Is it Really Worth it to Stay in a Disney Resort?


I think everyone would agree, taking a vacation to Walt Disney World is a sizable financial endeavor. As fans of WDW, we are always on the lookout for ways in which to save money so that we can visit the ‘world of Mouse’ as often as possible. Often our conversations will turn to whether or not it is still a good deal to stay “on property” when visiting Walt Disney World. Certainly, what makes staying in a Disney resort appealing is very different for each person or family, based on their personal needs and desires, but I’d like to make the argument that staying on property is still an option well worth choosing.

Online Check-In
The benefits of being a Walt Disney World Resort guest begin even before leaving home. Within 10 days of arrival, guests can check in online to avoid the long lines at the resort’s check in desk. When you arrive, simply go to the online counter to pick up your welcome packet and room key.

Disney Dining Plans
Resort guests have the option to add one of Disney’s Dining Plans to their reservation. For many, the option to include meals is a huge convenience and in some cases can even be a money saver.


As a Disney resort guest you have the option to add charging privileges to your MagicBand. Most anything that you purchase at the parks, Downtown Disney and most resorts can be charged to your room, eliminating the need to carry cash or credit cards around with you.

When you stay in a Disney resort, you can make your FastPass+ selections up to 60 days prior to check-in for the entire length of your stay. That’s a full 30 days earlier than people staying off-property, which can be gold when you want to be sure to experience the most popular attractions without a long wait.

Lobby Concierge
You can buy tickets to all Disney parks and attractions and get information on dining, recreation, and everything Disney right in the lobby of your resort – without standing in the long, hot lines at the parks.


Free Transportation
With Magical Express, resort guests are provided complimentary round-trip transportation from the Orlando International Airport. In addition, Disney deals with your luggage. Once you arrive at the airport, all you have to do is hop on the shuttle to be whisked away to your resort. Later that day, your luggage will magically appear in your room. When it’s time to leave, you can check your luggage and print your boarding pass at the resort before boarding the shuttle.

Transportation to the parks, Downtown Disney and to all of the Disney resorts is also free when you stay on property. Walt Disney World has a network of transportation options including busses, ferryboats, water taxis and monorails that make it possible to completely leave the driving to them while vacationing.

Friendship Boat

Free Parking
If you’re like me and prefer the freedom of being able to drive while on property, you’ll be happy to know that as a resort guest, parking at the parks is complimentary.

Package Delivery
One of my favorite perks is the option to have purchases delivered to my resort. This means you don’t have to worry about those fragile Mickey martini glasses you bought for your brother getting broken while you’re bouncing around on Dinosaur. When you make your purchase, just let the Cast Member know what resort you are staying at and your purchases will be safely delivered to your resort at no extra cost.

Access to Parks
Resort guests enjoy extra hours in the parks by way of Extra Magic Hours. During busy times of the year when parks are close to capacity, being a resort guest gives you the best chance to avoid being turned away from entering the park.

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Refillable Mugs
Back at the resort, guests can purchase a refillable mug that they can use for unlimited beverages for the duration of their stay at the resort.

Resort Activities
When you stay at a Disney resort you get more than just a bed and a shower – way more! Disney’s resorts have exceptional pools, arcades, exercise rooms, children’s activities and areas. There are dozens of recreational activities such as fishing, tennis, boating, and golfing to name a few. Speaking of golf, resort guests get playing privileges, preferred tee times, and, in some cases, free transportation to the Disney golf courses.


When you stay on property, you are close enough to your resort to take a mid-day break from the heat and crowds. It’s easy to go for a swim, take a nap and maybe have a bite to eat – fully recharging your system before heading back to the parks for an evening of more fun.

Geared Towards Families
Nobody knows how to cater to families better than Disney. Kids 17 and under stay free in their parent’s room and Disney has special services for children at the resorts, including child activity centers, in-room babysitting, learning programs and dinner clubs. The televisions in the resort rooms include the Disney Channel as well as several Walt Disney World info channels. You can even enjoy a nightly bedtime story on TV.


Immersed in the Magic
Probably the best perk of all when you stay at a Walt Disney World resort is never having to leave the magic. There’s nothing better than being completely immersed in the Disney experience for your entire vacation. All the fantasy and fun, the amazing customer service and attention to detail that you find in Disney parks is also found in the resorts. Disney goes out of their way to make sure guests have the absolute best vacation possible.


Granted, not everyone is going to take advantage of all the perks listed, all of the time. For instance, I travel between resorts a fair bit when I am there. I do use Disney transportation some, but I also rent a car which makes it easier to get from one resort to another. A refillable mug is completely wasted on me because I mostly just drink water – and the occasional refreshing adult beverage that isn’t included in the free refills. Many people do take advantage of most of the perks but even for those of us who don’t, when you look at the big picture with everything that Disney offers, staying at a Disney resort makes total sense.

When you rent through David’s Vacation Club Rentals, you get all the same perks as everyone else staying on Disney property, with the added perk of having spent much less on your room than someone who booked a comparable room through Disney. As to whether or not it’s worth it to stay on property – as far as I’m concerned, it’s not worth it to stay anywhere else!

~ Barrie Brewer, Social Media Director

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61 thoughts on "Is it Really Worth it to Stay in a Disney Resort?"

  1. Can someone please tell me which resort is pictured?

  2. It’s not ‘worth’ it, as there aren’t enough onsite benefits to outweigh the extra costs. But, that doesn’t mean it isn’t the right choice for lots of us. I love staying onsite. It just gets old to constantly hear people trying to justify it as a better deal.

  3. It’s a real shame that owning a DVC doesn’t get you the same benefits as staying in a Disney hotel. If they did, or even gave you a decent discount to help matching what you can get, then I would look at more closely at a DVC

  4. Would never stay off site. I feel like I’m not at Disney!

  5. Definately especially if you dont drive down you dont have to rent a car to get to the parks

  6. Always. Sometimes when we have a car (if we drive down instead of fly) and leave the WDW property I think “why would anyone want to fight this traffic to go back and forth to the parks?!” No thank you!

  7. Yes I do if and I can afford to stay

  8. And when we are on property it’s at a Disney owned hotel with all the perqs. Not at a partner hotel.

  9. CM Taysal says:

    What about 3 bedroom villas? I’m looking to rent one for 2 weeks next year but I worried that it won’t be possible.

  10. Jayne Haas says:

    Never disappoints when you stay on property. ⭐️

  11. Yes. Where else can you see this from your balcony?

  12. I stayed offsite once and it was such a waste of time trying to get from the hotel to the parks. Stayed onsite after that and never looked back. I don’t go down every year and that’s okay. It gives us a little more time to save some extra money, stay at the resort we want and not have to worry about anything. My dh loves the Magical Express from the airport to the hotel and the fact that we don’t have to get our bags once we land. We drove down once and parked the car at the resort lot once we unloaded the car and never moved it again until the day we left.

  13. Yesssssss for sure best investment ever

  14. There are other places to stay in central Florida??? OMG who knew?!?!?! LOL

  15. We don’t even get in the car while we are there. Amazing!!!!

  16. We’ve used Davids twice, then decided we better buy our own DVC contract. Haven’t regretted it yet!

  17. No misc resort fees or resort parking fees. So many off property Orlando hotels charge both.

  18. First 2 trips we stayed offsite. Last 2 stayed onsite. No comparison…onsite has way more advantages!!

  19. I like the list! I stay onsite because of EMH, themed rooms and staying in the disney bubble

  20. That was a pretty good list. I’d add to the last one “immersed in the magic”. My wife and I call it being in the Disney Bubble. Whether we rent a car or use Disney Transportation, there is something about never leaving that bubble where all things look and feel Disney. No trash on the roads, manicured lawns, yes it might be an illusion, but its one I’m willing to pay a bit more for by staying on property. One trip we drove a friend back to the airport. Just that leaving the bubble and reentering reality was such an unexpected let down. I know you can often get bigger-cheaper staying off property, but this list pretty much nails why we choose on property.

  21. I have stayed onsite and in condos off site. each has its advantages / disadvantages
    2,weeks ago spend 7! Days at grand Floridian and the advantage of having monorail access to MK & Epcot was great when it didn’t break down. Bus service left something to be desired.

  22. We spent three nights in Kissimmee in June before we went to Disney. We stayed at a decent hotel and did Disney Springs and a day trip to Clearwater. It was nice, but I couldn’t wait to get to our Disney resort!

  23. This is awesome and 100%true❤️

  24. Going to WDW is expensive. Everybody knows that. But, broken down by the day, it isn’t much more than any other theme park. You just need more days at WDW because there is so much magic to enjoy!!! I would never consider staying off of Disney property! I don’t even question money savings. There is nothing that could convince me that saving for a few more months to stay on grounds isn’t worth the time and effort! If you wanted to, you could literally park your car for a week (free, I might add) and go to the parks with nothing but the arm band. Of course, everybody wants to buy extras, but you don’t NEED to. I go with my arm band and as little as possible–water bottle on lanyard, cellphone and debit card in my pocket. It’s that easy:)

  25. Amy Artingstall Giese here’s more proof!

  26. Not 100% thrilled about the dining but it is what it is. Again it’s vacation so anything goes. We’ve mostly gone when dining is free.

  27. Never stayed off property and can’t imagine doing so. Love the convenience of everything. Expensive..yes…but if I have to pinch pennies we just wouldn’t go.

  28. Paul Craig says:

    Been DVC members for about 6 years now…was hooked after the first time we went prior to becoming members.

    Magical Express, Dining Plan, On-property transportation, and that Disney “touch” make it all worth the money. When the end of the night comes and we’ve been running all day, the last thing I wanna do is have to drive back to an off-site property. A short walk from Epcot to Beach Club after “sipping” around the World is convenient too!!! Lol

  29. My family are DVC members and have been going back every year since 1994. By the way we live in the UK. We just love everything about Disney and have made so many friends over the years. Yes there are pros and cons but that is true about anywhere you go to. We love being on property and on the couple of times we have stayed at my daughter’s timeshare off property it has just not been the same. Happy New Year everyone

  30. Tbh the biggest is it worth it for me, is can I get the magic and pleasure of a disney vacation from anywhere else in Orlando or elsewhere for that matter. The answer is simply no, I live in the UK and since the age of 17 have vacationed to Disney every year with my partner, we LOVE everything disney has to offer from start to finish. It provides safety, security fun, relaxation something for adults and something for the kids. Can’t imagine being as satisfied elsewhere. Sure we groan and grumble about the cost and say perhaps we should try lake buena vista each year, but when it boils down to it…that simply wouldn’t make the disney experience one can only get from staying within a disney resort. 🙂
    Happy new year all!

  31. Dawn Logan says:

    I’m an adult, and even I don’t go to buffets. I simply don’t eat enough to justify the price, and my husband doesn’t eat enough to cover the difference! We have learned over the years to eat most meals at counter service locations.

  32. Will never stay off site again… Free parking, shuttle, boats, extra magic hours, fast passes and dining reservations in advance and the dinning plan make it a must to stay on property for our family!

  33. If you have a vehicle on property, parking is free at the parks, if you valet, you can get free valet for 24 hours at any Disney resort and as many resorts you drive to in that time.

  34. I couldn’t agree with Denise’s comments more. We’ve stayed on property 5 times and I’m seriously considering something else. Take fast pass. At Universal they have a special line for customers, and that’s what we are, who stay on property. THAT is a perk. Dining at WDW? You pay $60 a day and have to eat at hideous times and the age brackets are ridiculous not to mention the kids menu leaves a lot to be desired. I’ve been to WDW 18 times since 72 and stayed on property at 5 places and my last one at Caribbean Beach was terrible and I’m definitely not picking but I do want my moneys worth.

  35. I will NEVER stay off property

  36. Reading the header to your story, “…is it worth it to stay in a Disney Resort” I was intrigued. Immediately with that title I thought “he’s going to explain to me how I save money by doing so.” I’d say most of what you listed are merely “perks”. Are they worth something? Maybe to some, and maybe some are worth it to me. But I think you addressed some points that still need tweaking on WDWs end. 1-the dinner reservation system. I think in the dozen times I’ve been to WDW I’ve actually been successful in making a character reservation, maybe twice. There’s just not enough options for character dining since they are in such high demand. And let’s face it, I can’t think about what time I’m eating dinner today, let alone 120 days from now. 2-children under 17 stay free in your room. However, age 9 is considered the last age to be a “child” when dining and purchasing park passes. I was mortified that I had to pay $60 for my 10 year old to eat chicken nuggets and Mac and Cheese when we ate at Chef Mickeys two years ago. How they could, with a straight face, tell me they were “sorry but it’s the rules”, when she ate about $5 worth of food.
    While I’ve obviously bought into the whole “most magical place in the world” idea, and we enjoy Disney it just grows increasingly harder to justify spending the money to stay on property.
    Thanks Barrie for your business and the time you put into informing all of us Happy New Year

    1. That is exactly why we won’t do buffets again until my youngest son will eat more. Instead we eat at restaurants, he orders off the kids’ menu (paying cash for his meal), and we save his dining credit for another meal.

    2. I hear you Denise – a Disney vacation is definitely spendy. I tried to be clear in the article that not every perk would be considered a perk for every person or family. My point is simply that when you put them all together, I feel like it is still an advantage to stay on property. Of course, everyone has to weigh that our for themselves. Personally, I think the Dining Plans are only cost effective for a very few guests. But there are many people who buy them and feel like they are worth the investment to them. ~ Barrie

    3. Oh, btw I’m a “she”, not a “he”. 😉 ~ Barrie

    4. I feel people with young children (and even without, like my husband and I) spend much less on food without the dinning plan. But it is nice to have it paid for up front. So instead we buy gift cards and even share meals from time to time. As far as reservations go, its a matter of how you look at it. We love to pick out restaurants before we can book 180 days out, it makes the fun of the vacation last much longer because we get very excited and have something to look forward to. If you book as soon ASD you can, you should not have a problem getting those meals you hoped for. I am a type A who plans all details and I understand some are not. My advice is go during the slower fall season and simply understand if you can get into a restaurant and if you have not paid for a dinning plan, then you will not feel like you wasted money if you don’t get in.

    5. Paul Craig says:

      Never had a problem getting the dining reservations I wanted…whether it be for our party of 4 or party of 7. Bottom line is you need to be willing to plan in advance. I sit down 8 months out with 7 blank sheets of paper and write the date/day at the top of each one. From their, I start planning…what resort we will be at (we split it up on occasion), what park we will visit that day, meal locations, etc. I base our park schedule on Magical Hours then plan meals around the parks. Less travel time needed, more time to ourselves. Once the six month mark arrives, I’m on the phone or computer making reservations for meals. Might sound like a pain but it’s actually fun IMO and gives me something to do while waiting for the vacation to arrive. Once we arrive for our vacation, everything is handled an we sit back and relax.

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