Disney’s streaming service, Disney Plus, releases episodes for their biggest hit series on a weekly basis with the goal to stop binge-watching and keep users coming back frequently. So when I was planning my next trip to Walt Disney World, I realized that in order to watch the new episode of The Mandalorian, I’d need to find a way to stream Disney Plus at my hotel. It seems obvious that Disney Plus would be available at Disney Hotels. But in reality Disney Plus is actually not available at most of the Disney Resort Hotels.
Disney Plus streaming is only available at Disney’s Riviera Resort, and Gran Destino Tower at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort. Disney Plus is not offered for free at any of the Disney Hotels, but you can connect your own Disney Plus account to the smart TVs at these two resorts.
Disney Plus is only offered at Riviera Resort and Gran Destino Tower currently because they are the two newest resorts on property. And therefore have the newest, high-tech features like the new smart TVs. But if you’re not able to stay at one of these deluxe priced resorts, you can still stream Disney Plus, or watch Disney content, on your hotel TV with one of the alternatives that I share later on in this article. Keep reading for all of the details about streaming Disney Plus at Disney Hotels that you never realized.
Disney Plus Steaming is Only Available on TVs at Two Disney Resort Hotels Currently
Although many hotels across the globe have been converting their older TVs to new, high-tech smart TVs, Disney is still a bit behind on this trend. Disney’s Gran Destino Tower at Coronado Springs Resort and Disney’s Riviera Resort are the two newest Disney Resort Hotels, both opened in 2019, and the only Disney hotels currently with the new smart TVs.
It is important to distinguish that only the Gran Destino Tower at Coronado Springs Resort has the smart TVs with the streaming feature. The standard rooms at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort only have regular TVs that do not support streaming Disney Plus (unless you bring your own streaming device which I have covered in detail further in this article).
Check out this 2 minute YouTube video for a glimpse at the new smart TVs in use at Gran Destino Tower. The Disney Cast Member in the video states that these smart TVs will be in all standard rooms at Disney’s Coronado Springs in 2019, but that actually did not happen. Standard rooms at Coronado Springs are still awaiting the upgrade for now.
Will Disney Plus Streaming Come To Other Disney Hotels?
Despite what the Disney Cast Member in the video above about the smart TVs says, all of the other Walt Disney World hotels have not yet gotten the upgrade. While I do think that this absolutely will happen, I do not think it will happen in the near future.
Because, as Disney deals with the effects caused by the Coronavirus closures, it becomes less and less likely that Disney will move quickly on upgrading their hotels to include Disney Plus streaming.
Disney has already quietly stopped working on the new Reflections Lakeside Lodge Resort that was planned to be opened around 2022. Although some construction had started in late 2019 and early 2020; all construction there has ceased for the time being – with no word from Disney about the project.
All that to say, Disney is strapped for cash right now and upgrading the TVs in their hotels has got to be on the bottom of their to-do list. Although I am hopeful that they will make these changes after we start to see some recovery from the pandemic.
Alternative Options To Watch Disney Plus or Similar Content at Your Disney Hotel
There are over 20 Disney Resort Hotels on property at Walt Disney World, and only 2 of those have smart TVs. So chances are you will be staying at a Disney hotel without a smart TV and with no way to stream Disney Plus to your hotel room TV. Except, you can still stream Disney Plus if you plan ahead and bring your own device. Or you can still watch Disney movies and TV shows through other, more standard, methods.
Bring Your Own Device Like a Chromecast, Firestick, or Apple TV
If you have your own streaming device like a Chromecast, Firestick, Apple TV, Roku, or something similar, you can bring that device to your Disney Hotel to stream Disney plus (or anything else) that way. All Disney Resort Hotels have TVs with accessible HDMI ports which is all you need to set up your own streaming device in your hotel room.
Recently I have seen reports that some Disney hotels have the ability to mirror your phone to the TV. But everyone I’ve talked to about it said t hey could never get it to actually work. So you may see this floating around out there, and it could work. But I would not count on it and would instead bring my own streaming device in order to be sure I’d be able to stream in my hotel room.
But Can Disney WiFi Handle Streaming Via Your Own Device?
For those of you who have ever experienced the spinning wheel of buffering death, I’m sure your first thought is that Disney’s free WiFi could never be good enough to stream Disney Plus on my own. Except, surprisingly, Disney Resorts’ free WiFi is actually decent enough to stream without issue.
I have streamed Disney Plus shows on my Disney Hotel TV using my Chromecast before with no problem. Of course, your mileage may vary. But we will do anything necessary to make sure we see the new episode of The Mandalorian before it’s ruined by internet spoilers, right?!
Watch Disney Movies Under the Stars at Disney Hotels on Select Nights
One great benefit of staying on Walt Disney World property at a Disney Resort is all of the extra amenities that a Disney hotel provides. All of the Disney hotels have a recreation program that includes fun activities by the pool and throughout the resort – one of those being the “Movies Under the Stars Nights.”
This is a program where Disney hotels show a Disney movie outside on an inflatable movie screen. Usually this is near the resort’s pool so you can swim and watch, or sometimes it’s in a larger grassy area of the resort where you can spread out a blanket and relax. Either way, most Disney hotels have “Movies Under the Stars” a few times per week. So if you’re just looking to watch a Disney movie after a long day in the parks, you won’t even need Disney Plus if you catch one of these “Movies Under the Stars.”
*”Movies Under the Stars” is still currently being offered at Disney hotels during the Coronavirus pandemic. But check with the front desk to be sure of the movie times and for any changes.
Watch Special Disney Programming on the Regular TV Channels, Like the Famous “Must Do Disney”
Maybe outdoor movies aren’t your jam. I get it – I would rather relax alone in my room most nights too. In that case, you can still watch Disney content on the regular TV channels in your Disney hotel room. You’ll definitely get the Disney channel, plus you’ll be able to watch the special TV channels that only exist in Disney hotel rooms.
For the love of Mickey Mouse, do not miss the famous “Must Do Disney” channel on your Disney Resort TV. This is a special channel that gives an overview of everything you could do on your Disney vacation. “Must Do Disney” is a staple among Disney fans, and many of us will just leave that channel running for our whole trip. It is a quintessential Disney experience to watch “Must Do Disney” in your hotel before or after a long park day – no Disney Plus required!
Inquire About Free DVD Rentals at the Resort Front Desk (for DVC Resorts Only)
Lastly, if you’re staying at a DVC (Disney Vacation Club) Resort, you can inquire at the front desk about DVD rentals. These DVD rentals are complimentary, but are only available at DVC Resorts. Most DVC Resorts offer the full collection of Disney movies on DVD for rent, so this is a good option to replace movies if you’re staying at a DVC Resort.
But keep in mind that you can’t watch Disney TV shows via DVD Rentals (obviously). So you may want to consider bringing your own streaming device like I recommended earlier if you’re looking for flexibility in your choices.