One of my favorite parts about traveling to Walt Disney World in Florida is the Disney resorts. In fact, my family has taken several trips now where we stayed at multiple resorts each vacation. We just love the idea of a hotel being more than just a place to sleep. While yes, it is true that you can save some money staying off-site. There are definitely some perks to staying at a Disney World Resort that more than make up for the extra cost.
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Planning a Disney World vacation in 2023? Be sure to check out our guide to all that the Walt Disney World Resort has to offer this year including the opening of TRON Lightcycle Run Roller Coaster, updated nighttime spectaculars, and more!
1) You will get early access to individual Lightning Lane attractions selections that are not included with Genie+
Disney has officially replaced their FastPass+ feature with the all-new Genie and Genie+. While Disney Genie is free for all guests, Genie+ is a paid addon that allows you to skip the regular stand-by line. For $15 per day per ticket, there will be a list of attractions (most likely the attractions that previously offered FastPass+) where you can schedule your return time. Attraction selections can be made one at a time beginning at 7:00 AM Eastern Time.
But there is a second à la carte option that is completely separate from Disney Genie+. Rides available for an “individual attraction” selection will not be available to those with Disney Genie+, and the list will include a small list of top-tier attractions.
Pricing for this option will vary depending on the date, the attraction, and the park. (We will know more about pricing as we get closer to the launch!) But here’s the perk: Guests staying at a Walt Disney World Resort hotel will be able to make an individual Lightning Lane attraction selection at 7:00 AM, while those not staying at a Disney Resort will have to wait until the park opens. So if you’re dying to purchase a return time for one of Disney’s top-tier attractions, by the time the park opens… reservations may be gone.
*Click here for more info on Disney Genie and Disney Genie+!
2) Spend more time in the parks with early theme park entry
Some of you may recall Disney World’s “Extra Magic Hours.” Certain parks were scheduled to be open an hour early or an hour late for resort guests to enjoy a limited amount of attractions. This perk never came back after the pandemic, and Disney has officially announced its replacement… early theme park entry. Guests staying on Disney property (and other select resorts) will be allowed 30-minute early entry to ANY theme park EVERY day. While 30 minutes may not seem like much, being allowed to enter every park a little early is a huge bonus.
Additionally, those staying at Disney Deluxe Resort Hotels, Disney Deluxe Villas, and other select hotels (Swan, Dolphin, Swan Reserve, Shades of Green) will be given access to Extended Evening Hours on select nights in Magic Kingdom or Epcot. It is worth noting that in order to take advantage of these extra hours, guests must provide a valid Resort ID, valid admission, and a theme park reservation for the same park on the same day. (Or a ticket with the Park Hopper option, provided you entered the park where you made your reservation earlier in the day.)
3) Take mid-day breaks much more easily
With easier access to the parks, leaving in the middle of the day to take a nap or swim in the resort pools becomes much simpler… especially with Disney’s free resort transportation. While nearly all of the resorts offer bus travel, many of them offer monorail transportation, boat service, or even the Disney Skyliner. So if you have little ones that still need a mid-day nap, or you simply want to escape the afternoon heat… being able to easily get back to your hotel is a must!
4) Make use of keyless room entry, MagicBands, and MagicBand+ throughout your resort
MagicBands are amazing! They serve as your room key, give you a way to pay within the parks, and store all of your Genie+ reservations. They truly made our vacation much more seamless. As of January 1, 2021, MagicBands are no longer complimentary, but basic ones are rather inexpensive and may be worth the cost for your family. If you choose to opt out of purchasing MagicBands, Disney also offers keyless room entry via the My Disney Experience App.
In addition to basic MagicBands, Disney is now offering MagicBand+ at Walt Disney World! In addition to having all of the features of the original MagicBand, MagicBand+ unlocks enchanted interactions throughout the resort and has a rechargeable battery.
5) You can take advantage of Disney’s free transportation and parking
While Disney’s Magical Express has been permanently suspended (which transported guests to and from the airport), Disney resort guests can still take advantage of free transportation to and from the parks, as well as free standard parking at the parks. This is undoubtedly one of the best perks of staying at a Disney World Resort. Getting around the resort is significantly easier when staying on Disney property!
6) Take Advantage of Disney Dining
While Disney dining plans were suspended when the parks closed due to Covid, many are hopeful for its return as the plans were quite popular. Disney Dining plans allowed you pre-pay for snacks, Quick-Service meals, and Table Service restaurants throughout the Walt Disney World Resort. And while I have never personally purchased a dining plan, I know of many who love the freedom and flexibility they provide. (I have also heard they can help you save money!)
Disney has announced a dining promotion, however, for 2023! The Disney Dining Promo Card is now available for bookings beginning on January 5, 2023. Guests will be able to use the card during select dates in summer 2023. You must book at least a 5-night, 4-day non-discounted room and ticket package (4-day ticket and 4-night minimum required). It cannot be combined with any other discount or promotion, so you will want to weigh out your options to see if this promotion is the best deal for you and your family.
*It is important to note that only one Disney Dining Promo Card will be distributed per reservation. The value of your card is calculated per night, not per guest.
- For arrivals July 1-10 and August 1-September 14:
- Value Resorts: $50 per night
- Moderate Resorts and Cabins: $100 per night
- Deluxe Resorts and Villas: $150 per night
- For arrives June 25-30 and July 11-31:
- Value Resorts: $35 per night
- Moderate Resorts and Cabins: $75 per night
- Deluxe Resorts and Villas: $125 per night
7) Discover uniquely themed rooms and dining experiences
On our last trip to Walt Disney World, my family stayed at three different resorts. The best part? Experiencing all of the different themes and food choices. And while I wouldn’t recommend switching resorts mid-vacation to every family, we were able to stay at Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort, Disney’s Contemporary Resort, and Disney’s Wilderness Lodge. All three offered a unique experience, which made our trip quite memorable.
8) Disney purchases can be delivered to your room
This perk is incredibly convenient, and we used it when we stayed at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge. After purchasing a souvenir at Epcot, we were able to pick it up when we got back to our hotel room at the resort’s gift shop.
9) There is something for just about every budget
Yes, you can save money by staying off-site. But with value resorts all the way up to deluxe villas, there really is something for everyone. And honestly, the value resorts are less expensive than most of the regular hotels in our hometown… and you still get all of the perks of staying at a Disney World resort.
To help you decide, be sure to check out our guides to Disney Resorts:
10) Plan a seamless Disney vacation
Remember when I said that my family stayed at three different resorts? This was all made possible by Disney. Split stays (staying at multiple resorts in a single visit) are entirely possible with Disney. They even transfer your luggage FOR FREE while you spend the day in the parks! From start to finish, your vacation can be seamless with Disney.
**Looking to plan your Walt Disney World vacation? Be sure to visit my step-by-step guide to get started!