Beginner’s Guide to Resort Hopping at Walt Disney World

Beginner’s Guide to Resort Hopping at Walt Disney World

Everyone’s idea of vacation is different. Some look at it as a way to get away and relax, others may look at it as a way to explore something new and some people are just happy that they’re not at work.

I am kind of a mixture of all of those and when I travel, I try to make the most out of wherever I am and whatever it has to offer. When we take a trip to the most magical place on Earth, no matter how hard I try, relaxation kind of just goes out the window.

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Epcot, Walt Disney World, International Festival of the Arts
Epcot, Walt Disney World

Even just thinking about going to Walt Disney World has me excited out of my mind like a kid on Christmas morning. However, if you’ve ever been to WDW, you know that it is usually exhausting. And if you’ve never been, let me tell you…. It is EXHAUSTING. Worth it, but exhausting.

Grand Floridian, Polynesian
View of the Grand Floridian from the beach at Polynesian Villas, Walt Disney World
Polynesian, Ohana
View of Polynesian dock from Ohana Restaurant

One way we have found to balance the chaos of the parks, while still maintaining that magic Disney feel is by resort hopping. Probably one of my favorite things to do, and a great alternative to the parks (especially when it is excessively hot, crowded or raining) resort hopping is actually a lot easier than most people think. Grand Floridian Resort Walt Disney
Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, Walt Disney World

There are two ways to do this, so let’s start with the easier of the two and probably the more common. Resort hopping can simply mean visiting another resort that’s not your own. While you do have access to all of the resorts on WDW property, the most challenging part will be figuring out transportation. The easiest to access are the monorail resorts from the Magic Kingdom via the monorail or the Epcot area resorts on the Boardwalk, since those are within walking distance of the park.

Polynesian Resort, Walt Disney World
Grand Foyer, Polynesian Resort. View from Monorail Entrance
Grand Floridian
Grand Floridian view from Polynesian Beach

The Contemporary, The Polynesian Village Resort and The Grand Floridian are all monorail resorts and are just a quick monorail ride to and from the Magic Kingdom. These all have great restaurants, so if you have reservations at any of these resorts, take some time before or after your meal to explore.  If you’re not dining at one of these resorts, however, even just getting a glimpse of these gorgeous grounds is worth the trip.

View from Polynesian Beach
View from Polynesian Beach

The boat from Magic Kingdom is also an option as well. You can take the boat from Magic Kingdom to The Grand Floridian, The Polynesian and Fort Wilderness Campground and Wilderness Lodge. The Contemporary is only about a 10 minute(or less) walk from Magic Kingdom.

Hidden pathway on boardwalk walt disney world
View from Hollywood Studios pathway, entering the Epcot Boardwalk
Swan Hotel, Walt Disney World
View of the Swan Hotel of the Swan and Dolphin area of the Boardwalk

The Epcot resorts, The Yacht Club, The Beach Club, Disney’s Boardwalk Resort, and the Swan and Dolphin Resorts are all within walking distance from Epcot and only a boat ride from Hollywood Studios, which also make them easy to include in your resort hopping venture. There is also a walking path from Hollywood Studios to Epcot that you can reach these resorts without having to worry about transportation.

Want to relax in a giant rocking chair while watching giraffes and zebras graze in your backyard? Take the bus to the Animal Kingdom lodge. Craving world famous Beignets, straight out of the Princess and the Frog? Enjoy a leisurely boat ride from Disney Springs over to Port Orleans French Quarter.

Animal Kingdom Lodge
Animal Kingdom Lodge, view of courtyard from second floor deck.
Beignets, Port Orleans French Quarter Food Court
Beignets, Port Orleans French Quarter Food Court

While the options are really endless, there are several important things to remember. Firstly, you will almost never have access to another resort’s pool. While I haven’t been to every pool, for the mostpart, the pools are only intended for guests of the resort. I’ve personally never tried to see if this rule is enforced, but I was told pretty surely by a friend that it is. So that’s cool. I’ll take her word for it.

Hollywood Studios, Boardwalk, Epcot, Walt Disney World
Hollywood Studios to Boardwalk Pathway

Secondly, always make sure you know what your transportation is back to where you’re going.  Not all forms of transportation within WDW run continuously, so be sure to find out beforehand what you need to do to get back. While I can say from experience that if you get in a tricky situation with transportation, Disney will not leave you stranded and will make sure you arrive back to your own resort (or wherever you’re trying to go), it can add a lot of waiting to your day that you may not have planned. So just keep it in mind.

Port Orleans Riverside, Walt Disney World
Port Orleans Riverside, Walt Disney World

If you fail to plan this and don’t wanna be that girl (or guy) waiting for a Disney bus at 1 A.M. because you didn’t plan properly(yep that’s me), there’s always Uber, which is sometimes the best and fastest option anyway.

Cinderella's Royal Table, Walt Disney World, Magic Kingdom, Disney Dining
Cinderella’s Castle, Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World

Ok so after alllll that, what’s the other type of resort hopping? Staying at more than one resort during your stay of course! This is actually a lot more common than you might think, and a lot of people will do it as a way of staying within budget while getting to see more than one resort.

Caribbean Beach Resort, Walt Disney World
Caribbean Beach Resort, Walt Disney World

While I think it’s a great way to experience other resorts and their amenities, I wouldn’t recommend it unless you’re staying for more than a week. While it is relatively easy, it can be a little bit of a hassle.

The biggest part of this is pre-planning. Before you leave for your trip, make sure you have everything linked up in the My Disney Experience website. From tickets to your dining plan, make sure however you have your package is set up, that they are all linked before you endeavor into your stay. Why is this such a big deal? Well its actually pretty simple.

Animal Kingdom Lodge, View from 1st floor Sanaa entrance
Animal Kingdom Lodge, View from 1st floor Sanaa entrance

The advantage of resort hopping is that all you have to do is drop your luggage off and head to the parks, right? Nope! If your tickets for the entire trip aren’t linked to the first resort you checked into, you will have to check into your second (or third) resort before the remaining tickets are activated. The same holds true for your dining plan if you have one, and this can cause some problems with using your meal credits or entering the park. If you do however encounter problems, no worries, the awesome cast members at guest relations can help you!

So how do you magically get your luggage from one resort to another without lugging it all over WDW property? That part actually is pretty simple. Just drop it off at the resort’s kiosk at your current WDW resort and they will take care of it for you! We recommend using packing cubes to make packing and unpacking simple and quick. They are a huge time saver when you are trying to make the most of your time at Walt Disney World.

Walt Disney World Resort All Stars Movies
All Star Movies Value Resort

It’s usually located in the front of the building, but you can always ask the front desk and they can point you in the right direction. Just note that they will not deliver your luggage until after 1PM and that your luggage will not be delivered until you have checked in to your new resort. So if you have plans of staying at the Parks until the clock strikes midnight on the day that you will be checking into your new resort, be aware that your luggage may not be magically waiting for you in your room if you have not officially checked in.

Be sure to have everything you need in your Disney day bag in case you come to your resort only to find your new luggage hasn’t yet been delivered. I recommend checking into your new resort ASAP to avoid any delays, however if you don’t decide to do this, your luggage is just a simple phone call away!img_3662

Caribbean Beach Resort, Walt Disney World
Caribbean Beach Resort, Walt Disney World
Disney's Wilderness Lodge, Walt Disney World
Disney’s Wilderness Lodge

Have you ever resort hopped before? Where is your favorite resort to visit while at Walt Disney World? Feel free to share tips you may have in the comments!

6 thoughts on “Beginner’s Guide to Resort Hopping at Walt Disney World”

  • I would like to point out that you can take a boat from Magic Kingdom to the Wilderness Lodge and Fort Wilderness Campground. They are two separate places and I think that should be acknowledged.

    • Thanks for pointing that out! That’s an excellent point and you’re absolutely right. The first time we went to Wilderness Lodge, we actually weren’t aware of that, so I’m not sure how I forgot to mention it. Thanks for your input though and thanks for stopping by!

    • Such a good point! Since we did cover multiple things in this post, captions would have been helpful. I updated the post and inserted captions. You’ll see the first image is Grand Floridian though I was unable to add a caption on that first photo since it’s a featured image. Other than that, all of them are labeled now. Feel free to reach out if you have questions. Hope this helps!

  • Great ideas all! I consider myself a DIsney Veteran and I learned something new today! I did not know about the walking path between Hollywood Studios and Epcot! I’ve also gotta get me some packing cubes – those are perfect for resort hopping and/ or land- sea trips!
    Funny story- My family and I were also “stuck” at 1 am resort hopping. We had wandered over to the Wilderness Lodge after doing the sing-a-long, s’mores and outdoor movie at Fort Wilderness. (This was before they had outdoor movies at most of the resorts) We watched the electric light parade and the MK fireworks from the beach at Ft. W. So it was pretty late when we arrived at Wilderness Lodge. Time got away from us. We were waiting near the bus stop and the very last bus pulled up and the driver asked us where we were going. He was so kind and offered to take us to our resort, even though his shift was over. We were very grateful! Disney cast members are truly awesome! I do recommend though that you watch your time closer than we did!

    • We had a similar issue with a late dinner at Boma one night and found ourselves stuck at Animal Kingdom Lodge after midnight! But Disney always finds a way. An hour wait later and there were busses to bring us and several other families home. So yeah— always watch the times! We know better now too:) Thanks for stopping by!

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