We’re here with a series of quick posts, “Disney in a Minute,” bite-sized nuggets of information that can better help you understand a Disney term or planning topic. Enjoy!
When you make a reservation at a Walt Disney World resort hotel and link it to your My Disney Experience Account, you will be asked to complete online check-in. This is not required, but it can save you time (wheeee, you’re off to parks more quickly) and, of particular interest during the COVID era, reduce the number of people you have to interact with in person.
Online check-in can be found on the My Disney Experience tab on the Disney World website. If you’re less than 60 days out from your arrival date, you should see the option.
Online check-in asks you for basic name, phone number, address, and credit card information, and to create a four-digit PIN that you might use in some payment situations in the parks and resorts. You should also input your projected arrival time at Disney World.
The example above shows the check-in process on the website, but you can also check in on your phone using the My Disney Experience app. Start at your reservation and tap on it, then follow the similar workflow.
After you’ve done this, you will have access to Direct-to-Room Check-In. This service allows you to completely bypass the lobby and front desk of your hotel and instead head directly to your room upon arrival at Walt Disney World. A bit in advance of your selected arrival time, you will receive a text and/or email (whichever you’ve selected) informing you either that room is not yet ready, or that your room is ready, along with your room number and a link to a map of your resort. [Note: The official check-in time is 3:00 or 4:00, depending on your resort, but they make every effort to get you into your room earlier, if possible.]
After you get the “your room is ready” notification, you can then go straight to your room, without stopping at the lobby. You don’t need to show any documentation or provide any additional paperwork.
Additionally, you don’t need the front desk to provide you with a key to your room, because you’re already holding one – in the form of your smartphone. To turn your smartphone into a key, first download the Disney World app and log in to link the app to your account. You can do this in advance of your trip.
Open the app and click on the “hamburger” [three stripe] button on the lower right to access the main navigation screen. Click on the “Resort Hotel” button.
Scroll down the next screen until you see the Unlock Door button. Tap that and your phone becomes a key. [Make sure bluetooth is activated.] Hover your phone next to the touchpad on your room door and it will unlock.
Now you’ve gone Direct-to-Room without stopping at the hotel lobby!
And as an added bonus, that same room-opening feature will also open the gate to your hotel pool, if it has one.
You could also access your room with a linked MagicBand, but those since those are no longer free and no longer automatically mailed to your home, fewer guests will have them on hand. If you happen to want a physical key later in your trip, you can go to the front desk and they will provide you with a key card.
Have you used Direct-to-Room check-in? Let us know what you think in the comments.