When you plan your first visit to Disney World, you can get overwhelmed quickly by the choices. With four distinct parks that cover a large area, Disney World can be daunting. Where do you stay? Which park should you go to and what rides and experiences are must sees? If it is your first time to Disney World, I recommend staying on property. Here’s why.
- Easy access! There are 31 Disney owned properties and they range from budget friendly hotels and campsites to deluxe villas and suites. Some of these properties, such as the luxurious Grand Floridian Resort and Spa and the more moderately priced Contemporary and Polynesian resorts, are located on the Monorail system. It links the hotels to the theme parks. Other hotels inside the park such as my favorite, Animal Kingdom Lodge, require shuttles and/or ferries to the parks. Being able to take a break or a nap mid day becomes much easier when you are staying inside Disney. You don’t have to travel as far and in my experience, you are more willing to return to the parks at night. Whenever I stay off property, I never end up returning to the park after the mid-day nap. Too much hassle. At least one night, I recommend returning to see the fireworks and parades.
- Extra Magic hours! Every day, one of the four theme parks, Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Animal Kingdom or Hollywood Studios, opens its doors one hour earlier for guests who stay in Disney-owned properties. What an amazing way to get a jumpstart on your day! This can be the difference between waiting 20 minutes for a coveted ride or 3 hours! If you’re an early riser or your children are, why not enjoy the extra hour in the park.
- Free transportation from the airport! Disney offers a complimentary Orlando airport- to- hotel bus service called the Magical Express. You should reserve this service in advance and Disney will provide you with special luggage tags. When you arrive in Orlando, you skip the baggage claim and head directly to the Disney welcome center. We’ve used this several times. My boys love watching the Disney cartoons inside the bus. And we love having our bags delivered to our room, for free!
- Free self parking at the theme parks and resort hotels! When we didn’t take the Magical Express, we rented a car at the airport and drove ourselves to the parks. Daily parking in the theme park costs $20. That gives you access to parking at all four parks. We felt good staying on property and saving that daily $20 charge.
- MagicBands! When you stay on property, you receive a complimentary MagicBand. It is waterproof wristband that you can use as your room key, your key to get into the park and your charge card to make any purchases. You don’t need to bring your wallet or any other cards inside the park. You receive the MagicBands ahead of your stay, sign into your Disney account and link them to your reservation. My boys personalized their MagicBands and used them to unlock special surprises throughout the resort. We liked having one less thing to carry in our pockets.
- Speaking of buying anything- staying on property allows you to use the free delivery service. We only had to carry our balloons! You can purchase souvenirs anywhere inside the park and they will be delivered for free to your room by the next afternoon.
Staying off property has its advantages too. You can find great deals at resorts that have shuttles to the theme parks. When you stay off property, you can choose how much Disney you want. Now, it’s up to you to decide. Do you prefer staying on or off property?