10 Things You Need To Know Before You Go To A Walt Disney World Resort

There are so many things to know and do checking off your list for your Walt Disney World Vacation.  Between selecting your resort hotel, choosing the best package, making your dining reservations and scheduling your FastPasses your vacation requires a lot of attention.  If you’ve made the choice to stay at an on-site Walt Disney World resort you already have a lot of advantages in your favor, but here are a few tips to keep in mind:

10. Compare Resorts

Walt Disney World has so many resort hotels at different price points, with various amenities, varied room sizes and different locations.  It can be overwhelming to find just the right fit for your vacation.  Here is where using a Travel Agent who is well versed in Walt Disney World Vacations with a lot of personal travel experience can help.  You may be willing to pay the upgrade to stay at a monorail resort, or to have a view of the fireworks from your private balcony, or to be able to walk to & from Epcot during the Food & Wine Festival.  Or maybe budget is your chief concern, but you want to find the best value resort for that budget.  Whether or not you choose to work with a Travel Agent you will want to compare the price points of the resorts, the reviews from past guests, look at the locations on a map, and check out the amenities each one offers.  With so many options there is sure to be at least one that will fit your vacation needs.

9. Location

Similar to number 10, you will want to know where your resort is in relation to all of the theme parks.  If you are staying at Animal Kingdom Lodge—which is an amazing resort—you need to be prepared for longer bus rides to the Magic Kingdom, Epcot and Hollywood Studios.  You may know that you want a moderate resort, but looking at a map of property may help you decide which one is well-located for you.  The Port Orleans resorts are great if you are looking to spend some time at Disney Springs.  If you are traveling with small children who need afternoon naps and will spend most of their time enjoying Magic Kingdom then a monorail resort will be a great option.  During one of the Epcot Festivals the Beach Club, Boardwalk or Yacht Club are great picks.  Different trips may call for a different resort depending on where it is on Walt Disney World property.

8. Requests

Did you know that you can make requests to your resort reservation?  Disney will not guarantee any requests, but they do try to accommodate whenever occupancy allows.  Your Travel Agent can make recommendations of the requests you may want to make, or you can research that on your own.  If you are traveling with another family you may want to request a connecting door on your room.  Or if you are at a large resort you may request “convenient location” so that you are close to a bus stop or the main building.  You can attach your requests to the reservation when you make it, and if you choose to do online check-in you have some requests that you can check off during that process.  Just remember—they are never guaranteed!

7. Register for Magical Express

If you are flying in to Orlando and you are making use of Disney’s complimentary transfers, Magical Express, you will need to attach that to your reservation.  You’ll need to let Disney know you want the service, and you will need to supply them with your flight details including airline and flight numbers so they can keep track of that schedule.  Once you are registered for the transfers you will receive luggage tags to attach to your bags.  The tags notify Magical Express to pick up your bags for you from baggage claim and transport them to the resort.  If you are booked through a Travel Agent he or she will take care of this for you.  One thing to note—you will have to fly into Orlando International Airport (MCO) to take advantage of Magical Express.  Other area airports like Sanford do not have the service.

6. Check out the menus

Your resort will have some dining options on site, and usually you will end up eating there a time or two during your stay.  You’ll want to know ahead of time what types of food offerings you may be able to find for breakfast, lunch or dinner—you can consult a site with menus like  All of the resorts will have some type of quick service and grab and go dining, and some will also have a table service location.  Most also have some type of pool bar that serves some limited food with the beverages, and some have lounges.

5. Groceries

Do you need to order some groceries for your vacation?  Whether you are staying in one of the Disney Vacation Club villas or just a “regular” hotel room you may want some items like milk, bread, bottled water, etc.  You have a few options for your groceries.  If you have access to a car or want to hire a taxi you could make a run to a grocery store nearby.  You can also find limited groceries at the resort shop—but they come at a premium price.  Some guests choose to order items through Amazon, PrimePantry, Wal-Mart, etc., but note that you are charged a fee per box for anything delivered to the resort through USPS, UPS, FedEx, etc.  Another option that I like is to order through a local shopping service.  There is a minimum purchase and a delivery fee, but the groceries are brought right to me and I don’t waste vacation time at the store.  Refrigerated items are stored in a refrigerator by bell services until you are ready for them to be delivered to your room.  If you are ordering just be sure you do so in advance because delivery time slots can fil up.

4. Order your Magic Bands

As a guest of the Walt Disney World resort hotels you get complimentary Magic Bands to use during your vacation.  Once you have your package booked you can link that reservation number into your My Disney Experience account and then you can customize and order your Magic Bands.  Under the My Disney Experience drop down menu there is a tab for Magic Bands and Cards.  You’ll click on that and it directs you from there.  It will request your mailing address, then you can select a color for each person and a name that you want on the back of the bands.  They will ship to you sometime between 2-4 weeks prior to your vacation.  You will need to order them far enough in advance or you may end up with the generic gray bands, and they may deliver them to your resort instead of mailing them to your home.

3. Map

Going along with knowing the location of your resort within Walt Disney World property, you may want to familiarize yourself with a map of the resort itself.  Google is your friend in this department as you can google the name of your resort + map and you’ll have several image options that you study online or print out.  This will just help you become comfortable with the resort itself, where to find the dining, the pathways, the bus stops, etc.  Some of the larger resorts can be a bit confusing and having a basic idea of how to navigate will help it feel less like a maze once you arrive.

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2. No Clocks

Unless you are in a resort room that has a microwave you will not have a clock in the room.  This may be fine & dandy for a lot of people who are on vacation and don’t have a compulsive need to know what time it is.  But I am one of those compulsive people.  I know, everyone has a phone now and use that to know the time, set alarms, etc. so they really are not necessary.  However, I have a habit of glancing at a clock any time I wake up during the night, so without one on my nightstand it makes me a little crazy.  Luckily Amazon sells a nice selection of travel clocks so now I have my very own to check at night.  If you are like me you may want to look into one before your vacation.

1. Relax

The main thing you need to know before you go to your Walt Disney World Resort is to relax!  Disney takes care of almost everything (except the tab)!  As a guest of a Walt Disney World Resort hotel there are so many perks. You will have Magical Express to transport you from the airport if you fly, the complimentary shuttles to the theme parks run on a regular schedule so you don’t have to drive if you don’t want to.  There is dining at the resort.  You can charge purchases and meals back to your room.  There are activities at the resort if you are not going to a park that day.  And most of all, you are staying within the bubble of Disney Magic!

What are your top tips to prepare for a stay at a Walt Disney World Resort hotel?

About Sarah Chapman

I am a long time Disney fan since I was hooked on Walt Disney World with my first trip in 1987. Since that time I’ve tried experiencing everything I can in the parks, with a total of 30 visits and counting (I’m always planning my next trip) to Walt Disney World—not to mention Disney Cruise Line and even (shhh!) Universal Orlando and Sea World. I’ve turned my Disney obsession into a profession helping others plan their magical vacations as a Dream Vacation Maker at LBAC Travel. I am a work at home mom to three wonderful boys, and each one has been properly indoctrinated with all things Disney. Walt Disney World is definitely our “Laughing Place.” Look for me on Facebook at for updates, discount announcements, tips, tricks and planning advice for your next vacation. You can also find me on Instagram (sarahdreamvacationmaker) and Pinterest (sarahlbactravel).