Walt Disney World is always working on new ways to enhance your stay. Technology has played a big part in the most recent enhancements. One service that I often get questions about is the Online Check-In option for Walt Disney World Hotels.
What is Online Check-In?
- Online Check-in is available to all Walt Disney World Resort Hotel guests through your My Disney Experience account.
- It is available as early as 60 days prior to arrival
- You can choose your estimated arrival and departure times, put a credit card number on file for charges made with your Magic Band during your stay, create a pin and assign charging privileges, and make special room requests.
- You can also request a text when your room is ready by putting in your cell phone number. You can essentially skip the whole front desk visit altogether since the text gives you your room number so you can go straight to your room and use your magic band to enter.
- Online check-in does not mean your room will be ready any earlier than the published check-in time. But, in my experience using online check-in, our room was certainly ready a bit earlier than the published check-in time.
- Avoid long lines at the registration desk and maybe even skip the desk altogether (see tips below)
- In my experience, I have always received at least one of my room requests made during the online check in process
- Go straight to the parks instead of checking in at the registration desk
- You still have to go to the Registration desk to get your parking pass if you drive. The front desk also has a welcome packet for you and they will call you to come pick it up if you don’t touch base at the front desk.
- In my experience, they don’t tell you what it is when they call, instead you are told that there is something for you at the front desk and then it takes at least 10-20 minutes to stand in line and get it. It’s usually the resort map and similar info to what you will find in the room. So, skip it unless you want it for the scrapbook.
- You will still have to go to the Concierge Desk or the Registration Desk to pick up any celebration buttons or to deal with any magic band issues.
- We had a problem with not everyone on the reservation being authorized to charge to the magic bands. We also had an issue where the wrong credit card was authorized for charging privileges. So, despite online check in, we visited the Concierge desk multiple times the first night.
- I miss the personal touch of speaking with a Cast Member at check-in when I use online check in.
You can see that there are pros and cons of online check-in. I enjoy speaking to the Cast Members and have found it much easier to communicate any special needs or questions in person at check-in. That being said, I think there is a time and place for online check-in.
If you are returning to a resort where you have previously stayed and feel comfortable with the setup and how to get around, then I think online check in could work well. If you drove, you can make a quick trip to the Concierge desk (which usually has shorter lines) and get a parking pass printed.
If you do use Online Check-in, be sure to make any desired room requests. In my experience, they are very good about honoring what they can. Also, many have reported receiving the text with the resort room number en route to Walt Disney World which enables you to go straight to your room, or if you wish, head straight to the parks first.
However, if you are visiting Walt Disney World or the Resort Hotel for the first time, I recommend letting your travel agent put in specific room requests and avoiding online check in. This will ensure a smooth check-in process, allow you to get your bearings at the resort, and have all your questions answered before you head to your room.
Aleshia Sokoloski, Travel Agent affiliated with Travel with the Magic
Specializing in Universal Resorts and Disney Vacations including Disneyland, Walt Disney World, Adventures by Disney, and Disney Cruise Line.