I'm often asked by people, usually as I am being told they are staying off-site because it is less expensive, why anyone would want to consider staying on-property in a Walt Disney World Resort. Well, if your only concern is price, then maybe a Disney Resort isn't for you. But, if you gauge cost in terms of value, then I believe there is no better value than a Disney resort.
This is the point where people normally respond by saying "Value? What do you mean value? Isn't that simply a way to say 'more expensive'?" Go ahead, you can ask too...OK, I'll tell you. Disney Resorts provide value in that you will get a greater return for your investment. You will get more than what you pay for - so much more!1. Extra Magic Hours: If park admission is $85 a person, and normal park hours are from 9am - 9pm, then you are paying around $7 an hour to attend. Extra Magic Hours allow resort guests to take advantage of additional time in the parks. Depending on the day, you could gain from 1 to 3 hours in a given park. If you park hop, that number could jump to 4 hours. Those Extra Magic Hours factored into the $85 park admission could reduce your hourly rate to $5.30 - $6.50 an hour. That adds up over a week and when you are paying for more than 1 park admission. Moreover, Extra Magic Hours allow you to enjoy the parks with fewer people, because only resort guests are allowed during those times. That is value!
2. Disney Dining Plan: It is no secret that I love to eat! For me, eating is what makes vacation a vacation! Disney restaurants offer so many great themed restaurants, it would be difficult at best to explore their extensive menus without draining your finances. However, the Disney Dining Plan allows you to partake in snacks, walk-up meals (at locations like Cosmic Rays) and full service restaurants. These meals can come with appetizers, a main course, a drink and a desert. All at a reasonable price. Lastly, the plan allows you to remain in the parks to eat. That translates into more time inside the magical walls. And, as noted above for Extra Magic Hours, time directly translates into money. Still not convinced? OK, let me channel my TV salesman personality for a moment; "How much would you pay for this? $500? $300? $100? Act now and we will throw it in for FREE!" Yep, at certain times of the year, Disney has and usually does offer this plan for free to those who choose to book a stay in their resorts. I don't know about you, but I can eat a bit, and doing it for free is more than a value. As a Disney Vacation Club member though, I must pay for the Dining Plan - and still do. After adding it up over the years, I can say that I definitely come out ahead, and you will too.
3. Keys to the Kingdom: I'm not a big fan of carrying around a pocket full of keys, cards, tickets and receipts. When you stay at a Disney Resort, your room key also serves as your ticket and as a charge card. The charges from anywhere in the parks are then billed directly to your room. You can use one card to enter the parks, purchase souvenirs, and return to your room at the end of the day. If convenience stores can charge a premium for convenience, then I will consider this a value.
4. Package Delivery: After so many trips to Walt Disney World, one might think we have purchased just about every souvenir possible. For some reason though, we always tend find a multitude of treasures to ship home. The problem with purchasing souvenirs in the park, however, is that you are forced to carry them around the park with you all day. Trust me when I say that riding Space Mountain while trying to juggle a Big Fig in one arm, a Mickey clock in the other and a porcelain Jiminy Cricket between your knees is not fun. Sure, you could pay for a locker at the front of the park, but you would need to keep returning there after each purchase to unload your treasures. As a resort guest, I never have to worry about this predicament. The store will actually deliver the purchase to my resort room, or to the resort store. Again, convenience = value! Priceless value in my opinion.
5. Pools: As noted in an earlier post, some people just don't consider it a vacation without the ability to spend time in the pool. The Disney detail of the parks has definitely found its way to the resort pools, which offer a unique experience one might think only reserved for in-park attractions.
6. Transportation: As noted in an earlier post, Disney Transportation is not only a savings of money, but of time and hassle. Once again, value!
7. Luggage Check: Check out is normally 11am for most hotels. On our day of departure, we usually like to stay in the parks until late afternoon before we reluctantly return home. We also like to take Disney transportation to do so. So, we often have the resort keep our luggage in storage until we are ready to leave. Great service once again means value.
8. Changing Resorts: There are currently 25 WDW Resorts. These range in price and in amenities, but each offer specialized experiences focused around unique themes. If you travel to Disney once each year, it would take decades to experience each. One solution would be to stay in multiple resorts during your visit. Let's say you plan to stay for 7 nights. 3 could be spent in 1 resort, 2 in another and 2 in yet another. Not only is this possible, but Disney will actually move your luggage for you. Imagine waking up in one resort and going to bed in another, and never worrying about your luggage! What? What's that sound? That's the value train coming full speed ahead!
9. Character Wake-Up Calls: I know that this is 2011 and I can not only set my in-room alarm clock, but can also set my smart phone to wake me up in time to wait impatiently for the parks to open. However, I love good old-fashioned wake-up calls. There is something about having someone else wake me up per my request that makes me feel, well, presidential. So, I take full advantage of them. Alas, technology has also found its way into this service, as pre-recorded messages have taken the place of desk clerks. At Disney Resorts though, your courtesy call could come from Jiminy Cricket, Stitch, Goofy or even Mickey himself. Now, that is cool!
10. Welcome Home: At Disney Resorts, you get the same world class guest service from cast members that you find in the parks. Disney is world famous for providing impeccable service and providing the highest level of personal attention during your stay at their resorts. Disney anticipates guests' needs, allowing for a carefree stay; and it all starts with the simple phrase "Welcome Home" with which you are greeted upon arrival.
So, next time you plan a trip to Disney, we strongly recommend you consider staying in a Disney Resort. In the words of Lumiere, "Be our guest, Be our guest, Put our service to the test..."
What is your favorite thing about staying in a Disney Resort? Feel free to share it with us in the comments section below.