When I head down to Florida, my WDW trips involve flying down to MCO from DTW, hoping off the airplane and letting Disney take over. Part of that takeover involves staying on property at a Disney resort. I love to immerse myself in the Disney decor and literally being surrounded by Disney each day of my trip from dawn to dusk.
I do stand against a (sometimes) popular notion, in which I think the resort is more than just a spot to rest your head. There is so much to explore at each Walt Disney World property; from the value resorts to the Deluxe resorts. I think to truly enjoy all of Disney and make your visit to the mouse well-rounded, you need a day off (at least one) from the parks and a day at the resorts to enjoy all they have to offer. When I weigh think about whether or not to add an extra park day vs staying ‘home’ for the day, I typically come up with these top 6 reasons why I (or you!) need a resort day at Walt Disney World.
1. You get downtime
You know how a Walt Disney World vacation is typically nonstop from the moment you wake up to the moment you collapse in your bed at night. You know that your Fitbit states that you have logged over a half marathon in walking between your rope drop at the Magic Kingdom to your River of Lights finale at Animal Kingdom? Ever come home from Walt Disney World more exhausted than when you arrived? It’s pretty common.
A stay at ‘home’, or resort day, is going to come as a surprising breath of fresh air on your vacation. At home you have built-in downtime for your kids, usually in the form of naps or quiet time, and the days they miss it, you feel it. On vacation those littles need the downtime too because the parks present them with never-ending sensory stimulation. Without the downtime, you’re usually looking face-to-face with a few Disney meltdowns. Sneak in a day to sleep in and relax at your resort without rushing off to the parks as soon as they open. If your kids get up super early, plan on a family nap instead. Or just flick on the tv for your kiddos while you snooze a little longer. Your resort probably has the Disney channel, if you’re wondering what they will watch.
2. You won’t have as much laundry when you get home
My husband says this reason is pretty lame, but once you try it you wonder why you haven’t been doing this all along. The average week-long trip at Walt Disney World produces about 5-6 load of laundry for a family of four. There has not been an official study to confirm these findings, but a few obscure clinical trials will back these results (aka my family’s trips). If you can get one or two of these loads out-of-the-way before returning home that means less time in your laundry room once at your non-Disney home (which we all know isn’t as cool as your Disney home). Yes, I agree, it is not the most glamorous of activities, but it is so helpful and will make coming back home less painful. Your future self-will thank you.
3. You can participate in resort specific events
All Walt Disney World resorts have a list of daily resort events. They might be as simple as pool games or as festive as trick-or-treating on Halloween. The only way to participate in any of these resort fun events is to be present at your resort during the activity. Some of our personal favorite include the resort fun runs, tie dying shirts, movies in the moonlight or roasting marshmallows over a campfire. Theses are just a few of the options, but each one is almost always a fun event. (If you find a dud, go ahead and tell me, but let me down slowly.)
4. You can actually enjoy the beauty of your resort!
From the value to the deluxe resorts, Disney is notorious for making their properties special. As a guest you are usually paying a premium to stay on property, but along with that premium are all the special resort details that make the properties uniquely Disney. On a normal park day, odds are you are rushing around a bit from the food court to the buses and then back to your resort room at night. The resort decor passes by as a blur. By spending a day at the resort, you can discover all the hidden Mickey’s and unique themes.
At the All-Star resorts, as pictured in this post, the themes involves larger than life characters from famous Disney movies. My kids felt like they were walking through some of their favorite movies and were introduced to some new ones to check out. (I’m looking at you Mighty Ducks.). Some of my favorite things to observe are the resort specific foliage. Seriously, if you take a look around your resort, you’ll notice even the trees and plants are themed to match your resort! Pop by the Polynesian to see exactly what I am talking about.
5. You have the opportunity to resort hop
This isn’t really staying at your resort specifically, but enjoying all the Disney resorts ‘world’ wide. My oldest son especially gets a kick out of this as we will often take special Disney transportation to make this happen, such as the monorail.
I bet if I put him on the spot he might say that his favorite ride at Walt Disney World is the monorail.
Aside from riding the fun Disney transportation, you can visit different Disney restaurants at the various resorts. There are even character meals outside of the parks offered at select resorts. You’ll feel like you’re in the parks without the rush of running off to meet your next Fastpass+ reservation time, making for a more relaxed dinning experience. I especially recommend resort hoping around the holidays to see all the seasonal decor Disney has on display; it’s first class of course.
6. You can swim all day
Walt Disney World resort has some amazing pools and one of the reasons we love the properties so much. (Even outside of Disney I’m notorious for checking to see if a resort has a nice pool before we book any hotel. Five star hotel, but no pool? Pretty much a three star in my book. Pools are a big deal to our family) From the Big Blue pool at Art of Animation to the Sand bottom pool at the Beach Club resort, each resort has a unique pool for guests to enjoy. While I do encourage a break mid-day from the parks to take a mid-day swim, it doesn’t always happen. If you set aside a day dedicated to swimming at your resorts pool(s), you know it will happen. Especially if you have up to six pools, like at Disney’s All-Star resorts, that you need to explore!
Ideally, a resort day works best for trips that are six days or longer in length as you can spend the 5 other days in the parks and Disney Springs. If you’re only staying for five days, you might not have the luxury of doing a resort day if you want to fit in the four main theme parks and a day at Disney Springs.
The park days will be action packed and you might have an afternoon or morning to fit in a little resort relaxing, but in the future, if you can swing it, be sure to leave an extra day to soak in the magic at your Disney resort. Or, alternatively, remember that you most likely won’t be able to fit it all in one trip anyhow and save some adventures for next time you come back in order to carve out that resort day. Having a day to just relax will help your vacation feel more like, well, a vacation!
Another bonus to taking a resort day, you can potential save money on your WDW vacation. Aside from a few dollars you might spend on laundry or a small fee for select resorts activities, everything else listed above is going to be a super inexpensive way (comparatively speaking) to spend a day at Walt Disney World. It’s pretty ‘magical’ to not have to spend a lot of money at Walt Disney World but still be immersed in the magic!