Gamechanger: Perks Expand for Non-Disney Resorts

Beginning in 2018, guests at certain non-Disney hotels will have access to Extra Magic Hours. Moreover, guests who book vacation packages at these selected resorts through Walt Disney Travel Company will have access to the 60-day Fastpass window. While not huge for many Disney travelers, this is especially notable for our readers as several Disney Springs hotels can be booked with points.

Disney lists the following hotels as being affected:

  • B Resort & Spa
  • Best Western Lake Buena Vista Resort
  • DoubleTree Guest Suites by Hilton Orlando
  • Hilton Orlando Lake Buena Vista Palace
  • Hilton Orlando Resort Lake Buena Vista
  • Holiday Inn Orlando
  • Wyndham Lake Buena Vista
  • Wyndham Garden Lake Buena Vista
Best Western Lake Buena Vista Resort

Best Western Lake Buena Vista Resort

Extra Magic Hours Expansion

Extra Magic Hours allows guests staying at certain resorts to access select parks on select days either earlier or later than the public. The Extra Magic Hours expansion means two things. First, the reasoning for staying at a value resort just lost a little weight. Extra Magic Hours, when you park hop, are among the best ways to get the fullest Disney experience. Several of these hotels place near or even below the value resorts. When you factor in that it is easier to find deals or book these hotels with points, it becomes even tougher to justify a stay at a value resort.

Second, there will be more people at Extra Magic Hours, diminishing their value. We won't know for a while how big of a problem this it, but for the parks other than Magic Kingdom, we may see a significant loss of value on Extra Magic Hours. Magic Kingdom will still get a huge amount of local traffic during the day, so Extra Magic Hours there will remain valuable.

Fastpass+ 60-Day Window Expansion

The official statement makes it sound like the 60-day Fastpass window will only be extended to individuals who book the selected resorts through Walt Disney Travel Company. This may mean that they'll wind up paying a little bit more (which Disney then takes as commission) for this perk.

This shouldn't shift the winds too much. As a true Disney travel hacker, you're not concerned with how many people can book 60 days out. You're concerned with how many people will actually be on their computers or apps 60 days out at 7AM Eastern AND checking every day thereafter. The short of this is not many people actually Fastpass plan exceptionally well. The toughest rides (Avatar Flight of Passage, Frozen Ever After) will still be tough to get, but we don't think they'll move into the "impossible" zone yet.

We'll be updating our various posts/guides with this information and anything else that comes up!

Tip of the hat to WDW News Today, which reported on the following full statement from Disney (emphasis ours):

Guests staying at any of the Disney Resort hotels will continue to experience special features offered at a Disney Resort hotel, including legendary Guest service and unique theming, along with benefits like the Extra Magic Hours benefit, the ability to make FastPass+ selections up to 60-days prior to arrival, (both of these benefits require valid theme park admission), the convenience of MagicBands, complimentary transportation (motor coach, buses and ferry boats) around the Walt Disney World® Resort and standard parking at Disney theme parks, Disney’s Magical Express service and the ability to purchase Disney dining plan packages. Those Guests staying in select Disney Resort hotels can also receive other services such as personalized vacation planning, merchandise delivery to their rooms, and easy access to Minnie Van service.
For 2018, we are also extending some benefits that are currently available to Disney Resort hotel Guests and Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Hotel Guests. Each Guest, with a valid theme park admission, staying at one of the Disney Springs Resort Area hotels, which are designated Official WALT DISNEY WORLD hotels will be extended these benefits. The Disney Spring Resort Area hotels include: B Resort & Spa; Best Western Lake Buena Vista Resort; DoubleTree Guest Suites by Hilton Orlando; Hilton Orlando Lake Buena Vista Palace; Hilton Orlando Resort Lake Buena Vista; Holiday Inn Orlando; Wyndham Lake Buena Vista; and Wyndham Garden Lake Buena Vista.
Beginning Jan. 1 through Dec. 31, 2018, Guests at any of these Official WALT DISNEY WORLD hotels, with a valid theme park ticket, can take advantage of Extra Magic Hours benefit as each day, one of the four Walt Disney World Theme Parks opens early or extends later for Guests to enjoy select attractions.
Scheduled to begin Jan. 10, 2018, Walt Disney Travel Company packages are available for online bookings for the Disney Springs® Resort Area hotels. Also, scheduled to begin Jan. 10, 2018, Guests at these Official WALT DISNEY WORLD hotels, who have booked a package reservation for the hotel through a Walt Disney Travel Company package, will be able to link their hotel reservation on My Disney Experience, and with a linked, valid theme park ticket, these Guests can utilize a 60-day booking window for FastPass+ selections. These are benefits that are already available to Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Hotel Guests.