When planning a Disney World vacation there are a lot of things to think about. One of those things is where to stay.
A lot of people struggle with this decision, because while they want to stay on property, staying off property can save some money. The best thing to do is to make a list (I’m big on Disney lists). Include pros and cons for each option to help with your decision.
Staying Off Property
There are multiple options for those that want to stay off property. There are lots of condo rentals in the area. Some of the rentals have themed rooms and a lot of them will have pools (it is Florida after all). Having your own pool is nice, because you don’t have to worry about it being over crowded. If you stay in a condo you will also have the use of a full kitchen and a washer and dryer. Plus, you don’t have to worry about other guests being loud near your room.
If you decide to stay in a hotel that is off Disney property there are lots to choose from in the area. Some of them have fun themed pools, so you still kind of feel like you are in Disney World. The area hotels also have shuttles to and from the theme parks. Make sure to check the shuttle schedule when you check in, so you know how often it runs.
The prices for staying off property tend to be less, which is why a lot of people choose to stay off property. A lot of people feel that they get more for their money, which is why there are so many off property options.
So, there are some good points to staying off property.
Staying On Property
Disney World has over 30 resort hotels to choose from when booking your trip. They have four different categories of hotels: Value Resorts, Moderate Resorts, Deluxe Resorts, and Deluxe Villa Resorts. As you go up in categories there will be more included at the hotel and in your room. For instance, Value Resorts do not have waterslides at the pools, but the other categories of hotels do have waterslides. Another example is that the Deluxe Villa Resorts will have either a kitchenette in the studio rooms or a full kitchen in the 1 and 2-bedroom suites.
Some other perks to staying on property include the transportation to and from your resort. If you are staying at a hotel off property, and it has a shuttle, you will be able to get a shuttle to and from your resort. However, non-Disney shuttles tend to be farther out and have stricter schedules of when they drop off and pick up.
Another transportation bonus is that Disney Resort guests will also receive a parking pass and do not have to pay to park at any of the theme parks or waterparks. So if you stay off property keep in mind that you will have to pay to park at the theme parks and water parks.
Disney Resort guests can take advantage of Extra Magic Hours. Everyday one of the four theme parks is open either earlier in the morning or later at night. So if the Extra Magic Hours are from 8 am – 9 am then Disney Resort guests can get to the park at 8, but those staying off property will have to wait until the official park opening.
The Magical Express is another bonus to staying on property. If you are flying into Orlando International Airport and staying at a Disney Resort then you can take advantage of this free transportation service to and from the airport. They will even get your checked bags for you and bring them to your room! It’s really nice to have your luggage just show up in your room.
Making the List
When you start making your list, think about the things that are most important to you. If a lower price is the most important thing then put that at the top. If convenience/location are important to you then put that on the list and go from there.
Planning a Disney World vacation can be a little overwhelming, especially if you have never been there. Sometimes writing things down on paper can help calm the stress of planning and deciding on a resort.
I’ve added a list to both of our Facebook groups, Countdown for Disney App and Main Street Wishes. There are other helpful files in the groups as well. Feel free to print out the list and use it to help you decide.
The bottom line is that no matter where you stay you will be in or near Disney and that’s always a good thing. So try not to stress too much when making the decision on where to stay. The magic won’t be far away.
What is your preference when staying in Disney World?
Thanks for reading!
Our 2-family group of 7 will be travelling to Orlando in January for our second Disney vacation. In both instances we have opted to rent a Villa off property rather than stay at a resort.
Cost was certainly a deterring factor, as it is much more economical to split the cost of a villa & vehicle, then to do it on your own (on or off property).
Privacy was another thing that came into play for us. After the hustle & bustle of the parks, we wanted to be able to unwind without a lot of people around. Our villa (s) allow for that, by affording lots of space to spread out, and our own pool $ hot tub.
Because we are off properly, we have to have a vehicle, which allows a lot of freedom to explore The Orlando area.
Finally because of the amount we saved from staying off properly & splitting our costs with another family, we were able to lengthen our stay from 5-6 days to 9 the first trip & a full two weeks this trip.
Are there downsides to staying off property? Yes, absolutely… I think we might loose out on some of the Magic by not staying on resort. You miss out on the easy transport to & from parks, along with the extra Magic hours & the ability to purchase a dining plan. Though some of these things (the last 2 in particular) are things we might have enjoyed being able to take part in, for us anyway, the pro’s off staying off property far outweigh the cons.