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Is it worth staying at a Disney Resort

An important question to ask yourself while planning a Disney Vacation is do you stay at a Disney Resort or another place close to Walt Disney World? The difference in price can be mind blowing. If you are trying to make every dollar count, do you spend that extra money on a room?

It can be a tough question. Staying at a Disney Resort or another resort outside of WDW each has their pros and cons. Price is just one thing to consider. You also have to think about transportation, parking, food, and so much more. 

We are going to try and get to the bottom of that one question on everyone’s mind. Is it worth staying at a Disney Resort? Or should I book a cheaper hotel close to the theme parks?


The first thing you would probably be considering is the price. Disney is not cheap at all. For all the below examples we are going to look at the prices for the resorts from 8/9/23 to 8/15/23. This is towards the end of summer and right around the time when central Florida heads back to school.

During this time period Disney is running a special of up to 25% of the room rates. We looked at the prices using the discount on the Disney website. For the offsite rooms we looked at the price from Hotels.com. We looked for rooms for two adults and two children. 

ResortPriceResort FeeParking FeeTotal
All Star Resorts$983.05$0$0$983.05
POP Century$1,225.92$0$0$1,225.92
Wyndham Garden Lake Buena Vista$893$230$132$1,255
Caribbean Beach Resort$1,742.40$0$01,742.40
Wyndham Grand Orlando Bonnet Creek$1,169$257$174$1,600
Beach Club Resort$3,112.61$0$0$3,112.61
Contemporary Resort$4,714.14$0$0$4,714.14
Hard Rock Hotel Universal$3,876$0$168$4,044
Waldorf Astoria Orlando$3,079$304$288$3,671

All Star Resorts

The All Star Resorts are the cheapest resort rooms you will find in all of Walt Disney World. While they may be the cheapest they are still Disney owned resorts. Now the resort is pretty basic with only a food court and some pools. 

A big draw of staying at an All Star Resort is not only the price but the free transportation to the theme parks and Disney Springs. Plus now you no longer need to pay for parking at the resort. You could also drive to the theme parks and you won’t have to pay there either since you are a Disney World Resort guest.

POP Century

POP Century is another Disney Value Resort. This resort cost a little more than the All Star Resorts but it is in a better location and has more than one transportation option. The rooms are basically the same that you will find at the All Stars Resorts just with different theming.

POP has access to the Skyliner which will get you over to Caribbean Beach Resort as well as Hollywood Studios and EPCOT. You can also grab a bus to the different theme parks.

The pools at this resort won’t blow you away either but they are a decent size and make for a nice relaxing afternoon in the Florida heat. You also won’t find a restaurant here but they do have a food court. It is one of the nicer food courts at any of the Disney resorts. 

Wyndham Garden Lake Buena Vista

This resort is located right next to Disney Springs. In fact you can walk to Disney Springs within 10 minutes. It has two swimming pools which are a really nice size. Each morning they have a breakfast buffet. Some days they even have a few Disney characters there. 

Now they do have a shuttle service to the parks. Just check to see the times as they do not normally run all day like Disney Transportation does. 

If you drive to the theme parks remember you will also have to pay for parking at the theme parks. However, EPCOT is only a short 12 minute drive from Wyndham Garden Lake Buena Vista.

Caribbean Beach Resort

This is one of Disney’s moderate resorts. This resort is massive and has its own internal bus system. Plus they have bus transportation to the theme parks and the Skyliner to EPCOT and Hollywood Studios.

THe rooms here are a little bit larger than at the value resorts. Some of the rooms can even sleep five people. They all have a Caribbean feel to them. The main pool even looks like an old spanish fort.

There are a total of six pools located around the resort. The main pool however, is the big draw with its slides and amazing theming. One of the slides is over 100 feet long.

Caribbean Beach is home to not only a food court but two sit down restaurants. Enjoy breakfast, lunch, or dinner with a caribbean twist. Some of your favorite dishes might even be served. 

Wyndham Grand Orlando Bonnet Creek Resort

This resort is located on Disney Property but not a Disney resort. It is a four star resort with a spa, five pools, and a lazy river. You will also find four restaurants around the resorts along with Barbecue grills to do your own cookout. 

A shuttle service is offered to the theme parks. You can also drive or even walk to some of the theme parks. EPCOT is only a 45 minute walk. 

Beach Club Resort

Disney’s Beach Club Resort is one of the deluxe resorts. With the higher cost, it does come with some pretty sweet perks. The deluxe resorts are all really close to different theme parks. This one is within walking distance to EPCOT.

Not only is it within walking distance to EPCOT you could also walk to Hollywood Studios. Or you could hop on the Skyliner or in a boat. Plus don’t forget about the buses to the theme parks. 

The rooms here are top of the line. Which they better be with the price you are paying. Now the resort also has one of the nicest pools in all of WDW. The main pool is 3 acres with a lazy river and a 230 foot long water slide. Who needs to go to one of the waterparks when you book a stay here?

You won’t have to worry about going hungry here either. With its quick service and table service locations you will be set for your entire stay. One of my favorite character breakfast buffets is here. Plus they have an amazing seafood buffet (no characters) for dinner. A reservation for Cape May Cafe is a must for me every visit. Don’t worry though, they have more than just buffet sit down restaurants. Yachtsman Steakhouse and Ale & Compass have all your high end dining covered too. 

Contemporary Resort

Contemporary Resort is another deluxe WDW resort. This one is the closest to Magic Kingdom and has some of the best fireworks views you will find at Walt Disney World. However, that does come with a hefty price tag.

The rooms are nice and big with some offering stunning views of the Magic Kingdom. The pool also offers stunning views of the resort. Be sure to check it out at night and watch the monorail go into the resort.

This resort has a monorail station in the resort. The monorail goes through the Contemporary resort as it heads to Magic Kingdom. It just doesn’t get any better than that. 

Now this resort has a couple of sit down table service restaurants to pick. Chef Mickey’s is one of the hottest dining reservations to grab. How doesn’t want to enjoy a meal with Mickey, Minnie, and friends? Steakhouse 71 and California Grill will have yourself asking why all resorts can’t have this level of restaurant in them.

Hard Rock Hotel Universal

This hotel is located minutes away from Universal Studios Orlando. It is one of their deluxe resorts. It has a really amazing pool plus you can walk to any other Universal Resort and use their pool. 

Hard Rock Hotel has three restaurants available. This hotel also has Universal CityWalk within minutes . No need to jump in the car; you can walk there in as little as five minutes. 

While you can walk to the Universal theme parks you have to drive to the Walt Disney World ones. Depending on traffic it will take you between 15 and 30 minutes to drive to EPCOT. Of course, you would then have to pay for parking. 

Waldorf Astoria Orlando

This is probably the nicest hotel we listed. This is a Luxury hotel located within Walt Disney World. Some of the high end rooms even offer Disney views where you can see the fireworks from EPCOT. 

There are two outdoor pools and a lazy river. This resort also sits on a golf course. Now you shouldn’t have any problem finding food. Waldorf Astoria has 12 different restaurants, two coffee shops, and eight bars/lounges.

They offer a shuttle service but you could walk to the closest theme park. But if you are spending this kind of money I doubt you would be walking. EPCOT is only a short eight minute drive.

When you look at the price of the different resorts you can easily see that it is better to stay at a Disney resort if you are booking a value resort. If you are booking a little bit of a higher end place it is best to book a resort that is not owned by Disney if you are looking to save a little bit of money. 


Now the price might be a big factor when you are planning on which resort you are staying at but that shouldn’t be the only thing you are thinking about. You also need to consider the perks you do get while staying at a Disney Resort.


Up until recently you had to pay for parking at a Disney Resort. You no longer have to pay to park your car overnight at a Disney Resort. Plus you still get free parking at the theme parks. 

Non resort guests have to pay for parking at the Disney theme parks. Standard parking is $25 a day. Anyone planning on staying off property would need to factor that into their hotel cost. Or you could take that resort’s transportation option to the theme parks if they have one.

Dining Reservations

Disney Resort guests can book their dining reservations 60 days out plus an additional 10 days. Using are example above you could start booking your dining reservations on June 10th and book all your dining on that day.

If you were not staying at a Disney hotel you would have to log into the Disney website each day. Trust us when we say you want that extra time to book. Some of the most popular dining options are gone or close to gone by 6am, 60 days out. 

You will have a much easier time booking Ohana or Chef Mickey’s for August 14th on June 10th than you will on June 15th.

Lightning Lane/ Individually Lightning Lane

WDW Resort guests can start picking Lightning Lane (LL) and Individually LL at 7am. Non Resort guests have to wait until the park opens. 

Extra Hours

Disney Resort guests have access to extra hours in the theme parks. All guests staying at a Walt Disney World resort can enter the theme parks a half hour before the park opens to the general public. While it’s much shorter than it used to be it still can get you on a ride or two in some parks or closer to riding the most popular rides in others. 

Certain Deluxe resort guests also have access to extended evening hours. This could be as long as two hours after the park closes for everyone else.

As you would guess it, there are no extended early or evening hours for non Disney World resort guests. The operating times posted are what you get. 

Magic Bands

We are not saying that non Disney Resort guests can’t have magic bands. Everyone can get and use a magic band at any of the theme parks. However, Disney Resort guests can get a discount if they purchase one before the start of their vacation and they get them shipped out to them.

Disney World Resort guests can also use their magic band to charge things to their room. Non resort guests cannot. 

Disney Dining Plan

As of now (April 2023) the dining plan hasn’t returned. If it does and remains like it did in the past only Disney World Resort guests would be able to book a Disney vacation with the dining plan. Let’s see if it returns sometime this year or if they will at least announce when or if it will return.

For me it is worth staying at a Disney owned resort but I also stay at the value resorts. I don’t see the point in spending all that extra money for a room I will barely be spending any time in. But that is just me. 

Is it worth it for you and your family to stay at a Disney owned resort? Do you find it better to stay at a cheaper hotel outside of WDW? Do you care about the perks of staying at a WDW Resort? Let us know in the comments below.

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