7 Magical Reasons to Stay On-Site at Walt Disney World

If you ask people their opinion on staying on-site at Walt Disney World or off-site you will get a dozen different opinions. Some think it is too expensive. Some think it is too much Disney. I think it is the perfect choice for your family if you are spending most of your vacation at the parks. The perks of staying on-site at Walt Disney World are numerous and can fit into any family budget.

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Growing up we always stayed off-site. We had family in Tampa. We would drive for the day to visit a park and drive home at the end of the day. At the time there were only 3 parks and Fastpass did not exist. The pace was slower and everything was a lot less planned.  Today’s Walt Disney World vacation is much different.

Although it can be done, I would never visit without a plan. I know a lot of people think this takes the fun out of the vacation and ruins the spontaneity…I disagree. Without planning you will end up waiting in long lines and scrambling to find a place to eat. Combine this with the Florida heat and you and your family end up in meltdown mode!

On our first visit as a family I knew I had to stay on-site. I wanted to stay on-site but I also had a budget to stay in.  Often people wait on visiting Walt Disney World because they think it is too expensive. We spent around $1700 and this included tickets, hotel, and food for the five of us. Two of my three kids were under three so there was not a charge for their tickets or food but it was a deal and I am so happy we did it.

On-Site Walt Disney World

After this visit I was sold on staying on-site. We had so much fun and didn’t have to worry about our car and everything that goes along with it. If you are planning a Walt Disney World vacation longer than 4 days it makes sense to stay on-site. There are many reasons why but my most important reason is…

Everything is taken care of for you when you stay at an on-site Walt Disney World Resort and it is pure magic!

Okay…I’ll admit. Things can go wrong on vacation. Luggage gets lost. Rooms get mixed up. Things that you can’t control can happen and no amount of magic will change that but the costumer service and added Disney touches always make it worth an on-site stay.

Have I convinced you?

7 more reasons to stay at a Walt Disney World On-Site Resort

Transportation to Your Resort from the Orlando Airport

Transportation is offered to/from the Orlando airport. They collect your bags and you are on your way.  It is the nicest way to get around renting a car. They will also bring you back to the airport. You check in to your airline at your Disney resort and your bags are taken care of.

Using this service will save you money on parking at the theme parks and renting a car. As of writing this parking is $20.00 a day. That can really add up if you are visiting a few parks during your vacation. Best of all it is included in your vacation booking. No extra cost. (Although I do recommend tipping the driver.) Combine this with car rental and you can save $100s of dollars.

Disney Resort Transportation

Disney offers complimentary buses to and from the theme parks and Disney springs. I know there are a lot of complaints about this. I understand completely. Sometimes you get on a bus and it takes longer than expected or the line is long and you have to wait for another bus. This does happen but if you were driving you would also wait in lines to exit the parking lots and run into traffic.

On-site at Walt Disney World


We have always used the buses and have had mostly great experiences. I love that we don’t have to drive for a week. We can be together more and enjoy the parks without worrying about our car. Honestly the most difficult part was when all three of my children fell asleep after a full day at Magic Kingdom and we had to get them off the bus. Three sleeping kids and a double stroller was interesting!!

Meal Plans and Special Offers

Disney offers special “Free-Dining” plans and hotel discounts at different times of the year. You can only receive these if you stay on-site. Quick Tip: Price out different deals. Some deals are not worth it and do not save you as much money as you think. We have had good luck with the free-dining plan. You should be aware that the meal plan is included but you are paying a rack rate for your hotel room.

On-site at Walt Disney World

In my own opinion if you are a family that is planning on doing a few character meals during your stay the dining plan is a win. Not only do you save yourself waiting in lines to meet characters you enjoy a sit-down meal too.  We have priced it out and it always seems to go in our favor. I plan on writing a post all about the Disney Meal Plan and how we made it work for our family. (Subscribe to my email list at the end of this post to make sure you don’t miss it.)

Booking FastPass+

FastPass+ is an online ride reservation system that Disney uses to schedule your ride times. You can book up to 3 a day and a 4th once you have used your 3. It sounds very complicated but once you are logged into the system you can go and pick your times/days of your must see attractions.

If you stay on-site at a Walt Disney World resort you can book your Fastpass 30 days before off-site guests.

If you stay On-site at Walt Disney World you can make fastpass reservation 60 days in advance of their arrival. If you are not on-site it is 30 days. This is a big deal for me because I like to make sure we will be able to see and do everything we want without waiting in really long lines. Quick Tip: 60 days is from your check in day. So if you check in on January 1st and are staying through January 6th you can book your fast passes for the entire trip 60 days from the 1st. This was huge for us to get on the attractions that we wanted to do.

Another Post You May Like: Everything You Need to Know About Fastpass+

Extra Magic Hours

On selected days on-site guests can enter a theme park and hour before opening or two hours after closing. This is a nice perk, especially at the end of the night. We really enjoyed the extra two hours to enjoy the park during our last visit. All we had to do was swipe our magic band and we were off enjoying the rides.

On-site at Walt Disney World

Immersive On-Site Disney Resort Theme

There are so many different hotel themes on-site that your family might have a tough time deciding where to stay.  From pop culture to safari and sports to wilderness, Disney has something for everyone. Plus the hotels are in price tiers going from value to deluxe. Do not worry about lack of services at the values. They have less amenities then the moderate and deluxe hotels but still offer Disney magic.  On-site at Walt Disney World

Fun Transportation

Not many places can boast boat, bus and monorail transportation. On our last visit we were able to take all three to different destinations we were visiting. The kids enjoyed the theme parks as much as how we arrived. It was a really fun way to get around the Disney property.

Disney offers so much to their on-site guests. From beautifully themed properties to getting you to the theme parks everything is taken care of. The attention to detail and the added perks are a great value. Whether you are on a limited budget or the sky is the limit, Disney has something for everyone and can really enhance your vacation.  Looking for more Disney tips check out my guide for your first visit.

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69 COMMENTS

  1. 12 Ways to Spend a Rest Day at Walt Disney World - Five for the Road | 9th Nov 17

    […] We made our first visit to Walt Disney World when all three kids were under 5. It was our first visit as a family and it is one of my favorites. The only thing I would change is adding in a day to rest and recharge. We were so busy that we never enjoyed the resort or experienced all the magic around us. On our next visit I planned a rest day and we always add a day or two in every vacation. If you are planning a visit to Walt Disney World and want to learn more, check out 7 Magical Reasons to Stay On-Site at Walt Disney World […]

  2. Twin Pickle | 6th Feb 17

    We’ve been a couple of times and not stayed on site but we’ve said next time we’re giving it a go!

    • Leah | 6th Feb 17

      I think you will like it!

  3. Eric Gamble | 6th Feb 17

    I really cant wait to go back to Disney soon! Great tips, I haven’t ever stayed at a themed hotel so hopefully I can get into one of them this time. What I love about Disney too is that they are always growing and evolving so there is always something new to go to and visit while still seeing the classics

    • Leah | 6th Feb 17

      Yes!! I feel that way too! Every time I visit I discover something new!

  4. Kiley Smith | 5th Feb 17

    I agree that it is way better to stay on site if you can afford it. 🙂

    • Leah | 6th Feb 17

      I am writing a budget post about staying on-site soon.

  5. Amber Starr | 5th Feb 17

    I can’t wait to finally take our kids to Disney! We’ll definitely plan to stay on-site!

    • Leah | 6th Feb 17

      Yay!! It is so fun!

  6. Mamaguru | 5th Feb 17

    I think that extra hour makes a difference. Also, being able to take a break and go to the pool without a major production has got to make it easier!

    • Leah | 7th Feb 17

      Yes! It really is!

  7. chelseadaigle | 5th Feb 17

    Someday we will go to Disney. Until then I will have to live vicariously through bloggers like you! 🙂

    • Leah | 5th Feb 17

      Ha! Thanks for reading! I hope someday you can go and my tips can help you plan.

  8. Jennifer L. Corter (@jenngem) | 3rd Feb 17

    It looks absolutely incredible there! I would love to go there someday with my family!

    • Leah | 3rd Feb 17

      I hope you get there soon! It is a great time.

  9. Halee | 3rd Feb 17

    I love staying on property. I love all the themes between each hotel.

    • Leah | 3rd Feb 17

      I like to try a new hotel every time because they are all so different and fun.

  10. Midori | 3rd Feb 17

    I relaly don’t need any reason! It looks sooooo cool!!!! 😀

    • Leah | 3rd Feb 17

      Ha! Me neither!

  11. Diana Chen | 2nd Feb 17

    It really doesn’t seem that much more expensive to stay on site, and I’m sure the convenience is worth it. Looks like a great time!

    • Leah | 2nd Feb 17

      If you plan it right the cost isn’t too bad!

  12. Kate | 2nd Feb 17

    I totally agree with you, staying onsite has so many perks. I think it’s especially important if this is your first Disney trip, because you get that advantage on things like FastPasses and Extra Magic Hours.

    • Leah | 2nd Feb 17

      Yes! Good point. I think your first trip has to be on-site…then you’ll never want it any other way!

  13. Discov. Parenthood (@discoveryparent) | 1st Feb 17

    I hope to go to Disney World when my girls are older, and it will be a must to stay on site.

    • Leah | 1st Feb 17

      It makes the vacation a little more magical!

  14. Amy Crooks | 31st Jan 17

    Staying on Disney property is super great!! 🙂 Great read! Thanks for sharing! 🙂

    • Leah | 1st Feb 17

      Thanks for reading!

  15. Sharon Chen | 31st Jan 17

    Awesome tips and information! I have never thought of staying in Disneyland but your post made me think about it 🙂

    • Leah | 31st Jan 17

      Thanks for reading!! If you are visiting Disney World in Florida on-site is a great choice. I have heard mixed reviews of on-site at Disneyland but haven’t visited the West Coast park yet.

  16. Ellie Chan | 30th Jan 17

    Being right in the center of everything and cutting down on travel time to maximize enjoyable activities is always the best plan! Great tips!

    Ellie
    http://Www.scotchandstilettos.com

    • Leah | 31st Jan 17

      Thanks for reading!

  17. itsahero | 30th Jan 17

    This is so awesome! We’re planning on planning a trip to Disney for 2018. I was debating this very thing, so this is great to know. Also, I didn’t realize there weren’t tickets for those under 3. Yayyy!

    • Leah | 31st Jan 17

      Under three is a huge money saver!! I am so glad my tips were helpful to you. Have a great visit in 2018!!

  18. Amanda Wells | 30th Jan 17

    You make a convincing argument! ? If we go to Disney again, I’ll definitely want to stay on-site! Sounds like too many perks to ignore!

    • Leah | 31st Jan 17

      Thanks for reading!!

  19. onepeainthepod | 30th Jan 17

    Lots of great information! We probably will be visiting Disney in the next few years I’ll pin this info for later 🙂

    • Leah | 31st Jan 17

      Thanks!!

  20. Sarah Jacot | 30th Jan 17

    Ugh, this makes me want to go to Disney World even more!

    • Leah | 31st Jan 17

      Ha!! Thanks for reading!! I felt the same way when writing it!

  21. Meredith from Mommy in Leggings | 30th Jan 17

    Omg I love this. I don’t need much convincing, but I can’t WAIT to stay on Disney property when we go with our daughter!! We probably won’t be going until she’s a couple years older…my dream is to stay in the Grand Floridian!

  22. Chanel van Reenen | 30th Jan 17

    I cannot wait to take my kids to Disney World! We are planning for February 2018! I just bookmarked this for the future. I’m excited!

    • Leah | 31st Jan 17

      Thanks for reading!! Planning is part of the fun!!

  23. ericaaugust | 30th Jan 17

    Staying on resort is definitely one of the best things you can do at Disneyworld! Great post!

    • Leah | 31st Jan 17

      Thanks for reading!

    • Leah | 31st Jan 17

      Thank you for reading!

  24. Jalisa Marie | 30th Jan 17

    We went to Disney back in December and stayed off property in a villa time share. We are hoping the next time we go we can stay on site at last a few days to get that magical experience.

    • Leah | 31st Jan 17

      It is nice to be in the middle of the magic!

  25. heart, home and hope | 30th Jan 17

    What fun! I agree. Avoiding driving for a week is a big perk! Disney always does a great jobs with whatever they do – hotels included!

    • Leah | 30th Jan 17

      Yes that is true!! Thanks for reading!

  26. Belle | 30th Jan 17

    Great tips! We loved staying in a Disney resort when we went to Disney 2 years ago!

    Belle | One Awesome Momma

    • Leah | 31st Jan 17

      Thanks for reading!

  27. Elizabeth | 30th Jan 17

    I stayed on-site at Disney World a few years ago and I agree the perks are worth paying a little extra. I would definitely choose to stay on site for our next visit. There is no such thing as too much Disney;)

    • Leah | 30th Jan 17

      I am with you!! Total Disney girl at heart!

  28. Vicki @ Babies to Bookworms | 30th Jan 17

    We love staying on property! The atmosphere in the hotels can be magical too. And the transportation makes it so easy to get around. We love staying at Beach and Yacht because you can walk to Epcot!

    • Leah | 30th Jan 17

      That is a great perk!!

  29. Jessica Wagner | 30th Jan 17

    This sounds amazing!!! We have never been, but I would love to take my kids someday and this sounds like on site is the way to go!! Have a great week!! XO

    • Leah | 30th Jan 17

      Thanks!! It really is fun. Hope you can go soon!

  30. The Domestic Musician | 30th Jan 17

    So awesome! We definitely need to plan a vacation to Disney!

    • Leah | 30th Jan 17

      Thanks for reading! Have you ever been?

  31. Doris | 30th Jan 17

    wow, that looks amazing. I should have a think about going there this year!!

    • Leah | 30th Jan 17

      Yes!! It is really fun!

  32. Stephanie Lowry | 30th Jan 17

    Wow.. I honestly never thought we’d be able to afford going to Disney, especially to stay on site but we only have two more than you and thats not a bad price!

    • Leah | 30th Jan 17

      I’m planning a post about larger families visiting Disney soon. Ill let you know when it posts. There are ways to make it easier for sure!

  33. Savanna Fernandez Monroy | 30th Jan 17

    So much fun, id love to stay on site!

    • Leah | 30th Jan 17

      Thanks for reading!! Hope you get too!

  34. Beth | 30th Jan 17

    I agree! We did this as a child and I can remember the excitement of being right there.

    • Leah | 30th Jan 17

      It’s like being right inside the magic! Thanks for reading!

  35. homeboundbuthopeful | 30th Jan 17

    This was perfect timing… We are making plans for a possible trip to Florida later this year, and one of our possible destinations is Disney. Thanks for so much great information!

    • Leah | 30th Jan 17

      Yay!! Keep an eye on the blog! I am hoping to have a lot more posts about Disney soon! It is really fun!

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