My Disney Top 5 - Reasons to Stay on Walt Disney World Propertyby Chris Barry, contributing writer
Now that Memorial Day weekend has concluded, one thing is perfectly clear; summer has officially kicked in and it's time to think about the happiest word in the English language: vacation. School is wrapping up. The temperatures are rising. The shorts have been taken out of storage. It's time to go somewhere. How about the beach? How about the mountains? Better yet, how about going back to Walt Disney World?
That's a no-brainer. I just about always want to return to Walt Disney World. The fact of the matter is no matter what time of year—no matter how recently I was just there—I'm always planning the next Walt Disney World trip in my head. When are we going back? How long are we going to stay? What did we miss last time? Will I ever get a dinner reservation at 'Ohana? There are many questions that need answering, but the one question that has a definite answer is whether or not we will stay on Disney property.
If you've been reading my columns for any length of time—and once again, thank you if you have—you know there's only one answer to that question. My response has always been and always shall be an emphatic, enthusiastic, unwavering, "yes."
I was actually quite surprised that it's taken me seven years to tackle this topic in a Top 5 list. Even my daughter asked me, "You haven't done that one already?" Surprisingly I haven't. I've discussed it on the Parenting Panel and I've mentioned it in many of my articles on related topics, but I've never given it the full treatment until now. So with that said and clarified, why do I feel so strongly about staying on property when I visit WDW? Let's find out the answer with my Top 5 Reasons to Stay on Property at Walt Disney World.
5 – It's Super Convenient
Let's face it, there's nothing more convenient than staying at Disney's Polynesian Village or Disney's Contemporary Resort if you're a big Magic Kingdom fan. Likewise, you can't beat staying at Disney's Yacht and Beach Club or at Disney's BoardWalk Resort if you're visiting Epcot. Anytime the term "walking distance" can be put into play, the convenience factor goes positively off the charts. You certainly can't walk to the Magic Kingdom, Epcot, or Disney's Hollywood Studios from an off-property hotel.
Let's say that those resorts are out of your price range, as they certainly are for many of us out there. I still think that the Moderate and Value level resorts are more convenient than venturing off-property. It seems like an obvious statement. After all they're "on property." You're never too far from the Disney magic when you're on property and to me that's super convenient.
4 – Disney Transportation
I've heard the arguments against utilizing Disney transportation and renting a vehicle instead, and I will never relent on this opinion. You know what I do every day at home? I drive a car. Do you know what I can't do every day at home? I can't be ferried around on buses, boats, and monorails for free. Disney's transportation system is pretty mind-blowing when you stop and think about it. The amount of guests that Disney effectively transports on any given day is truly staggering. I will always let them do the driving and it's a major consideration when choosing to stay on property. Is it always perfect? No, it's not. Is it better than staying somewhere that doesn't offer such an amazing transportation system? Yes, it is—infinitely better.
3 – Magical Express
This service, offered only to Disney resort guests, was a revelation to me when it began years ago. Let me get this straight. Disney will pick me up from the airport in a nice, comfy, air-conditioned coach bus? They'll play a cool Disney video on the bus to get me excited for my trip? They'll bring me to my resort? Wait, they'll also pick up my luggage from baggage claim and bring it up to my room? Then they'll do it all again on my return trip? And they charge what for this service? Nothing? Am I supposed to argue with this? In this writer's eyes, Magical Express was the proverbial icing on the cake. I wish every resort everywhere did this. But they don't and probably never will. It's a huge reason to choose staying in a Disney resort.
2 – Disney Theming
It's kind of cool to stay on a simulated Polynesian beach isn't it? Maybe you'd prefer staying in a grand National Park lodge or looking out on an African savannah? Disney's legendary attention to detail makes their resorts so much more special than your average hotel. To me, you can't beat the quaint streets of the French Quarter, or the stately surroundings of the Yacht Club. The Walt Disney World resorts are out of the ordinary and that, by definition, makes them extraordinary.
1 – The Bubble
When Walt sought out acres and acres of land in Central Florida, it was because he wanted something he lacked at Disneyland in Anaheim. To use his own words, he was thrilled to finally have "the blessing of size." I'm not naive enough to think that Walt didn't want to control your whole Disney vacation experience. He wanted to keep you on his property. That's good business sense. It harkens back to the fact that there are no windows or clocks in a casino. They're designed to keep you there.
Walt definitely wanted you to stay with him, but he also wanted you to enter the Disney bubble and truly escape into his world of dreams. That's how I feel each and every time I drive through those arches and suddenly the scenery begins to change. The Disney transportation buses appear everywhere filled with people on their way to and from the magic. The road signs are different. The wires disappear from overhead. The regular world is out there, but it's positively not in here. Once I get in the bubble, I don't want out until I'm leaving to come home. It's a transformative feeling. I need that transformation in my life. I need to leave the real world behind every once in awhile.
I can get that from a day of skiing with my family, or a solitary session out on my surfboard at dusk, or getting lost in the music of the Grateful Dead or Bruce Springsteen at a live show with my wife or my good friends. So I seek out those moments and make sure they're consistently in my life. That same sense of escape happens when I'm on the Walt Disney World property and the real world melts into the background. That's the number one reason that I make Disney property my home when I visit, because being there transforms me. Why would I ever stay anywhere else when I'm down there? I wouldn't and I can't fathom that I ever will.
What do you think of my reasons for always staying on Disney property when I visit Walt Disney World? I know many of you agree and some of you disagree. Some of you may have additional reasons that I left off. As always, I'd like to hear what you have to say. Click on the link below; let me hear your thoughts and I'll see you next time with another Disney Top 5.