Staying at a Disney World Resort hotel will ensure that you’re fully immersed in the Disney “magic” throughout the entirety of your stay. But, just like the parks, they’re NOT always perfect.
Like other unforeseen problems in Disney World, from gift card snafus to Park Pass hangups, the hotels have their OWN set of issues, including some that no one seems to talk about! The good news is that if you’re gonna run into a problem, Disney World is probably the best place for that to happen. But the bad news is problems in Disney World can be inevitable — even in the cozy confines of your hotel. So, allow us to shed some light on some particularly frustrating hotel problems that NO ONE is talking about!
The Awkwardness of Driving Into a Resort If You’re Not a Guest There
When it comes to security, Disney World is basically a whimsical Fort Knox. Seriously, sometimes we think we’d have an easier time walking into the Pentagon than we would a Disney World hotel! And, since the parks and resorts reopened after temporarily closing at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s only gotten harder to visit the hotels if you’re not staying there.
Currently, Disney’s website states that guests visiting the resorts must either have a confirmed room reservation or a confirmed dining reservation — sounds simple, right?
For guests with reservations who are staying on property, it’s no problem at all! But have you tried driving into a resort for dinner at say Narcoossee’s in Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa or a casual meal at the Steakhouse 71 Lounge in Disney’s Contemporary Resort WITHOUT being a guest there? It’s…weird. You’ll be asked to provide the name under your reservation (and usually a valid ID) and Disney’s security team will check their system for your reservation.
On the one hand, it’s good that security is tight, but it’s strange to feel a little interrogated at the check-in gate when all we want to do is eat ‘Ohana Noodles without feeling the need to spend a few extra hundred dollars on a room.
Bus Transportation. ‘Nuff Said.
Listen, we’re grateful that Disney World transportation is abundant and free! But you know what ELSE can be abundant during your trip? Transportation headaches.
If you’ve ever relied on Disney World transportation, you’re probably familiar with the crowds and long lines that you can find at bus stops whether you’re traveling to the parks or back to the hotel. And, it doesn’t seem to matter whether you’re staying at a hotel with only a few bus stops (some even only offer ONE for ALL the busses) or one with multiple stops…you’re likely going to find yourself waiting with a crowd of other guests staring at the digital wait times board.
Oh, and did we mention that you could be waiting on a bus for 20 minutes (or more in some cases)?
No matter which way you look at it, hotel transportation isn’t a picnic!
The Struggle For Pet-Owners
Did you know that there are actually dog-friendly hotels in Disney World? That’s right, you can bring Fido with you to the “most magical place on earth” if you’re staying at Disney’s Art of Animation Resort, Disney Port Orleans Resort – Riverside, Disney’s Yacht Club Resort, and the Campsites or Cabins at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort. But, it’s not without its own set of struggles.
When staying at a pet-friendly hotel with your pet, this doesn’t stop room service from needing to perform their routine room checks and upkeep. But, it’s a little different from the housekeeping service that you’re likely used to at Disney World.
Housekeeping doesn’t want to disturb your pet when conducting these routine checks, so the somewhat awkward solution is having to negotiate a time when you’ll be in your room and able to comfort your pet while room service does their magic. NOT an easy feat for most people who like to spend a bulk of their day in the parks!
Plus there are quite a few other rules and recommendations that Disney has for guests who choose to bring their pet along that could throw a wrench into your traditional park plans.
You’re Paying for Location, Not Luxury
Even for the larger-than-life Deluxe Resorts, many hotel rooms at Disney World can feel small and cramped. And, this would all be fine, if it weren’t for the fact that you’re paying a LOT for these spaces!
For example, the rooms at the VERY EXPENSIVE Grand Floridian Resort & Spa aren’t much more luxurious than a moderately appointed (and MUCH less expensive) chain hotel off-property, like a Hilton or a Hyatt.
Of course, Disney World’s Deluxe Resorts certainly have their luxuries, but at the end of the day, you’re MOSTLY paying for location over luxury when it comes to where you lay your head to rest at night. And, that can be pretty pesky if you’re expecting the latter for those prices.
Of course, there are quite a few more amenities at these hotels, like multiple Table Service restaurants, spas, and more, but you’re really only getting a big bang for your buck if you spend time enjoying the hotel rather than holed up in your room or at the parks all day.
On the opposite end of the Disney World spectrum, the “value” in Value Resorts can be pretty subjective. If your idea of value is perks and amenities, you’ll likely find yourself disappointed.
For example, at hotels like Disney’s Art of Animation Resort or Disney’s Pop Century Resort, you won’t find ANY Table Service restaurants, nor any upscale add-ons like spa services. Instead, these resorts are pretty bare-bones with a Quick Service food court, a small merchandise shop, and pools.
So, while it might be a value in terms of money (though even that is debatable), you’re really paying for a place to sleep at night and not much more.
And The Crowds…
Speaking of Value Resorts, we didn’t even MENTION one of the biggest grievances Disney fans have with these “cheap” hotels. The one BIG problem with these money-saving properties, you ask? The fact that they can be more crowded than rope drop on Main Street, U.S.A.!
These hotels accommodate a LOT more guests than places like the Grand Floridian or Disney’s Beach Club Resort or Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge which means that they tend to be more packed with people. In fact, these tend to be the go-to hotels for youth conventions, high school bands, and other large groups which can make for even more noise and general hustle-bustle.
So, if you book yourself a stay at these resorts looking to kick back and relax in a more subdued setting on your Disney World vacay, this could be a BIT of a problem!
Some Hotels Book Up WAY in Advance
You might be familiar with the struggle to secure a Park Pass Reservation during particularly busy times of the year, but nowadays it can be hard to find a reservation for the hotel you want too! In fact, we’ve seen some hotels book up MONTHS in advance.
Though Disney hasn’t confirmed whether capacity limits are still in place at the hotels and almost all have reopened, it’s become almost impossible to secure yourself a stay at certain resorts without some serious planning ahead. It could simply be a matter of not having enough beds for all the heads if capacity limits are still in place or Disney World could really be that hot of a vacation spot now that travel has nearly returned to pre-pandemic levels.
Especially for those who prefer to hold out or wait a little bit, this can add quite a hectic little plot twist to your vacation-planning experience!
At the end of the day, all Disney World hotels are immersive and memorable, but that’s not to suggest they aren’t without their problems, as you can see here! Hopefully, though, with some extra planning and insight, you can work around this to ensure your Disney vacation is as dreamy as you’ve always dreamed!
And, be sure to stay tuned to DFB for all the latest Disney World tips, tricks, and updates!
What’s the biggest problem YOU’VE encountered at a Disney World hotel? Let us know in the comments!