Pros and Cons to Staying On Property at Disney World
Updated: Feb 26
One of the first steps to planning your #DisneyWorld vacation will be figuring out where to stay when you are in Orlando. The biggest decision will be if you want to stay on Disney property or if you would prefer to stay off-property. You might think that staying on Disney property is a necessity but we have never stayed on Disney property even though we have been on at least 15 wonderful Disney vacations over the years. We also have a podcast about this topic available on our podcast page or through this link: Pros and Cons of Disney World Property Podcast Let's take a closer look at some of the pros and cons of staying on and off property.
Pros for Staying On Disney Property
* Ability to book fastpasses up to 60 days in advance of your trip
* Complimentary MagicBands (they are about $15 each on shopdisney.com)
* Extra Magic Hours (you get one extra hour each day of your trip at a Disney park prior the park opening to off property guests)
* Complimentary transportation from the airport & free parking (transportation between the Disney parks and resorts is free regardless of where you stay)
* You can book package deals where you get tickets, hotel and dining for one price
* The hotels are fantastic and you never have to leave the magic of Disney
* Convenience and proximity to all of the parks and other Disney resorts
Cons for Staying On Disney Property
* Cost is higher than most off-property options
* No free breakfast at any of the Disney resort hotels
* More difficult to do anything other than Disney once you are on property
* Shortage of lodging options for large families other than the expensive villas
Pros for Staying Off Disney Property
* Typically a significantly lower cost to stay off-property
* Many regular hotels offer free breakfast
* More flexibility to do other things in Orlando, such as Universal Studios
* Transportation between the parks and resorts is free regardless of where you stay
* You can potentially book a much larger place such as a timeshare or VRBO home
* If you purchase a multi-day ticket for 3 days or more you will get one Magic Morning which is an extra hour in one of the parks prior to park opening
Cons for Staying Off Disney Property
* You can only reserve fastpasses 30 days in advance of your trip
* You will need to rent a car, use Uber or have other transportation to the parks
* If you drive to the parks you have to pay for parking (about $22 per day)
* Lack of proximity to the Disney Parks
Let's Talk About Disney Property
All of the Disney resort hotels are great. Disney has separated their resort options into 4 tiers according to cost and amenities. The 4 tiers are: value, moderate, deluxe and villa resorts. The value resorts are the most affordable, prices start in the mid $100 range per night. These resorts offer fewer amenities and they are not as extravagantly themed as the more expensive hotels. The next tier is the moderate resorts, which start in the mid $200 range per night, and they offer themed rooms, more pools and more elaborate dining options than the lowest tier. The third tier includes the deluxe resorts starting in the $400-$500 range per night. These resorts offer signature dining, room service, elaborate decor in the rooms and throughout the resorts. We had the opportunity to dine at the Wilderness Lodge (one of the deluxe resorts) on our last Disney World vacation and it was amazing. The resort was beautiful and the food was outstanding. I've included a few photos of our visit below. If you click the arrow on the right you can scroll through all of the photos. The resort was decorated for Christmas at the time of our visit and it was magical. Disney also offers Villa resorts which are multi room accommodations that include kitchens or kitchenettes and they are spacious enough to sleep large parties. These villa resorts start in the $500-$600 range per night and go up from there depending on the size of the unit. Disney has a page on their website where you can compare resorts side by side and see all of the amenities offered at each one. Please visit the Compare Resorts page for your upcoming trip and see what will work best for your family.
Let's Talk about Staying Off-Property
As I said earlier, the off-property option has been our go to for lodging on our many Walt Disney World vacations. Our main reason for choosing off property is the cost savings. Every time we have been to WDW we have traveled there with my parents and they own several timeshares and they have been able to book great places for us. We love the timeshares because everyone has their own bed and sometimes even their own bedroom! I've included a photo below of a birthday party we had for my son who turned 12 the week we were at Disney. We made pizza, bought a cake and celebrated with our family at the timeshare. This timeshare was beautiful and very spacious. I wish I had thought to take more photos of the accommodations. I guess I was too focused on Disney Parks photos that week, ha! For better photos of the Hilton Grand Vacations at Tuscany Villages click the highlighted text. One great thing about a timeshare is you get to enjoy a large space but another perk is having a kitchen to make your own meals. When we stay in Orlando my dad makes us a huge breakfast and we try to fill up before we leave for the Disney parks. That way we don't have to buy as much food in the parks. I guess that would be a bummer for those who love to eat Disney food. Hey, we love Disney food too but we also love to save $ where we can and my dad makes a great breakfast.
If you don't have the option of booking a timeshare our second choice for an off property place would be to book a hotel through priceline.com this is our go to site for hotel reservations in any city around the USA. We have always been able to find great deals and nice hotels when we chose a 2 star or better hotel. Most of the 2 and 3 star hotels also offer free breakfast when you book a room so that's a huge bonus for us. Getting some free meals during your Disney vacation will save you a significant amount of money on your trip. You might even chose to splurge on a character dining experience one day if you feel like you are spending less by getting free breakfasts at your hotel. Another #TravelTip that will #SaveMoney on a Walt Disney World vacation would be that if you stay off property you should choose the one park per day option when buying your tickets. The one park per day tickets are so much cheaper than the park hopper option. When you stay off property it is easiest to just drive to one park per day anyway because getting back to your vehicle when you've hopped to other parks will be a hassle. We don't mind driving to one park each day, paying a little to park and then riding the tram to and from the entrance. We prefer to stay at one park for a whole day anyway because in our opinion it wastes ride time when you hop around to multiple parks in one day at Disney World.
Summer is right around the corner. Are you ready for the heat? Disney fans love these cooling towels and water misters for the parks. And don't forget the sunscreen. These are great products for summer at home too! These are Amazon links and if you purchase something I get a small commission at no cost to you. You get the same regularly low Amazon prices. Thanks!
Other Great Lodging Options
There are also many other great options for places to stay in Orlando, FL! I wanted to quickly highlight a few of them. I recently found a great way to book a Disney Vacation Club (DVC) resort without joining the DVC. There are a couple of options for renting DVC points: Dave's Vacation Club Rentals or the DVC Rental Store and they both have Orlando options, Southern CA and 3 beach resorts. Dave's also has a Disney cruise swap option. Renting points is not a frugal lodging option but it is a great way to enjoy a fabulous vacation and live like a DVC owner without the commitment. There's also a company in Orlando called Incredible Vacation Homes that rents large luxury homes. If you have a large travel party or you just want a luxurious place to stay this could be a great option for you. Of course, if you want a less expensive way to enjoy a larger space than a hotel room and/or you have a large party you can check out VRBO through the link below or on our SHOP Page. VRBO is also a great way to rent out your own home when you are away on vacation. Just a note that VRBO is an affiliate link so I could make a small commission at no cost to you if you sign up. Thanks for your support of Destination Families!
Free Packing List
I have created a free download with our Disney parks travel checklist (see below). This list includes all of our 10 essential items for every family trip on the left and our 10 essential items for Disney Parks on the right. Please see our packing blogs for more details about each item on the list: 10 Things to Bring to Disney Parks and 10 Things We Bring on Every Family Trip.
Let's Keep In touch
Thanks for reading this and please check out our Other Disney Blogs and follow us for more travel tips on Our FB Page, Instagram, Pinterest, and YouTube! A fellow Disney blogger and Jenny have started a podcast all about Disney vacations called Disney Budget Disney Big. You can listen to the podcast and join our FB Community as well. If you have any questions you can leave a comment here or on our FB or Instagram pages. You can also leave a comment in our discussion section or send us an email. Please sign up for our email list below and you'll be notified when we post a new blog. We won't send you junk because we're new bloggers and we don't even know how to send anything but a blog notification, LOL! We look forward to hearing from you!
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