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Should you stay at a Walt Disney World Resort

Some big changes have happened at Walt Disney World in the past couple of years. Some were influenced by the pandemic and others…. Well, other changes I can only assume was to make Disney more money. It is to be expected, they are a company after all. 

Should you stay at a Walt Disney World Resort

In the past few years, Disney World hotel guests have lost free parking, free magic bands, package delivery, and more. It’s hard to believe that in the last 5 years it all disappeared. To make matters worse, the hotel prices also increased. 

So is it worth staying at a Disney hotel or should you book a hotel off property? I can’t tell you what to do but after you finish this article you will have more knowledge to make that decision. Is it worth staying on Disney property? Let’s find out.

Parking fee

Magic Kingdom Parking, Orlando Florida, WDW, Disney parking fees, Theme park, central Florida

Now resort parking fees only impact guests who drive down or rent a car. If you get a taxi, ride service, or take the Magical Express (Ending in 2022), you don’t have to worry about paying a parking fee. If you do have a car with you then you will be paying. 

Starting in March of 2018 Walt Disney World started charging guests to park at the resorts. Currently, it cost:

  • Value Resorts – $15 per day
  • Moderate Resorts – $20 per day
  • Deluxe Resorts – $25 per day

Now it should be noted that at most resorts in Orlando, you do have a parking fee each day. However, it should also be noted that those places in and around Orlando are much cheaper (to stay at) than their WDW counterpart. 

Now I know what you are thinking. Hey, I get to park at the theme parks for free if I drive and stay at a Disney resort. This is very true and if you stayed at an off-site hotel you would have to pay to park at the theme parks. 

Having to pay a parking fee is only one reason to consider staying at an off-property hotel even if you will have to pay to park at them too. 

Renaissance Orlando at SeaWorld, Hotel, Resort

Area hotel parking fees:

  • DoubleTree at SeaWorld $19 a night
  • Wyndham Grand Orlando on Disney Property $27 a night
  • Rosen Inn (Closest to Orlando) no parking fee
  • Wyndham Garden Disney Springs $20 a night

While some places cost a little more to park, others are the same as Disney or free. Plus the cost to stay at these hotels is much less than a Disney Hotel and most offer shuttle service to the 3 major theme parks (Disney, Universal, SeaWorld).

Extra Magic Hours

Extra Magic Hours (EMH) is a thing of the past. No longer will resort guests get an hour or two extra at one of the theme parks either in the morning or evening. Sure once it starts again resort guests get to go in a half-hour early but what will that really do?

Main Street USA, Magic Kingdom, Disney, Disney World, WDW,

Having EMH was a big plus of staying on property. Now only being able to get in a half-hour early doesn’t seem like that big of an advantage to me. Some of the most popular rides have an hour or more wait only 10 minutes after the park opens and I don’t see that really changing much. 

Now just to compare Walt Disney World and Universal Studios Orlando a little bit. Universal allows all hotel guests to enter the theme parks one hour before anyone else. Plus the hotels at Universal are cheaper than the ones at WDW. 


Staying on Disney property used to have a lot of perks. Slowly all of them are disappearing or cost money. Parking was free. Now you have to pay to park. Magic bands were free. Now you have to pay for them. 

Before you could get packages delivered to the resort (Amazon, Groceries, etc) and the resort would hold them. Now they no longer do that and you have to wait at the resort for it to be delivered. I never used any of those services but I know plenty of people who have and were very disappointed when they discontinued doing that. Of course, you can still purchase something in the parks and have it sent back to your hotel room. 

Now a big extra that is leaving is the Magical Express. This was the bus that took you from Orlando International Airport to your Disney resort. Starting in 2022 you will not be able to do that and will have to rent a car, grab an Uber, or find some other way to get to the resort. This is a big blow to many people who fly in and love the idea of not having to drive or figure it out while they are on vacation. It’s almost like making your Disney vacation feel all-inclusive. 

Disney's Magical Express, Bus, Transportation, Airport shuttle, MCO,

Currently (January 2021), Disney is not offering any meal plans. We are not sure if this will be coming back yet or not. Time will tell but if it doesn’t come back this is just another extra hotel guest will lose. 

One thing that hotel guests are not losing is free transportation to and free the theme parks by either Skyliner, bus, or monorail. You will still be able to grab the bus in the morning as you head to the different theme parks or water parks. 


It’s no secret, staying at a Walt Disney World resort is expensive. You are paying to stay in the “Disney Bubble”. However, that bubble is about to burst. All the perks you once had for staying at a Disney resort are all but gone. Sure staying close to the theme parks is a benefit but there are a couple of different hotels that are located within Disney that are not owned by Disney. 

Below you will find a couple of different hotels in and around Orlando and what it cost for 2 nights. Now I picked August 9th to 11th which is a Monday to Wednesday. I will include the parking fees and resort fees along with the base rate. I will also try and compare the off-property hotels with a Disney hotel the best that I can. 


HotelBase RateResort FeeParking FeeTotal
All-Star Movies$140×2$0$15×2$310
POP Century$180×2$0$15×2$390
Wyndham Garden Disney Springs$139×2$24×2$20×2$366
Holiday Inn Disney Springs$104×2$33×2$20×2$314
DoubleTree SeaWorld$71×2$0$19×2$180
Universal Endless Summer$166×2$0$15×2$362
Yo-Yo, POP Century Disney Resort, Value Resort, WDW, Disney World, Orlando, Florida,


HotelBase RateResort FeeParking FeeTotal
Disney’s Caribbean Beach$287×2$0$20×2$614
Universal Sapphire Falls$267×2$0$26×2$586
Renaissance Orlando$169×2$34×2$28×2$462


HotelBase RateResort FeeParking FeeTotal
Disney’s Yacht Club Resort$542×2$0$25×2$1,134
Universal Hard Rock Hotel$483×2$0$28×2$1,022
JW Marriott Bonnet Creek Resort and Spa$228×2$35×2$29×2$584
Swan and Dolphin Hotel$233×2$40×2$29×2$604
Wyndham Grand Bonnet Creek Balcony$140×2$23×2$27×2$380
Monorail, Contemporary Resort, Magic Kingdom Resort,

None of the above totals includes the taxes but the taxes should be standard across all the different hotels. As you can see when you go to a higher tier hotel the off-site prices get much better. Universal and Disney’s prices are comparable to each other but off-site hotel prices just can’t be beaten. 

Downside of staying off property

If you decide to book a hotel off property, you will have a couple of things to deal with. While most do offer shuttle service to the Disney theme parks. Some do not and it is best to call the hotel to see if they offer free shuttle service. 

One of the biggest negatives to me when staying off site is not being able to go back to the hotel for a dip in the pool or to get away from the midday Florida heat. It’s not that you can’t do it but it will take you more time if you are staying at a hotel off Disney property than if you were staying at a Disney hotel. 

Another thing you will have to consider is the parking fee at the theme parks. Currently, it costs $25 to park at the theme parks. Now you can park at Animal Kingdom in the morning and drive (hop) on over to EPCOT in the afternoon and your $25 at Animal Kingdom will still be good at EPCOT. It is a one day fee that covers you at the different Disney theme parks. Of course, you can still use Disney Transportation to go from park to park. 

Parking Lot Magic Kingdom, Orlando Traffic

Traffic around Orlando can be a little hectic. If you are staying outside of Disney you should plan on adding an extra 15 to 30 minutes to your travel time. Maybe even more if you are not used to traffic. I live outside of Philadelphia, so I am used to heavy traffic especially during rush hour. As always remember Google Maps is your friend. 

If the dining plan comes back you will not be able to get it if you stay at an off-site hotel. Magic Bands will also cost you full price if you stay off-site. Just remember you don’t need a magic band to get into the parks. It’s just more of a convenience than anything. However, it is a great convenience that I know I will be missing.   

With Walt Disney World taking so many of the perks away. It’s hard to justify paying the cost to just be closer to the theme parks and have the convenience of Disney’s transportation. There are plenty of hotels that are close to the theme parks and Disney Springs. 

Swan and Dolphin Resort, Disney's Boardwalk,

Some like Wyndham Grand Bonnet Creek or Swan and Dolphin are on Disney Property. At both those hotels, you can see the fireworks at EPCOT (when they come back) and could even walk to some of the theme parks. 

While staying at a Disney Value resort makes sense if that is the category you like. When you move up to moderate and deluxe resorts, it is better to book a non-Disney Hotel. The prices are much cheaper and the only thing you are really losing is a 30 minute head start. If you are not morning people you aren’t losing anything. 

For me I don’t think I will be staying at a Disney Resort any longer. Unless I really want to get a meal plan I think I will just save the money and stay at a nicer resort in Orlando. With the prices only going higher and all the extras leaving. For me it just doesn’t make too much sense. Let me know what you think in the comments below. Are the most recent changes going to change your mind on staying at a WDW resort? Should you stay at a Disney Resort?

Keep on scrolling down to see the above hotel tables listed in order from cheapest to most expansive.  It is really eye opening.

Looking for more Disney Related content? We have all kinds of guides to help make your trip easier and more enjoyable. Clueless on where to start? Follow us on Facebook (DisneyByKoz or KozmoPhotos) and check out our handy booking guide and don’t forget to follow us to stay up to date on our latest post.

V- Value    M- Moderate        D- Deluxe

HotelBase RateResort FeeParking FeeTotal
DoubleTree SeaWorld (V)$71×2$0$19×2$180
All-Star Movies (V)$140×2$0$15×2$310
Holiday Inn Disney Springs (V)$104×2$33×2$20×2$314
Universal Endless Summer (V)$166×2$0$15×2$362
Wyndham Garden Disney Springs (V)$139×2$24×2$20×2$366
Wyndham Grand Bonnet Creek Balcony (D)$140×2$23×2$27×2$380
POP Century (V)$180×2$0$15×2$390
Renaissance Orlando (M)$169×2$34×2$28×2$462
JW Marriott Bonnet Creek Resort and Spa (D)$228×2$35×2$29×2$584
Universal Sapphire Falls (M)$267×2$0$26×2$586
Swan and Dolphin Hotel (D)$233×2$40×2$29×2$604
Disney’s Caribbean Beach (M)$287×2$0$20×2$614
Universal Hard Rock Hotel (D)$483×2$0$28×2$1,022
Disney’s Yacht Club Resort (D)$542×2$0$25×2$1,134

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