A Disney World vacation offers you nearly unlimited ways to customize and enhance your experience. While it isn't necessarily ever an inexpensive trip, you can definitely do Disney on a budget.
But in the pursuit of savings, it is easy to miss the fact that sometimes spending a little more upfront might actually help you have a better trip in the end.
Disney Club Level is one of those things that many people don't know about or think the price is out of their budget. But, depending on your family and style of vacationing, staying Club Level at Disney World just might be the perfect fit.
Let's talk about why...
What is Disney Club Level?
Lots of hotels (not just those at Disney World) offer room categories you can book that provide additional perks or amenities and concierge-level services to their guests.
At Disney World, this extra-special room category is called Club Level.
Not all Walt Disney World resort hotels offer it as an option, though. Club Level is only available at the Deluxe Resorts at Walt Disney World.
What resorts offer Club Level accommodations?
Club Level accommodations are available at all Deluxe Resorts at Walt Disney World and, with the opening of the new Gran Destino Tower at Disney's Coronado Springs Resort, one Moderate Resort, as well.
Most resorts offering Club Level have one Club Level lounge, however some resorts (as you can see below) offer two:
- Animal Kingdom Lodge - Kilimanjaro Club Lounge
- Beach Club Resort - Stone Harbor Club
- Boardwalk Inn - Innkeepers Club
- Contemporary Resort - Atrium Club on the 12th floor and Tower Club on the 14th floor
- Grand Floridian Resort - Royal Palm Club and Sugar Loaf Key Club
- Polynesian Resort - King Kamehameha Club
- Wilderness Lodge Resort - Old Faithful Club
- Yacht Club Resort - Regatta Club
- Gran Destino Tower at Disney's Coronado Springs Resort - Chronos Club
What perks do you get when you stay Club Level?
Booking a room that is in the Club Level category will give you access to additional amenities that are only available to Club Level guests. The benefits for each resort may vary slightly, but in general you can expect:
Additional FastPass+ opportunities
All guests visiting Walt Disney World have access to 3 FastPass+ reservations per day. However, guests staying Club Level have the option to purchase 3 additional FastPasses per day.
As you can imagine, the price isn't cheap but this perk can be a huge time-saver.
Disney still bills this perk as a "pilot program" or test, but as of right now, here are the details:
- Cost is $50/day per person
- 3 day minimum purchase (so you're looking at a minimum of $150/person) but you get to select which 3 days you'd like (they don't have to be sequential)
- Not everyone on the reservation has to purchase them
- These FastPasses can be booked up to 90 days from your check out date (vs. the 60 days from your check in window "regular" FastPasses have for onsite guests)
- No FastPass+ tier restrictions in booking; however, you can't repeat the same attraction more than once using FastPass+
- If you have a Park Hopper ticket, you can book these FastPasses in multiple parks on the same day
- On the days you've selected for your purchased FastPass+ reservations you'll also be able to book your regular FastPass+ reservations (however, any guests on your reservation that aren't purchasing FastPasses will have to wait for the standard 60 day window to open up before selecting their 3 regular FastPasses)
On a recent trip, we found this option especially useful because over the 3 days we purchased them, one day it allowed us to ride both attractions in Pandora (Flight of Passage and Na'Vi River Journey) with FastPasses and the other 2 days, we used our 3 selections each day for the attractions in Toy Story Land (Slinky Dog Dash, Alien Swirling Saucers, and Toy Story Mania).
If we hadn't had these additional FastPass+ opportunities, the FastPass+ tiers that are in place in the parks would have limited us to only 1 FastPass+ in each of those lands/day, leaving us riding standby for the others.
Being able to skip all 3 lines for Toy Story Land attractions on Opening Day was a big deal - and a huge time saver.
With wait times frequently 200+ minutes, we might have found ourselves in very long lines (during the very hot summer months, I might add).
These additional FastPass+ reservations can be used in addition to the standard 3 FastPass+ options everybody gets, which brings your total to 6 FastPasses/day.
Assistance with planning your itinerary
In years past, Disney Club Level guests had access to what was called the Disney Itinerary Planning Office (IPO). These Cast Members were resort specific and would help guests book their FastPasses and Advanced Dining Reservations.
Now, Disney has centralized this perk into what they call Signature Services.
Signature Services can do everything that the old Itinerary Planning Offices could; however, they don't have any sort of magical special access for dining reservations or FastPasses that you can't see in My Disney Experience (except that they can see all available reservations at once instead of just a few at at time like what you see in the app or online).
In addition, Signature Services can't book your regular FastPass+ reservations or Advanced Dining Reservations any earlier than what you or your travel agent could book. And, since their office doesn't open until 9 am EST, if you wait for them to book for you, you'll be 2 hours behind everybody else that started booking right when the window opened at 7 am EST.
That delay could actually mean the difference between getting some of those hard-to-get reservations or not.
Your best bet (if you want somebody else to help you with those) is to book your reservation with a travel agent so that you'll have access to their free services and expertise.
Signature Services is, however, the people you'll want talk to if you'd like to book any of the tours Disney has to offer or if you had questions about your reservation or room requests, or if you'd like to purchase the additional FastPass+ opportunities.
Once you have booked your reservation, you can access Signature Services via email or phone:
Phone number: (407) 939-7777
Disney Club Level rooms are generally grouped onto separate floors or in some cases, separate buildings.
In order to access the Club Level buildings or floors, guests staying Club Level must use their Magic Bands.
While this is clearly not 100% secure, it does help to limit traffic flow.
Evening turndown service
Club Level guests receive both the traditional room servicing, plus an additional evening turndown service where your room is given a light once over and your bed linens are literally "turned down" (and chocolate is left on your pillow!) in preparation for sleeping.
Robes and slippers in the room & upgraded toiletries
Disney has been transitioning to wall-mounted dispensers for toiletries in many of their resorts, but that isn't the case in the Club Level rooms.
Club Level guests get upgraded H20 brand toiletries and, in addition to the standard shampoo, conditioner, and body wash, may also include things like bottles of sunblock, food lotion, solar cream, etc.
Club Level rooms also have plush robes and slippers for guests.
Complimentary newspapers and fax assistance
While not delivered to your door, Club Level guests will find plenty of complimentary newspapers available down near the lounge plus complimentary fax assistance.
Club Level check-in
If you are staying Club Level and arrive between the hours of 7 am - 10 pm, you'll be escorted to the Club Level floor or building to be checked in there, bypassing the line at the front desk.
Club Level Concierge Desk
If you find yourself needing assistance during your stay, there is a concierge desk available between the hours of 7 am - 10 pm.
The Cast Members working there are able to assist with things like tickets or dining reservations, transportation questions, help with your MagicBands, etc.
In case you have forgotten what you have planned for the day, or if you are just looking for a scrapbook-quality reminder from your trip, some resorts offer their Club Level guests full-color daily itineraries delivered to their room each evening.
Club Level Lounge
Probably the most well known aspect of staying Club Level is the Club Level Lounge.
The lounges offer guests staying Club Level a place to relax and unwind away from the hustle and bustle of a Disney vacation.
Inside the lounges you'll find tables and chairs, televisions, and usually an area for kids with their own sized stuff.
Some Club Lounges even offer fantastic views of the nighttime shows or the natural surroundings of the resort.
But, probably the main feature of the Club Lounge is the food and beverages.
Throughout the day guests can drop into the lounge to pick up breakfast, a snack, or even heavy hors d'oeuvres and desserts.
Schedules can differ from resort to resort, but typically you can expect it took something similar to this:
- Coffee: 6:30 am - 7:00 am
- Continental breakfast: 7:00 am - 10:30 am
- Light snacks: 11:30 am - 4:00 pm
- Hors d'ouevres & select beverages (wine and beer): 5:00 pm - 7:00 pm
- Desserts and cordials: 8:00 pm - 10:00 pm
All food offerings generally include both adult and kid-friendly choices.
And, if you have an allergy or food sensitivity the staff will work with you to ensure that you'll have safe options available.
In addition to canned sodas, tea, lemonade, punch, etc., in the evenings the lounges also offer a decent selection of complimentary alcohol including wines, beers, and cordials.
Finally, aside from the food and drinks offered, one of the best things about the Club Level Lounge is that it gives you a "home" on your travel dates. This is especially useful if you 1.) have a late flight out or an early flight in as your access to the lounge begins as soon as you check in (regardless of if your room is ready) and lasts through midnight of the day you check out. And 2.) if you're traveling with a group and want a place you can all gather.
Final thoughts on staying Club Level
- Lots of people will claim that by using the food offerings in the Club Level Lounge they actually save money. I'm not sure that the cost of the food offsets the increased cost of the room, but there are savings that can be had so be sure you check for discounts. Sometimes Club Level rooms can be booked at a discount for roughly the same price as a non-discounted standard room at the same resort.
- In some cases it may make sense to book a shorter vacation staying at a Club Level room so you can take advantage of the additional FastPass+ opportunities and maximize your limited time in the parks.
- While the planning services once offered provided an advantage for booking reservations, that really isn't the case now. For the most concierge-level service we recommend booking your room with a trusted travel agent that will help you plan and make your reservations for you.
- If your plan is to save money on food by using the Club Level Lounge for some meals, schedule any dining reservations for lunch since they typically only have snacks available during that time of the day.
- Club Level is great for guests that aren't planning to spend their entire day in the parks, so if you are a half-day kind of park touring family, Club Level might make sense since you'll be around more to take advantage of its benefits.
- If you are staying at a resort where the Club Level lounge has a nice view of fireworks (like the lounge at The Boardwalk Inn), make sure you try to catch the show from there at least once.
Have you ever stayed Club Level before? Tell us about how it went in the comments.