With a choice of more than 25 hotels, find our more about the pros and cons of staying in Disney World.
Where to stay when you visit Orlando is one of the first of many choices you will have for your holiday. It is also one with so many options it can quickly become confusing. Read on to find out why you might want to consider staying in Walt Disney World itself, or the reasons to explore further afield.
Staying at a Walt Disney World Hotel
Staying at a Walt Disney World hotel has numerous advantages, and whatever your circumstances, is what we’d recommend if your budget can stretch to it. Here are some reasons you might want to consider it:
Never having to leave the Magic – if you see a trip to Orlando as more than just a ton of theme parks, then there’s a good chance you’re already envisioning the potential that your holiday can offer you. There’s a reason this site is called Magic & Wishes – Disney World really is a dream come true for many people. If you’re ready to embrace that, then staying in Disney World is for you.
Being so close to the parks. This proximity is especially beneficial when getting up early for magic hours/character breakfasts/tours, or staying late to see shows or fireworks. If you’re bringing small children who need naps mid-day, it really is priceless to be able to easily go back to the hotel and return for the afternoon or evening.
Extra magic hours – most days one of the 4 main parks either open an hour early or stay open late, only for guests of Walt Disney World Resort guests. If you’re early risers, or night-owls, then these can be the best times to get the shortest (and coolest!) queues. Conversely – avoid visiting the park with Extra Magic Hours that day unless you plan to take full advantage of them.
Transport – if you’re planning on driving, then the free parking at both the hotels and the parks, is a real perk, as the cost of $20/day can add up quickly. If you’d rather rely on transfers, the Disney World transportation system is unrivaled in Orlando. Buses to every Disney theme park are available from every hotel at a minimum of every 20 minutes – more regularly at busy times, completely free of charge – and of course in reverse. You can also get a free transfer to and from Orlando International Airport, on the Magical Express to every Walt Disney World hotel.
Themed hotels – Disney’s attention to detail continues in each and every hotel. Each has a back story and it is carried on throughout the hotel. They’re not generally character based, i.e. there’s no Mickey Hotel – the themes tend to be based on areas, such as the Caribbean, or a subject such as sport. If a particular character or film fits with this theme though, you will see them implemented into it.
Disney customer service – without a doubt some of the best service you’ll get anywhere. Whether staying in the value or deluxe hotels, you’ll get the same Disney service, with a smile.
Access to the Disney Dining Plan (sometimes offered ‘free’) – plans that enable you to eat in amazing Disney restaurants at a discount, having pre-paid before you go. If you’re planning to spend the majority of your time in Disney World, these can be really worthwhile.
Magic bands, charging and delivery – Magic bands come free with your stay and act as your park ticket, FastPass and PhotopPass point, room key and credit card. Anything in Walt Disney World can be charged to your magic band, meaning you avoid carrying much cash and other cards with you. Plus, any purchases can be sent back to resort, so there’s no taking that glass Cinderella Palace you just bought onto the Tower of Terror with you.
Staying in a non Disney hotel
While we would always stay at Walt Disney World resort itself, there are some reasons you may wish to consider staying off-site:
Cost – for hotels, Disney does a pretty good job in competing, offering hotels to suit a range of budgets from Value to Deluxe – and the additional features and benefits can ultimately make them good value. However, there are two scenarios where you may wish to consider other options. If you’re travelling with a big family and are looking for villa-style accommodation, this will be much more easily available and better value off-site. On the opposite end of the scale, if you are looking for a cheap as chips budget hotel, where you do nothing but sleep, there are some very budget hotels in Orlando that will be cheaper than Disney’s Value resorts. Be warned you will get what you pay for with these though.
Access to other attractions if you’re not playing to drive – other hotels in the area will run transfers to Walt Disney World, Universal Studios, Sea World etc. If you’re planning to split your time between these attractions and not hire a car, you may want to choose an alternative as Disney will only transport around Disney. The other attractions really aren’t that close – staying mid way on International Drive will be easier if you’re going to split your time. If you plan to visit the other parks only once or twice and maybe hit the shops one day, a cab or uber is an option, as are pre-bookable transfers.
And finally, if the shiney-happy-Disneyness starts to clash with your natural British cynicism, staying off property might give you a break.
In addition to the main Disney hotels, there are 9 other hotels located within the Walt Disney Resort, which are not owned or operated by Disney. These hotels have the advantage of location but do not come with the rest of the Disney perks.
Disney world hotel price bands
Disney has split their hotels into four budget types:
Value – large, bright and fun-filled rooms and the cheapest way to stay in a hotel at Disney World. Explore Value Disney hotels.
Moderate – slightly more luxurious with bigger rooms and extra amenities. Explore Moderate Disney hotels.
Deluxe – the ultimate in Disney hotels, each offers something special and most have an extra option for transport to one of the parks (monorail, boat etc). Explore Deluxe Disney hotels.
Deluxe Villas – there are also villas on Disney property accommodating bigger groups. Explore Disney Deluxe Villas.
On top of all that, there’s also a campground at Disney’s Fort Wilderness, although it is not a standard booking in the UK.