First Visit to Walt Disney World

If you are planning your first visit to Walt Disney World, you will probably be feeling a mixture of excitement and trepidation – asking yourself questions such as; Where should we stay? How can I make the best of our the visit? How can I be sure I don’t miss anything? and so on, and so on.

The good news is that planning your holiday is a surprisingly straightforward (not to mention enjoyable!) experience, once you have a broad understanding of the options involved.

We recommend that you start with a general overview of the Walt Disney World Resort using the sections below, and then start to find out more about each of them using the links provided.

At DoingFlorida we hope that we can help right through the planning process – providing a source of information in our Florida holiday planning guides and giving you a place to discuss your plans with others.

Statue of Walt and Mickey at Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World

The best place to start is to understand exactly what makes up the Walt Disney World Resort – many people start off by thinking that it is a theme park but it is actually a huge area to the south west of the city of Orlando, Florida which is made up of several theme parks, many hotels, restaurants and much more. You can find out more in our Walt Disney World Resort overview.

Do I have to stay in an official Disney hotel?

No. There are some major benefits of staying in a Walt Disney World Resort hotel (see below) however depending on your budget you may also wish to consider non-Disney hotels and accommodation which can offer some great value.

There are many non-Disney hotels in and around Walt Disney World, along with a huge selection of villas and apartments. Many are within a short driving distance of the theme parks, and some non-Disney hotels offer transportation to and from the Walt Disney World theme parks.

What are the Benefits of staying in a Disney Resort Hotel

Disney Resort hotels offer a very high standard of accommodation and service, including themed pools, character dining options and many other benefits. We would say that the main benefits of staying in a Disney Resort Hotel are:

1. Complimentary transportation between the theme parks and resort hotels – using the buses, boats and monorails it is possible to travel throughout Walt Disney World without the need to drive yourself or use taxis.

2. The full ‘Disney’ experience – as you would expect, the Disney Resort hotels offer a magical experience with some incredible theming. By staying in a Disney Resort hotel you can remain ‘within the Disney bubble’ 24 hours a day for the duration of your holiday.

3. Extra time in the theme parks – each day one of the Walt Disney World theme parks either opens early or stays open later exclusively for Disney Resort hotel guests. This can be a significant benefit as crowd levels and attraction wait times can be much lower than during the busiest parts of the day.

4. Complimentary Airport Transportation – Disney Resort hotel guests can use the ‘Magical Express‘ transport to and from Orlando International Airport. This free service really does extend the Disney experience for the full duration of your holiday.

What about Non-Disney Hotels in and around Walt Disney World

There is a huge range of non-Disney accommodation available in Walt Disney World – a quick online search will reveal the extent of the choices available.
Staying in a non-Disney hotel can be a very cost-effective way of visiting Walt Disney World however it is important to do a proper comparison when looking at the costs involved.

For example, the price of a Disney hotel may include theme park tickets (which are a significant part of the overall holiday cost) and Disney occasionally offer free ‘Dining Plan’ deals for UK visitors which can also make a big difference.

Some of the major costs to consider when comparing accommodations are:

Cost of accommodation
Cost of transportation to and from the airport
Cost of transportation during the holiday
Cost of theme park tickets
Cost of food and drink


If you ask 100 UK Florida fans for their idea of the perfect Florida Holiday you will probably get 100 different answers, but the best advice is to do the research before you book, and chat to other visitors to get tips and advice.