Disney Hotel Amenities: The Good, The Bad, and The Unnecessary
I think everyone can agree that when they stay in a hotel they’re expecting to find, at a minimum, a clean, safe, place to sleep. After that, almost everything else is an amenity: something to induce comfort or convenience rather than an absolute necessity.
Of course most hotels do provide at least a little something beyond fresh sheets and a lock on the door. With extras, they distinguish themselves from competitors, define their brand, and build loyalty. However, the perceived utility and value of specific amenities varies widely. For example, about a year ago a friend of mine stayed at the Grand Floridian at Walt Disney World. She posted a Facebook rant about her anger and disappointment when she didn’t receive turndown service at the hotel. She had paid a premium to stay at the most luxe accommodations on property. She had been looking forward to turndown and was upset when this amenity did not materialize.
My first reaction to her post was that if I didn’t receive turndown, I would be slightly relieved.
I happen to think turndown is silly. I’m perfectly capable of fluffing my own pillows. And when they leave me that little chocolate, I inevitably eat it, which is something I’ve been trying to avoid lately. My friend’s amenity is my annoyance, so much so that I was intrigued when I read about a German hotel with a “reverse housekeeping policy” where they’ll only make up your room if you specifically ask them to. If I’m traveling with my kids, I’m all for full housekeeping service, but when I’m on my own at a hotel, I’d usually prefer to be left alone.
So for some, turndown service is a good amenity. For others it may be unnecessary, or even bad. And of course, the character of an amenity might change depending on your circumstances. As I mentioned, full maid service is, to me, unnecessary when I’m traveling alone, but good when I’m with a group of kids. Your impressions of an amenity might change depending on your age, your health, the location of the hotel, the purpose of your trip (business or pleasure), or any number of other factors.
In 2012, I stayed in a hotel in Austria, the Hotel Schloss Fuschl, which, among its many in-room amenities was included a small refrigerator stocked with local beers. Not a minibar stocked with $15 bottles, but an open fridge with local brews available to consume at will. I give this amenity two enthusiastic thumbs up, but if I had substance use issues, or religious or medical problems with alcohol, or rebellious kids, I might have been outraged to find this in my room.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention price. More amenities almost always equal higher cost. For some folks, eschewing amenities in favor of low cost is the overarching priority.
Here are some common DISNEY WORLD HOTEL AMENITIES and how they might be seen by different people:
- Good: Convenient, free, transportation from the airport to my hotel.
- Bad: Slow service is not all that convenient, but I feel guilty not using it.
- Unnecessary: We drive to WDW and thus don’t need airport transportation. I’d rather that the expense for this wasn’t built in to the hotel rates.
- Good: Online access is part of my life. I can’t imagine being without it. I’m glad there’s no additional fee for Internet usage.
- Bad: I want my kids to unplug during vacation. Having free WiFi makes it harder for me to implement this.
- Unnecessary: I don’t use the Internet much. I’d rather that the expense for this wasn’t built in to the hotel rates.
- Good: I need to have my coffee first thing in the morning. Having the coffee maker in the room makes this easier.
- Bad: It takes up too much counter space in the room.
- Unnecessary: I don’t drink coffee. Meh.
Kitchens or Kitchenettes Available in the family suites at All Star Music and Art of Animation, and in the Disney Vacation Club resorts
- Good: I need access to cooking facilities because it helps with my family’s medical needs. I like to cook and this makes it easier. Having access to cooking facilities helps us meet our budget by saving on food expense.
- Bad: I want to get away from cooking chores while on vacation, but because it’s there we end up using it. Having the kitchen makes me less relaxed.
- Unnecessary: We don’t really use it. I’d rather that the expense for this wasn’t built in to the hotel rates.
- Good: I love this brand! And I’m glad I don’t need to pack certain toiletries; it saves space in my luggage.
- Bad: The heavily scented soaps and shampoos make me ill.
- Unnecessary: I always bring my own supplies wherever I go. I just ignore the stuff they leave in the room.
- Good: Having that extra hour in the park with lower crowd levels is a big win for my family. We’re able to cross so many rides off our list during that time. It’s the reason we stay on Disney property.
- Bad: Crowd levels feel so high to me at the Extra Hours park. I wish things were more evenly distributed.
- Unnecessary: There are theme parks at Disney World? I’m just here for my cardiology conference.
There are some amenities that you might encounter at DISNEY DELUXE AND CONCIERGE LEVEL resorts, but not at the value and moderate level:
- Good: Seeing the Castle makes me feel like I’m living in a fairytale. Sigh.
- Bad: Seeing the Castle means I’m also going to hear the fireworks. My kids go to sleep early and I always worry about them being woken up.
- Unnecessary: I’m barely in my room and am indifferent to the view.
- Good: I love wrapping myself in a nice fluffy robe after I shower.
- Bad: It takes up closet space.
- Unnecessary: I don’t use robes. I’d rather that the expense for this wasn’t built in to the hotel rates.
- Good: Turndown makes me feel pampered, like I’m really being cared for.
- Bad: I want strangers in my room as little as possible. I don’t like the feeling of having to pre-tidy the room myself twice a day.
- Unnecessary: I can turn down my own bed, thank you very much. I’d rather that the expense for this wasn’t built in to the hotel rates.
Room service Note that in-room pizza delivery is available at all WDW hotels.
- Good: I loved getting served in my room. Breakfast in bed is the best! The convenience can’t be beat.
- Bad: Having food in a hotel room is messy/smelly/expensive. I hate seeing half-eaten trays of room service food in when I walk down the hall.
- Unnecessary: This is not something I would ever use. Meh.
- Good: There is nothing I love more than getting a massage on vacation. Total relaxation!
- Bad: I hate being touched by strangers, but my significant other always drags me along for a couples massage. I wish the spa weren’t such a temptation for him/her.
- Unnecessary: This is not something I would ever use. Meh.
On site childcare centers
- Good: It’s super convenient to drop my kids at a safe place for a few hours right in my hotel. Date night is so much easier!
- Bad: The childcare center brings extra noise and foot traffic to that part of the hotel. I find it distracting.
- Unnecessary: I don’t have small children. Meh.
There are also some amenities that OFF-SITE HOTELS may have, but on-property Disney World rooms do not:
- Good: It’s a guilty pleasure splurge for me.
- Bad: It’s an expensive and wasteful temptation. I hate having to shoo my kids away from it all the time.
- Unnecessary: Not my thing. I don’t even notice that it’s there.
Pay cable TV stations and movies on demand
- Good: I need to watch my favorite HBO shows in real time.
- Bad: There are things available on the TV that I’d rather my kids not be exposed to.
- Unnecessary: I don’t watch TV on vacation. Meh.
A pillow menu
- Good: I’m very particular about my pillows. I love that there are so many to choose from.
- Bad: Why are they bothering me with all these questions. I just want to go to sleep already.
- Unnecessary: This is a thing?
Unique items Custom playlists loaded on an iPod, toothpaste, rubber duckies in the bathtub, poetry books on your pillow, aromatherapy machines, a bowl of goldfish on the desk, a view of a giraffe from your bedroom window, etc.
- Good: These little treats are so whimsical/romantic/playful. They make my vacation extra special.
- Bad: This stuff is taking up space. And why does my room smell like this?
- Unnecessary: I just want to go to sleep. Who cares about this stuff?
I’ve stayed in hotels with free beer, roaming zebras, CDs of classic 60’s music, a bathtub rubber ducky that looked like Elvis, and printed cards with the next day’s weather left on my pillow – all were lovely perks, for me. But one of the most memorable hotel amenities I’ve encountered was at the Hotel Kempinski in Munich, during an Adventures by Disney trip. In the desk drawer, along with the standard sheets of hotel stationary and a city map, were two of the most perfectly weighted, perfectly shaped, perfectly sharpened pencils I have ever encountered. I had no idea I was a pencil snob until I saw these masterpieces of craftsmanship. Each night of our stay, I put the two pencils into my backpack (as well as the two in my daughters’ room), and each day, they were magically replaced by their twin brothers. Insert sound of choir of heavenly angels singing.
OK, pencils you say, that’s pretty dorky. But when I recently booked another Adventures by Disney trip in a similar part of Europe, my travel agent offered a few options for our pre-trip stay. As soon as I heard that the Kempinski was on the list, that became my number one choice, due in no small part to their fabulous pencils. It wasn’t a wholly rational decision, but neither are most hotel amenities.
What are your favorite Disney hotel amenities? What can you live without? Have you encountered any unique amenities that you wish they had at Disney hotels? Let us know in the comments below.
14 thoughts on “Disney Hotel Amenities: The Good, The Bad, and The Unnecessary”
I have kept toiletries from near every hotel I have stayed in. Up to my thirties, hotel stays were non existent for me. These are a great memory keeper for me. I look forward to them. I know where you are at with the pencils too. I have a good number of pens, but fewer sheets of headed note paper. With email and social media, paper to write a letter is dying out, now usually a small note pad is all. Paper and envelopes from some of my more costly hotels are prized possessions to me as memories of good things.
Don’t care about chocs, mini-bars, turn down or slippers. Just soap, shower gel and paper are all that I need to keep me sweet.
I live and breath hotels. It is my profession. I really enjoyed this post because it illustrates how each of us have very personal taste.
It is crucial that we, as guests, research accommodation options as best as possible to find out what a hotel offers in regards to what is important to us. Review sites are helpful, but only if we the reader view them knowing that the opinions expressed on them are not the gospel truth, just perceptions and opinions. Albeit, they are insightful, but it is important to focus on whatever is important to you.
For the most part, I prefer not to have housekeeping service either. During stayover service not much is necessary and not much is actually cleaned, but rather just straightened up.
Unique, personal in-room touches are great amenities that are rising with the lifestyle and boutique category of hotels. It is important that hotel companies gather details and build robust guest profiles, it’d be cool to see Disney start doing so, at least with the DVC and deluxe resorts.
Turndown service- especially at beach resorts is awesome. You come back in the afternoon for a break, possibly take a shower after being the pool, mess up the bed if you take a nap. Then magically, while you are out a dinner or enjoying the parks at night, your room is spruced up!
Biggest complaint for ALL hotels is the 3 washcloth rule. Who came up with this? My husband and I would like two each. One for morning and one for night. I don’t think that’s a big deal. We don’t need extra towels, just washcloths. Most hotels will bring up more for free. DVC requires you to pay for a whole extra towel package, so we just pack washcloths when we head to Disney. This just seems like such a petty, unnecessary inconvenience that could be fixed so easily by the hotel industry.
Completely agree with need for extra washcloths. Towels can be reused; washcloths are one and done. And considering how long it can take housekeeping in hotels to bring up extras (if they even show up at all), it would be great to get double the washcloths initially.
Irritation with our recent (1 week) stay at the Beach Club was having to request one handtowel for each member of our family (there are 4 of us and our reservation was for 4). Really Disney??? People are paying (gulp) about $600 night for a hotel room and you have to make a special request to have 4 handtowels.
Toiletries, turndown service, and a whimsical towel animal are all things I look forward to in a Disney hotel. I could do without a minibar, robes, or a coffee maker. I don’t use any of those things.
Lack of coffee maker in Values + Double beds has pretty much become a deal break for my boyfriend for staying onsite. Sigh…
I always love a post that highlights personal preference. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. I think people would benefit from not freaking out quite so much about these types of things.
Unless things have changed in the last year the WIFI at Pop Century was TERRIBLE! I was glad when I heard that Disney was going to Have free WIFI at all the Resorts, but what is the point if it is slow.
Some Clarion Inns have started using Keurig coffee machines. We pack our favorite K-cups and have our coffee first thing in the morning or during an afternoon break. We bring our own pillows unless we fly. We prefer nothing extra except toiletries and to a lesser extent WiFi as a backup to our phone’s data service.
Keep in mind the view of giraffe that you’ve mentioned twice is only if you’ve selected and paid for, in funds or points, a Savanna View Room at Animal Kingdom Lodge’s Kidani or Jambo houses. Not a perk at all.
They have pencils? I’m a pencil collector, I love collecting pencils. I am now so much more excited for my first time trip in December! Can not wait!
Love your post. Can’t believe that there isn’t any hotel drawer minibar. I though the facilities in here were fully equipped. With a Mini Bar Fridge in the hotel room is a good way to attract tourists to some degree. Who doesn’t love drinking cool juice or wine in a summer night.