One of the hardest decisions when planning a pre- or post-cruise stay is choosing the hotel. Especially if you’re starting your cruise in Port Canaveral, Florida.
With Orlando less than 30 minutes driving away from Port Canaveral, it’s difficult not to visit the theme parks (Disney World, Universal Studios) before or after your cruise.
With over 50 million theme park and cruisers visiting each year, Orlando has the highest number of hotels in the United States.
Disney makes the choice even more difficult by offering 28 of their own resort hotels at 3 different price points – Value, Moderate and Deluxe.
If you’re just comparing per night prices, Disney World Resort Hotels are generally higher than off-site hotels (non Disney owned resorts). However, there are a few other factors you have to consider before you press the Book It button.
RELATED READING: How to Plan a Disney Cruise Vacation in 5 Simple Steps
Should you stay at a Walt Disney World Resort Hotel before or after your cruise? Here’s a few benefits of being a Disney Resort Hotel guest:
1. Complimentary Airport Transfer Service
Known as Disney’s Magical Express Transportation, the shuttle service to and from Orlando International Airport is free for all guests of Walt Disney World Resort hotels. Luggage delivery and on-property flight check-in is also included as part of this complimentary service.
If you are flying into Orlando or leaving from MCO, having free airport transfer service will save you money.
2. Free Transportation to Theme Parks, Disney Hotels and Disney Springs
Guests staying at a Disney World Resort can take a bus, monorail or boat (all part of the Disney Transportation system) to the parks, other Disney Resort Hotels or Disney Springs for free.
Being able to hop on a bus, monorail or boat is beneficial to those traveling with babies or young children. All buses, monorail and boats are wheelchair and stroller friendly.
You don’t have to worry about installing car seats and walking through a crowded parking lot searching for your car. If your pre- or post-cruise plans only include theme park visits, this could potentially save hundreds of dollars.
RELATED READING: How to Choose the Best Disney Value Resort for Your Family
3. Extra Hours at the Parks
Every day, Disney Resorts Hotel guests can beat the crowds at at least one theme park (including the water parks) by entering an hour early or staying for later evening hours. These extended theme park hours are known as Extra Magic Hours.
4. Some or All Meals Covered with the Disney Dining Plan
Several Disney dining plan options are available (sometimes for free if there is a Free Dining promotion running) exclusively to guests of Walt Disney World Resort hotels.
Working on the credit system, guests can have some or all meals covered during their vacation. While the value of the Disney Dining Plans are often debated by Disney World fanatics, some families might prefer paying a lump sum (hotel, park tickets, meals, transportation) at the time of booking instead of trying to stick to a budget while on vacation.
Have you stayed at a Disney Resort Hotel before or after your cruise? Or do you prefer to stay at a non-Disney hotel closer to MCO or Port Canaveral?