Resort Hopping is a great way to spend some down time on your Disney World vacation.
Maybe the parks are crowded and you want to get away from the hustle and bustle.
Maybe you have an extra day of vacation without tickets and want some fun ways to fill your time.
We do it every trip and it’s a lot of fun.
Here are our Resort Hopping 101 Tips:
Use Disney Transportation
Use Disney Transportation when traveling between resorts. It’s free.
The Monorail travels between three of the resorts, some resorts have boat transportation, and Disney buses travel to all resorts.
The Disney Skyliner gondolas is up and running. That itself is a ride!
During peak times of the year, Disney has started charging for daytime resort parking ($25) and/or limiting resort parking to guests with hotel reservations, not just dining reservations.
Make a Dining Reservation
Part of the appeal to resort hopping is to try the restaurants at the resorts.
All of the deluxe resorts boast fine dining options with award-wining restaurants. Some even offer entertainment and character dining experiences.
Plan on dining for breakfast, lunch, or dinner at one of the resorts on your resort-hopping list, and make a reservation in advance. This will guarantee you a spot at a table during your resort adventures.
Don’t Try to Do It All
With over 25 resorts at Disney World, it would be unrealistic to expect to visit them all when resort hopping, and it would take away from the fun and enjoyment. Set realistic expectations in regards to the number of resorts you plan to visit in one day. Pick one or two things you’d like to do at each resort, and don’t be disappointed that you can’t do it all. It just means you’ll have to visit again!
Go on a Travel Day
If you only have part of a day at Disney due to your arrival or departure time, spend the time resort hopping instead of purchasing a ticket to the parks (now over $100/day for a single park ticket) when you can only spend a few hours there. You’ll save some money by not buying a park ticket, and you will find plenty of fun and magic at the resorts.
You most likely need many of the same things resort hopping as you do spending the day at the parks. You might want to bring a poncho or umbrella in case it rains as you’re traveling to and from resorts, you’ll want your camera and/or phone, comfortable shoes, or anything else you find you need at the parks.
Also, if you have dining reservations at a fine dining location, like California Grill or Victoria & Albert’s, there is a dress code, so make sure what you’re wearing is in line with their dress code.
Dedicate at Least Half a Day
Resort hopping takes time.
It’s wise to dedicate at least half a day to resort hopping. If you try to visit more than a few resorts in less than half a day, you’ll find yourself rushed and most likely unable to do everything on your list. With half a day or more, you can plan on having a meal, a snack, and have time to explore lobbies and shopping places without feeling rushed.
Resort Hop During the Holidays!
Christmas time is truly a magical time at Disney World and that especially includes the resorts!
If you find yourself at Disney World during the Christmas season, make an effort to do some resort hopping. The deluxe resorts go above and beyond in their decorations. All have giant Christmas trees with decorations that correspond to the theme of the resort.
There is a life-sized gingerbread house at the Grand Floridian, and you can purchase delicious gingerbread cookies there. At least 5 other Disney resorts have gingerbread displays, all unique. Check them all out!
But, be aware that in late 2018 the parking guards really started cracking down on limiting parking to resort guests only at the deluxe resorts during the holiday season. It’s best to park at one of the other resorts on property like All Stars and take the Disney transportation bus around.
Here are a few of our favorite places to resort hop:
The Grand Floridian
You can catch a monorail directly from the Magic Kingdom or from Epcot by way of the Ticket and Transportation Center. There is also a water launch which is fun as long as it’s not cold out. From the other parks, you’ll have to take a bus.
When you get there, check out the orchestra that plays most afternoons upstairs in the main Grand Lobby. Make reservations for proper afternoon tea or for dinner at the fancy Victoria & Albert’s. Look for hidden Mickeys in the elaborate marble floors. This is also a very peaceful place to sit in the Grand Lobby and just enjoy the atmosphere!
Another monorail hotel, you can get to the Polynesian the same ways as the Contemporary or Grand Floridian. Once you get there, go to Captain Cook’s and get a Dole Whip, or get a tropical cocktail at the lounge outside of O’Hana or make a reservation for a family-style dinner at O’Hana.
If you schedule your visit late enough, you can watch the Happily Ever After fireworks show over the castle at Magic Kingdom complete with the music piped in while you’re enjoying dinner!
The Contemporary is a great place to visit. You get to the Contemporary the same way you get to the Polynesian resort since it’s a monorail resort or you can walk over from Magic Kingdom.
Once you get there, browse the great gift shops here. These may be our favorite gift shops on property. If you’re hungry, head upstairs to the Contempo Cafe. It’s a quick-service eatery with a lot of unique options for everyone’s tastes. Try the pot roast and veggies – it’s incredible.
You’ll also find character dining here at Chef Mickey’s. If you’re resort hopping at night, you can watch the Happily Ever After fireworks show over the castle from the 4th floor observation deck and catch the nightly Electrical Water Pageant.
To get to the Wilderness Lodge, you can take a boat from the Magic Kingdom or Contemporary Resort, or a bus from the other parks. This is one of our favorite places to explore. Go on a search for hidden Mickeys. Watch the geyser erupt outside, or sit in the immense lobby straight from our National Parks. Take a close look at the towering fireplace. Book a dinner reservation at Whispering Canyon Cafe – it’s one of the most fun and family-oriented restaurants on property. Roast some marshmallows over the campfire outside (free). You can also catch the Electrical Water Pageant going by at night.
The Yacht & Beach Clubs
These resorts are sister resorts, sharing a fabulous pool, in the Epcot resort area. If you’re at Epcot, you can walk out the back entrance at the International Gateway between the France and United Kingdom pavilions and continue on the sidewalk straight to the resorts.
Try a kitchen sink sundae from Beaches & Cream soda shop. Sit on the sandy beach and watch the Friendship boats go by. In the evenings, catch a movie under the stars on this same beach. Go to the lobby of the Yacht Club and visit with the Captain. Browse their gift shops – they’re some of our favorites!
The Boardwalk is a great place to resort hop in the evenings. You can get there the same ways you can get to Yacht & Beach Clubs, as there are sidewalks that connect the three resorts.
If you’re hungry, try the walk-up pizza by the slice window or grab a sweet treat from the Confectionery. There are always street performers to watch and plenty of benches and tables to sit and enjoy the ambiance.
You can rent a surrey bike here as well. Catch a sporting event at the ESPN club. If you stand on the bridge between the Boardwalk and the Yacht & Beach Clubs looking towards Epcot, you can view the 9pm IllumiNations fireworks at the end your day.
We’ve written two books about our time working – and playing – as Disney Cast Members at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida.
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Have a magical day!