A trip to Disney World is a dream vacation! Staying on-site at a Disney Resort can add so much to the experience. But is it worth paying the extra cost currently?
Disney have removed a lot of the benefits that were offered to guests who stayed at one of their properties to cut costs to help recover funds that were lost due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Let's look at some of these benefits that are currently not being offered and whether you still get your monies worth staying at a Disney Resort in 2021.
No Extra Magic Hours
Extra Magic Hours were a benefit offered to resort guests, where they could enter the parks one hour early or stay two hours later than day guests. This was a great benefit as it gave you more hours to enjoy the parks and also enabled you to experience them with lower crowd levels.
If you visited on a day where the parks opened early you could head straight to the most popular rides to take advantage of being some of the first people in the queue!
When the Disney Parks reopened in July 2020 Extra Magic Hours were off the cards. As park capacity was reduced for safety there was less need to offer these extra hours as queue wait times were reduced. Cutting these extra hours also helped reduce running costs.
However in recent months the wait times for rides have been creeping up as more and more people visit the parks. Now we are starting to feel the impact of not having Extra Magic Hours.
Disney have just announced that later this year they will be offering Early Guest Entry. This will enable resort guests to enter any park 30 minutes early than day guests. You will still need Park Pass Reservations for the park you wish to visit that day. It will give resorts guest a slight advantage to head to the attraction they wish to ride first but 30 minutes is not a long enough amount of time to give any significant benefits.
No Free Magic Bands
When staying at a Disney Resort you would receive free Magic Bands which worked as your room door key and park tickets plus linked you FastPass+ reservations, dining plan credits and your Photo Pass photos to your My Disney Experience account.
Disney have recently announced they will stop giving away free Magic Bands to resort guests. You can still purchase Magic Bands online before your trip to be delivered to you (for US guests) or to purchase them in the parks and resorts. You may also still be able to use a previously owned Magic Band (depending on the model).
Instead resort guests will now receive a Key To The Magic card. This card will work much the same as a Magic Band and will open your resort room door, be your park ticket and connect your Photo Pass images to your My Disney Experience account where you can view and download them.
You can also use the My Disney Experience app to do things like enter your resort room with the virtual room key feature, check in to your dining reservations and book your Rise of the Resistance Boarding Passes.
Receiving a complimentary Magic Band was a great feature of staying at a Disney Resort as it made life so easy just using a band on your wrist to do so much at Disney! The Key To The Magic card does offer most of the features a Magic Band does but will need to be taken out and put somewhere safe every time you need to use it.
No Luggage Tags Sent To You
A really fun touch was when you received your Disney luggage tags! They came in a range of designs and were a lovely gift to add some sparkle to your trip!
Although resort guests will no longer receive their luggage tags in the post you can request them at the front desk of your resort at any time during your stay. I am glad to still be able to collect these!
No Dining Plans
The Disney Dining Plan was a pre-paid meal plan. The Dining Plan was a great option for people wanting to not worry about budgeting for their dining during their trip or to know the majority of their trip was paid for in advance.
You could purchase one of the available dining plans ahead of your trip and know all your meals and snacks were already paid for. No need to worry about how much money to take with you for food, everything was covered in advance!
There were different types of dining plan.
Quick Service Dining Plan - 2 quick service meals and 2 snacks a day
Disney Dining Plan - 1 quick service meal, 1 table service meal and 2 snacks a day
Deluxe Dining Plan - 2 table service meals and 2 snacks a day
The Dining Plan was something resort guests had to pay extra for but many people enjoyed this option.
The cancellation of the dining plan was particularly bad for Brits as the Free Disney Dining offer was a massive benefit to staying on-site! On my last trip I saved all my receipts from all the meals and snacks we had on the Disney Dining Plan and it saved us over $2000!
When Disney World shut in March 2020 the Dining Plan was suspended and all pre-purchased Dining Plans were cancelled. There is currently no date for the dining plan to be reintroduced but when it is it is unlikely the free dining offer will be available.
It is possible that in a few years time the amazing free Disney Dining offer may once again be advertised as it was a fantastic deal and a great incentive for Brits to pay more to stay on-site. But there were also rumours that the free dining deal was looking to be phased out and Covid may have sealed the deal.
Not all of the Disney Resorts are currently open so this may impact you if the resort you want to stay in is still closed.