The Benefits of Staying at On-Site Hotels 

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The Perks of Disney Resorts and Universal Hotels

With over 25 Disney Resorts at Walt Disney World and 8 hotels at Universal Orlando, there are plenty of on-site lodging options to choose from. Each hotel offers a variety of perks and benefits, which makes staying at a Disney Resort or Universal Hotel worth it. Below, we discuss the perks and benefits of staying on property at Disney or Universal.  

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Book a Vacation Package 

Vacation packages give you the best value when booking your Disney or Universal vacation. Vacation packages bundle your hotel stay and theme park tickets together, with many different ticket options available. The more days you stay, the greater your savings. Also, both Disney and Universal offer many promotions on ticket and hotel stays that apply to vacation packages. When you choose a travel agent like our team at Wishing On A Star Travel®, we’ll monitor the latest deals and promotions and apply them to your trip—even if you’ve already booked! 

Free Transportation 

 Free, on-site transportation is one of the biggest benefits of staying at a Disney Resort or Universal Hotel, especially if traveling without a car. Disney and Universal offer complimentary transportation between their on-site hotels and respective theme parks. Buses are the most widely available transportation between hotels and theme parks. Universal and Disney also offer water taxis at select resorts. Several Disney Resorts and Universal Hotels are within walking distance of the theme parks. Other transportation options for Disney Resort guests include the monorail and Disney Skyliner.

Note: There is no transportation between Disney and Universal. You can rent a car or book a rideshare if you want to visit Universal while staying at a Disney Resort or vice versa.

Early Park Entry 

Disney and Universal offer early entry into the theme parks. Here’s how it works at each resort: 


Disney Resort guests can enter the theme parks 30 minutes early every day. This allows you to be one of the first guests in line at popular attractions like Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Slinky Dog Dash, and Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure. In addition, guests staying at Deluxe Resorts or Deluxe Villas can stay at the parks for up to two hours on select nights during Extended Evening Hours. Extended Evening Hours usually occur at EPCOT on Monday nights and Magic Kingdom on Wednesday nights. 


Guests staying at Universal Hotels can get into Universal Studios or Islands of Adventure up to one hour early every day. You can also get into Volcano Bay, Universal’s waterpark, 30 minutes early. Select attractions are open during Early Park Admission, including attractions like Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey™, VelociCoaster, and Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure™. Available attractions and parks rotate every few weeks, so check the current list of Early Park Admission attractions before your vacation. 

Priority Dining Reservations 

Another perk of staying at a Disney Resort is your ability to book Advanced Dining Reservations for 10 days on the first day your booking window opens, 60 days before you check in. Making 10 days’ worth of reservations makes a difference when booking popular meals like character and signature dining. Reservations for these dining locations book up fast, so being able to make reservations for multiple days gives you a leg up. 

Guests staying at Universal Premiere Resorts get priority seating at select dining locations at Universal Studios, Islands of Adventure, and CityWalk, too. 

Themed Accommodations

Theming is where on-site hotels shine! Disney Resorts and Universal Hotels offer immersive experiences that enhance your vacation, allowing you to stay in the magic for your entire trip. From Incredibles-themed rooms at the Contemporary to Moana-themed over-the-water bungalows at Disney’s Polynesian Resort, you’ll find nods to Disney movies and characters throughout your resort. Universal also offers Minion and Jurassic World-themed family suites at select resorts. 

Other Perks

Here are a few of the other perks of staying at a Disney Resort or Universal Hotel: 

Merchandise Delivery – Universal 

Have your souvenirs and purchases delivered to your hotel room the next day when you shop at Universal Studios, Islands of Adventure, or CityWalk. 

Free Express Unlimited Passes – Universal

Premiere-level hotel guests receive complimentary Universal Express Unlimited passes for each guest every night of their stay. This allows you to bypass lines at attractions throughout Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure. 

Free Parking – Disney 

Disney offers resort guests free overnight parking and free parking at the theme parks. By saving $30 per car for standard parking at a theme park each day, this cost adds up quickly! 

*New for 2025* Free Waterpark Entrance for Disney Resort Guests 

Disney recently announced that guests who book a Disney Resort stay throughout 2025 will receive free entrance to either Typhoon Lagoon or Blizzard Beach water parks on their check-in date. Now’s the perfect time to book your 2025 vacation—and Disney vacation packages are now available! 

Why Should I Stay at an On-Site Resort vs a Private Rental or Off-Site Hotel?

The rise in popularity of private vacation rentals, off-site hotels, and Airbnbs can make picking where to stay for your theme park vacation quite challenging. However, staying at a private rental or off-site hotel has some drawbacks you should be aware of. It’s hard to predict what accommodations at private rentals booked through sites like Airbnb or VRBO are really like until you arrive. You’ll also need your own transportation to get to the theme parks each day. We’ve heard from some guests with private vacation rentals who had their reservations suddenly canceled, sometimes days before their trip. While this is rare, it’s a tactic hosts sometimes use to relist their vacation rental at a higher price for the same timeframe. This uncertainty can add some unneeded stress to your vacation. Off-site hotels offer more certainty and less guesswork but aren’t nearly as close to the parks as on-site options. Some off-site hotels provide shuttles between the theme parks, although they’re not as reliable or regularly timed as the bus transportation at Disney Resorts or Universal Hotels. 

 Book Your Disney Resort or Universal Hotel with Wishing On A Star Travel

Wishing on a Star Travel is an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner and U-Preferred travel agency. We’ll help you plan a trip wherever your adventures take you! There are many benefits to staying at a Disney Resort or Universal Hotel. Our knowledgeable travel advisors will help you pick the right resort for you and your family so you can have the vacation of your dreams! Get our Disney Resort guide when you sign up for our email list. Ready to get started planning your vacation? Get a free quote today