Why You Should Stay at a Disney World Hotel

in Walt Disney World

disney hotel room pirate theme

Credit: Disney

“Stay in the Disney Bubble!” It’s one of the most common phrases used when talking about booking a hotel room on Walt Disney World Resort property.

The term comes from having “magic” at arm’s reach throughout your entire stay, because as soon as you step through the bi-fold doors of “the Mickey bus,” the immersion never ends! While the benefits and perks of staying at a Disney World hotel may have shifted a bit over the years, there is still plenty to enjoy the moment you book your magical Florida vacation.

Let’s take a look at the many perks and benefits that await you when you stay at a Disney World Hotel in sunny Orlando, Florida!

disney hotel room nemo
Nemo Family Suite; Art of Animation Resort / Credit: Disney Parks Blog

Benefits of Staying at a Disney World Resort Property

From free shampoo and conditioner to your morning cup of joe, Disney Resorts offer a lot of amenities. Offering as much as the hotel next door (and then some) is what Disney prides itself on — Creating a Disney vacation style rather than just a place to lay your head. Disney Resorts offer a mood, a style, a specific “speed,” and immersion like nothing else.

Disney Resort hotels are perfect for families of any size. The traditional rooms sleep four Guests, while fifth Guest options with pulldown sleepers are available at Resort hotels like Disney’s Polynesian Village and Resort. Families of six have an easy stay in the family suites located at Disney’s All-Star Music Resort or the ever-popular Disney’s Art of Animation Resort.

No wonder Disney Guests return to Walt Disney World Resort year after year for amazing vacations and hotel stays!

A small child sitting on a table
Credit: Disney Vacation Club

Housekeeping Amenities

Arriving at a Disney World hotel is going to provide you the comforts of home! In your Resort bathroom, you’ll find ample towels and washcloths, but also basic toiletries like shampoo, conditioner, lotion, and occasionally in Deluxe Resort rooms, cooling gel, body wash, and aloe vera. If you are in need of a disposable razor or an extra toothbrush, some supplies are available from the concierge, but also your Resort Hotel “general store” area in the Resort’s shopping area.

In each coffee bar area (not all Resorts have hotel room coffee makers, so please check with our Disney coffee guide!) Disney Guests will find two to four disposable coffee cups and sleeves, powdered creamers, sweetener and stir sticks, and an assortment of Joffrey’s coffees and Twinings teas. Various rooms offer Keurig K-cup brewers, while the majority of rooms utilize the Cuisinart flat pod-style brewers.

coffee maker at disney resorts
Credit: planDisney

Not only will you find coffee cups, but in a separate area, glass cups and an ice bucket are readily available to chill your favorite beverages. Ice makers are available in each building with a short walk to the all-you-care-to-use ice makers. If you have a small cooler you need for breastmilk, soft drinks, or lunch at the theme parks, you can use the ice machine for that, too!

A very small refrigerator is in each hotel room for your convenience. Oftentimes, these small units do not freeze items well, but the ability to chill a few drinks is there. Store your quick-service leftovers or a few milk cartons for breakfast inside, but don’t count on 24 water bottles. It’s a small, yet convenient space.

For Disney World hotel rooms with a fifth pulldown bed, you will find a sheet set, blankets, and extra pillows in the closet area. A quick call to housekeeping on your room phone gives you the opportunity to request more at any time.  You’ll also find a simple, lightweight iron and full-sized ironing board in the closet for your use.

The high-speed Internet at Disney Resort Hotels is complimentary, and quick connecting.

Credit: Disney

Laundry Facilities

Each Disney Resort has a laundry facility with plenty of washers and dryers to tackle your sweatiest park gear. There is at least one location, if not two for the most sprawling Resorts. The washers are “coin-operated” but also have a debit and credit card reader for convenience. Simply swipe your card and choose a washer to operate.

Detergents, fabric softeners are available for purchase in “snack machine” style dispensers, so you may want to have some cash on hand in case you need to purchase some cleaner. Many families bring travel-sized bottles of their personal detergents or dryer sheets or dryer balls in ziplock bags to do their laundry.  There are central folding tables if you need to fold your laundry prior to bringing it back to your Disney Resort hotel room.

One key item you will want to bring is a mesh laundry bag or a popup hamper. This will make toting any laundry back and forth to your room as easy as possible. Reuse the mesh bag for dirty laundry on the way home!

laundry Lilo & Stitch
Stitch Laundry Scene Credit: Disney Animation

Themed Entertainment

It’s always important to consider your “vacation style” before choosing a Walt Disney World Resort hotel at which to stay. From Disney’s Value Resorts to Moderate Resorts to the Deluxe accommodations, there’s something for everyone.

Resorts like Disney’s All-Star Movies will give you the much-loved themes of classic Disney attractions, while the Princess rooms at Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside Resort will share the elaborate style of the Disney Princesses with glittering firework display headboards.

Disney’ Wilderness Resort evokes the spirit of the Westward Expansion and wilderness of the West, while Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort is practically perfect in every way, sharing the turn-of-the-century glamour of a beachside escape. Of course, the deluxe resorts are a bit more costly, but they also offer more detailed amenities as well as larger entertainment offerings and more ornate pools.

disney pool
Credit: planDisney

Each Resort will have its own theme and quite possibly its own curated culinary experiences. For example, staying at Disney’s Port Orleans French Quarter will earn you a plate of beignets or jambalaya at lunch. Disney’s Animal Kingdom Resort has BOMA, a family-style buffet table service restaurant featuring international dishes from the continent of Africa.

You will find arcades at several Disney Resorts, with coin play machines and paid card-swipe play options. Spending a half-hour during a pop-up summer shower can be family time well spent, so stop by and tour the arcade at your Disney Resort for a bit of high-powered fun.

Fort Wilderness Arcade
Credit: ITM

Lastly, themed experiences will be offered at several Resorts. Disney’s Animal Kingdom Resort offers animal spotting with binoculars and educational stops where kids can earn beads and small treasures. Disney’s Art of Animation Resort has an Animation Experience where Disney Guests can learn to draw Disney characters with the help of a professional Disney animator! Sessions are free and available to all ages, though you will want to check with the concierge to see at what times the sessions are held in the lobby.

Close Proximity to the Fun

One of the biggest perks of staying at a Disney World hotel is the proximity to the theme parks, Disney Springs — the shopping and dining district — and The ESPN Wide World of Sports. Choosing a Disney Resort close to your favorite entertainment spots can only enhance your vacation. For instance, if you love shopping and dining, staying at Disney’s Boardwalk Inn and Resort will keep you close to Disney Springs as well as the backside International Gate of EPCOT, where you can stop in on the many festivals all year long.

If you are a Magic Kingdom lover, the monorail loop resorts or the Fort Wilderness Campground may be your Disney World Hotel of choice. Sticking close to the magic is part of the fun, so ask your Travel Agent where the best place for you to stay would be. Clue them in to your vacation wish list and let the fun begin!

fort wilderness
Credit: Disney

Folio Charging Abilities

When you stay at a Disney Resort hotel, upon check-in, (or even before check-in, if you are a mobile My Disney Experience user) you can leave a credit or debit card on file. Gift cards cannot be saved or stored on a folio but they can be used to pay down a folio each day. With a credit card on file, when you scan your MagicBand at a merchandise or food location on Walt Disney World Resort property, you can key in your personal four digit pin and make a cashless transaction.

Guests who stay at a Disney World hotel or property have this handy benefit, unlike those who stay off property. Think of how easy it would be to pick up food or drinks without a dripping wet wallet while visiting Disney’s Blizzard Beach water park!

MagicBands 2020 / Credit: Disney

Free Resort to Park (and Park to Park) Transportation

Disney Resort Guests have long been able to hop on a bus, watercraft, monorail, or the new Skyliner to travel to a nearby theme park or Resort. While it’s true that outside hotels have their own types of transportation, the waits for these buses can be very long.

For example, the Shades of Green Military Resort has a bus that only picks up and drops off at the top of the hour, unlike Disney busses, which ideally run every 20 minutes. The walk for the off-property buses is much further to the ends of the bus depots or separate charter lots where they pick up. The constant flow of Disney World Hotel transportation options while staying on property is a wonderful option that we recommend you take advantage of.

Bellhop Transfer for Luggage

plan disney bell services
Bell Services Assistance / Credit: planDisney panel

Splitting your stay at more than one Disney World Hotel? Hand over all your luggage to the bellhop desk and tell the Cast Member where you would like it to be sent. While you enjoy your day at a neighboring Disney Resort or Disney theme park, Cast Members will do the rest. Ride, shop and taste to your heart’s content while your bags make it safely to your new hotel. Lose no vacation time!

You’ll typically be able to check your bags in the morning and see them by 3 pm at your next home resort. Simply stop by the bell stand on your way back into the Resort and wheel your luggage easily to your new clean hotel room.

Priority Park Pass Booking

Now that Disney Park Pass reservations are a part of the booking game, on-property Guests still get priority for making Park Pass reservations with their vacation packages or tickets. We can’t say the same for other situations.

For example, Annual Pass holders can only hold a few Park Pass reservations at a time, unlike a potential 10-day park visit for a family staying at Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside (this is an example).

disney hotel room pirate
Pirate Themed Disney Hotel Room Credit: Disney Parks Blog

Restaurant Availability at Disney World Hotels

Making Dining Reservations

There are only some restaurants at Disney Resort hotels that require reservations, and those are Table-Service restaurants. Food courts and walk-up counters fall into the Quick-Service category and are stand-by line-style or mobile order capable. In order to make a reservation, you’ll want a My Disney Experience online account or the My Disney Experience mobile app. Inside both of these platforms, you’ll be able to browse the restaurants, choose a time for your family to visit, and be able to connect those vacation members to the dinner table reservation.

When you’re ready to make that reservation, you may make advance reservations for dining and other experiences up to 60 days in advance of your chosen dining day. In addition, when you are a Disney Resort hotel Guest, you can make reservations up to 60 days in advance PLUS your length of their stay (up to 10 days). We do want to note that it was traditionally 180 days for Walt Disney World, but in 2020 that changed. That’s a bit of mental math to figure out your reservation day, but it will be worth the while to chow down with Mickey and friends!

my disney experience app
My Disney Experience / Credit: Disney

This is the same reservation system that you can use to cancel a Table-Service reservation if you change your mind or your plans shift. Just remember that if you do not cancel at least 24 hours in advance, you may be charged up to $10 per Guest.

HEALTH & SAFETY: Remember that during these shut-down times, certain guidelines are in place for your safety and well-being. If you are planning to dine at a table-service restaurant at a Disney Resort hotel, a confirmed dining reservation is required for day Guests (those not staying overnight or without a hotel room booking). Guests will also undergo a temperature screening prior to entering the location (whether it be a park or sometimes a Resort area). Remember to “know before you go!”

Restaurant Cuisine

One of the more unique offerings at Disney property hotels is the food. Most Resorts have a food court-like area, with food stations, a grab-and-go section, snacks, an ice cream freezer, pastries, and beverages. In many Deluxe or Moderate Resorts, you will also find at least one Table-Service restaurant. Oftentimes, these Table-Service restaurants will offer catered cuisine that speaks to the Resort’s theme or mood. Disney’s Wilderness Lodge Resort has the Whispering Canyon family-style restaurant, which leans heavily on classic cowboy fare as well as popular skillet breakfasts.

Disney Guests at the Polynesian Village and Resort will find two cocktail lounges, offering sushi bites and tiki-style cocktails, while a dole whip soft-serve stand welcomes poolside guests with an essential Disney treat. The restaurant offerings at this Disney Resort stick to the Polynesian side of cuisine, with a full luau opportunity and the ‘Ohana restaurant with island-inspired dishes.

Whispering Canyon Cafe
Credit: Disney

But Guests should not feel pigeonholed by their Resort’s culinary theme. Disney’s chef team proudly makes sure that the pickiest eaters have options, too. “Yellow foods” are available at each Disney establishment, including mac-n-cheese, spaghetti, chicken nuggets, and others. Pizza by the slice or by the whole pie is served at the Resorts, too. Some hotels offer room-side pizza delivery, while others require a quick pit-stop at the food court to bring the pizza to the room.

Lastly, Guests are welcome to make dining reservations at other Resorts and theme parks by using the My Disney Experience app. With a dining reservation, the world is your oyster. Explore the foodie-side of Walt Disney World Resort by attempting to visit each restaurant on the property. You’re sure to find something new to try or develop favorites to return to again and again.

Plant-Based Dining at Disney World

Disney Plant Based Item
Plant-Based Dining / Credit: Disney

Disney now offers an entire website dedicated to plant-based or vegan lifestyles, detailing foods from all four theme parks, Walt Disney World Hotel restaurants, and food courts, Disney’s Boardwalk Resort area, Disney Springs, and even the two water parks — Disney’s Blizzard Beach and Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon.  Those who are on a plant-based diet can easily find options that will suit them by easily identifying the “leaf” logo on menus. Guests are able to choose from hundreds of both sweet and savory dishes, including several brand-new dishes at many Disney eating establishments.

Character Dining at Disney Hotels

Many of the Disney Resort hotels offer character dining experiences in a Table-Service setting. These long-time establishments, like ‘Ohana (at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort) and 1900 Park Fare (Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa) are among the top requested character meal reservations by Disney Guests, despite not being situated in a theme park.

While Character Dining has been modified in recent months, you can expect a handful of characters to make their way around the dining areas (methodically), each in turn, in order for you to capture your family with them. They may stay at a distance, allowing for a fun selfie, or as in years past, they may approach the table with a keepsake signature card and a short visit.  Check with your hostess for changes in character availability or current guidelines at the restaurant.

character dining
Topolino’s Terrace Breakfast / Credit: Disney

Immersion in the Disney Magic When Staying at a Disney World Property

Keeping the magic with you when you head back to your room has always been a wonderful perk of staying on property. The themed rooms, pools, lounges, and restaurants add a depth of magic to the Disney Resort hotels. But that being said, anyone can visit a Disney Resort short term for dining, shopping walking, and activities.

From the Disney hotel rooms themselves to the poolside decor, everything is laced with magic and design. Imagineers carefully construct hotel lobbies, shopping areas, arcades, food courts and swimming holes to be immersed in the specific mood and design of the Disney World Resort you are staying at. No detail is too small!

dig site pool
Coronado Springs Dig Site Pool / Credit: Disney

Magical Transportation

When you take a Disney bus to a specific theme park, listen! You’ll hear a dedicated soundtrack designed specifically for your destination. And on the way “home,” you’ll hear another curated soundtrack themed to your Resort. If you decide to take a bus to another Resort, you’ll hear that specific soundtrack. It’s so much fun to hear the various loops.

disney bus
Disney Resort Transportation Bus / Credit: Disney

Boarding the new Disney Skyliner is literally a breeze from the connected Disney Resorts. Disney’s Art of Animation Resort, Disney’s Pop Century Resort, Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort, and Disney’s Riviera Resort are all connected on the Skyliner line. These Resorts have effortless access to both Disney’s Hollywood Studios and EPCOT theme parks from 30 minutes before opening to one hour post theme park closing.

EPCOT Monorail
Credit: Disney

Ask any Disney Parks fan what “Por Favor, Mantanganse Alejado de las Puertas” means, and they will not only be able to quote the essential Monorail commands but translate them as well! Disney transportation is so unique and especially engineered that Disney Guests stay on property just to hear the chug of the water jetties or the “bong bong” of the monorail doors closing.

DVC – The Ultimate Immersion

In fact, so many Disney Guests love staying on property so much that Disney created a timeshare division called the Disney Vacation Club. This hotel category addition allows DVC owners to stay at their “home” Resort or move around their points to stay at other sites, including Aulani in Hawaii and Disney’s Hilton Head Island Resort.

Win a trip to Disney's Riviera Resort
Disney’s Riviera Resort Rendering / Credit: Disney

Safety at Disney World

Not only at your Walt Disney Resort hotel but also at the theme parks, you will want to stay alert to any health or safety risks that may arise. The pandemic notwithstanding, there are some other issues that may emerge, like possible heatstroke during the warmer season, allergic reactions, or common illness. Always read ahead on new guidelines the parks or hotels will require. Contacting your Travel Agent can be an easy way to keep tabs on any changes or updates!

When you’re ready to rest your head at a Walt Disney World Resort area hotel, contact the travel professionals at Academy Travel. The award-winning Earmarked Diamond staff will point out their favorite swimming holes for relaxing, splashy experiences and guarantee an adventure you’re sure to write home about. You can contact their concierge by calling Academy Travel at 609-978-0740 or by choosing your preferred destination on this page. No matter where you stay, Academy Travel can make sure you have the sweetest dreams!

Academy Travel
Credit: Academy Travel/Disney

Which Walt Disney World Resort Hotel do you prefer to stay at? Leave us a comment below with your vacation memories!

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