1) Choose the right resort
There are a number of factors that should go into ensuring that you choose the right resort for your Walt Disney World vacation. The first, and probably the most important factor is your budget. With an unlimited budget, I would always stay at a deluxe resort. Assuming your budget is more realistic however, you’re probably going to look into moderate and value resorts at least for some of your Disney trips. Figure out which resort tier you’d be comfortable paying for and go from there. Next, decide which resort themes and locations appeal to you, and narrow down your options until you come to the resort you’d like to stay at.
2) Take part in the activities at your resort
Many guests do not put too much thought into which resort they’re staying at because they assume they will be at the parks for most of their trips, and therefore they will hardly ever be at the resorts. Disney resorts have a lot to offer outside of the parks. To make sure you’re getting the most out of your stay at a Disney resort, get over to the pool and play some of the games, look into the other recreational offerings your resort might have like fishing, watersports, bike rentals, and more. And at night, relax with a movie under the stars, featuring a Disney film that changes nightly throughout your trip.
3) Resort hop (but don’t pool hop!)
While visiting Walt Disney World, you are also able to walk through the other resorts on property besides your own. You are welcome to visit the lobbies, shops, restaurants, and some recreational areas, however it is worth noting that some areas are reserved for guests staying at that resort only—including the pool area and fitness centers. If you have a day without a park ticket, or some time to kill before you get on your flight home, spend some time resort hopping. Wander through some of the other resorts’ lobbies, check out the shops, and have a few drinks and snacks.
4) Visit during the holidays
You probably know the parks are home to some beautiful decorations during the holidays, but did you know many of the resorts get into the spirit too? I love visiting the different Disney resorts to see the holiday decorations, especially if I happen to be in Walt Disney World during the holiday rush when the parks are super busy. The resorts offer some magnificent views with a nice change of pace.
5) Take advantage of the perks
As a resort guest, you are able to use complimentary Disney transportation between the resort and the parks, as well as the Orlando International Airport. You can also participate in Extra Magic Hours, when certain parks open earlier or stay open later for guests staying at Disney resorts on select days. You’re paying to stay at a Disney resort, as opposed to a likely cheaper chain hotel off property, so you should definitely take advantage of some of the extra perks you get for doing so.
6) Ship your purchases
When you stay at a Disney resort, you can have whatever items you purchase in the parks shipped back to your resort gift shop. This service is complimentary and extremely convenient, especially if you tend to do a lot of shopping, or you purchase something that might be difficult to carry with you while touring the parks for the rest of the day. Just ask that your items be sent back to your resort while you’re checking out, and remember that this service is unavailable if you are checking out of your resort the next day.
7) Walk around the resort
Even if you are not planning on spending time at the pool or in your hotel room, it is still worth walking around your resort just to see what recreational offerings there are and how the design and theme of the resort immerse you into the story. Even if you’re staying in a value resort, like one of the All Star resorts, it is definitely worth walking around to see the different designs of each building. So many guests head straight to their rooms after the parks each day, and they miss out on seeing everything that their resort has to offer.