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5 Things You May Not Know About Walt Disney World Resorts

For folks planning a Walt Disney World vacation, there’s a whole slew of information to be had, from TV shows, the internet, and planning DVDs produced by the Disney company. A lot of these sources contain great information, but not the whole picture. Here are five things you may know know that will help first time visitors to the Vacation Kingdom.

5. Buses Can Be Slow

The bus service from the hotels to the parks, and back again is quite hit or miss. Sometimes, you wait only a couple minutes and are whisked away to the parks. Sometimes you wait what seems like all night for a bus back to the hotel. Buses are scheduled to arrive at their destination roughly every 20 minutes. But things happen, like weather, guests who need assistance, and traffic accidents to slow the buses down.Then there’s the resorts with multiple bus stops. If you get on the bus at the first stop, you must sit through several more stops before actually leaving for the park. If you wait at the last bus stop, you may have to wait for subsequent buses to board one that still has room. It’s always important to give yourself plenty of travel time, but even more crucial at resorts with multiple bus stops.

4. Extra Magic Hours Are Still Busy

Each day, one (or more) park opens an hour early or stays open a couple hours late, just for on-site hotel guests. Walt Disney World lauds Extra Magic Hours as the best time to tour the parks. That’s true, to a point. The truth is, most Disney hotel guests will choose the park with Extra Magic Hours because of the perceived value, even if they won’t use the extra time! Therefore, the influx of Disney hotel guests increases crowds during regular hours for whichever park has Extra Magic Hours. You’re best off using a Park Hopper to tour another park during the day, and visit only during Extra Magic Hours if you really want to avoid high crowds.

3. You’re Basically Stuck On Property

Disney does what it can to keep its guests happy, and on property. It’s just good business– you spend your money where you are. Services like Disney’s Magical Express and complimentary transportation to and from the parks, while convenient, is a way for Walt Disney World to ensure its guests remain on property. Don’t worry though, there are options if you want to venture outside Mickey’s gates. You can drive a rental car or your own. On-site guests can park for free at the theme parks. Or you can request an Uber or taxi to drive you around. Alamo even has two locations at Walt Disney World– at the Car Care Center near Transportation and Ticket Center and the Dolphin resort.

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2. Visit Other Hotels

Visiting hotels where I’m not actually staying is one of my favorite activities at Walt Disney World. It’s fun to see the elaborate lobbies at Deluxe resorts, and the large-than-life characters at Value hotels. Around the holidays, every hotel is decorated. I love making a day of seeing the seasonal decor. Grand Floridian has a life-size gingerbread house, and Beach Club has a working (sadly not ride-able) chocolate carousel. Walk around the ground of other hotels, enjoy the ambiance, try a new restaurant. The only thing you can’t do is use a pool at a hotel where you’re not staying.

1. The Resorts Are Huge

Walt Disney World is a big place, and even the hotels are enormous. That means you can do a lot of walking just going from your room to the cafeteria for breakfast. And if you forget your MagicBand back in the room, you might feel like you’ll never get to the bus on time! Some, but not all, hotels offer Preferred Rooms, which will put you closer to the dining and transportation, for an extra fee. Either way, you can request a closer room when you check in and hope that it can be accommodated. Resort hotels that have an internal bus system, like Fort Wilderness or Port Orleans Riverside, hint at how spread out the hotel is. On the other hand, Port Orleans French Quarter has a quite small footprint, so it’s a perfect choice for families who want their room to be close to dining and transportation.

What tips do you have that don’t get enough attention? Let us know!

About Robin Swanson

Robin’s Disney journey began with Beauty and the Beast bedsheets, a Jasmine dress up set, and a purring Nala plush. As a child in the 1990s, the renaissance and classic animations alike captivated her imagination. In 2008, Robin visited Walt Disney World for the first time, and the obsession really took hold. Since then, Robin has enjoyed visiting the Happiest Place on Earth many more times. She lives in the Chicago suburbs where she is wrapping up a Masters in writing. When not at Disney World, Robin enjoys researching fairytales, eating ice cream, Netflix binging, reading and, of course, planning the next Walt Disney World vacation!