When visiting the Walt Disney World Resort, there are plenty of accommodation options to choose from. Guests can stay in nearby hotels, rent villas and Airbnb apartments, stay in timeshare properties, and more. Where they decide to stay will often be influenced by their budget. However, the benefits of different accommodation options are also something to consider. After all, you want to stay where it best suits you and your family. Do you have a favorite Disney vacation place in central Florida?
We’ve been lucky enough to have stayed in several different types of accommodation when visiting the Walt Disney World Resort. But there’s one accommodation that we always find ourselves choosing. Our first choice is always a Walt Disney World Resort hotel.
Walt Disney World Resort Hotels
Deciding to stay in a Walt Disney World Resort hotel can require a lot of consideration. Cost, location, and theming are just a few things you need to consider when picking your Disney hotel. The Disney Resort classification can help to separate the different options.
Disney Value Resorts work for smaller budgets while providing comfortable Guest rooms and a selection of amenities to enjoy. They include:
- All-Star Resorts – All-Star Movies, All-Star Sports and All-Star Music
- Art of Animation Resort
- Pop Century Resort
Disney Moderate Resorts are ideal for Guests with a little more to spend on accommodation so that they can enjoy a little more luxury from their Disney Resort hotel. The Moderate Resorts are:
- Port Orleans French Quarter Resort
- Caribbean Beach Resort
- Port Orleans Riverside Resort
- Coronado Springs Resort
- Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground
Disney Deluxe Resorts provide the ultimate luxury, offering Guest rooms with balconies and a variety of Resort amenities to enjoy when outside of the Disney Parks. Guests with a more extensive accommodation budget can choose from the following Resorts:
- Saratoga Springs Resort
- Old Key West Resort
- Animal Kingdom Lodge
- Wilderness Lodge
- Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
- Polynesian Village Resort
- Contemporary Resort
- Riviera Resort
- Yacht Club
- Beach Club
- BoardWalk Inn
While it may not be the cheapest choice, Disney hotel Guests receive benefits when staying on Disney property that are worth the extra cost. Let’s look at the extensive benefits that Disney Resort Guests receive when staying in Lake Buena Vista.
Close Proximity to the Parks, Water Parks & Disney Springs
Staying in a Walt Disney World Resort hotel means being close to each Disney theme park, water park, and Disney Springs. Generally, you are only a bus ride away from each of the Disney Parks unless you are staying in a Resort that offers another mode of transport. Being a Guest of a Walt Disney World Resort hotel is ideal if you plan to spend most of your Florida vacation on Disney property. If you plan to only visit the Disney Parks when visiting Lake Buena Vista, then staying in the Walt Disney World Resort will provide you with the easiest access to the Disney Parks, while reducing the money you will need to budget for traveling to and from your accommodation each day.
Right within the Magic
Choosing to stay in a Disney Resort hotel places you in the heart of the Disney magic. Your Disney experience won’t end as you leave the Disney Parks, but instead, continue through to arriving back at your hotel and even into your Guest room. The Disney magic continues to time spent at the pool area, where poolside entertainment is provided for Guests to enjoy throughout the day. There are also plenty of activities to participate in when taking a break from the Disney Parks.
Whether you drive to Walt Disney World or plan to hire a car when you are there, all Guests of a Walt Disney World Resort hotel will benefit from free parking. This benefit includes parking in Disney hotels and at the Disney Parks too. Access to your own car can make it easy to explore Lake Buena Vista and other areas of Central Florida too. If you wish to drive to each Disney theme park rather than using Disney transportation, can save you at least $25 per day. Your savings on parking at a Disney theme park can undoubtedly help your holiday budget.
Access to your own car is optional when visiting the Walt Disney World Resort. While it can help you to access areas outside of Lake Buena Vista, driving in an unfamiliar place may only suit some Guests of Walt Disney World. Every Disney Guest can take advantage of the complimentary transport available throughout Walt Disney World.
All Disney Resort hotels are serviced by the Walt Disney World Transportation System buses that travel to all four Disney theme parks, water parks, and Disney Springs. Guests are allowed to use more than that mode of transport too. They can also use the Disney Monorail and Ferry Boat to travel to and from Magic Kingdom. The FriendShip Boats and Disney Skyliner provide easy access between EPCOT and Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Additionally, the Sassagoula River Boats can be used to travel between several of the Disney hotels and Disney Springs.
Using Disney transport is always an important part of our Disney vacations. We love to escape the Disney Parks crowds and ride on the different Disney transportation options. Doing so also provides a perfect opportunity to explore the Disney Resort hotels. It’s also a great way to relax without missing out on the Disney experience.
Depending on the Disney Resort you choose to stay at, you may have easy access to multiple modes of Disney transport. While all Disney hotels are serviced by the Disney buses, the following Resorts have access to another mode of transportation:
- Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, Polynesian Village, and Contemporary Resort have access to the Disney Monorail and Magic Kingdom boats.
- Wilderness Lodge and Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground are serviced by the Magic Kingdom boats.
- Yacht & Beach Club, BoardWalk Inn, and Walt Disney World Swan & Dolphin Resorts have access to the EPCOT FriendShip Boats.
- Riviera Resort, Art of Animation Resort, Pop Century Resort, and Caribbean Beach Resort are on the Disney Skyliner route.
- Port Orleans Resorts, Saratoga Springs Resort, and Old Key West Resort have docks for the Sassagoula River Boats.
Guests can enjoy plenty of activities outside of the Disney Parks when staying in a Walt Disney World Resort hotel. Every Disney Resort hotel has its own activities calendar updated weekly throughout the year. Some Resort activities are offered in all Disney hotels, while others are more specific to a particular Resort. Any Disney Resort Guest can enjoy the complimentary activities around the Walt Disney World Resort. They are a great way to spend a day if you wish to take a break from the Disney Parks or don’t have a theme park ticket for part of your Disney vacation.
Every Disney Resort offers the following activities for Guests to enjoy:
- Movies Under the Stars
- poolside activities
- arcade games
- pin trading
- Surprise Disney character appearances
- giant games, including chess, checkers, ping pong, and corn hole
- scavenger hunts
- arts and crafts
More specific Resort activities include:
- mosaic art at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort, and Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside Resort
- painting classes at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort, Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, Disney’s Riviera Resort, and Disney’s Yacht & Beach Club Resorts
- animal enrichment at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge
- animation classes at Disney’s Art of Animation Resort and Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort
- Sangria University at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort
- Chip ‘N’ Dale’s Campfire Sing-A-Long at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground
- pony rides at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground
- canoe hire at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground
- Surrey Bike rentals at Disney’s Old Key West Resort, Disney’s BoardWalk Inn, Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort, and Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside Resort
- Horse-drawn carriage rides at Disney’s Port Orleans Resorts and Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground
- Wonders of the Lodge Art & Architecture Tour at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
Some of the specific Resort activities are complimentary, while others come with an additional cost. Activities that require a fee will need to be booked ahead of participation, and can be done at the Front Desk of the Disney Resort hotel. Alternatively, look out for the QR codes that are displayed around the Disney Resort hotels.
Early Theme Park Entry
When staying in a Disney Resort hotel, you have early access to every Disney theme park daily. Disney Resort Guests can enjoy Early Theme Park Entry for thirty minutes before Park opening. Generally, Early Entry Theme Park Entry begins at 8:30 a.m. for Magic Kingdom Park, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and EPCOT. Meanwhile, Early Theme Park Entry begins at 7:30 a.m. for Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Entering the Disney theme parks ahead of the general Park opening allows you to experience popular Disney attractions with a minimal wait, including Seven Dwarf’s Mine Train, Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, Avatar Flight of Passage and more.
Free activities are only one aspect of the complimentary benefits that Walt Disney World Resort Guests receive. We have also mentioned the free parking that Guests can enjoy throughout Lake Buena Vista when staying in a Disney hotel. Other complimentary benefits include:
- extra time in the Disney Parks
- luxury toiletries in Guest rooms
- marshmallows at the Resort campfires
- celebration buttons from the Front Desk at your Disney Resort hotel
- wifi throughout the Walt Disney World Resort, making it easy for you to connect with friends and family and work if you need to
When taking a Disney vacation, you can expect excellent Guest service throughout the Walt Disney World Resort. Guest service isn’t limited to the Disney Parks; you can expect to receive it when spending time in your Disney Resort hotel. All Cast Members can create some Disney magic. In the Disney Resorts, this could be from the Mousekeeping team who service your Guest room, the Front Desk team who go above and beyond to meet your requests, Cast Members who work in the Disney restaurants, shops, and the Recreation team who provide the poolside entertainment and Resort activities. Your Disney vacation should be filled with magic in all areas.
Extended Evening Theme Park Hours
In addition to Early Theme Park Entry, Guests of Disney Deluxe Resorts can also enjoy Extended Evening Theme Park Hours in select Disney theme parks during their stay. Extended Evening Theme Park Hours are offered at Magic Kingdom Park and EPCOT theme park on select nights during the week. Disney Deluxe Resort Guests can enjoy an additional two hours beyond Park close on Monday and Wednesday evenings. EPCOT extended evening hours are held on Mondays and between 9 p.m. and 11 p.m., while Magic Kingdom’s extended evening hours are held on Wednesdays. Hours vary, depending on Magic Kingdom Park close on the day of Extended Evening Theme Park Hours.
Advance Dining Reservations
Guests of Disney Resort hotels can make advance dining reservations in Disney restaurants 60 days before their Disney vacation. While this is available to all Guests of the Walt Disney World Resort, hotel Guests can make reservations for the first ten days of their Disney vacation from 60 days before their arrival date. This benefit can help you secure advance dining reservations for popular Disney restaurants, such as ‘Ohana, Space 220, Be Our Guest, and Topolino’s Terrace.
Individual Lightning Lane Entry
Guests of a Disney hotel have early access to Individual Lightning Lane Entry for each day of their vacation. You can purchase your first Lightning Lane from 7 a.m. each day of your Disney vacation. In addition, you can select a one-hour arrival window for up to two attractions per day. Your arrival windows must be made one at a time throughout your day.
Will you be staying in a Disney Resort hotel during your next Disney vacation? Are you yet to stay in a Walt Disney World Resort hotel and take advantage of all the benefits available to Guests during their Disney vacation? While you’re guaranteed a magical Disney experience regardless of where you stay during your Disney vacation, staying in a Disney hotel ensures magic in every aspect of your visit to Lake Buena Vista.