So you’re going to Disney World! That’s probably one of the best feelings in the world in my humble opinion! However, you still need to figure out a few logistics—such as: your flights, dining reservations, what type of park tickets to buy, and of course where will you be staying during this magical vacation? Really there are two categories; you will either be staying on-site or off site. What’s the difference? There are a lot actually, so let’s dive in!
Let me just start off by explaining off site hotels to you. These are the hotels that Disney has no ownership over. They aren’t technically on Walt Disney World property; however, there are a few exceptions—i.e. The Swan and Dolphin, Shades of Green, and the Bonnet Creek Resort. Disney does make it a little easier to choose off site hotels because they partner with a few other hotels which receive the title of a good neighbor hotel. A good neighbor hotel is AAA approved, offers assistance with Disney vacation planning and park tickets, and meets Disney’s service and quality guidelines. A quick tip, good neighbor hotels are more prevalent at the Disneyland Resort because the resort only has three hotels on property they can sell out quickly, and the good neighbors are often cheaper. Walt Disney World differs a lot from DLR (Disneyland Resort) in that there are multiple options on property that really can fit the budget and needs of any family.
There are several advantages to staying at a WDW owned/on property resort. First off there are five categories: value resorts, moderate resorts, deluxe resorts, Campground, and Disney Vacation Club (DVC) resorts.
Value Resorts include: the three All Star Resorts, Pop Century, and Art of Animation (the newest resort on property). These resorts are made for families on a budget who still want to have the Disney experience! They’re great resorts to stay in especially for little kids because characters from movies, musical instruments, sports equipment, and items from different decades become larger than life! The motto at Disney’s All Star Resort’s is “Where Fun is larger than life”! I definitely believe they succeed at that.
(Photo courtesy of chipandco.com)
Moderate Resorts are a little more expensive than Value resorts but aren’t as much as deluxe. They have more immersive theming, have larger rooms, and have more room options than the standard and preferred that is available at most of the values (excluding AoA). The resorts in this category include: Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort, Port Orleans Riverside, Port Orleans French Quarter, Coronado Springs Resort, and the Cabins at Fort Wilderness. Instead of only a cafeteria for food options, a few of these resorts have table-service dining options (CBR and POR). Overall these resorts all have completely different theming from one another and are great for the whole family.
(photo courtesy of http://www.mouseplanet.com)
Deluxe Resorts are the most expensive resorts on property. They arguably have the most amounts of theming, services, and room options available on property. These resorts include: Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, Polynesian Resort, Grand Floridian Resort and Spa, Wilderness Lodge, Beach Club, Yacht Club, Boardwalk Inn, and Contemporary Resort. These hotels have table-service options and you often need a reservation to dine at one. The resorts have the most services available to their guests, as opposed to the other resort categories. They’re a little more upscale but still keep the Disney values and charm in the décor and through the cast members.
(photo courtesy of hotels.about.com)
The Campground is exactly what the name says, it’s a campground. You can bring your own R.V or just stay in a tent! You are basically just renting out a little plot during your stay and choosing how you want to sleep that night. This is often the most affordable option in terms of buying from Disney, it just depends on if you are bringing your own camper or sleeping underneath the stars in a tent. The Campsite is part of Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort.
The Disney Vacation Club Resorts are all Deluxe Resorts. They are part of the already existing deluxe hotels or are 100% DVC. These resorts include: Disney’s Saratoga Springs, Old Key West, Bay Lake Tower at the Contemporary Resort, The Villas at Grand Floridian Resort and Spa (opening October 23!), Animal Kingdom Villas- Kidani Village, Boardwalk Villas, Beach Club Villas, the Villas at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge, Animal Kingdom Villas – Jambo House, and the just recently announced soon to be built Polynesian Resort Villas. These DVC resorts are available to all Disney Vacation Club members, and then are available on a first come first serve basis to non-DVC members. You can always buy points from a DVC member if you’d like or just book a room on the Disney World website. These villas come in several different sizes; the most common are: studio, one bedroom, and two bedroom suites. However, there are a few differences between villas and regular hotel rooms on property; you can read about those differences and DVC here: http://www.wdwinfo.com/disney-vacation-club/.
Now how does this all have to do with Park Tips Tuesday? Well I am now finally able to explain that! By staying on property you get several amenities and perks that guests staying off site do not receive. Most resorts off site do not provide transportation to the Disney Theme Parks; however, every Disney owned resort has transportation to and from each theme park including water parks as well as Downtown Disney, Disney’s own shopping district. What’s even better, it’s completely free of charge! You don’t even need to tip the driver. Another perk of staying on site are Extra Magic Hours. Extra Magic Hours are every day at at least one theme park. The park will either be open one hour earlier or two hours later to Disney Resort guests’ only. And another brand new perk that is slowly rolling out is My Magic+. Guests’ will receive Magicbands through the mail before their arrival date or at check-in. These Magicbands are completely optional and can act as your room key, credit card, park admission, and can get you fastpasses at whichever park you’re visiting that day! I’m not going to go in-depth about My Magic+ yet, that is for another time in another article, but it is definitely going to revolutionize the way guests explore Walt Disney World!
Essentially, your Park Tip for Park Tip Tuesday is, if you want a simpler more hassle-free stay and would like to be enveloped in a Disney bubble for the entirety of your vacation, then I would definitely recommend staying onsite in a Disney Resort!
Do you have a favorite Disney Resort to stay at? Do you disagree with the idea of staying on property? Or do you simply have any park tips you’d like to share with us? Feel free to comment below, send us an email, tweet us, or post on our Facebook page! We would love to hear from you!
To learn more about good neighbor hotels head to http://www.wdwgoodneighborhotels.com/
To receive more information about Disney resorts, their prices and amenities head to https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/resorts/