Disney World is constantly changing and evolving to keep up with the times.
Whether that’s updating old rides and attractions or adding new technology to the parks, we’ve seen a lot of changes made in recent years. But, these changes are not just restricted to the parks — Disney’s resort hotels are getting new features and offerings as well. Today, we’re sharing a look at some of the BIG ways that Disney World is changing your hotel experience!
Adding More Intellectual Property
We’re starting to see the addition of more intellectual property into the Disney World Resorts, especially with the new Moana-themed rooms that have debuted at the Polynesian Resort…
…and even little touches like the Country Bears additions at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge.
While the inclusion of IP in some places, like Disney’s Wilderness Lodge, is more subtle; in other places, like the Contemporary and Polynesian rooms, the theming spans the entire room.
Disney has been incorporating more intellectual property into the parks lately with everything from Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge to the Pandora — The World of Avatar, so it makes sense that they’re doing the same in the resorts.
When Disney shared a first look at the Moana-inspired rooms coming to the Polynesian, it noted that “This exciting progress is part of the overall evolution of our Disney Resort hotels, as we infuse even more Disney touches across our collection – just in time for ‘The World’s Most Magical Celebration,’ beginning October 1st, 2021, in honor of Walt Disney World’s 50th anniversary.”
Though Disney World’s 50th Anniversary has already begun, it will continue for several more months. Could we see more IP-inspired renovations/transformations announced throughout these festivities and/or beyond? It’s possible!
More character-inspired hotel spots were set to be added in the future. For example, a Princess and the Frog restaurant had been announced for Disney World’s Reflections Hotel. Though some signs have pointed to a potential cancelation or LENGTHY delay in the development of this hotel, it’s still a good showing of where Disney might be headed with future hotel concepts and the incorporation of more characters into the Resort overall.
We’ll definitely be on the lookout for more updates in the ways that fan-favorite characters and movies might get added to the hotels in the future — whether it’s through the decor, dining, or entertainment.
Making Hotels More Immersive
Disney World Resort hotels are not just known for their “Disney” touches and incorporation of fan-favorite IP. They’re also known for truly immersing guests in the theming of the hotel. If you think that the hotels are immersive NOW, just wait until you see Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser (a.k.a. the Star Wars hotel) which opened in 2022!
This one-of-a-kind resort is more like a cruise experience on land, with interactive storylines and experiences throughout your stay. You can participate in the fun with special activities like lightsaber training and unique dining options.
Like we noted above, this is more of a cruise-type experience, and its price reflects that. It’s not really meant to serve as a traditional hotel that you might just use to sleep a few hours before LONG park days. Instead, this hotel is meant to be an experience that takes you away from the real world and allows you to truly live out your own Star Wars story.
If the Galactic Starcruiser continues to work well with fans, that could prompt Disney to give us more resorts/interactive & immersive experiences like this in the future. It’s also possible that portions of this immersive experience could be incorporated in smaller ways into existing or new hotels as Disney sees the Star Wars hotel in action and determines what does and does not “work.”
Making Hotels More Tech-Forward
There are a number of new technological advances that have been added to Disney World’s hotels in the past few years. For starters, guests can now check into their hotel rooms entirely through the My Disney Experience app.
Guest can also use the “Unlock Door” feature in the My Disney Experience app to use their phones to unlock the room’s door — eliminating the need for a hotel room card/key/MagicBand! With all kinds of new features in the app, you likely won’t even have to visit the front desk during your stay (unless there’s an issue).
Over at Disney’s All-Star Music Resort we recently saw new smart lockers installed which allow guests to access groceries or other packages they might have delivered to their hotel without the need to go to the front desk or get assistance from a Cast Member.
Plus, guests can Mobile Order food from their hotel’s participating Quick Service restaurants and go pick it up with little to no wait — now that’s progress! Select restaurants at the hotels also now participate in Table Service To Go, another Mobile Ordering option that lets you get some of your favorites from table service spots to-go — giving you the ability to eat them back in the room in your PJs if that’s what you so desire!
And more technology is set to be introduced into the Disney World hotel rooms soon. In 2021, Disney announced that Amazon’s Alexa and a new service called Hey, Disney! will be introduced in hotel rooms at Disney World and Disneyland in the future.
The service is set to be rolled out in Disney World starting in 2022, and it will be free for guests staying on property.
With this set-up, Amazon Alexa devices will be installed in Disney hotel rooms. The Hey, Disney! service (which is optional) will help guests with things like setting alarms, answering questions (like when the next bus to Magic Kingdom will arrive), requesting things needed for the room (like extra blankets), and more!
From mobile check-in to Amazon Alexa devices in hotel rooms, Disney is working to incorporate more technological features in the resorts. We’re interested to see just what other ideas Disney will announce in the future.
Offering More Transportation Options
For many years, Disney Resorts and parks were connected by only a few different transportation options: monorail, buses (at least from the resorts to the parks and back), boat, and walking paths.
Now, we’ve got the addition of the Disney Skyliner and it’s changing the way we travel between the hotels and parks!
You can now travel relatively easily from Disney’s Art of Animation Resort to Disney’s Riviera Resort for an early breakfast at Topolino’s Terrace, or jump from Disney’s Pop Century Resort over to Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort to grab a snack and a drink. Resort guests on the Skyliner lines can also take this transportation method over to EPCOT and Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
The addition of the walking path from Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa to Magic Kingdom also makes the hotels near Magic Kingdom more interconnected than ever and gives guests the chance to walk over to some of these spots rather than take the monorail or a bus to them.
Of course, some of these transportation options come with their own complications. The Skyliner, for example, has experienced some issues over the past few years that have left guests stuck for periods of time, and it can close during bad weather. But if you are tired of taking the same old Disney transportation places and/or want to explore some of the hotels easier, these can be great options.
Could more walking paths or other forms of transportation soon connect more of the hotels or connect the hotels to the parks in new ways? It’s possible. Disney will obviously have to value the expense of pursuing any of these options and weigh them against the potential benefits. Only time will tell what new things Disney transportation has in store for us.
Bringing the Characters to YOU!
Last but not least, another way that we’ve seen Disney shake things up at the resorts is with the addition of fan-favorite characters — and not just in decor or restaurants! Over the past several months, we’ve encountered various Disney characters at several different hotels, often popping up in unexpected places.
If you’re staying at a Resort soon, be on the lookout for Goofy at the pool or Mickey in the lobby, because you never know who you might see. If you see the Character Caravan bus in front of the hotel you’ll especially want to keep your eyes open for characters as the bus typically signals their arrival at the hotel.
Bringing more characters into the hotels (particularly those who do not have a character dining experience located there) is a great way to allow guests to experience the magic of the parks even on their “rest” days!
What other characters might appear at the hotels? Will Disney begin to do other things to incorporate more character interactions in the hotels in the future, aside from the character dining experiences that exist at select locations? We’re certainly on the lookout for any news about that.
Disney has also made a number of other updates to the hotels recently that could show where their future plans are headed. For starters, Disney is working on pretty significantly increasing the number of Disney Vacation Club rooms it has. Over at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, for example, one of the hotel buildings will be converted into 200 Resort Studios.
Disney had also announced that certain renovations and enhancements would be taking place at the Disney Vacation Club villas at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, and we got a look at what those updated rooms will look like.
That’s certainly a lot of focus on Disney Vacation Club rooms, and it could indicate a greater focus on these types of accommodations in the future as well.
One of the features we’re seeing added to some of these spaces is the addition of a fold-down bed. Disney had already said that fold-down beds would be coming to the Polynesian’s Villas and the Villas at Grand Floridian. And we’ve seen them put in other rooms at Value Resorts as well.
That could be another signal of what’s to come in the future.
That’s a look at just some of the big ways that Disney is changing the hotel experience. Which of these updates are you most excited about? Which do you hope to see expanded further in the future? We can’t wait to see all the new offerings and additions that are ultimately put in place in the Resorts in the future. Stay tuned to DFB for all the latest news on Disney World accommodations.
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What’s your favorite change made to the Resorts recently? Let us know in the comments!