Decisions, decisions, decisions. Orlando is a family friendly city, but when it comes to choosing a hotel, it can get overwhelming. If you are planning to visit Walt Disney World, the big question is whether your family should stay on property. While Disney hosted my family’s stay for the TravelingMom conference, all opinions are my own. Here are 7 reasons to stay on property at Disney World, especially with preschoolers!
Last year, we visited Walt Disney World for the day. We stayed a very nice hotel nearby that was not on property at Disney World. It provided shuttle service to the main transportation center at Disney World, but from there, we had to either take the monorail, or another bus to the park we were visiting. And that was just getting to the park! Getting back to the main transportation center at the end of the day to meet the hotel shuttle was another story. It became stressful trying to figure out where we needed to be and when we needed to be there. When it came time to book our hotel for our more recent extended stay at Disney World, we did think about using our points to stay off property. Ultimately, though, it wasn’t worth it. We decided to save those points for another vacation. It was the best decision we made. Especially since my 4 year old son was along for the ride.
Have Preschoolers? 7 Reasons to Stay on Property at Disney World
- Disney’s Magical Express
- Hotels for Every Budget
- Kid Friendly Pool Areas
- Extra Magic Hours
1. Disney’s Magical Express
Disney’s goal is to make things as easy as possible for families, and that begins with the Magical Express. The Magical Express is an exclusive motorcoach that transports Disney hotel guests from the Orlando airport to their respective hotel and vice versa. Here’s what I love the most about it – it’s complimentary as long as you are staying on property at Disney World. Also, a few weeks prior to your trip, Disney will mail luggage tags to you. As long as you place the Disney tags on your suitcases, you will not need to pick up your luggage from baggage claim once you arrive in Orlando. Disney will pick up your suitcases for you, and take them to your hotel room. It may take a few hours for you to receive your luggage, so if you have anything important with you like medication, you’ll want to make sure it’s in a carry on bag. Traveling with young children, including preschoolers, can be stressful when lugging everything around. The Magical Express takes care of it for you. Not to mention, the motorcoach is comfortable and has TV screens showing cartoons. My 4 year old son loved it!
2. Hotels for Every Budget
There are resorts available for every budget: value, moderate, and deluxe. We recently stayed at the Disney’s Beach Club Resort, a deluxe resort, and I would definitely stay there again. It’s in a great location – a short walk to Epcot, a boat ride to Hollywood Studios, and shuttles to the Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom. Plus, we were able to see fireworks from our room! The Beach Club Resort shares a shuttle with neighboring Disney resorts like the Yacht Club and Boardwalk, but it didn’t impact our travel time. After spending the day at one of the parks, there’s nothing like quickly getting back to the hotel with a preschooler who falls asleep.
Before my husband and I became parents, we stayed at a value resort, Disney’s Pop Century Resort. It has a very energetic vibe to it, devoted to pop culture. There were several families staying there, and it also has shuttles to the various parks.
And then there are the moderate resorts on property at Disney World. Fellow TravelingMom Kathy Williamson Penney from Penney Lane took the following picture of one of the pirate rooms at Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort. My son would have loved staying in this room.
3. Kid Friendly Pool Areas
The parks are the reason for our visit, but it’s also nice to enjoy the amenities at the resort to unwind and take a break. Many of the hotels on property at Disney World have kid friendly pool areas, including fun pool parties. Disney’s Beach Club Resort has one of the best pool areas we’ve ever experienced, called Stormalong Bay. It’s actually more of a waterpark than a pool. Kids can play in the sand and build sandcastles, float down the lazy river, and play in a pirate ship. My son loved Stormalong Bay, especially the sandy area and the pirate ship.
MagicBands are awesome. They act as a wristband and can be customized by using the My Disney Experience App. Not only can it be personalized with your name, but you can also pick your own colors. Everything can be linked to your MagicBand – it enables you to open your hotel room without a key and it can be used for your park tickets. FastPasses, as well as the Memory Maker (photos taken by Disney photographers), can also be linked to it. Initially, I was worried that my son (as well as my husband!) would lose their MagicBands. I shouldn’t have worried, though. My son loved his MagicBand and even learned how to scan it for FastPasses. Another bonus? The MagicBands are waterproof and for parents, it’s one less thing that we have to carry around since so many things are linked to it.
5. Extra Magic Hours
Guests that are staying on property at Disney World can take advantage of extra magic hours on select days. That means more time in the parks and for rides, and less waiting in line (which is great especially if you have preschoolers with you). For example, the Frozen ride at Epcot is one of the newer rides at Disney World, and as a result, is one of the more popular rides. Because of that, (1) wait times to get on the ride can be long and (2) it’s more difficult to reserve a FastPass for it, especially if you’re not staying on property at Disney World (more about that below). We took advantage of extra magic hours at Epcot and I’ve never seen so many grown men running with strollers, all to the Frozen ride!
Guests staying on property at Disney World receive priority when it comes to reserving FastPasses. The FastPasses can be reserved 60 days in advance for guests staying on property, whereas guests that aren’t staying on property can reserve FastPasses 30 days in advance. This is a huge benefit, especially when you have younger children and you want to maximize your time in the parks and you don’t want to wait in long lines.
One of the other reasons to stay on property at Disney World is the convenience factor. Not only do the resorts provide transportation to the parks, but souvenirs purchased in the parks can also be delivered to your hotel. We try to avoid carrying as much as possible in the parks, especially now that we have a young child.
Is there anything you would add to the list?