5 Tips For Staying at a Walt Disney World Resort Property
So, you’re booking a trip to Walt Disney World.
Congratulations! It is the Most Magical Place on Earth, after all.
No doubt, you’ve been looking at all the theme park websites, the planning guides, and the Disney vloggers, and inevitably you’re thinking, “What have I gotten myself into?”
As someone who has frequently visited the parks since 2004, I know where you’re coming from. It can be a bit intimidating to plan a Walt Disney World vacation.
But if you’ve decided to stay on-property at one of Disney’s beautiful resort hotels, then there are a few tricks you can use to help you have a smooth-running, fun trip!
1. Make Use of Disney's Transportation System
If you’ve ever visited the Disney Parks before, you likely will have noticed that there are a LOT of ways to get around. Whether on the ground or in the sky, Disney has provided their guests with many different ways of travelling through the expansive resort to easily get to their destination.
One of the perks of staying on-property at Walt Disney World is that you can use Disney Transport to your full disposal. While off-property resorts may require you to rent a car or pay a fee for their park shuttle bus, Disney has a million different ways to get around their resort at no additional cost to you.
The motorcoach buses are efficient, with an upcoming bus always 20 minutes away at maximum, and the drivers frequently use backstage areas or lesser-known roads to get around traffic. In addition, the new Skyliner system allows you to bypass street traffic completely by taking you aboveground in sky-bound gondolas that travel between certain resorts and Epcot and Hollywood Studios.
If you’re staying at any one of the resorts on the Monorail route, you’re at a greater advantage. These resorts allow you to quickly hop on a monorail and travel to Magic Kingdom or even Epcot by way of the Transportation and Ticket Center!
2. Download The My Disney Experience App Before You Go
Now more than ever, My Disney Experience is a crucial resource for your Walt Disney World trip. Love it or hate it, this app is a must-have for making the most out of your time in the Disney Parks.
You may already have this downloaded to your phone from previous trips. But if you haven’t been to the parks in a few years, here’s the gist. The My Disney Experience app is your pocket guide to the Walt Disney World Resort. Using DIsney’s in-park WiFi, you can use the app to view maps, book dining reservations, make alterations to your tickets, and much more. This is also where you can make a park reservation, which is currently the new reality at the Walt Disney World Resort.
Additionally, the My Disney Experience app also boasts a feature that allows you to view the wait times for every ride and attraction in all four theme parks. That way, you won’t get stuck walking across an entire park, only to find out that Jungle Cruise has a 110 minute wait.
3. Purchase A Refillable Mug at the Resort
While the suggestions on this list so far have been at no additional cost, there is one item that I highly recommend investing in: a refillable resort mug. These cute plastic mugs can be purchased in the quick service restaurants or gift shops at any Walt Disney World Resort Hotel and they are a lifesaver.
I know what you’re thinking: “How does an overpriced hunk of plastic have any benefit to my trip?” As of 2021, the refillable mugs cost $19.99 apiece, which might seem a bit extravagant. However, once you buy it, it’s yours to use and refill as many times as you choose for the duration of your stay. If you are partaking in the Disney Dining Plan, this mug is included in your plan. You can head to any qualifying refill machine at any of the Walt Disney World Resort Hotels and refill your mug with water, juice, pop, or even hot drinks like tea and coffee.
Keep in mind, the refillable mugs are part of the Rapid Fill program. What is the Rapid Fill program, you may ask? Well, great question. I had no idea either. Back in the 2000s, the mugs were a simple buy-and-go situation. A few years back, Disney began to sell their mugs with RFID barcodes. These barcodes are read by all refill stations and allow you to fill up your mug. Your mug becomes null and void at the end of your stay—in other words, you can’t reuse it on your next trip. You also have to wait about two minutes to refill your mug each time.
4. Take Advantage Of Special Offers And Discounts
It can be easy to rack up an exceptionally hefty bill when you’re staying at the parks. This is especially true when you’re blindly charging everything to your room via your MagicBand (it’s a blessing and a curse).
Utilizing methods that will get you discounts or deals on your food and souvenirs can make a significant difference in the long run. As a former Annual Passholder, I brought my Annual Pass with me everywhere I went in the parks, as it gave me 10-20% discounts on applicable food and merchandise.
If you’re not willing or able to shell out the money for several Annual Passes, one hack is to buy an Annual Pass for one member of your party. That way, they will be able to get discounts for your party, without having to spend thousands.
Aside from Annual Passholder perks, there are many special offers and discounts available at Walt Disney World. The Disney Dining Plan is a great way to save money on meals if you know your family will be eating on-property for all three meals each day. Additionally, the off-property Disney’s Character Warehouse at the Orlando International Premium Outlet offers exclusive merchandise from the parks at significantly marked down prices!
5. Bring Bug Spray—And Use It Vigorously!
If you’re going to take away one piece of advice from this post, please let it be this one: wear bug spray! This is coming from personal experience.
On my most recent trip in 2019, I stayed at the Port Orleans French Quarter (side note: this is a fantastic option if you’re looking for a Moderate hotel). The beautiful Sassagoula River runs parallel to the property and I spent a large part of my trip strolling along it. Much to my dismay, I found myself absolutely covered in mosquito bites.
In heavily vegetated areas, such as the quiet resort properties or even Animal Kingdom, nibbly bugs are rampant. It is Florida, after all. While the gift shops at each resort do offer bug spray, you’re going to spend a pretty penny on the same product you could buy at CVS for a few dollars.
Oh, and while you’re at it, don’t forget the After Bite gel, too. Just in case.
Planning your family’s next trip to Walt Disney World might seem overwhelming. But by following these few tips for staying on property, you’ll be so relieved when you roll up to your Resort Hotel and know all the hacks for making the most out of your trip.