Is it really worth staying at a Walt Disney World resort hotel right now?
Despite some signs of improving attendance, things are still pretty weird at Walt Disney World. We’ve been lifelong fans of Disney resort hotels thanks to their excellent theme, convenience to the parks, and amenities, but what exactly are Disney’s resorts like right now? Are prices still historically low? Are rooms truly being kept clean, and are Disney’s policies adequate to keep guests safe? What about popular amenities like pools, dining, and resort transportation?
We recently had our first excursion back to a Walt Disney World resort hotel with a stay at Bay Lake Tower at Disney’s Contemporary Resort (from a Wednesday night to Saturday morning). Here’s a few things that we noticed during our visit…
1. Some good prices are available—but the best deals aren’t where you might think
The situation for our most recent trip was unique in that we had a connection to use some Disney Vacation Club points to stay at Bay Lake Tower. Despite this, a bit of research online can give us some clues as to the overall landscape of prices right now.
Right now, Disney resort prices are at an “in-between” spot. Prices aren’t as low as when the parks first reopened, but they still aren’t up to the full prices from before the pandemic either. The company has made some lucrative deals available to Passholders and Florida residents, but I wouldn’t say we’re in “historic low” territory anymore. While these deals may be nice for those looking to get a room at a favorite resort at a lower price, don’t expect too many jaw-dropping deals booking through Disney. You may get a better rate than peak season, but the prices aren’t much lower than normal levels for this time of year.
Honestly, the best rates we are seeing right now are for the non-Disney owned hotels. The Swan and Dolphin already are a great value for deluxe Disney perks at moderate resort prices, and right now they are offering 30% off for Florida residents and Passholders on top of unusually low prices. They are also offering discounts for nurses and educators during this continuing season.
The best deal we’ve seen overall is, surprisingly, at the Four Seasons Orlando. This is definitely one of the more expensive resort in the area, but Four Seasons has their reputation for a reason—you get a lot for what you pay for. Their grounds alone are so nice that you may want to just skip the parks for a day. Their prices may not be ideal if you’re looking for moderate rates, but they are currently extremely competitive compared to deluxe resorts like The Grand Floridian, Wilderness Lodge, or Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge. Honestly, the Four Seasons value is exponentially better right now because they’re offering a $200-$500 resort credit per night for stays over 2 nights. That’s money you can put towards pretty much anything at the resort, from dining to spa time to recreation (the only things off-limits are Disney tickets, transportation, and babysitting). That’s a pretty stellar offer for one of the highest-rated resorts in the entire state!
In short, you can find some pretty amazing deals right now, but you’ll want to do some research and check multiple sources… and your best bets may not be Disney-owned resorts.
2. Touchless check-in remains a great feature
No contact check-in isn’t new at Walt Disney World resorts, but it’s an especially helpful feature during these times. If you’re unfamiliar, Disney has made it possible for guests at their resorts to check in before your vacation via their website or on the My Disney Experience app. On the day you arrive in Orlando, you’ll get a notification when your room is ready, and you can use either your phone or a MagicBand as your room key. Thanks to this feature, we did not have to make a single stop at the front desk during our visit. Do note that online check-in is just for the Disney-owned resorts—the Swan, Dolphin, and Four Seasons Orlando will not have access to this feature, and if you are planning to pick up a MagicBand (rather than having it mailed), you will need to make a short stop at the desk.
You’ll see this come up a lot as we explore the current resort experience, but My Disney Experience remains a huge component of Disney’s reopening and social-distancing strategy. If you are not familiar with the app or not comfortable using it, that may need to factor into your decision to visit right now. While the app isn’t a requirement, it has become a crucial tool for managing tickets, reservations, resort information, and dining.
3. The rooms are definitely clean!
Our most recent stay was in a one-bedroom villa at Bay Lake Tower at Disney’s Contemporary Resort. We normally prefer Epcot resorts, but being park hopping isn’t an option right now, we knew we’d probably spend more time in our room than on previous trips. Of all the resorts we’ve visited across Walt Disney World, the villas at Bay Lake Tower remain some of our favorites thanks to their spacious feel, modern amenities, roomy kitchens, and gorgeous décor.
You will definitely see a lot of activity from the Mousekeeping staff at resorts if you visit during this season—our room was very clean in accordance with increased cleaning procedures. I’m really hoping they keep this high standard as it was nice to see things like remote controls, curtain rods, and light switches getting a closer disinfecting. If you’re particularly cautious, it may not hurt to bring some disinfectant spray (if you can find any these days), but we were very happy with the cleanliness of the rooms. They’re even double-casing the pillows right now.
With that level of cleanliness comes some adjusted policies. We noticed for example that the rooms didn’t include any of the usual paper literature or lithographs common to DVC rooms. As for Mousekeeping services, right now guests at standard resorts get a light cleaning service every other day with towel replacement, replenished amenities, surface cleaning, and vacuuming. For Disney Vacation Club resorts, this only happens on the 4th and 8th day of your stay.