Disney World has a lot of awesome accommodations options!
If you’re looking to head to Disney World in the future, you’ve probably taken a gander at the different resort hotels. Well, we have a WARNING. There are some TOTAL LIES about Disney World hotels you shouldn’t believe!
1. You HAVE to stay in a Disney-owned hotel.
It can certainly seem like staying at a Disney-owned hotel is a must when you’re headed to Disney World. After all, they’re part of the experience and they provide all those great perks, right? Well, kind of. Disney World Resort hotels come with a Disney premium that means you could find comparable (or better!) accommodations for the same price (or cheaper!) if you looked off-property.
Disney even has Good Neighbor hotels that aren’t owned by Disney but still get similar perks. Staying at these spots can save you a pretty penny! Good Neighbor hotels include several of the Disney Springs area hotels and, our personal favorites, the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resorts.
Even if you stay truly off-site in the Orlando area, the money you save on accommodations could be put towards other aspects of your trip. Look at your family, your room needs, and you budget and decide if this cheaper option might be worth it for your crew.
Keep in mind that perks are limited at this time for Disney Resort hotel guests. Early Theme Park Entry will be a perk later this year but hasn’t kicked in yet, the Disney Dining Plan and Fastpass+ are unavailable, and the Advance Dining Reservation window has been reduced for resort guests.
2. You can’t save money if you stay on property.
Now, just because you might find cheaper rates at non-Disney-owned hotels doesn’t mean you can’t save money if you DO stay at Disney hotels. You can actually find pretty good deals for even the pricier Disney World Resort hotels!
Disney almost always has a discount or deal of some kind. Typically, you’ll be able to find anywhere from up to 20% to 40% off of hotel bookings. Some of these deals are for the general public and some are for specialty groups like Florida Residents, military members, Annual Passholders, and more.
Make sure to check the Disney World special offers page before you book.
Don’t want to worry about keeping an eye on those discounts but still want to save every cent? Consider using a completely FREE Disney travel agent, like our friends at Small World Vacations. These folks can keep an eye on those special offers for you to make sure you don’t miss any savings! (Oh yea, did we mention they’re TOTALLY FREE?)
3. The cheapest price is always the best deal.
This next one is kind of tricky. But, just because you’re getting the lowest price doesn’t mean you’ve come out with the best deal. You need to keep in mind what matters to you and your trip. And remember, in Disney World, TIME. IS. MONEY!
Take a look at transportation, location, theming, dining, amenities, and more. Sure, you might find a cheap price at Disney’s All-Star Movies Resort, but will you be losing a lot of time traveling to and from the parks and to other resort hotels for better dining? Maybe! Think about your vacation group and make sure you’re making the decision that’s best for YOU!
4. Once you’ve booked, your price is set in stone.
Remember when we mentioned earlier that you should be keeping an eye on the special offers page? That doesn’t stop once your vacation is booked! Keep checking AFTER you book to see if a new offer appears that applies to your trip. You can typically call to rebook your vacation with a new offer if one shows up.
This is another instance that a FREE travel agent could come in handy. Agents like those at Small World Vacations will be keeping a close eye on any new or changing offers to make sure they get applied to your trip!
5. Transportation is always easy at Disney World hotels.
This is a BIG lie that Disney would definitely want you to believe. Complimentary transportation is one of the most talked-about perks for the Disney World Resort hotels, but getting around isn’t always easy — even for resort guests.
Some resorts have pitfalls like very high demand transportation (Disney’s All-Star Resorts only have bus transportation, for instance) or LOTS of internal bus stops (Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort seems to have 200 internal stops meaning long waits!). Make sure you read up on the transportation options at your preferred resort before you book.
Look in advance at all the transportation options at your resort and plan ahead. Remember that there can be significant crowding on Disney transportation during busy times like park open and park close — especially with the current capacity constraints due to health measures. We recommend allotting 45 minutes to an hour for any travel around Disney World!
6. All hotels are created equal when it comes to food.
No, no, no! This is a HUGE lie. All hotels are most definitely NOT created equal on the eating front. Bigger hotels tend to have more locations and the moderate and deluxe hotels will have a wider variety — including table service locations. For instance, Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort has nine different dining locations versus one at each value resort.
In general, Deluxe resorts have a fast food option, at least one sit-down dining option, one signature (meaning fancier) sit-down dining option, and at least a pool bar. Moderate resorts typically have a fast food, sit-down, and pool bar option. Value resorts typically just have a pool bar and fast food option. If there’s a hotel that has multiple dining locations you want to try, it might be best to go ahead and book your stay there so you can knock those off your list easily and avoid the travel times!
7. Disney’s most expensive resorts are the most luxurious.
So this is kind of a half-lie. Disney’s most expensive resorts are the most luxurious of the Disney resorts, yes. But, you’ll find true luxury at non-Disney-owned hotels — and you’ll probably pay about the same as you would for a deluxe Disney room (or cheaper!).
You’ll actually find Four Seasons and Waldorf Astoria properties inside the Disney World gates. These locations will offer you truer luxury than even the fanciest Disney hotel will offer. And you can check for special offers to see if you can knock that price down!
8. You can’t go to a Disney hotel if you’re not staying there.
Disney veterans probably know not to believe this lie, but some folks might not know! You CAN actually go to other Disney hotels even if you’re not staying there. You are welcome to visit. In fact, many folks LOVE to resort hop!
Things are a little different due to the global health crisis right now. To visit another resort, you’ll need an Advance Dining Reservation, but you’re still welcome to snag a meal at whatever resort restaurant you can book.
Keep in mind, there’s one kind of hopping you can’t do and that’s pool hopping. You have to be a guest of the resort to visit its pools! (The one exception here being DVC members can typically visit select DVC pools, but that is not currently an option.) The best time to resort hop? We think it’s the holiday season to see all the decorations!
9. You have to book with a vacation package.
Disney would love for you to believe this lie, but the fact is that you DON’T need to book a vacation package. You can book things separately, which might have benefits depending on your trip! Compare the costs directly to see what works best for you!
Plus, Disney packages often list a specific number of days for packages but you don’t ACTUALLY have to book the number of days Disney says. Most of the time, you can book more or fewer! That marketing language is just to get you to spend a little more. (Be sure to read that fine print!)
See? You wouldn’t want to get caught believing these lies now, would you? As always, stay tuned to DFB for the latest tips, tricks, and info for your Disney trip!