Walt Disney World Hotel Perks Offer Extra Magic
While we’ve stayed a few times off-site of the Walt Disney World property, we love the perks that guests receive when staying at a Walt Disney World (WDW) resort. My favorite reason for choosing an onsite hotel is the total Disney immersion; leaving the real world behind is an important factor for making the most of our family vacations. But there are even more benefits to staying at a WDW hotel.
Disney Magic Around the Clock
Travel under those beloved arches and you’ll be inside The Disney Bubble. Sounds weird to first time visitors but soon enough, you’ll know what your friends have been talking about. Total Disney immersion is a good thing for fans of Walt Disney World.
What does this really mean?
Cast Members (Disney employees) handing out stickers to your kids (or you!), food shaped liked Mickey, housekeeping’s unique towel art, character wake up calls, and themed resorts (landscaping, pools, stores, restaurants, rooms) all reflecting their own special Disney ambiance.
All you really need to know is that if you feel your real life worries have been whisked away AND you start singing silly Disney songs, exclaiming “Hakuna Matata” or “Jambo” to family members, and you find a Mickey Ears hat atop your head, you are surely experiencing vacation inside the Disney Bubble. And trust me, you don’t want any real life stress to pop that thing!
Did you fly into the Orlando International Airport (MCO)? If you are staying at a WDW resort, you’ll be able to take Disney’s Magical Express to your hotel. Disney’s bus transportation service also includes complimentary luggage transfer. I love checking in my luggage at my home airport and seeing those same bags (that I’ve over-packed!) magically appear in my WDW room on Arrival Day.
Once you are at your WDW hotel, you’ll be able to travel throughout the entire property via Disney transportation.
This may include buses, boats, and monorails. WDW transportation can sometimes be time-consuming but it’s nice to have someone else cart the family around.
Another one of my favorite perks is Resort Airline Check-In. If traveling on a participating airline (Alaska, American, Delta/U.S. Domestic Flights Only, JetBlue, Southwest, and United), your family can turn in suitcases to this designated spot at your WDW resort and your luggage will be transported for you — in reverse — all the way to your home airport.
Considering that your bags are now heavier due to those irresistible Disney souvenirs, this service is a tremendous Walt Disney World resort perk. After all, my favorite carry-on Weekender Bag can only hold so much.
Disney Restaurants and Reservations
Want to dine at Be Our Guest Restaurant? Utilizing this benefit will be key to helping you obtain those hard-to-get dining reservations at the most popular Walt Disney World restaurants. So, how does this perk work?
Advanced Dining Reservations at WDW restaurants can be made 180 days prior to the date that you wish to reserve. Do you need to count the days? No. For years, I have used this handy tool.
The advantage for WDW Resort guests is that they can make a dining reservation 180 days prior to their check-in date PLUS make reservations for their entire stay (up to 10 days). No need to wait until the 180 day mark to reserve the buffet at Chef Mickey’s for the last morning of your vacation.
I don’t know what it is — maybe the Mickey-shaped waffles? — but even dining at a value resort’s food court is more fun than a value meal off-site.
And certainly, the resort sit down restaurants serve up delicious eats with interesting decor.
Off-site guests can dine at all restaurants on property (exception: pool bars with guest-only access), however it’s convenient to have these dining choices at your resort for breakfast, a mid-day meal, dinner, and/or a late night snack.
Disney Dining Plan
A Disney Dining Plan can be added to your hotel reservation. Some families like the convenience of pre-paying for their meals. If you book your trip with a Free Dining offer, you may save some serious cash off of your total vacation budget. Watch Disney’s Special Offers!
Our family prefers the flexibility of paying out-of-pocket so the value of this benefit depends on your vacation style.
If you find the perfect souvenir on your way to your FastPass+ at Expedition Everest, you may want to take advantage of Package Delivery.
You’ll have two options — pick up the package at the front of the park (for ALL theme park guests) or have it delivered to your Walt Disney World hotel’s gift shop. Either way, your hands are free!
For an additional fee, you can have your treasures shipped home.
What are those colorful and waterproof bracelets that Disney guests are sporting? Well, they are not exactly the latest fashion craze. However, they are quite the magical tool given complimentary to WDW resort guests and annual passholders.
Believe it or not, those MagicBands are the key to Magical Express transportation, FastPass+ reservations, and theme park entry. Plus, guests can use their MagicBand to open their hotel room door, pay for purchases and dining, store Disney PhotoPass pictures, and more!
Off-site guests can purchase bands after arrival.
Scan that band at any restaurant or store and you’ll have your purchases added to your hotel’s room account (if you’ve set up room charging privileges). This is part of the Disney Bubble that you have to be careful with as it’s easy to overspend. The convenience however is priceless.
Our teen son has been charging his food (and some souvenirs) to our room for years.
Now, we don’t have to worry about lost room keys with charging privileges. It’s reassuring to know that the MagicBand is safe on Nic’s wrist for when he’s out exploring on his own and needs a beverage, snack, and/or meal.
Extra Magic Hours
With your Resort ID/MagicBand and a theme park ticket, your family can enjoy some extra time at select attractions in the parks. Check the official WDW calendar for morning and/or evening Extra Magic Hours being offered during your visit.
Usually one park per day has extra hours in the morning or evening for resort guests.
Early FastPass+ Planning
A very handy perk is the ability to reserve select shows and attractions early. Using the My Disney Experience app or online tool, link your WDW hotel room and theme park tickets. After, you’ll have up to 60 days (30 days for off-site guests) before arrival to pre-book up to 3 FastPass+ experiences at one theme park per day. With early access to FastPass+ planning, you’ll get better availability and more of your preferred times.
Want to ride Toy Story Midway Mania right before your dinner reservation? Just reserve an appropriate time. No need to run there first thing in the morning!
When our child was younger, we took advantage of the childcare facilities at Walt Disney World. Check in your child with well-trained staffed while you enjoy a date night, business meeting, or run a Disney 5K!
Kids are even provided a meal of their choice.
Walt Disney World is home to three championship golf courses. As a Disney resort guest, you’ll get advanced tee times as an added benefit.
Theme Park Admittance During High Crowds
You may have heard tales told of the Magic Kingdom closing due to high capacity. It’s true; I’ve seen it. If you are a resort guest, you’ll have preferred admittance once space is available! This is important on holidays such as New Year’s Eve.
Certainly, staying at an offsite hotel will cost less and you’ll likely get a larger room too. If this option suits your family’s budget best, I wouldn’t let it deter you from visiting Walt Disney World. You can have a magical visit while staying off-property.
However, if your budget allows, we recommend staying on-site at a Walt Disney World resort!
What are your favorite Walt Disney World resort perks? Are you staying onsite or offsite on your next trip?