Disney World is 40 square miles (size of San Francisco!) with more than 20 on-property hotels. If you opt to stay in one of these hotels, you’ll enjoy perks that others staying off-property won’t receive.
1) Close proximity to Disney World parks. Not only will you be close to the theme parks and avoid the commute every day from off-property hotels, you will be able to utilize Disney’s free transportation system within the parks. If you stay on Disney property and opt to park in a Disney World parking lot or garage, it’s free parking.
2) Early access to restaurant and FastPass+ reservations. This is a big benefit. You’re able to make FastPass+ reservations 60 days in advance, as opposed to 30 days in advance for off-property guests. Many popular attractions will have no FastPass+ left at the 30 day mark during peak times. As for dining reservations, you can make them 180 days in advance of your first Disney World day and up to 10 days after that all at one time. Off-property guests will have to call back or go online each day at the 180-day mark and every day after that to get all of their reservations made (or wait until 180 days from the last day of their vacation).
3) Extra Magic Hours. Every day, one of the Disney World parks are open 1 hour early or up to 2 hours past closing exclusively for Disney property guests. These extra hours are a valuable gift every day if you know how to use them! I’ve outlined some Extra Magic Hours tips here.
4) Disney’s Magical Express. This service is extremely convenient for Disney property hotel guests. Disney will send a box truck to the Orlando airport to collect your checked bags at the baggage claim and you’ll board the Magical Express bus. This means you can completely bypass the baggage claim and get going to Disney World right away! They will deliver your bags right to your hotel room later the same day. You’ll likely be on the bus with other people staying at other Disney hotels, and it generally takes about 45 minutes to arrive at your hotel. For your return home trip, you can check your baggage and get your boarding passes at the front desk of your hotel and hop on the Magical Express back to the airport. All of this is free of charge, but only if you stay on Disney property. Tip: You’ll need your Magic Bands to board the Magical Express, so pack them in your carry-on luggage! Disney also sends you special luggage tags for your checked bags so they know where to deliver your bags.
5) Child care options. Disney World hotels offer private babysitting in your hotel room and many offer Disney themed kids club type group child care centers. You’ll have to pay extra for these services, but you have the piece of mind that they are backed by Disney.
6) Guaranteed park admission. On the unusual occasion when a park reaches its capacity, Disney will turn away guests who are not staying at Disney property hotels. Priority admission is given to those staying on Disney property.
7) Shopping bag delivery service. If you are shopping in one of the Disney World park stores, you can leave your purchase at the register counter and it will be delivered back to your hotel room. That way you do not need to carry shopping bags all day long. I love this service!