The benefits of on-property – A look at UOR and WDW

A view of Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa from Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort.

Let me address the initial elephant in the room. You may be thinkingy “you get paid to sell on-property so of course you are going to say that it’s worth it.”

Yes, that is true, but let me dig-in and explain to you the value of choosing on-site accommodations.

I do earn commission for booking on-site resorts, let me be clear that I also have the ability to book Good Neighbor locations near both Walt Disney World and Universal. Places like Margaritaville, Disney Springs area resorts, etc., are all locations that usually have Good Neighbor benefits and I can work with you on reserving those locations.

One of the MANY benefits of working with someone like me is that as part of our planning process we discuss your family size, interests, goals, dislikes, special needs. From there I am able to determine what fits your needs, budget and desired vacation and present you with your best available options based on your family. The crux of my job is to learn about your family and build a unique vacation experience for your family. Whenever possible, I always recommend the on-property experience first. As you will see below, there are many more pros compared to the off-site cons.

THE MAIN REASON to stay where you play

The absolute #1 reason to stay on-property is the convenience. In many instances, at both Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando Resort, you can actually walk into the Theme Parks and restaurants straight from your hotel room. The higher category the resort, typically means the more walkable the resort as well as more amenities. Depending on location, you not only have bus/shuttle service regularly occuring at your resort but you also may have other modes of transportation, such as boat, and at Walt Disney World, Monorail (train) and Skyliner (sky gondola) transportation.

Cabana Bay Beach Resort, Universal Orlando Resort

Attention to Details and Theme

Both WDW and UOR arguably have some of most beautiful and fun theming out there. Each resort category at both destinations boast unique themes and story-telling that is next level. (Did I just hear someone whisper “Star Wars:Galactic Starcruiser?”)

To accommodate more families and those who are budget conscious, Universal Orlando Resort has recently added a fourth hotel category, Value (Endless Summer: Surfside and Dockside resorts vs. Prime Value, Cabana Bay). While the rooms may be slightly more basic and smaller, theming has not been sacrificed.

Again, with both destinations, as you move higher up the resort category you may notice less character theming and more higher end finishes, amenities and a more subtle, strategic approach to Intellectual Property.

At WDW, Deluxe Resorts often have spas/salons, multiple table service dining locations, lounge and bar areas, feature pools with hot tubs and slides, in addition to quiet pools, splash areas, outdoor games and more. Both UOR and WDW provide resort categories to meet different family’s needs and budgets.

Close to other activities

Being on-property is also quite handy because you can do so much without traveling far at all. Say you don’t want a pool or Theme Park day. No problem. Hop over and enjoy mini-golf or a round of golf at one of Walt Disney Worlds available courses. Golf not you thing? How about boarding a bus (or walk or boat depending on your resort!) and head over to Disney Springs for an outdoor shopping, dining and entertainment experience. Everything from gigantic Cookies at Gideon’s Bakehouse, to T-Rex dining fun or a more relaxing waterfront experience at Boathouse. You can even enjoy an Amphicar ride or shop places like Lego, Anthropologie and more! Returning soon will also be performances from Cirque de Soleil.

While there isn’t as much to do at Universal Orlando Resort as there is at Walt Disney World Resort, there are many similarities. The resorts boasts their own unique styles and offerings, like bowling at Cabana Bay, rooftop dining and convention spaces. Similar to Disney Springs is UOR’s Citywalk; however, Citywalk is much more of a restaurant and nightlife scene and less of the shopping experience available over at Disney Springs.

Both destinations provide transportation or are in close (walkable) proximity to their entertainment/dining/shopping districts. Each destination also has their own Water Parks, Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach at WDW and Volcano Bay at UOR, which provide guests another way to enjoy their destinations and have a “cooler” and more chill day!

Early Theme Park Entry

Guests staying at an on-site hotel (both UOR and WDW Resorts) are eligible for early morning entrance time inside the Theme Parks before the parks are open to everyone else. Therefore, not are you logistically closer to getting to the Theme Parks each morning but you can actually go inside and enjoy the parks before them open to everyone not staying on-property. Some Good Neighbor Hotels receive these benefits but they don’t offer as convenient/frequent transportation to and from the parks, thus in order to enjoy this benefit, you would need to plan more and work with the hotel to determine what time you need to make a shuttle or what transportation options you need to have in order to get to the Theme Parks at your desired time. Some also offer paid shuttles vs. complimentary and even complimentary shuttles at Good Neighbor Hotels do not run as constant as if you were an on-property guest.

Universal Orlando Resort – Express Pass – Premier Category Hotels

At Universal a HUGE perk to those staying on-property at Premier category hotels (Loews Royal Pacific, Hard Rock Hotel and Loews Portofino Bay) is the Skip-The-Line (AKA Express Pass) access that is included with your hotel stay. This means guess staying at one of the previously mentioned hotels received Express Pass inside the Theme Parks. The Express Pass benefit is good for the length of stay at the hotel. Therefore, for each day guests have valid Theme Park admission, they can skip the line and ride some of the most popular rides with little to no wait. Typically newer attractions, such as the new Jurassic World Velociocoaster, is not included in the Express Pass benefit.

Walt Disney World – Deluxe Resort Guests

Beginning October 1, 2021, guests staying at a Walt Disney World Deluxe resort or Disney Vacation Club villa will receive special evening After Hours on select nights in select Theme Parks. So far, Disney’s Magic Kingdom and EPCOT will be the initial Theme Parks open for After Hours to Deluxe staying guests.

Resorts for Different Needs and Budgets

UOR and WDW offer a variety of hotel categories and themes to accommodate almost any family need or budget. The resort has everything from Value to Suites and Villas. There are even resorts that are convention hotels. Therefore, a variety of options and amenities are there for enjoying–knowing those offerings and helping you break down which is best for you is what I do!

When staying on-property there are other perks such as room charging privileges, merchandise to your room service, and at Disney, the use of MagicBands. Resort guests benefits are varying based on current protocols (i.e. COVID). Through the end of 2021, Walt Disney World Resort guests may still utilize Magical Express service from MCO (Orlando International Airport) to Walt Disney World Resort hotels.

Are you considering a trip to Universal Orlando Resort or Walt Disney World resort in the future? Maybe you have questions about what you just read and are interested in learning more! Contact me and let’s get the conversation started. If you are ready to book a vacation, complete this no obligation quote request form!

P.S… Oh yeah, there is that 50th Anniversary of Walt Disney World Resort beginning 10/1/2021 — the celebration will last 18 months! Being on-property is sure to be full of extra excitement and magic.

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About Crush on the Magic

I'm a Midwestern mom that embraces fun whenever possible! Crush on the Magic is focused on all things Disney and Universal Destinations. I'm here to provide insights for all Disney/Universal vacationers, from the theme park regular to the once-in-a-lifetime trip goer, this site is for you! Thinking of booking a trip? I am happy to provide my expertise at no additional charge. Contact me at or complete my no obligation form at