When planning a Walt Disney World Resort vacation, choosing to stay on-property opens the door to a certain amount of built in perks, namely:
- Disney’s Magical Express – a complimentary shuttle for resort guests between Orlando International Airport and the WDW Resort.
- Extra Magic Hours – extended hours either before or after (or both, depending on the season) regular operating hours avaialble just for resort guests.
- Free transportation – buses, monorails and watercraft are all at guests’ disposal, and/or parking fees are waived at theme park autoplazas with valid resort identification.
- Resort Hotel Delivery – all merchandise can be arranged to be delivered directly to WDW Resort hotels, with no additional charge.
While these perks are reason enough for many guests to book their vacation package, believe it or not, there are some additional – as well as some ‘little known’ – bonuses at some of the resorts that are worth considering. The following is a list of some fun perks that might come in handy when planning your next trip – by no means is it comprehensive, however, so please share any other fun tips you’ve found!
- Step Into The Story With Immersive Theming
All WDW Resort Hotels tell a story, but these special rooms go beyond the theming of the grounds and hallways, and immerse your family into an adventure from the minute you wake up! Art of Animation has family suites themed around Finding Nemo, Cars and The Lion King, as well as standard rooms with The Little Mermaid decor. At Caribbean Beach, you can be a real buccaneer in a pirate-themed room, or choose the fairytale experience with Royal Guest Rooms at Port Orleans Riverside.
- Get a taste of Africa with Culinary Tour(s) at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge
Lindsay DuBose wrote a fantastic review (HERE) about this daily tour that departs each evening at 4 p.m. from the Boma desk. Tours are led by Cultural Representatives, special Disney Cast Members on exchange from a variety of participating African countries and feature colorful descriptions of the many sensory aspects of the lodge’s signature dining experiences, Boma and Jiko. Although it is open to anyone (not limited to just registered guests) I considered it a perk on this list, since it’s the most convenient for guests staying at either the lodge or villas. For additional information, or to confirm dates, consult the Resort Activities Calendar or call (407) 938-3000.
- Embark upon the “African-Inspired, Disney-Designed” Tour
Lindsay shared her thoughts HERE about this daily 20-minute tour, a colorful look into the inspiration behind the resort. Tour departs at 4:30 p.m. from the Johari Treasures Gift Shop. For additional information, or to confirm dates, consult the Resort Activities Calendar or call (407) 938-3000.
- Journey on the Wanyama Safari and Dinner
Unlike the previously mentioned experiences, this special booking is exclusive to guests of Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge and Villas only. Limited to just 12 guests, this personalized experience features an animal-spotting tour aboard a safari vehicle, plus a decadent meal at Jiko. Reservations must made be through the itinerary planning office or Concierge at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge at (407) 938-4755.
- Take a Dip at Stormalong Bay
All WDW Resort hotels have pools, but the swimming complex known as Stormalong Bay at the Yacht and Beach Club is definitely a guest favorite. While guests are generally dissuaded from pool-hopping in general, proper identification is a must here. Erin Foster provides a comprehensive guide to this, and other deluxe and villa-resort pools here, along with detailed descriptions and helpful photos.
- Discover History With The Wonders of the Wilderness Lodge Tour
Also previously reviewed in Lindsay DuBose’s review (HERE), this unique hour-long tour takes place Wednesday through Saturday at 9 a.m. and features a look at the history, design and inspiration of the resort. Like the Culinary Tour at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, this tour is open to all guests, but due to its location, may be most convenient for guests of the Lodge and/or Villas. For additional information or to confirm dates, consult the Wilderness Lodge Resort Activities Calendar (on site) or call (407) 824-3200.
- Travel With The Greatest of Ease (And Options)
Although free transportation is included with every Walt Disney World Resort stay, nothing beats the array of options of the three “monorail resorts.” Along with the resort monorail, the Grand Floridian and Polynesian provide boat launches to the Magic Kingdom, as well as bus service to the other theme parks and Downtown Disney. Additionally, the Contemporary (and DVC component, Bay Lake Tower) provides an easy walking path to the entrance of the Magic Kingdom.
- Disney’s Wilderness Lodge and Disney’s Ft. Wilderness also enjoy resort launch services to the Magic Kingdom. For other water taxi services, also check out Disney’s Port Orleans, Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort and Spa and Disney’s Old Key West for service to Downtown Disney, or Disney’s Yacht and Beach Club, Disney’s BoardWalk or the Swan & Dolphin to access Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Check Erin’s comprehensive transportation guide HERE for more details.
- Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa also offers walking paths to the Downtown Disney shopping area.
Other fun perks offered at multiple Walt Disney World Resort Hotel locations:
- Relax with a fun family campfire at these 14 locations: Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge Villas – Kidani Village, Disney’s Beach Club Resort, Disney’s Boardwalk Inn, Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort, Disney’s Contemporary Resort, Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort, Disney’s Old Key West Resort, Disney’s Polynesian Resort, Disney’s Port Orleans Resort (both French Quarter and Riverside), Disney’s Wilderness Lodge, The Cabins at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort and the Campsites at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort (note: Ft Wilderness’ campfire experience includes a Sing-a-long with Chip ‘n’ Dale, see Daisy’s recent post on that experience here). Call 407-WDW-PLAY (939-7529) for more information.
- Watch a movie under the stars – offered at multiple resorts, call 407-WDW-PLAY (939-7529) for current schedules.
What other special perks do you know about that are offered at certain WDW Resort Hotels?