With more than 20 Disney World hotels on property, there is a great variety of price ranges, themes, and room configurations to fit almost every family. However, the same can be said for off-site hotels. So, why should you stay on-site? What are the benefits of staying at Disney World hotels?
I’ll be sharing 9 fantastic reasons to stay at one of the Disney World hotels on property with you. Despite living in Southwest Florida and making dozens of weekend trips when I was growing up, I never set foot on Disney hotel property until I took my own kids on our first family Disney trip in 2013! Since then, I haven’t looked back and have only stayed at on-site Disney World resort hotels for many of these reasons.
Once you’ve decided that staying on-site is right for your family, you’ll need to choose which Disney World resort hotel is right for you. Don’t miss my guide to the Best Disney World Resort Hotels for Families of 4!
Before I dig into the reasons why you should stay at a Disney World hotel, let’s first mention a few reasons why this might not be the best choice for your family.
Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge lobby
Reasons to Stay at Hotels Near Disney World
While staying at Disney World hotels on property is the right choice for my family, there are definitely solid reasons to stay off-site. Here are a few top reasons to consider looking at one of the hotels near Disney World:
- Larger spaces for cheaper prices
- Escape the Disney atmosphere
- Easier access to other Orlando theme parks
Staying off-site will usually be an advantage for larger groups that need more space. Renting a nearby condo will undoubtedly be cheaper than a larger Disney hotel or Disney Vacation Club suite.
You will also be able to escape the Disney atmosphere (if you need a break from Mickey and friends) and be closer to other Orlando area attractions (if you’re visiting Universal Studios or enjoying other sights).
Disney’s All-Star Movies Resort
Benefits of On-Site Disney World Resort Hotels
Since our family does not need a larger space, we prefer to stay in the “Disney Bubble”, and we don’t visit other theme parks while we’re in Orlando, staying at an on-site Disney World hotel simply makes sense for us. Here are 9 reasons to stay at one of the Disney World hotels on property:
- Prime location!
- 60-day FastPass+ reservations
- Free Magical Express airport transportation
- Disney Dining Plan availability
- Free MagicBands
- Extra Magic Hours
- Free parking at the parks
- Free transportation within Disney World
- Staying inside the “Disney Bubble”
Let’s take a closer look at some of the on-site Disney hotel benefits.
Disney’s Contemporary Resort atrium and 14th floor view
Location, Location, Location!
If you’re planning mid-day breaks at your hotel, the on-site hotels are the closest and most convenient for naps and swim breaks. Don’t underestimate the time it takes to leave the parks and drive off-site, and then return again in the evening. Staying on-site will definitely save you travel time if you expect to go back to your hotel in the middle of the day.
60-Day FastPass+ Reservation Window
A huge perk of staying at a Disney World hotel is the ability to make FastPass+ reservations for your entire trip 60 days from the first day of your hotel stay. Everyone else, including those staying off-site, can only make FastPass+ reservations 30 days out.
Being able to make your FastPass+ reservations at 60 days versus 30 means you have a much greater chance of scoring FastPass+ for the most popular rides and the desired times for your entire plan, in general. By 30 days out, reserving FastPass+ for rides like Flight of Passage and Slinky Dog Dash are slim to nil because everyone with an on-site hotel reservation already scooped them up a month earlier.
Free Magical Express Airport Transportation
You can strike rental car costs and rideshare fees from your trip budget when staying at a Disney World resort hotel. Free motorcoach airport transportation via Disney’s Magical Express is offered to hotel guests flying into Orlando International Airport (MCO). If you are staying off-site, figure airport transportation or rental car costs into your budget.
Disney’s Wilderness Lodge quiet spaces and Magic Kingdom transportation
Disney Dining Plan
Quite simply, if you want to use the Disney Dining Plan, you must stay at a Disney World hotel on property. The Disney Dining Plan is only available to hotel guests.
MagicBands, the RFID bracelets are used as park tickets, room keys, and FastPass+ redemption and are free for hotel guests. If you are staying at a Disney World hotel, you can also link a credit card to your MagicBand (with a PIN for security) to use for in-park purchases and dining.
MagicBands may be purchased without a hotel reservation, but credit card linking is not possible without a Disney World resort hotel reservation.
You do not NEED a MagicBand. Your ticket card will work fine for park entry and FastPass+ redemption. They are a mere convenience, but a great one if you plan on maximizing your use of FastPass+ and want to link a credit card.
Extra Magic Hours
Every day, one or more Disney World parks opens early or stays open later just for on-site hotel guests. In theory, the parks should be less crowded during these extra hours because they are not open to everyone. That’s not always the case, but Extra Magic Hours are still a perk to hotel guests because the parks are open longer and crowds CAN be less.
Note: Extra Magic Hours should not be confused with the similarly-named Early Morning Magic which is a separate ticketed event.
Free Parking at the Parks
Disney resort hotel guests do not have to pay to park at the theme parks. Other guests are charged $25 per day to park at the theme parks.
However, Disney does charge an overnight hotel parking fee so this perk isn’t as impressive as it used to be. Overnight Disney hotel parking fees are $15 (value resorts), $20 (moderate resorts), and $25 (deluxe resorts) per night depending on the hotel category. So, if you’re staying at a deluxe resort, the parking fees are a wash. If you’re staying value or moderate, the difference will save you a few bucks.
Free Transportation Within Disney World
This benefit is available to everyone, not only Disney hotel guests. Anyone can ride Disney World’s complimentary bus, boat, monorail, and Skyliner transportation. However, since these transportation systems only run within Disney World property and between all of the resorts and theme parks, they are most beneficial to those staying on-site.
Renting a car simply isn’t necessary when staying at one of the Disney World hotels on property because there is free transportation available to take you anywhere you want to go within the resort.
Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort lobby
Staying within the “Disney bubble”
This one is a personal opinion, but staying on Disney World property and never seeing the “real world” for the entire vacation can be a huge perk. For my family, vacation is all about removing ourselves from everyday life for just a few days. We relax, recharge, and then we’re ready to face the world again. Staying on site is the best way to maintain that all-inclusive vacation bubble.
Will you be staying on-site at a Disney World resort hotel for your next trip?