1. Plan around your budget
Disney makes it easy to find a resort for your budget because the resorts are broken up into three categories– value, moderate, and deluxe. Value resorts are perfect for guests who want to save the most money or use more of their budget in other area like for dining or activities, and deluxe resorts work best for tricks when you want to splurge a little. For a balance of the two, moderate resorts offer a mix of features and amenities at a more reasonable price point.
2. Don’t forget about non-Disney on-property resorts
If you are looking for a deal but you still want to stay on Disney property, it doesn’t hurt to check the non-Disney resorts. The Disney Springs hotels include chain brands like Best Western and the Holiday Inn, and a larger scale boutique-style resort with B Resort and Spa. Closer to Epcot is the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort is part of the Starwood Resorts brand, so you may be part of their rewards program if you stay with Starwood often.
3. You can skip the rental car
When you stay at a Disney resort you can take advantage of complimentary transportation as soon as your plane lands in Orlando. From the airport, Disney resort guests can skip baggage claim and hop right on the Magical Express bus to their resort. Luggage is delivered later that day, and guests can travel to the theme parks via bus, boat, or monorail depending on which resort they stay at. All of this transportation is included with Disney resort stays, so a rental car is not a necessity.
4. Take advantage of resort amenities
Many guests stay at Disney resorts but hardly spend any time there because they are always at the parks. Even if your trip is primarily focused on the parks, there are still plenty of amenities at the resort you should take advantage of. For instance, while shopping in the parks you can have your purchased shipped back to your resort for free. When you check out of your resort, you can check your luggage for your flight right at the resort, or if you’d rather carry it on you can leave it at Bell Services until you leave for your flight.
5. Eat at your resort
Since a lot of guests do not spend much time at their resorts, many of them are not eating there. Even value resorts that only have quick service restaurants do still have some unique menu items that you won’t find anywhere else. Even if you’re looking for more standard cuisine, stopping for coffee or grabbing breakfast before you hit the parks can still help you get more out of your resort stay.
6. Spend a day at the pool
Disney trips are exhausting, and spending time at the pool can be the best way to rest and relax. Some resorts even have waterslides and hot tubs, and full service restaurants at the pool areas for guests to enjoy. (Just remember that pools are reserved for guests staying at the resorts, so while you may use the pool at your resort you cannot use the pools at other resorts.)
7. Don’t forget to tip
You may not think about tipping much at your resort outside of restaurants but there are plenty of cast members at the resorts who you may want to tip. One is housekeeping– if you get your room serviced it is customary to leave a tip of about $2 per person per day. Leaving your bag at Bell Services or getting assistance carrying them on a Magical Express bus? Those cast members can all be tipped as well.
8. Check in online
Checking in for your resort stay online can help you edit requests and your arrival time and may checking in easier. You may even be able to skip the front desk altogether and go right to your room. If you already have the MagicBands you’re using you can get a text alert when your room is ready and head right to your room upon arrival.
9. Look for special offers
Always check the official Disney site for special offers along with other discounts you may be eligible for (like annual passholder or Florida resident rates). Not seeing any notable discounts through Disney? Try third party sites– it may seem convoluted to go through another site, but sometimes they offer discounts that Disney doesn’t directly. Don’t want to do the research yourself? Work with an authorized Disney travel agent who can help you plan your trip at no cost to you.
10. Don’t skip the gift shop
Resort gift shops carry general Disney items that you tend to find all over the resorts (along with toiletries you may have forgotten) but they also come stocked with merchandise for the specific resort. The items vary, but if you are looking for something to remember your resort stay by you can often find glassware, pins, ornaments and sometimes even t-shirt and tote bags right in the resort shop.