Our family has visited Walt Disney World at least once a year for the last 12 years. We stayed off-site the second year we visited and have stayed on-site at one of the Walt Disney World Resorts ever since. Vacation time is precious to us and we strive to make our time together a memorable and stress-free experience. While it is tempting to stay off-site at one of the many accommodation choices Orlando has to offer, there are three main reasons why we always choose to stay on-site again and again.
When staying on-site at a Walt Disney World resort our vacation begins as soon as we disembark the plane at Orlando International Airport. As on-site resort guests, we always take advantage of the complimentary transportation to and from the Orlando International Airport via Disney’s Magical Express. This fantastic service means that rather than heading to baggage claim and waiting for our luggage to arrive, we just head over to Ground Transportation, check in and board an air conditioned motor coach that takes us to our resort. No worrying about long car rental lines, baby car seats or booster seats. While someone else does the driving, we relax, watch the informative video and begin to plan how we want to spend the rest of our day. Once checked in, we make the most of our time by heading to the resort pool or one of the theme parks. Our luggage gets magically delivered to our room and is waiting for us when we get back.
When it’s time to go home, the Magical Express picks us up outside the resort and transports us to the airport terminal for free. Whenever we fly to a US destination, like Buffalo NY, we have the additional convenience of being able to check our bags and obtain boarding passes right at the resort – saving us time at the airport!
Another time saver is the complimentary transportation from the resort to the theme parks. No time wasted looking for parking! Buses, ferries or monorails, depending on where we are staying and which park we are heading to, arrive to and from the resorts at a constant interval so we never need to time our departure to a specific time to ensure we catch a ride. We just head over to the transportation depot, and wait a few minutes and then we are off. This was especially great when the girls were younger and we needed to leave the park mid-day for some downtime.
We’ve learned that staying on-site saves us money and helps us stick to a budget. Oftentimes, when pricing out a vacation, expenses such as car rentals, transfers, parking and gas are overlooked. As a Disney on-site guest we not only save time thanks to all the complimentary transportation Walt Disney World offers, but we also save money on all those associated expenses. Those guests who have decided to drive down, or still want a rental car have free parking at the resort and the parks, a savings of up to $20US per day at the resort and another $20US per day at the park.
Dining is another place we save money. No matter where we stay when visiting Walt Disney World, we are going to need to eat while we are at the theme parks. Even with a kitchen, who wants to leave the Magic Kingdom halfway through the day to go make lunch? As an on-site guest, we are offered the option of purchasing one of three Disney Dining Plans. These plans are only available to those guests staying on-site and can offer a true savings. Pre-paying for meals can help make the trip stress free and it is fun to sample the different snack options or just grab something from Starbucks.
Disney also periodically offers a Free Dining Promotion for select dates during the year for guests staying at a resort hotel. This promotion can result in significant cost savings and is incredibly popular for obvious reasons.
Staying at any Walt Disney World resort is truly magical. I could tell you about the sandy bottom pool at Stormalong Bay at Disney’s Beach Club Resort and its 230-foot-long waterslide, or about the giraffes and zebras we love to watch at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, but instead I will focus on the special theme park privileges on-site guests are offered that will help enhance your holiday even further.
On-site guests get early access to dining reservations – a full 190 days before arrival. This is 10 days earlier than guests staying off-site. Early access is the best way to reserve a Princess Breakfast at Akershus Royal Banquet Hall, or a dinner at Chef Mickey’s restaurant. In addition, FastPass+ Reservations can be made up to 60 days before arrival – this means first access to the most popular attractions. Off-site guests must wait until 30 days before their arrival to reserve their spots. On-site guests also get Extra Magic Hours, which allows entry into designated parks on select days an hour earlier than everyone else, or the ability to stay up to two hours later after it closes to the general public.
Available in 8 different colours, Magic Bands simplify our vacation even further! Our room key, park tickets, FastPass+ reservations, dining plan credits, PhotoPass images and credit card information are all stored in this one simple device. No need to carry around a purse or worry about losing a room key, forgetting park tickets or losing count of how many snacks we’ve enjoyed, it’s all stored in this secure waterproof band that we wear around our wrists. Magic Bands are even customized with our names inside, which is great for those times we all choose to have the same colour.
And my favourite service? Well, whenever we visit Walt Disney World, it is inevitable that a few amazing souvenirs get purchased, and because we stay on-site we can charge our purchases to our hotel room and take advantage of the parcel delivery service. Disney Cast Members carefully pack up our purchases and ship them to our resort gift shop for pick up the next day. It’s that easy! Of course, because I am not carrying all those bags around I do sometimes lose track of how many souvenirs I actually have bought, but hey – I’m on vacation, right?
Have some questions about which Walt Disney World Resort is right for you? Contact Monica today for some friendly advice or a non-obligation quote. I look forward to hearing from you!