When it comes to planning a Disney World trip, one of the biggest decisions you have to make is where to stay.
Every Disney World Resort has something unique to offer, including a variety of perks specific to the type of hotel you are starting at. But, are those perks worth emptying out your wallet? We’re talking about all the benefits of staying at a Disney World hotel, and helping you determine if they’re worth the high price tag!
The resorts on property at Disney World are separated into three different tiers — deluxe, moderate, and value. While each type of resort comes with its own unique benefits, there are overall perks that come along with staying at any Disney World Resort. Let’s talk about what you can expect to experience during your stay!
Grocery delivery is a solid trick for saving money AND space in your suitcase. You can order groceries or other supplies through platforms like Instacart, Garden Grocer, etc., and have them delivered to Bell Services at your resort!
Your delivery will be accepted by the front desk and kept refrigerated or frozen if necessary. Whenever you’re ready for ’em, you can pick them up for in the lobby for no fee, or have them brought to your room by Bell Services for a $6 fee.
Rather than having to wait in a long front desk line to check into your resort upon arrival, the entire process can be done online or through the My Disney Experience app. This is a time-saving perk that allows guests to skip the line and go straight to their resort room when it’s ready.
After checking in, you simply receive a notification when your room is ready. Then, you can enter using a MagicBand or the digital key in the My Disney Experience App.
Keep Bags With Bell Services
If you have to check out of your resort but still want to spend some extra time in the parks or by the pool, your bags can be left with bell services! That way, you won’t have to worry about what you’ll do with your luggage before starting your journey home.
Now, this isn’t a perk that you’ll find just at Disney Resorts, but it’s still a perk nonetheless.
They’ll Move Your Luggage for You
If you just can’t choose one single resort to stay at during your trip and end up splitting your stay between two different resorts, Disney’s there to help you out. And, you don’t have to be responsible for moving your bags to your second stay!
Cast Members will be able to move your luggage from Hotel A to Hotel B, so you won’t have to lift a finger.
Concierge Is a Major Resource
If you need help making dining reservations, buying tickets, or arranging childcare services during your trip, your resort’s concierge can help you with that and so much more. For any questions you have, you won’t have to rely on just yourself to figure out the answers.
They’re knowledgeable about park hours, transportation schedules and routes, and other basics that you need to know during your stay.
A great thing to take advantage of if you’re staying at a Disney Resort is the FREE activities that they offer! Throughout the day, they’ll have different fun things to do like scavenger hunts, crafts, pool parties, trivia challenges, and more.
In-Room Information and Entertainment
Your guest room TV has lots of information that’ll help you plan your park day! You’ll find park hours along with special channels that will show you around each park.
There are also some in-room perks that are definitely a reminder that you’re in Disney World. You can start AND end your day with Mickey Mouse. On the TVs, there’s a channel that specifically shows bedtime stories in the evenings on channel 22 from 7PM to 10PM. Then, when it’s time to get up in the morning, you can get a wake-up call from Mickey Mouse himself!
A free perk (and souvenir) are the special celebratory buttons that you can request from Cast Members! There are buttons that celebrate birthdays, first visits, happily ever afters, and more!
These can be fun to get when you first arrive in Disney World, then you have the rest of your trip to flaunt them!
You’ll Feel Like You’re at Disney World
Staying at a Disney Resort adds a little extra magic in comparison to staying at accommodations off-property. Every Disney Resort has immersive details and themes that make it very clear that you’re at Disney World — some more than others. Value resorts like All-Star Movies and Art of Animation feature larger-than-life decor of Disney icons that make it absolutely undeniable that you’re in the Most Magical Place on Earth.
Although the Disney theming at the deluxe resorts isn’t quite as “in your face” as the value resorts, there are still special touches. For example, last year Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort underwent refurbishments to add elements inspired by Moana throughout the hotel!
And over at Disney’s Contemporary Resort, you’ll find rooms themed to the Pixar film The Incredibles.
Beyond that, every resort will have bountiful hidden Mickeys to find and other additions that just make it feel like Disney.
Extra Time in the Parks
All Disney Resort guests get Early Theme Park Entry — the option to go to any park (provided you have a Park Pass Reservation) 30 minutes before it opens, every day of your trip. That extra half-hour before crowds start building in the park can be invaluable as far as getting in much shorter standby lines for some 0f the most popular rides in the parks.
Early Theme Park Entry is one of two “extra time in the parks” benefits that replaced the old Extra Magic Hours system. The second — Extended Evening Hours — is available to guests of Deluxe resorts. More on that in a sec!
Early Access to Genie+ Individual Lightning Lane Selections
Lightning Lanes are Disney’s new replacement for the FastPass+ system. You can pay $15 per day for Genie+, which allows you to make ride reservations for about 50 attractions across Disney World. For the most popular rides in each park, you have the option of purchasing an “Individual Lightning Lane Selection” — basically a ride reservation.
While all Disney guests can reserve an Individual Lightning Lane time when the park opens, if you are staying at a Disney Resort, you can access this system beginning at 7AM. This perk will give you a lot more control over your day, since time slots do sell out quickly.
Earlier Access to Advance Dining Reservations
When it comes to making dining reservations in advance, Disney Resort guests can make their bookings 60 days in advance, plus the length of their stay (no longer than 10 days).
Other guests can only make reservations 60 days in advance. It may seem like a small advantage, but it could be the edge you need to snag a hard-to-get reservation!
Every Disney World Resort offers at least one form of transportation to get you to the parks and Disney Springs. Bus transportation is the most common, but some resorts also have access to boats, the Skyliner, and the monorail.
This way, you don’t really have to worry about how to get around from park to park. Disney takes care of all of that for you!
Have you ever seen a souvenir that you really want to buy, but you didn’t want to carry it around the park with you all day? Well, luckily Disney has a solution for that. When purchasing your souvenirs, you can let a Cast Member know that you’d like to have your purchase shipped to your resort and they can do that!
This service is free and typically within 48 hours, your items will be available to grab from your resort’s gift shop. Nothing perishable (like food items) can be shipped, and you can’t be departing from your resort within the next two days to ensure enough time for your purchase to get there.
It’s important to note that this service has been suspended since the parks re-opened. We hope it returns soon!
Deluxe Resort Perks
Alright, so now that we’ve discussed all the perks you can get from staying at any Disney World Resort, we can talk about some of the exclusive perks that come along with only staying at a certain type of resort. These exclusive perks will definitely come with a much bigger price tag.
Disney’s Deluxe Resorts are of the highest quality and include access to some top-notch amenities. But, they’re definitely pricey. Stays can range between $500 and $700+ per night. So, if you’re shelling out that serious dough, those perks had better be worth it.
Multiple Dining Options
Disney’s Value Resorts only have a quick-service dining option that’s set up pretty similarly to a food court. In comparison, Deluxe Resorts have both quick-service and table-service options, and there are typically a handful of restaurants available.
This will give your family more options for where to eat nearby, adding an extra layer of convenience.
Convenient Access to Upscale Dining and Entertainment
Not only do Deluxe Resort guests have access to multiple types of dining, but you can also expect some of those restaurants to be pretty impressive. Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa boasts Victoria & Albert’s, an extremely elegant restaurant that has received dozens of accolades, including AAA’s Five Diamond Award. (Note: Victoria & Albert’s remains closed at the time of publication, but will be opening some time in 2022.)
Extra Time in the Parks, Part 2
As we noted above, all Disney World Resort guests get Early Theme Park Entry. But guests of Disney World Deluxe Resorts also get Extended Evening Hours.
This extra couple of hours in a park after close is typically offered a couple of nights a week. Most Extended Evening Hours are offered at Magic Kingdom and EPCOT, but we have seen them offered occasionally at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, as well. Having this extra park access is a big plus because it might mean scoring a ride on your favorite attractions after the lines have died down! Plus, what’s better than some extra time for gazing at nighttime views of Cinderella Castle or Spaceship Earth?
Fitness Centers and Spas
Many Deluxe Resorts have full-service fitness facilities available to guests (in case the tens of thousands of steps you’re taking in the parks each day just isn’t enough).
And, if you need some well-deserved rest and relaxation after spending all day Park-Hopping, spas and health clubs can be found at a couple of the Deluxe Resorts. The Grand Floridian and Saratoga Springs Resorts both have full spas, and other resorts like Disney’s Yacht Club Resort have facilities that offer services like massages and facials.
Impressive Swimming Pools
Spending some time poolside can often be a very necessary part of a Disney World vacation. Although every resort has a pool, some are just a little bit more impressive than others. The Deluxe Resorts offer expansive swimming pools (and sometimes more than one) with waterslides!
One of the most noteworthy pools is Stormalong Bay at Disney’s Yacht and Beach Club Resorts. Guests have access to three acres of poolside fun. The pool itself has a sand bottom, which adds to the feeling that you’re at an actual beach. There’s also a 230-foot waterslide, a lazy river, and 3 whirlpools!!
If you have kiddos that love to swim, some of these added pool perks can be good to keep in mind!
The option to stay on the “Club Level” is offered at many Deluxe Resorts, along with Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort, which is considerate in the “moderate” category. The biggest reason to book a Club Level room is the access you’ll receive to the club lounges. There, you’ll find complimentary coffee, breakfast, evening snacks, drinks, and desserts.
It’s a quick and easy way to grab a small bite to eat in the morning and throughout the day.
Proximity to Parks and Transportation Options
Deluxe Resorts will also bring you MUCH closer to the action. In comparison to Value Resorts, these are in much closer proximity to at least one park. And beyond that, you’ll also have multiple options for getting from point A to point B. Besides bus transportation, resorts like the Grand Floridian, Polynesian, and Contemporary also have access to the monorail and walking paths to Magic Kingdom.
Disney’s Riviera Resort has access to the Skyliner, and the Yacht and Beach Club and BoardWalk Inn have boat transportation to EPCOT and Disney’s Hollywood Studios. This can be beneficial if you’re traveling with little kids and you want to have as little travel time as possible.
So, do all of these amenities justify potentially shelling out $700 each night? If you’re the type that likes to spend a lot of time at the resort, rather than in the parks, then maybe! Time is money in Disney World, and being closer to the parks, along with having various ways to get there can definitely add up!
Moderate Resorts are the second tier, and while they won’t offer all the perks that you’ll find at the Deluxe Resorts, they’re still great options for your stay. You’ll still have access to multiple dining options and sometimes various transportation choices.
When staying at a Moderate Resort, you can expect to pay anywhere between $250-$400+ per night. So naturally, as the amount you pay decreases, so does what you get for your money.
The most prominent perk of Disney’s Value Resorts is the over-the-top Disney theming (and only some may consider it a perk 👀). Some people find the larger-than-life decor to be cheesy, but there’s no questioning whether or not you’re in Disney World when you exit your hotel room to a GIANT statue of Mickey Mouse. There’s nothing subtle about it, so if that’s what you’re after, it’s a definite bonus.
Prices at Value Resorts can span between just $175-$300 per night. If your family doesn’t require all the lavish amenities that come with the Deluxe Resorts, then a Value Resort might be perfect for your budget.
If you know that you spend very little time at the resort and prefer to spend most of your time in the parks, then there probably isn’t a need to splurge at the Deluxe Resorts. A Value Resort will provide everything you need for a comfortable stay, and you won’t be spending any unnecessary money.
So, Overall, Are They Worth It?
Ultimately, deciding whether staying at a Disney Resort is worth your money or not comes down to your family’s needs. You know your needs better than anyone else, so if you feel like you do require all the perks that come along with staying at Disney World to have a successful trip, then that price tag is definitely worth it for you.
They might also be worth the price tag if you want to have the full Disney “experience.” This might be something you want if it’s your family’s first visit to Disney World and you want to experience everything it has to offer.
Or, even if it’s your hundredth visit to Disney World, you might still want to be right in the center of the magic! Staying at a Disney Resort can definitely add to the overall feeling of being there!
Another significant perk of staying on-property is the ability to get to the parks quickly with the option of using various types of transportation. If you’re traveling with young kids, this is especially noteworthy. This makes it easy to get back and forth if there’s an unanticipated need for naptime or you need to quickly grab something essential that you left in the hotel room. You won’t have that wiggle room if you’re staying off-property.
And, it’s the same deal for having multiple dining options. On the other hand, there are many accommodation options off-property that are more spacious and may even come with a kitchen for a lower price than what you’d be paying for a standard room on Disney property. So, there’s a bit of a trade-off there.
If you’re open to staying at a resort that isn’t owned by Disney, the Good Neighbor Hotels offer many of the same perks but for a much lower price. Some of these can be found in the Disney Springs Resort Area, so you’re still in close proximity to the parks, but you’re not staying at an actual Disney Resort. You’ll still have access to complimentary transportation to the parks and other benefits like Early Theme Park Entry.
Overall, where you decide to stay during your Disney World vacation is dependent on you and your family’s needs! Every resort has something different to offer, so it’s important to plan in advance and take everything into consideration before making that decision. It’s also beneficial to take advantage of the special offers that Disney World has. There’s almost always some sort of promotion on resort rooms or packages — keep checking our Disney Discounts and Deals page for the latest!
So, what do YOU think? Is a Disney resort stay worth the price tag? Tell us in the comments!