plan accordingly.
Magical Express will take you back to the airport at the end of your resort stay too. The day before you depart, an envelope will be delivered to your resort room with information on when to catch your bus, and how to check your luggage.
TIP: Generally your Magical Express departure is about 3 hours before your flight departs. Keep this in mind when booking your flight home. Getting sleepy kiddos on a bus at 4:00 am for a 7:00 am flight may not be the most magical way to end your vacation! We love to take the last flight home and enjoy the parks as much as we can on the last day.
Resort Airline Check-In Service allows you to check your bags at the resort. They will print your boarding pass for you, and you are ready to go. You merely board the Magical Express to the airport, then head straight to your gate. No need to check luggage at the airport! You just pick up your luggage at the baggage claim when you get home. Not having to drag luggage all around? That’s magical!
Extra Magic Hours Want to have some time in the park without tens of thousands of your closest friends? Take advantage of Extra Magic Hours! Each day, Walt Disney World Resort has extended hours reserved exclusively for resort guests. Where and when Extra Magic Hours are held varies each day; sometimes it’s an early opening, other times it’s a later closing time. You can find information about the schedule for Extra Magic Hours on the Walt Disney World Resort website. If you plan well, it’s possible to visit more attractions during Extra Magic Hours than you may do for the entire rest of the day. When we’ve visited the Magic Kingdom during early morning hours, for instance, we’ve been able to do 6-8 attractions before the park even opened to “off-property” guests. More hours (and fewer guests) means more magic!
Book FastPass+ early Guests of a Walt Disney World Resort hotel are able to book FastPass+ attractions 60 days before their arrival. Guests who choose to stay “off property” need to wait until 30 days before arrival to reserve their FastPass+ choices. It can be difficult to book some of the most popular attractions even 60 days ahead, and trying to get them 30 days in advance can be even more challenging.
TIP: Try booking FastPass+ for popular attractions on the later days of your visit. For instance, instead of looking for Seven Dwarfs Mine Train on Day 1 of your 6-day visit, try booking on day 4, 5 or 6. That way, instead of booking 60 days out, your essentially booking for 64, 65 or 66 days out, thus increasing your chances of securing your choice.
Resort Package Delivery. Who can go to Disney World without bringing home a cute souvenir or two? Or ten? If you love to shop, but despise carrying those bags around with you, take advantage of Resort Hotel Delivery. This perk lets you have your purchase delivered to your resort (usually to the gift shop) for you to pick up later. Simply tell the cast member at the time of purchase that you want to use Resort Hotel Delivery. You will fill out a simple form, and receive a copy of it to serve as your receipt for pick up.
TIP: Packages delivered to your resort will arrive by 3:00 pm the day after purchase. What if you find the perfect souvenir on your last day? Hakuna Matata. You can always have your bag sent to the front of the park for pick-up as you exit, or shipped directly to your home.
We LOVE this service! It’s so convenient to not carry bags with you at the parks. After all, who wants to worry about a bag when you’re plunging down Splash Mountain?
MagicBands Guests at a Walt Disney World Resort receive complimentary MagicBands to help them unlock the magic. These bands serve as your ticket to the Magical Express, the key to your room, your park admission ticket, your Memory Maker pass, your FastPass+ reservations, your dining plan credits and even allow you to charge purchases at shops and restaurants. After you make your resort reservation, you can customize a MagicBand for each member of your party through your My Disney Experience account. You simply choose a color and name to be printed on the inside of the band, and the bands will be shipped to you about three weeks before your arrival. Or, if you choose, you may purchase a MagicBand that is themed to your favorite Disney character or attraction. Click here to see all the choices online, or visit a gift shop either at your resort or in a Disney World park.
Of course, if you want the ultimate in customization, visit the MagicBand on Demand station inside the Tomorrowland Light and Power Co. location near Space Mountain. Here you can have a custom MagicBand printed with your favorite graphics while you wait!
TIP: Each resort guest will receive a complimentary MagicBand, even those under 3 years old. If the band is too large for your wrist, simply peel off the dark gray liner on the back. This allows it to fit better on smaller Mousketeers.
We have found MagicBands to be extremely secure and convenient. They can even be worn in the water! My only question…can I get one to use at home?
The Magic My favorite aspect about visiting Walt Disney World Resort is the feeling you have of total and complete immersion into the magic. No vacation destination can tell a story as beautifully as Disney. Every detail is considered, and it shows. Anyone who has visited the parks has felt that magic. The costuming of the cast members, the details of each attraction, the landscaping and architecture – everywhere you turn you feel like you are immersed in the story. When you stay at a Disney resort, that feeling continues. Each resort is themed with the same attention to detail and storytelling as you find in the parks. So whether you want to enjoy CarsLand, the graciousness of the Old South, the thrill of a sporting event, the seclusion of a cabin in the woods, an African safari, or a beach in the Caribbean – there’s a Walt Disney World Resort for you.
Even the travel from the park to your resort is worry-free. Disney offers complimentary transportation between the parks and resorts. So rather than fight traffic and worry about which exit to take, you can let someone else drive and relax with your family while traveling back to your room. At the end of a long day in the park, it’s a perk we appreciate.
Click here to read about Disney’s Magic Extras when you book a Walt Disney World Resort package.
Naturally, you may have reasons to choose to stay off-property. We’ve done it – twice. But for our family, unless we have free accommodations elsewhere, we will always choose to stay at a Walt Disney World Resort. The benefits, and especially the magic, are worth it.
Ready to book your family’s stay at a Walt Disney World Resort? Or have a few questions about another resort? Contact Patricia at All for Dreams Travel! She will help you arrange the perfect, magical vacation for your family!
***Disclaimer – We at Tips from the Disney Divas and Devos hope you enjoy reading our articles and encourage you to share any you feel may be of interest to someone else. We do ask, however, if you choose to share the photographs attached to our articles, you give credit to the photographer. Thank you for your cooperation and for sharing our love of Disney!