Guests who stay on Disney property enjoy privileges and amenities unavailable to those staying outside the World. Though some of these perks are advertising gimmicks, others are real and potentially valuable. (Be aware that in 2016 Disney was weighing introducing a resort fee to cover the cost of some things that have historically been included in your per-night room rate.)
Early Access to FastPass+ and Dining Reservations
Disney hotel and campground guests, along with guests staying at the Swan and Dolphin resorts, can make FastPass+ ride reservations 60 days before they arrive—30 days earlier than the general public. Disney resort guests can also make dining reservations up to 190 days before their visit, 10 more than the general public.
If you don’t have a car, commuting to the parks is easy via the Disney transportation system. This is especially advantageous if you stay in a hotel connected by monorail or boat service. If you have a car, however, dozens of hotels outside Disney World are within 5–10 minutes of theme-park parking lots.
Power shoppers, rejoice: if you're staying on Disney property, you can charge theme-park and Downtown Disney purchases to your hotel room. Even better, you can have your loot delivered to your resort's gift shop at no extra charge instead of having to lug it around with you all day long.
Extra Magic Hours At The Theme Parks
Disney World lodging guests are invited to enter a designated park 1 hour earlier than the general public each day or to enjoy a designated theme park for up to 2 hours after it closes to the general public in the evening. Extra Magic Hours can be valuable if you know how to use them. They can also land you in gridlock.
Babysitting And Child-Care Options
Disney hotel and campground guests have several options for babysitting, child care, and children’s programs. The Polynesian Village Resort and Animal Kingdom Lodge, along with several other Disney hotels, offer “clubs”—themed child-care centers where potty-trained children ages 3–12 can stay while the adults go out.
Though somewhat expensive, the clubs are highly regarded by children and parents. On the negative side, they’re open only in the evening, and not all Disney hotels have them. If you’re staying at a Disney hotel without a club, you’re better off using a private in-room babysitting service. In-room babysitting is also available at hotels outside Disney World.
Disney's Magical Express Service
If you arrive in Orlando by air, Disney will collect your checked baggage and send it by bus directly to your Walt Disney World resort, allowing you to bypass baggage claim. Magical Express is available daily, 5 a.m.–10 p.m.; free bus service to your hotel is available 24 hours a day. Transportation to your resort hotel will usually include stops at other resorts. The time from deplaning to arriving at your resort will be anywhere from 45 to 90 minutes depending on your resort (35 minutes of that will be driving to Walt Disney World property).
You’ll be asked to show your MagicBands to board Disney’s Magical Express, so pack them in your carry-on stuff rather than your checked bags.
When it’s time to go home, you can check your baggage and pick up your boarding pass at the front desk of your Disney resort. This service is available to all guests at Disney hotels (excluding the Swan, the Dolphin, Shades of Green, and hotels of the Disney Springs Resort Area), even those who don’t use Magical Express (folks who have rental cars, for example). Resort check-in counters are open 5 a.m.–1 p.m., and you must check in no later than 3 hours before your flight (within the US and Puerto Rico) or 4 hours for international flights. Participating airlines are AirTran, Alaska, American, Delta, JetBlue, Southwest, United, and US Airways. All of the preceding airlines have restrictions on the number of bags, checking procedures, and related items; consult your carrier before leaving home for specifics. For an in-depth discussion of Disney’s Magical Express, see Part Seven, Arriving and Getting Around.
Priority Theme-Park Admissions
On days of unusually heavy attendance, Disney may restrict admission into the theme parks for all customers. When deciding whom to admit into the parks, priority is given to guests staying at Disney resorts. In practice, no guest is turned away until a park’s parking lot is full. When this happens, that park will be packed to gridlock.
There's no extra charge per night for children younger than 18 sharing a room with their parents. Many hotels outside Disney World also offer this.
Disney resort guests with cars pay nothing to park in theme park lots or hotels. This saves $20 per day at the parks and up to $20 per day at the hotel.
Disney guests get preferential treatment for tee times at the golf courses.
Last updated on July 18, 2016