Determining where to stay at Disney World is one of the biggest factors in setting your Disney budget. From on-site value resorts, off-site properties affiliated with nearly every hotel chain, to the Grand Floridian, there is an option for every family and every budget.
- On-Site Disney Resorts and Their Perks
- Disney Vacation Club Rentals
- Off-Site Hotels with Extra Benefits – Marriott’s Dolphin and Swan resorts and the Disney Springs hotels offer a few of the same perks as on-site resorts
- Other Off-Site Options
On-Site Disney Resorts and Their Perks
Disney has three categories of resort hotels. Regardless of which category you choose, you’ll get these same perks:
- FastPass+ Reservations 60 Days Before Arrival
- Extra Magic Hours
- MagicBands – Bracelets that serve as your ticket and FastPass+ entry as well as for saving PhotoPass photos, making room charges, and opening your hotel room door
- Disney’s Magical Express – Complimentary airport shuttle from the Orlando International (MCO) airport
- Free Parking at Disney Parks (Note: There is a charge to park at the hotel)
- Access to Disney Dining Plans (See XYZ page/post to learn if these might be right for you
The main differences between the hotel categories are as follows:
- Value – The most affordable resorts, they are motel-style with entrances from a shared balcony or the ground floor. They lack table service dining options, but have large food courts. While they all have swimming pools, value resorts do not have waterslides, hot tubs, or splash pads.
- Moderate – The resorts are a mix of the amenities at value and deluxe resorts with added perks like hot tubs, waterslides, and (typically) table service dining. The challenge with moderate resorts is that they are often spread out so taking a bus from the resort to the park can be a bit of a journey.
- Deluxe – These resorts typically allow you to go bus-free to at least one of the parks (with the exception of Animal Kingdom Lodge) and all rooms feature interior hallways. They focus on resort-like amenities.
Disney Vacation Club Rentals
Although Disney Vacation Club is Disney’s timeshare program, you don’t need to own a Disney timeshare to stay at one of their timeshare properties! Some timeshare owners will sell their timeshare points to non-timeshare owners; there are online brokers like DVC Rental Store and David’s Vacation Club Rentals to help facilitate the process.
Off-Site Hotels with Disney Benefits
There are several hotels that offer some of the same perks as Disney’s on-site hotels. These include Marriott’s Dolphin and Swan resorts near Epcot and the Disney Springs hotels.
Dolphin and Swan Resorts
The Dolphin and Swan hotels are unique in that they are affiliated with Starwood (the Dolphin is considered a Sheraton and the Swan is considered a Westin), plus they also have a special agreement with Disney to offer some of the same perks as guests staying at a Disney-owned resort.
Guests can book their FastPass reservations 60 days in advance, unlike most off-site guests who have to wait until 30 days, and can visit the parks during Extra Magic Hours. Disney transportations takes guests to Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, and the water parks by bus and to Epcot or Hollywood Studios by boat. The hotels are also about a 10-15 minute walk to the main entrance of Hollywood Studios and the International Gateway entrance of Epcot. You can also park for free at the Disney parks should you chose to forego the buses and drive.
However, there are some on-site perks excluded from these hotels. The biggest drawback for those flying into the Orlando airport is that Dolphin and Swan hotel guests are not eligible for the free airport shuttle, Disney’s Magical Express, so you will need to pay out of pocket for airport transportation and you will not have checked bags delivered to your room. You also will not receive MagicBands and cannot charge park purchases to your room. Another drawback for some families is that the resorts feel more like traditional hotels than Disney resorts.
Disney Springs Hotels
Guests at the B Resort & Spa, Best Western Lake Buena Vista, DoubleTree Suites by Hilton Orlando, Hilton Orlando Buena Vista Palace, Hilton Orlando Lake Buena Vista, Holiday Inn Orlando, and Wyndham Garden Lake Buena Vista get to partake in Extra Magic Hours as well as book their FastPass+ reservations 60 days in advance.
Other Off-Site Options
As Orlando is a popular vacation destination, you can find hotels from any chain in the Disney World vicinity. Other alternatives include condo and timeshare rentals and sites like VRBO and AirBnB.