Where to stay at Walt Disney World will be one of the most important vacation decisions you make. There’s a lot of misinformation out there about Disney resorts, so whether you’re deciding to stay on or off property, or debating the merits of different Disney resorts, you’ll need to have the right information. Here are some lies you shouldn’t believe about Disney resorts, along with some truths to help you make your decision.
1. Too Expensive
One of the most common lies we hear about Disney resorts is that they’re just too expensive. But the price you’ll pay to stay on property varies widely, depending on the time of year and specific resort you’re staying at – like everything else at WDW, it’s possible to get a great deal, if you do your research! And if staying at a deluxe resort is still out of your price range, it’s worth looking at moderate and value resorts, especially if you’re really only using the resort as a place to crash, and don’t need any bells and whistles.
2. It’s Better to Stay Off Property
You might save a bit of money staying off property, it’s true. But you’ll also lose out on a lot of perks that make it worth staying at a Disney resort. Transportation to and from your hotel will take much longer if you stay off property, which will quickly become a factor, especially if you have kids and are spending long days in the parks. Guests who stay on property have an edge when it comes to making FastPass+ selections and dining reservations, and can take advantage of Extra Magic Hours. There’s also the benefit of enjoying Disney service at your resort, and keeping the Disney magic going, even beyond the parks!
3. They’re Just for Sleeping
Sure, if you’re spending 12 hour days in the parks, you might only need a place to lay your head at night. But there’s so much more to do at a Walt Disney World resort! In fact, each vacation, we plan to spend one full day in the resorts, so we can take advantage of activities like archery, fishing, hiking, carriage and wagon rides, and more. Oh, and don’t forget to check out all of your resort’s pools – that’s worth a day in itself!
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4. The Best Food is Outside of the Resorts
Many people bypass Walt Disney World resort dining for options inside the parks, or at Disney Springs. But don’t be fooled – some of the best restaurants on property are located in Disney resorts, and they’re well worth making the effort, regardless of where you’re staying. Yachtsman Steakhouse at Disney’s Yacht Club Resort, Topolino’s Terrace – Flavors of the Riviera at Disney’s Riviera Resort, and Jiko – The Cooking Place at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge are just a few gems to get you started.
5. There’s Nothing to do For Free
Believe it or not, there are plenty of completely free things to do at Walt Disney World resorts. Watching movies under the stars (and from your resort’s pool), evening campfires, safari animal viewing, animation classes, live music, and seasonal activities like trick-or-treating and gingerbread house viewing are just some of the complimentary activities at Disney resorts. Check with your resort for more details!
6. One Vacation, One Resort
Still holding onto those dreams of staying at the Grand Floridian or Yacht Club, but don’t have the budget? Well, a little-known fact about Disney resorts is that you can stay at multiple resorts during the same vacation (they’ll even transfer your luggage to your next resort for free!), allowing you to get a taste of a deluxe level resort for a night or two, while staying at a more affordable resort for the rest of your trip.
7. Stay at One Resort and Use the Pool at a Different Resort
While resort hopping is highly recommended and allows you to enjoy many experiences at Disney resorts you’re not staying at, one thing you won’t be able to do is pool hop – in most cases. If you’re staying at one of the three All-Star Resorts (Music, Movies or Sports), you can use any of the pools at any of these resorts. Similarly, if you’re saying at one of the Port Orleans Resorts (French Quarter or Riverside), you can also use pools at either resort. Otherwise, you’ll have to be happy with admiring the pools at other Disney resorts from a distance, and swimming in your resort’s pools!
8. Can’t Walk From Resorts to Parks
You’ll be doing a lot of walking at Walt Disney World, so you’ll probably take advantage of WDW’s complimentary transportation. But for those who really like walking, there are a few resorts that are within walking distance of a theme park or two. Disney’s Contemporary Resort is a quick stroll from Magic Kingdom, for example, and any of the Epcot area resorts are within walking distance of Hollywood Studios and Epcot (plus Disney’s BoardWalk). As soon as the new path is completed, you’ll also be able to walk from Magic Kingdom to Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa!
9. Resort Gift Shops Are All the Same
It’s tempting to think that if you’ve seen one Walt Disney World Resort gift shop, you’ve seen them all. But it’s not true! While there is of course some overlap in merchandise, each resort gift shop also carries items specific to that resort, allowing guests to commemorate their resort experiences. Looking for an Aloha Mickey shirt? Head to Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort. Want to take home music by The Grand Floridian Society Orchestra? You’ll only find it at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa. Loving that Fort Wilderness camper keychain with working headlight? Well, you get the picture!
10. Monorail Resort Loop is Only for Guests
Thankfully, you don’t have to be staying at one of the monorail resorts in order to ride the monorail loop for free! Resort hop to your heart’s content by riding the Resort Loop to Disney’s Polynesian Villages Resort, Grand Floridian Resort and Spa, and Contemporary Resort. The Magic Kingdom and the Transportation and Ticket Center are also on the same line.