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Travel12 reasons to stay at a Walt Disney World Resort property

12 reasons to stay at a Walt Disney World Resort property

As you drive under the gateway that welcomes you to Walt Disney World Resort, you pass beneath a sign that reads “Walt Disney World — The Most Magical Place on Earth.” When you stay in one of the resort’s more than two dozen on-site hotels, that magic spills over into your time outside of Disney World’s theme parks.

From fun (and free) activities to theme park perks and home-away-from-home amenities, here are 12 reasons to stay at a Walt Disney World hotel during your next visit to Orlando.


You can get into the theme parks early

Disney Resort hotel guests (including select Good Neighbor hotels) can get into any of Disney World’s four theme parks 30 minutes before the posted opening time every day. An extra 30 minutes may not sound like much, but you can knock out one or two headliners (think: Seven Dwarfs Mine Train at the Magic Kingdom or Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance at Disney’s Hollywood Studios) before other guests are even allowed through the gates.

The Magic Kingdom during early theme park entry. TARAH CHIEFFI/THE POINTS GUY

The best way to maximize this benefit is to show up at the gates about 30 minutes prior to that day’s early theme park entry time, which you can find on Disney’s weekly calendar. You’ll want to allow 30 to 45 minutes of travel time from your hotel, too. It makes for an early morning, but a cup of coffee from your hotel should get you through.

You can find a full list of participating hotels and open attractions on Disney’s early theme park entry information page.

A valid ticket is required for early theme park entry. Most ticket types no longer require a theme park reservation. You can check here to verify whether you need a reservation for early theme park entry.

You can (possibly) stay late

Not an early bird? Along with early theme park entry, Disney also has an extended evening hours benefit for guests staying at Deluxe Resorts, Deluxe Villas, Disney’s Shades of Green resort and the Walt Disney World Swan, Dolphin and Swan Reserve hotels.

Unlike the daily early entry, extended hours only occur on select evenings and only at one park per day. As of now, it alternates between the Magic Kingdom and Epcot, with the Magic Kingdom staying open from 10 p.m. to midnight and Epcot from 9 to 11 p.m.

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Epcot’s Spaceship Earth at night. MADISON BLANCAFLOR/THE POINTS GUY

Most of the designated parks’ most popular attractions remain open for extended evening hours. With only a few eligible hotels, you can expect wait times to be very low and crowds minimal.

A valid ticket is required for extended theme park hours. Most ticket types no longer require a theme park reservation. You can check here to verify whether you need a reservation for extended evening hours.

You can take advantage of complimentary transportation around Disney

The Disney World property is vast (more than 25,000 acres, to be exact), but it’s convenient to get around by boat, bus, gondola and even a “highway in the sky” with its monorail. No matter which mode of transportation you choose, all are free for Disney hotel guests.

Each resort has one or more bus stops that will take you to the various theme parks, water parks and Disney Springs. With a few exceptions, you can hop on a bus that will take you directly to your destination, and each bus stop has screens with estimated wait times.

If you stay at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort or Disney’s Contemporary Resort, you can take the monorail to the Magic Kingdom, Epcot or the other monorail loop hotels. You can also take a small water taxi to the Magic Kingdom from these same resorts, as well as to Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort and Disney’s Wilderness Lodge.

Ferryboats to Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios are available from Disney’s BoardWalk Inn, Disney’s Beach Club Resort, Disney’s Yacht Club Resort and the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin hotels. You can get to Disney Springs via ferryboat from Disney’s Port Orleans resorts, Disney’s Old Key West Resort and Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa.


Disney’s newest form of transportation, the Disney Skyliner, connects Disney’s Pop Century Resort, Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort and Disney’s Art of Animation Resort with Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios. It’s one of the most scenic transportation options, and it’s available to guests of Disney Value and Moderate resorts — not only to the guests of more expensive hotels.

You can enjoy transportation from Orlando’s main airport to your hotel


There are several ways to get from Orlando International Airport (MCO) to Disney World. You can rent a car, use a ride-hailing service or rely on the Mears Connect shuttle.

Mears Connect will coordinate luggage handling and will get you to and from the airport if you are staying at a Disney hotel.

The introductory rate for standard service is $16 each way for adults and $13.50 each way for kids; the premium service is $250 round-trip for up to four passengers (each additional passenger is $55). Why the steep price bump? The premium service is a private coach that takes your party directly to your resort with no other stops along the way.

You can easily get back to your hotel for a nap

If you’re staying off-site, you could lose hours of your vacation getting to and from your hotel in the middle of the day. Thanks to Disney’s free transportation options, you’re always only a short ride away from your room at a Disney World hotel in case your kids (or you) need a midday nap.

Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort. SUMMER HULL/THE POINTS GUY

This convenience extends beyond tired kids. Orlando can go from hot and sunny to torrential downpour in the blink of an eye, so it’s nice to have a home base where you can dry off or freshen up should the need arise.

You can make dining reservations before anyone else

Walt Disney World dining reservations are available online 60 days before your visit. The most in-demand dining experiences — like character breakfasts and drinks at Oga’s Cantina — can disappear almost immediately.

Crystal Palace at Disney World’s Magic Kingdom. TARAH CHIEFFI/THE POINTS GUY

If you are staying in a Disney World hotel, you can make dining reservations 60 days before your check-in day for your entire stay (up to 10 days). So, it’s possible to get a 10-day jump on everyone else waiting for the 60-day window to open if you’ve booked an extended Disney hotel stay. Other guests are stuck making their reservations one day at a time as they open up.

Related: ‘Be our guest’ at these 5 best character dining meals at Walt Disney World

You’ll have easy access to kitchens and laundry facilities

Most Disney World hotel rooms have at least a minifridge and access to on-site laundry facilities, but some have full kitchens and an in-room washer and dryer. These are generally located in Disney Vacation Club villas, Disney’s answer to timeshares (and some of the higher-priced hotels on the property).

Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa. TARAH CHIEFFI/THE POINTS GUY

You won’t necessarily save much money because of the higher room rates; however, the ability to prepare your own meals and go home with a suitcase full of clean clothes is a major benefit. You can book these rooms like a regular hotel room directly through Disney, even if you’re not a Disney Vacation Club member.

If a kitchen, washer and dryer are of interest, book a stay at one of these properties:

Some of Disney’s Value resorts also have family suites with a small refrigerator, a microwave, a sink and a dining area. If you’re looking for a budget-friendly option, these rooms allow you to make breakfast and stock up on snacks before you hit the parks.

Related: This is Disney World’s most budget-friendly hotel for large families

You can cool off in some of the coolest pools in Orlando

If you’re at Disney’s theme parks from the moment you wake up until the moment they shut the gates at night, you are missing out on one of Disney World’s best features: the pools. Every resort has multiple pools to choose from, and if you pick your hotel wisely, you could end up with a waterslide, lazy river or kid-friendly splash area (with a nearby pool bar for parents).

The Lava Pool at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort is one of the best at Disney World. The 142-foot waterslide travels through a volcano, and you can view the nightly Magic Kingdom fireworks from the pool.

Stormalong Bay pool at Disney’s Beach Club and Disney’s Yacht Club. SUMMER HULL/THE POINTS GUY

Another standout is Stormalong Bay, a 3-acre water park shared by Disney’s Beach Club and Yacht Club resorts. It has a pirate ship slide, a lazy river and a sandy beach.

You can use points at Disney resorts

It may not be our favorite card for everyday spending, but Disney’s credit cards can make it easier for families to manage a big Disney vacation. The Disney Visa Card offers a six-month, 0% financing option on Disney vacation packages for the first six months (then a variable annual percentage rate of 19.24% to 28.24% applies).

If you’re planning a shorter stay, pay instead with the Chase Sapphire Reserve® to earn 3 points per dollar.

You could also use your Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card (see rates and fees) to book your Disney resort stay; then, you can use the miles earned to redeem for 1 cent per mile to offset some of the charges.

You’ll find room types for every family

If you are traveling with three or more kids, older kids who just want a little privacy or extended family, a standard room with two double beds isn’t going to cut it. Thankfully, Disney World offers a variety of one-, two- and three-bedroom suites and villas that can accommodate any travel style.

Disney’s Art of Animation Resort. SUMMER HULL/THE POINTS GUY

On the lower end of the cost spectrum, some standard rooms have a child-size bed that pulls down from the wall; some resorts also have studio rooms with sleeper sofas and pull-down beds. You can also stay in a one-bedroom family suite with two queen-size, pull-down beds in the living area. (Your kids will flip out when they see the dining table turn into a bed.)

You can be the first to make your Lightning Lane purchases

Disney Genie+ is a paid service that allows you to skip the standby queue on many Disney World attractions and use a faster Lightning Lane. However, there are a handful of attractions that require a separate individual Lightning Lane purchase.

You don’t need to purchase Genie+ to buy individual Lightning Lane selections and vice versa. The individual Lightning Lane pricing varies by attraction but typically ranges between $7 and $25 per person, per attraction for rides like Tron: Lightcycle Run and Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind.

Disney Genie+ Lightning Lane. SUMMER HULL/THE POINTS GUY

When staying at a Disney resort, you’ll get earlier access to individual Lightning Lane selections.

Individual attraction selections can only be made on the day of your visit and for up to two attractions per day for all guests. Disney resort guests can make their individual Lightning Lane attraction purchases beginning at 7 a.m. Non-resort guests cannot purchase their selections until the park opens for the day.

You’ll have your pick of fun resort activities

One of the best things about staying at a Disney resort is fun family activities occur all day long, every single day. The schedule changes monthly, but you can always expect to see things like poolside games, Disney trivia, campfires and movies under the stars.

Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort. TARAH CHIEFFI/THE POINTS GUY

Some resorts also have free scavenger hunts that allow you to explore different areas of the resort and collect a fun prize when you solve all the clues. Most activities are completely free, but things like Mickey tie-dye T-shirts or s’mores kits for the campfire do carry a small fee.

Bottom line

People often refer to being in the Disney bubble when they visit Disney World. When you stay in a Disney hotel, that’s even more true.

There are special touches like hidden Mickeys and whimsical decorations, and you can enjoy the convenience of mobile ordering your morning coffee. Plus, you’ll only be a short distance from the theme parks, and Disney’s magic-making cast members will go out of their way to make your trip extra special.

Sadly, you will have to pop the bubble and return home eventually, but while you’re at Disney, the real world disappears and is replaced by a carefree world of magic.

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