Step 1 WDW Planning: Hotel

Last Updated on September 21, 2021 by Happily Ever Park Hoppers

First things first, Hotel.

Like most people, I am very budget conscious and absolutely understand wanting to stay within your budget while still creating the most magical family vacation possible. Selecting the right hotel for your family is not a one-size-fits-all type of scenario.

When planning a trip to Walt Disney World, you are either going to stay “on property” (a resort on Disney property) or “off property” (any other accommodation).

The answer might not be as straight forward as you think.

Disney resorts are broken out in to 5 price ranges:

*Depending on your dates of travel, room rates can vary

  • Campgrounds
    • Multiple campsite options including, tent or pop-up campsites and full RV hook-up
  • Value Resorts
    • Smaller rooms with 2 Double beds or some resorts have 1 King bed or 2 Queen beds, fewest amenities, quick service dining only and are further away from Magic Kingdom.
  • Moderate Resorts
    • Slightly larger rooms with 1 King bed or 2 Queen beds, some amenities, quick service and table service dining, better pools and are central to the 4 parks.
  • Deluxe Resorts
    • Largest of the standard rooms with 1 King bed or 2 Queen beds as well, wide array of amenities, variety of quick service, table service and lounge dining,  have pools with water slides and are closer to certain parks.
  • Deluxe Villas
    • Located in the same resorts as Deluxe priced rooms, only the rooms often have a kitchenette or sleep more people.
Always check the special offers tab to see if there are any current promotions for your travel dates! **If there are no current promotions when booking, remember to check back to see if any new promotions were added for your travel dates and contact Disney to have a cast member apply the promotion.
Disney does offer several perks for on property guests that can greatly improve your vacation.

  • 60+ Day Dining Reservations window (+ extends to 10 days from your arrival date versus only 60 days out to all other guests)
  • Complementary airport shuttle service via Disney’s Magical Express (Available thru 12/31/21)
  • Round the clock buses from the resorts to the parks
  • Starting October 1st, 2021 – Early Park Entry (designated park hours only for on property guests)
  • Earlier Lightning Lane selections (On property guests can make their selections at 7am, whereas off property guests will have to wait until the park opens)
There are several on-property resorts that aren’t Disney owned resorts but do get some of the perks of staying at a WDW resort
(Advanced Dining Reservations, Early Entry, Early Lightning Lane selections and Extended Evening Hours)

Other Great Options

Good Neighbor hotels are resorts located just outside of Disney property but have been given the Disney seal of approval. Most offer a free breakfast, are a short ride to parks and are budget friendly. There are a several different room types to suit whatever your needs may be, including a few exceptions that can definitely cost you more than Disney resort. Be sure to research the hotel’s shuttle schedule and know how often the shuttle runs to and from the parks. You will want to know if the savings are worth the time spent waiting or in transit. If you’ll be driving to the parks and paying for parking ($25-50/day), add that cost into your hotel stay when comparing your different options.
There are many off property options that people chose for a variety of reasons. Many families own a  timeshare or are members of a hotel loyalty program. I’ve heard of people staying at an Airbnb for the comforts of home and that they plan to visit other local area attractions besides Disney.

So, when looking at hotels, be sure to weigh your options and what is most important to you and your family.

Do you want to be closer to a certain park? Do you have little ones who will need a mid-day nap and a long bus ride is not ideal? Or are you wanting to take advantage of those extra magic hours and or reservation windows?

Do you belong to a timeshare or hotel loyalty program and want to use your points? Do you have family in the area you can stay with and don\’t need to book a hotel?

At least now you know you have several options. And what to consider when buying park tickets.

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