The resorts at Walt Disney World Resort are unlike resorts anywhere else. The resorts are all perfectly themed and have a ton of great features that complement their themes perfectly. I always recommend to stay on Disney property as I feel that it enhances the Disney experience, no matter which resort you stay at. Here are 7 points about Walt Disney World resorts that you may not know:
7. There is so much more to do than a place to sleep or swimming at the pool.
I hear folks say time and time again, “It is just a place to sleep”. That is so not true! The resort experience is a large part of the entire Disney experience and is full of magical activities and experiences that go beyond just playing in the pool. Each resort has various recreation amenities and equipment rentals that are offered like boats, bikes, surreys, etc. The resorts also have jogging/walking trails to allow you a little dose of nature and an active way to explore the grounds away from the crowds in the park. There are also neat activities and experiences that are exclusive to particular resorts based on their theme. For example, at Animal Kingdom, there are tons of animal experiences and encounters throughout the day. At the Polynesian you can take hula lessons and at Wilderness Lodge you can take a guided tour that goes into detail on how the impressive architecture was designed and constructed. There are more of these events across all of the resorts. Many of the resorts also have free cookie/cupcake decorating on certain day/times, too. Be sure to check your Times Guide for all the great activities and don’t miss out!
6. Club level options and what that includes.
At each of the deluxe resorts, there are Club Level options. This is Disney’s version of concierge service. The cost is more expensive than standard rooms at the resort, but it comes with a ton of amenities. First, you get access to the Itinerary Planning Office, who will make and help you coordinate all of your dining, spa and recreation reservations. You complete forms with all of your preferences and they will take care of everything at the 180 day booking window. Club Level guests also have their own private lobby where food and beverages are served all day for no additional charge. There are even tons of alcoholic beverage options and cordials, too! There is a nightly turndown service, treats left in the room, robes and various other deluxe accommodations. It is definitely a high-end experience that will allow you to just show up and enjoy your vacation and all the wonderful amenities at the resort when you are on a break from the parks! Plus, Club Level guests can purchase three additional FastPass+ selections per day.
5. You can valet park for free if you have a disability (or Tables in Wonderland).
At resorts with valet parking, if you have a disability you can actually valet park for free. It is advised to give a tip to the valet cast who park and retrieve your vehicle for you, but otherwise it is free. The valet service makes it easier to get in and out of the resort without worrying about walking to find the car and then doing pick-ups/drop-offs for the individual in need. If you are a Tables in Wonderland member, you also receive free valet parking at the resorts. You just have to dine at the resort and provide a receipt and the Tables in Wonderland card and the valet parking will be free. We often do this before we head to the parks (particularly Magic Kingdom). We will plan a meal at the Polynesian and then take the monorail over the parks. It is easier than parking at TTC. The Contemporary is another great choice since it is walking distance to the Magic Kingdom. If you are planning on going to Epcot, then Yacht & Beach is a great place to dine and then you can take the boat over or take a walk to get to the park. You at least get a much better view than from the parking lots!
4. Resorts Have Overnight Parking Fees
Disney has recently rolled out parking fees for their overnight Resort guests. This means if you plan to drive to Walt Disney World or rent a car from the airport, you will have an additional fee tacked on to your resort stay. The fee per night varies depending on your resort category: Value Resorts ($15 per night), Moderate Resorts ($20 per night), Deluxe and Deluxe Villa Resorts ($25 per night); Valet at Deluxe and Deluxe Villa Resorts ($33 per night). You do not have to pay the overnight parking fee if you are a Disney Vacation Club member and staying at a DVC resort. Other exclusions include Cast members, guests with disabilities, stays at the campsites at Fort Wilderness, and guests visiting resorts for dining reservations and other activities. If you plan to stay 5-nights at a Value Resort, you are looking at an additional $65 for your resort stay on top of your room fee… or $120 at a Deluxe Resort. Be sure to include this cost in your Disney planning. If it is possible to find a resort off property without parking or transportation fees included, you could save yourself a chunk of change.
3. Hidden Mickey’s are at the resorts, too!
The Disney Magic and the level of detail put into the theming and designs are just as strong at the resorts as it is within the parks. The imagineers put the same level of care and detail into creating a resort as they do any attraction. You will find Hidden Mickey’s and extra magical surprises all over the resorts. The Hidden Mickey books will have many of them in there to help make sure you find them all. You could also do Google searches for your resort, or even ask a cast member to help you find them, too! Feel free to go on a self-guided tour to the resorts to check them out and try to find them all!
2. The Contemporary rooms were pre-built and then hoisted into place.
This is definitely one of the coolest fun facts! The Contemporary definitely lives up to its name. The resort was constructed leaving perfect slots for pre-fabricated rooms to slide in. The rooms were almost completely constructed including the bathrooms and then they were put into place using a crane to hoist each room into place! The main resort is 14 stories tall and has around 500 guest rooms. So that was a lot of work to get all of those rooms in place, but was such a unique and cutting edge way to do it.
1. Dining options are often easier to get into.
The restaurants that reside within the theme parks are typically the first to fill up, making them much harder to get into without planning way in advance and having a dining reservation. The resort restaurants are typically open later and have more flexible availability since they don’t book up as quickly (aside from a few extremely popular one). You can usually always find open reservations at many of the resort restaurants even during busy seasons, which is great for folks who plan last minute trips or like to play their day by ear without a ton of planning. Plus, the food is amazing and many of them have amazing themes. They are definitely worth checking out, as you will likely find a new favorite spot!