Walt Disney Company Surveys Guests Regarding Resort Fees

Yesterday we posted about an Orlando Sentinel piece that said that the Walt Disney Company was surveying guests about their thoughts on resort fees - and the fandom is up in arms. This follows an in depth Orlando Sentinel piece back in February that discussed how high resort fees in Orlando change some tourists' hotel plans. But what is a resort fee, and why is Disney all of a sudden talking about adding one?

Grand 1 Yacht at Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & SpaDisney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa

The hospitality industry first began seeing resort fees begin to pop up in the 1990's as a way for properties to recoup the money put into their facilities that wasn't usually covered in figuring a cost of the hotel room. When I was studying for a degree in hospitality, one of the base calculations we learned was that 3-5% of the room night cost should be directed to facilities care and enhancement. However - as guests began to demanded more and more amenities be available to win their booking, hotels needed to step up their game with pools, fitness center, business amenities, shuttles, free phone calls, internet services and the like, resort fees were introduced to cover operating costs for any new service that went above and beyond those of a regular hotel. This made total sense for a standard hotel with basic offerings (that unlike Disney doesn't usually raise rates every year) which decided that it had to add resort-like amenities to keep up.

Disney Resorts though - well - those have never been just regular hotels. Walt Disney World hotels were designed to have resort facilities, and go above and beyond from the get-go. Their very purpose was to take a vacationer out of reality and plunk them down into the magic with full service luxury and impeccable attention to detail. Because of this, things that the rest of the hotel industry covers with resort fees, are already built in to Disney's operating expenses. Disney resort hotels have always cost more than hotels off property because they have always come with certain special perks, and Disney has never shied away from increasing room rates every year to make sure that those expenses are covered. Because of that, the current survey and rumors that resort fees could be a possibility, are rubbing fans the wrong way.

The Grand Floridian Has Luxurious Large Guest RoomsThe Grand Floridian Has Luxurious Large Guest Rooms

Travelers used to Disney's all inclusive pricing may wonder - just how does a resort fee work? It's actually pretty simple, if you know what to expect. A resort fee is an added charge guests pay per night on their hotel stay.

  • For instance if you book a room at $100 for one night and there is a $15 resort fee, your room really costs $115 per night.
  • If you book a room at $100 a night for 5 nights, and there is a $15 resort fee, $115 a night comes out to your room costing $575 instead of just $500.

With the roll-out of MyMagic+ all of the Disney Resort Properties did have to do some wide ranging upgrades in order to launch the new RFID enabled features. All resort doors got new high tech locks, all of the point of sales spots were also RFID enhanced, wi-fi (which used to cost $10 a night) became free across property, and each guest now gets sent a MagicBand prior to arrival.

But should these really be added in as a resort fee? These additional costs could really just be figured into the standard room night operating budget.

Made From A Flexible Hypoallergenic, Non-latex MaterialMade From A Flexible Hypoallergenic, Non-latex Material

While for many properties, resort fees have become the norm it doesn't mean that it's the right way for Disney to go. Resort fees are often considered a "hidden cost," difficult to find for travelers who don't do their research, and in my opinion kind of a shady business practice. Resort fees are rarely included in internet price searches, and unsuspecting guests are often surprised by them upon check-out. I want to see Disney staying up front about their costs, and continue to offer a premium inclusive experience with on-property "perks" worked right into the cost per room night. Only time will tell.

How do you feel about the possibility of Resort Fees added to Walt Disney World hotel stays?

Lisa B. wrote on Fri, 03/11/2016 - 13:28:

Lisa B.'s picture

I am absolutely against Disney adding a Resort Fee. It's bad enough they raise ticket prices twice a year now this! That is what sets Disney apart from Universal! Universal charges for everything! Disney is getting so greedy! All the separate ticketed events (All the different dessert parties, Club Villain and etc.). It is getting so out of hand. The hotels in Vegas do this - they even charged us $25.00 early check in fee because we got to our hotel at 9:30am and check in was 3:00pm. If this is a glimpse into the future of Disney, I will have to find a new destination for my vacation!

Shannon wrote on Fri, 03/11/2016 - 16:08:

Shannon's picture

I must agree with those fans who are upset about this. I live close enough for it not to matter what they do with hotels, but I routinely recommend Disney Resort Hotels because of their superior service and honest pricing. They charge the necessary amount to cover costs and make the profit they want. No hidden "resort" fees or ridiculous parking fees; just the cost of the room. Disney needs to seriously consider if this is an image they would like to tarnish.

John wrote on Fri, 03/11/2016 - 17:07:

John's picture

Just got back from Las Vegas the resort fee has put me off going back for ever 224 dollars for my week wifi pool and gym. I used the wifi so never will I go back

Summer wrote on Fri, 03/11/2016 - 17:27:

Summer's picture

I'm confused as to why they would put this to a survey of guests? I can't imagine too many guests saying "YES! This is a great idea, I can't wait to pay more!!!" Or maybe it was just more of a "heads up...start getting used to this idea" for everyone since it seems like ALOT of things they put forth in surveys seem to come to fruition.

Cindi wrote on Fri, 03/11/2016 - 17:46:

Cindi's picture

Just a quick thought on this. I have been taking my kids and grandkids to WDW every year for decades. Add those trips to the trips just my husband and I go, that brings it up to 2 or 3 times a year, staying on property, eating all our meals there. And lets not forget all the money we spend every trip on "stuff". It is just about out of our reach now, before adding any extra fees. If this affects us, just imagine how many more are thinking the exact same thing. Maybe it is getting to be time for us to take our vacation dollars and see the real world instead of Disney World.

Wendy wrote on Fri, 03/11/2016 - 19:25:

Wendy's picture

We have been annual passholders for about 9 years because we love Disney and that's what we like to go & do. I know many hotels off property charge resort fees & parking fees which is one reason we always stay at Disney. I think paying to park at a hotel you are staying at is crazy especially for self parking. If they start to charge resort fees also I will be really crushed. I know prices go up on everything in the world all the time but it is getting extremely expensive to go to Disney and as a die hard Disney fan I am saddened by the fact I am finding it difficult to be happy with Disney lately.

ChristineS wrote on Fri, 03/11/2016 - 19:37:

ChristineS's picture

Perhaps they are lookig to cut back on attendance a little. I have been a passholder for the past 3 years and the attendance has seen to bump up tremendously. It makes going a little less appealing. I think this would cater to that. However, I'm not in favor of paying more.

julieb2 wrote on Fri, 03/11/2016 - 20:05:

julieb2's picture

With all these resort fees and ticket increases, WDW will only be for the rich.
Mr. Disney must be rolling in his grave, this was suppose to be family oriented,
not any more! what a shame how greedy things have gotten in Disney. Shame, shame

Jimi wrote on Fri, 03/11/2016 - 20:30:

Jimi's picture

Why should Disney NOT charge this and raise their prices twice a year? People pay it. Lines are long all year long but people keep paying it. Of course I'm against it but people pay it so don't expect it to ever end until people stop showing up.

Len wrote on Fri, 03/11/2016 - 20:40:

Len's picture

We have been going to WDW since 1988. It's getting to the point
Where we are down to 1x a year. These extra fees, I'm guessing are to pay for the Shanghai Parks, and the bailout of Disney Paris.
We don't need to pay extra fees with the prices as there are now.

mcoaddict wrote on Fri, 03/11/2016 - 21:06:

mcoaddict's picture

I really dislike resort fees. To me it feels sneaky and dishonest. Like hotels are hoping people won't notice until it's too late, which is what often happens. I would rather Disney roll it into the cost of my room and just call it the room rate.

ElizVan wrote on Fri, 03/11/2016 - 21:19:

ElizVan's picture

Why are these times for other posts still in the future--later today? What time zone are you in? Wouldn't even be America.

Teresa wrote on Fri, 03/11/2016 - 21:59:

Teresa's picture

I am a little upset about the resort fees. There is a reason why we do not stay at Universal when we visit the parks. My husband has to have a car because he goes to treatment when we are there. So this is something we have to have and not want so that we can get around easier. If they start to charge people for resort guest to me it does not make sense, That is one reason why we do not go to Hawaii and visit the resort there. I am a firm believer that if you are staying on site you should not have to pay to park. This is going to be one more thing that we are going to have to pay and it will just keep going up But I will be going anyway.

Josh wrote on Sat, 03/12/2016 - 01:57:

Josh's picture

I am against resort fees. I think we pay enough as it is in regular hotel rates, park admissions, and concessions. Every year things get more expensive, and I feel like the public sees less return on the money they pay out. The parks aren't as clean, the food isn't as good, the hotels are nearly as bad as roach motels off property that are worth half the price. In fact, the last time I stayed at a Disney hotel (the Art of Animation). The room hadn't been properly cleaned, the sheets hadn't been changed, there were burned out light bulbs that were never changed despite being reported, and to top it off the door lock didn't work right. How exactly does Disney feel like they can justify adding more fees to their already exorbitant ones? Not to mention that they've just rolled out their seasonal pricing. It's ridiculous of them to continue raising their prices, and adding new fees when all their going to succeed in doing in the long run is pricing themselves out of a large portion of their target demographic.

Stefanie wrote on Sat, 03/12/2016 - 14:00:

Stefanie's picture

I am in the Bahamas right now for the first time at the Atlantis. I actually came here straight from Disney (unbelievably they were both work-related trips) but I am a frequent Disney visitor. I'm very put off by the resort fee down here and how much you have to pay for every item. At Disney I appreciate I know what the price will be - the transparency. The thing with resort feed is even if you don't use any of the amenities you have no choice but to pay them to stay there. The last 3 times I stayed at Disney hotels the wi-fi didn't work in the room (even when they supposedly fixed it) and it would come and go on main property. While I often travel there for fun and vacation, when I travel for business I may not use any of the pools, transportation, etc., so why should I pay extra. The rooms get more and more expensive. The park tickets keep going up. But I like others have started going other places when I would have gone to Disney. And while I usually added a day or two for vacation before or after a Disney work trip (or headed to the parks after meetings let out) I stayed at the resort and got work done, then headed to the Bahamas. I am getting a little overwhelmed by the cost of it all at Disney.

Caragiz wrote on Sat, 03/12/2016 - 14:33:

Caragiz's picture

We have always stayed on Disney property even though the rooms are typically smaller and far more expensive than off-site resorts because of the amenities that the Disney resorts already offer in their present rates. Since we are on Disney property we don't go to the other Orlando area attractions but rather stay for 10-14 days and enjoy the parks and other hotels on-site. We don't drive a car there so we use the transportation - but then anyone can use the Disney transportation - you don't have to be a resort guest. We can book FPs sooner, but that as far as we are concerned already included in the resort nightly costs, which as I said, are already premium rates. Should Disney implement resort fees in addition to their nightly rates I would seriously consider staying off-site as the advantage of a Disney stay would no longer exist unless we pay more and get less. With the ever large percentage increases in park tickets and food costs that happen each year (and sometimes more than once in a year) staying off-site is attractive and we would explore the Orlando area more and spend less time at the parks. Tired of being gouged!

Kim Ewasko wrote on Sat, 03/12/2016 - 22:49:

Kim Ewasko's picture

The stay on Disney property two times a year, last year a record 31 night, going all the way to Aulani Resort in Hawaii. I did not choose any other resort in hawaii due to "resort fees" they charge. The wilderness lodge pool was under renovation while I stayed there. The Polynesian pool was under construction when I stayed there. I will be staying at Bay Laje Tower next week, and I just received a letter from Disney, you got it.... The pool is being renovated! I am not getting a discounted price due to LACK of amenities offered. Disney stop sticking it to the people!!!

David M. wrote on Sun, 03/13/2016 - 01:10:

David M.'s picture

Just call a spade a spade! Disney can increase the resort prices by $15-$25 and it would not phase their business. Most people would consider the increased pricing as an additional crowd control measure. Add a fee and you will cause a problem for principled patrons, many who feel nickel and dimed by every other resort and retailer in the world. Disney is better than that! Seriously, Disney is better than every other option out there. Why swim in the sea of sameness? Just because you can charge a resort fee, doesn't mean you should! Your simple, upfront pricing differentiates you from some of the other nice resorts in the Orlando area. The fact that you are asking for customer feedback is a good sign that you know it's a bad idea.

Michelle wrote on Sun, 03/13/2016 - 09:58:

Michelle's picture

I'm wondering if this is just for Walt Disney World or for all their Resorts? Because if they tried to charge $15 a day resort fee in Anaheim OMG I think the guests would come unglued. But I don't think Disney should EVER charge a guest a resort fee! Walt would have never wanted that. I mean seriously, if they want to charge us more just add to the room rate. Why would they be so dumb to think we would be okay with us be charged with a resort in any shape or form. This seems completely idiotic! The really need to re-evaluate their research and development department. Because they have completely gone off their meds.....NO RESORT FEES DISNEY!!!

Jay in SC wrote on Sun, 03/13/2016 - 18:52:

Jay in SC's picture

Resort fees are a scam. Plain and simple. Look into the hotels on the Vegas Strip. Resort fees are $25-$35 a day, and for that "fee" you get a local newspaper, bottle of water, gym access, free wifi, free local calls, etc. No way you can opt out of any of these "amenities" either. This fee per day lets the hotel charge a lower daily rate for their room, helping out when you search for a hotel room on Orbitz, Expedia, etc.

This is the main reason I haven't gone back to Las Vegas in the past 3 years. If Disney goes to this policy, that will mean no more staying on property for me. I can get a nice hotel, not that far from the parks for a MUCH cheaper price.

Don't be fooled. We are already paying for Magic Bands, Magical Express, etc right now. It's built into the price you're paying per night. Disney isn't just giving these perks away for free.

UK visitor wrote on Mon, 03/14/2016 - 10:05:

UK visitor's picture

Obviously this will be an unpopular move but may happen anyway.

Be interesting to see if this would be applied to DVC members 'paying' by their points. We already pay annual dues to Disney supposedly to pay for the upkeep of the properties.

Kristen K. wrote on Mon, 03/14/2016 - 13:31:

Kristen K.'s picture

UK Visitor, I wondered the same thing, and I don't think that they will. As a DVC Member I already pay annual dues that cover maintenance, manpower, and the like. When things like housekeeping and valet parking have been removed in the past it has been by a vote of the members. While members expect hikes in their dues every year, I think that they would have a serious problem with the resort fee, and if we were subject to a resort fee, they'd better add back premium services like parking and daily housekeeping that DVC members don't have at this point.

Lizzi wrote on Tue, 03/15/2016 - 14:45:

Lizzi's picture

Most properties that charge resort fees also have guest rewards, reward clubs or credit card perks. Disney offers nothing for your loyalty. We will often pay a little bit more to stay onsite rather than say a much 'nicer' resort like a Hilton or Starwood property just for the experience. If Disney starts charging a resort fee on top of prices that dramatically outweigh similar hotels and not offering a loyalty reward or other perk (which makes me laugh because no way is that happening!) the balance will be tipped for us and we will exclusively be staying "off property" from now on. The downtown Disney and Bonnet creek non-Disney resorts are closer to some of our favorite areas than even many Disney resorts so its not much of a loss.
Also I am pretty sure the resort fee is TAXABLE which makes it far more than $15-$25 a day!

Kenneth wrote on Sun, 03/20/2016 - 01:38:

To add a Resort Fee that is already covered by room rates does not seem to be right. In addition, the concept of resort fees is there are not very visible until after it is to late to make adjustments and then a very bad taste is left in the customers mouth.

Resort fees are Un-DISNEY!

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly. If you have a Gravatar account associated with the e-mail address you provide, it will be used to display your avatar.

More information about formatting options