I’ve stayed at a few different properties at Walt Disney World, some in each category. For new visitors it can be hard to understand all the options. After my latest stay at WDW I fell in love with a new resort, The Beach Club. Get my best Disney World tips about hotel perks, plus a Disney World hotel planning worksheet to help you in choosing where to stay. Should you choose a Value, Moderate, Deluxe, or Villa resort?
Perks of staying on property at Walt Disney World
In addition to staying on site at WDW, we’ve also had a few experiences staying off site. There are definitely some perks for staying on property. The first is the complimentary resort transportation. Each resort has transportation options to each of the parks as well as the water parks and Disney Springs.
Another perk for staying on property is that you’ll get extra magic hours. This means specific parks allow admission an hour early in the morning, or stay an extra two extra hours at night. You can see which parks have the extra magic hours on the Disney park hours webpage.
One of my favorite perks for staying on site at Disney World is the complimentary Magical Express bus transportation. If you’re staying at one of the Disney resorts you are able to book free bus transportation to and from MCO, Orlando International Airport. This can actually be a nice money saving perk, as well has helping get your Disney vacation started as soon as you land. The even play fun Disney clips on the screens on the buses.
A lesser known perk is that resort guests get a head start on booking Fastpass+ at Disney World. You can choose your FastPass+ selections up to 30 days in advance of your visit, starting at 7:00 am ET. If you’re staying at a Disney Resort hotel, you can make your FastPass+ selections up to 60 days prior to check-in for the entire length of your stay. If you’re staying for a week, you can book the full week 60 days out from your first day.
There are a list of other perks, such as wifi, park package delivery, and free parking. But these above are what I think are the best perks.
Read this: Understanding the Disney Fastpass System: The New Fastpass+
Where to Stay at WDW
After my latest trip I have a new favorite resort, The Beach Club. I fell in love with the soft, beach vibe feel, as well as the bright hallways and lobby. This is one of their deluxe resorts and comes with a higher price tag.
I’ve often heard that the Beach Club Resort and Yacht Club Resort are sister properties and assumed they would have a similar feel. However, after seeing both I prefer the Beach Club. The Yacht Club has more wood paneling, east coast captain feel. Whereas the Beach Club is much lighter and more open feeling.
You can also check out this review of the Boardwalk Inn which is in a similar location.
Value vs Moderate vs Deluxe vs Villas
I’ve stayed at a few resorts of different levels. My honest thoughts are that you should go for value if you need to save money or splurge for a deluxe. Use my Disney World hotel planning worksheet below to help you pick your favorites and decide which to book.
Value resorts are going to be the most affordable on property hotels. There are campsites for cheaper if you’re not looking for a hotel. The value resorts are all farthest away from the parks and use bus transportation. They also feature bright, kid-themed, Disney decor. Our first on site stay was at a the All Star Movies resort and our girls still talk about it. The value resorts do have a motel feel, food courts only, and no water slides at the pools.
Moderate resorts feature a few more upgraded property amenities as well as a more grown up decor feel. They still feature the exterior entries like a motel style, however the rooms are a bit more upgraded from the value resorts. The moderate resorts also feature a table service restaurant as well as a food court. And, the main pools have water slides. These resorts can be massively spread out and have internal bus stops which makes your departure and return a bit slow.
Deluxe resorts are the highest level of the traditional hotel rooms. These resorts all have a more adult decor and definitely have an upgraded resort feel. The other big plus in my opinion is deluxe resorts are when you finally leave the exterior entry and move to a standard interior hallways.
You’ll also find table service and fine dining options, but lose the food courts. Deluxe resorts also feature additional transportation options like boats and monorail. And deluxe hotels often have the best pools at the WDW resort.
Villas are part of the Disney Vacation Club and allow families more space and a vacation rental option for staying on site. Villas typically offer studio, 1 bedroom, 2 bedroom, and 3 bedroom villa options. These are all considered deluxe properties and often use the same resort amenities as the deluxe resorts. There are some stand alone villa properties.
Staying Off Site at Walt Disney World
If you need to save money and the value resorts aren’t for you, staying off site could be an option. A few of the reasons you might want to stay off site are:
- hotel with free breakfast
- get more room for less money
- stay at a 5-star property (Waldorf or Four Seasons)
- vacation rental for less than villas
- use hotel points for your stay
If you’re a points hacker, a popular “off site” hotel is the Walt Disney Swan and Dolphin Hotel Resort. However, this property is actually ON property, and you use the same transportation system as the Disney resort guests. We loved staying at this resort, their pool area was a huge hit with my girls.
I recently stayed at the Wyndham Lake Buena Vista hotel and it’s a great option if you love the Disney Springs vibe. It’s the closest hotel to Disney Springs and an official partner of Walt Disney World. Disney Springs has become a destination for foodies and shoppers, and the Wyndham is across the street from Disney Springs. It’s only about a 5-10 minute walk.
Related Reading: Family Fun at the Walt Disney Swan and Dolphin Hotel Resort
Related Reading: Buena Vista Palace Hotel & Spa – A Downtown Disney Hotel
Related Reading: Which Disney World Resort is Best for Your Family: Value vs. Moderate vs. Deluxe
Disney World Hotel Planning Worksheet
Now it’s time to start your Disney World vacation planning! I’ve created this printable Disney hotel planning worksheet to help you research and determine your favorite property for each resort level. Once you’ve chosen your favorite property, you can check out the prices. Then all that’s left is for you to decide what you want to pay and if the upgraded properties are worth the added price.
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