Staying at a Walt Disney World Resort is very special to me. Of course, there are many reasons for that.
Many Guests come to me completely sold on wanting to stay on Disney property. But, once they see the rates, they start to second guess their decision.
Travel Agent or not, we’re a family on a budget. So, I completely sympathize with that feeling!
Budget still is a major factor in not only deciding when my family goes to Walt Disney World, but what we can afford to do while we are there.
Are there equally amazing (and cheaper) accomodations off property? Of course… In fact, I recently wrote a whole post showcasing 5 reasons you should stay off-property.
But, for my family, there are so many other factors that make staying on Disney property the right decision for us.
Disney’s Magical Express
Admittedly, a huge reason we stay on property is the free transportation to and from the Orlando International Airport.
More often than not, we fly to Orlando. So, without Disney’s Magical Express, we would have to either rent a car or find some other transportation.
Luckily, the last time we made the 14 hour drive to Walt Disney World was before they started charging Disney Resort Guests an overnight Parking Fee. Considering we never used our car once during the week, I’m so glad I got free parking.
Luckily, we can usually find some pretty decent direct flights to MCO. So, utilizing Disney’s Magical Express saves us $100+ in transportation and parking fees.
For the most updated information on Parking at Disney, please visit Disney Guest Services.
Update: Unfortunately, starting January 1, 2022, Disney’s Magical Express will no longer be offered to Guests (insert ugly crying emoji).
It allows us to get better Fastpasses
There is a definite advantage to what Fastpasses you can get when you stay on property.
With a 30-day head start over off-property Guests, you have a better chance of getting the most popular attractions.
However, even staying on property is not guaranteed to get you those coveted Flight of Passage and Slinky Dog Dash fastpasses. The truth is, even at 60 days prior to your trip, trying to grab popular attractions right when your window opens may leave you empty handed.
But, it certainly doesn’t hurt to get the head start.
We can get the Dining Plan
We have a dedicated post to everything you need to know about Dining Plans. So, I won’t get into specifics over here.
But, Dining Plans are only available to Guests who stay at a Disney-owned Resort. This excludes Disney Springs area Hotels that are not Disney-owned and Military families staying at Shades of Green.
Remember when I said that budget drives the decision when we can go?
Well, I have 2 teenage boys, with appetites to match. So, the Free Dining Promotion plays a huge factor in when we can afford to go to Walt Disney World.
You can’t stack discounts, so we do have to pay rack rate for our room. But, in my particular circumstances, the savings we get on Disney food outweigh the savings we would receive from a room discount.
We are close to the Theme Parks
We may not be in love with the Disney buses. But, there is a huge benefit to using them, too.
Bus stops usually aren’t too far from our room. And taking Disney transportation means I don’t have to deal with parking, long walks to the entrance, or losing my car in the Parking Lot (a seemingly common occurrence, even in my daily life).
Everything at Walt Disney World will take longer than you may think. And many Guests don’t take in consideration the travel time between your hotel and the Theme Parks.
Since we’re not able to get to the Parks more than once a year, my time is worth just as much as the dollar amount I spent.
Some off-site hotels advertise they are within a 15 minute drive to Walt Disney World. While technically correct, they’re likely referring to Disney property, as a whole, and not the Parks.
In fact, it’s more realistic to say that it will take you at least 30 minutes to reach any of the Theme Parks. If you get caught in traffic on I4, that time can easy double. Once you park your car, you may have to take a monorail, bus, ferry, or tram to reach the front gate.
Since we spend as much time in the Parks as we can, staying at a Disney Resort maximizes our time doing what we really want to do.
Staying at a Disney Resort lets us vacation with less stress
MagicBands are perhaps the best thing since sliced bread. They aren’t required, but they sure do make my trips less stressful.
They can be used for everything from accessing the Theme Parks and fastpass line, getting into your room, and even paying for your food and merchandise.
Starting January 2021, MagicBands are no longer complimentery. But, when you stay at a Disney Resort, everyone in your family is eligible for a discounted MagicBand, starting around $5 for a solid colored band. Character MagicBands are also available at a pretty good discount. I was able to snag a Belle MagicBand for just $9 for our last vacation.
Of course, off-site Guests can also use MagicBands. But, this will cost you $15+ per person.
Send purchases to your Disney Resort
Sometimes we find things in the gift shops that we just don’t want to carry around all day. So, I will have the item sent to my Resort to pick up later.
Your item won’t leave the Park right away. It may not be available for pickup in your Resort until the next day. So, it’s not recommended if you are checking out the next morning.
But, I can’t tell you enough how much I appreciate this free service. I don’t have to worry about anything getting crushed or broken in my backpack. And I don’t have the added weight constantly straining my neck and back all day.