What are the Pros and Cons with Early Online Check-in for WDW

What are the Pros and Cons with Early Online Check-in for WDW

Guests visiting for the first time often ask whether they should utilize the online check-in or simply check-in as normal when they arrive at the resorts. There is no right or wrong answer to this question but to help here’s a quick rundown of the pros and cons I’ve encountered when using the service.

For those who are new to planning a Walt Disney World vacation, Disney gives all guests staying at an on-site resort the ability to check-in online up to 60-days in advance via your My Disney Experience account. Guests opting to use the service are able to provide details in advance which will speed up the check-in process so that your first memory of arriving at Disney is not waiting in long lines.


1. Let Disney know in advance when you’ll be arriving – Technically, the check-in for the resorts isn’t until 3 pm.  So what does that mean if you are arriving before 3?!  The online check-in service located on the My Disney Experience app allows guests to notify Disney on when they plan on arriving at the resort. For those arriving before 3 pm, this means that whenever possible, Disney may expedite the cleaning of your room so that you are able to check-in before 3 pm.  However, please be aware that this may not always happen or if you are traveling in a large party with multiple rooms you may not get rooms close to each other. Regardless of when you check-in, Disney will send a text message directly to your phone when your room is ready.

2. Bypass check-in lines – When using the Online check-in option in the app it allows you to provide Disney with some essential details in advance, such as arrival times and credit card details so that charging privileges can be added to your room.

3. Room requests – Online check-in also allows you to make a couple of generic requests on where you would like your room to be located, such as a landscape view or a lower level floor.  Disney doesn’t guarantee that your specific requests will be honored, however, in my experience, they work hard to try to accommodate as many of these preferences as possible.

4. Head straight to your room – Under Disney’s mobile notification service, Disney will text guests when your resort room is ready and if you already have your MagicBands, you can head directly to your resort room. Your MagicBand serves as your resort room key so you can let yourself right in. This is perfect for families who didn’t take advantage of the Magical Express yellow luggage tags, that have plans to head to the pool, or who want to get to the theme parks as quickly as possible.


1. Be careful with those room requests – Be careful with what you put in for accommodations on the room requests via the My Disney Experience app.   If you have paid for a preferred room but put in accommodations such as a Landscape view or second floor you may just end up with a less than ideal location for your room.

2. You miss the “Welcome Home” feeling – This is the biggest con for more.  I love to check-in at the front desk for this reason!  I love when they greet me and my family, tell me all about the amenities for where we are staying, give us a map, and a list of the events that will be occurring at the resort during our stay.  Plus, there is something very special about catching that first glimpse of the resort’s lobby that is immersed in the theming of your resort. Lastly, by skipping the Front Desk check-in process you may also miss out on important info.

3. MagicBands not linked properly – This is the most common complaint I get from guests who have opted for online check-in and went straight to their room. Not visiting the front desk at all can lead to the occasional problems with your MagicBands not working properly, although this has seemed to work its kinks out recently. However, if it does happen this could lead to a multitude of problems, such as not able to enter into your room or charge items to their room. When you check-in at the front desk, the cast members double-check these problems before you head off to your next destination.

4. Free upgrades – This special little showering of pixie dust doesn’t happen often, however,  your chances are less if you skip the Front Desk check-in completely.  If you should want to take your chances and ask for an upgrade, just head straight to the on-line check-in queue when you arrive at your resort.

So tell us, do you typically use online check-in or are you new to the check-in process?  Tell us in the comments!

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Jessica Jones

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