The Disney Hotel Difference

The Disney Hotel Difference

When we take non-Disney vacations, it often reminds me of the reasons we like traveling to Disney destinations so much.  Although there are nuances in all aspects of the vacation, this post deals specifically with hotels.  Some of these points may apply to “off-site” hotels in the area surrounding Walt Disney World, but it also more broadly addresses chain hotels in general.  Here are a few of the differences you may notice staying at a Disney hotel for the first time.

One nice aspect of booking a vacation through a travel agency like Mouse Unlimited, who exclusively book through Walt Disney Travel Co., is that you have consistent payment policies.  Whether booking a room only stay or a vacation package, you have a deposit requirement and a final payment deadline.  You don’t have to make a decision between making a non-refundable, paid in full reservation for a lower price, or booking a refundable reservation for a higher price.  Disney hotel rooms have set rates for the calendar year, and as long as you’ve booked early enough, you have time to save or make payments before you must be paid in full.


It’s easy to forget how recently you used to request a smoking or non-smoking section in a restaurant.  We’ve grown accustomed to non-smoking restaurants at home, but we’ve also grown accustomed to non-smoking hotel rooms.  All Walt Disney World hotel rooms are non-smoking, including balconies and common areas.  There is no need to request or book a non-smoking room.  If you need a smoking area, there are designated smoking areas throughout the hotels and theme parks.


Fees are one of the biggest differences between Walt Disney World hotels and non-Disney hotels.  Some hotels have automatic resort fees that are added onto your room charge bill each night.  Automatic fees often cover newspaper delivery, fitness center, business center, and pool use, even if you do not use these amenities.  Some hotels charge à la carte for items like internet and parking.  When you stay at a Walt Disney World hotel, parking is not only free at the hotel, but also at the four theme parks.  Wireless internet access is free at the hotel, but you can elect to pay for daily wired internet in your room.  Pool access to included in the cost of your room, and if your hotel has a fitness center, it is included too.  Some amenities you may choose to pay extra for, like shipping a package home or valet parking.  If you fly to Orlando, you can use Disney’s free Magical Express transportation to/from MCO.   Bus transportation to all four theme parks, two water parks and Downtown Disney is complimentary.  Some resort hotel recreation has a fee, but your hotel may also have free activities like pool games, movies under the stars, or campfires.


Walt Disney World hotels do not have complimentary breakfasts.  While this may be a downside, what you have instead is a food court that offers a good variety of breakfast items for purchase.  If you are on a Dining Plan, you may use some of your meal or snack credits for breakfast.  We often stop by for a pastry and juice to start our day.

This last point is an un-quantifiable difference about a Walt Disney World hotel that keeps people coming back.  We personally love the ambiance of Port Orleans Riverside and Wilderness Lodge, and we often find ourselves rebooking these hotels for our future trips.  Because of the unique way the Walt Disney World Resort is laid out, you don’t have to worry about your room overlooking a bank or fast food restaurant. 


Traveling to the Walt Disney World Resort is unlike other vacations in many ways, and these are some of the differences you may notice at your Disney hotel.  When you have questions and want to know what to expect for your vacation, we’re happy to be your guide!

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