Because Disney attracts tourists, there is no shortage when it comes to places to stay for your vacation. Walt Disney World consists of approximately 25,000 acres and houses 36 distinct resorts (25 actually run by Disney). So you’ve got a lot of choices. But if you choose to venture just a stone’s throw from the entrance, your options increase dramatically. How do you make a decision whether to stay on or off WDW property? Here’s a few factors to help you think it through.
8. Price – This is obviously a big one. You are going to pay more to stay on Disney property, no doubt about it. Even the “value” hotels are going to run you over $100/night (sometimes double that, depending on the time of year) and you are not going to get many amenities. If you are looking for deluxe accommodations, be prepared to spend $500-$700/night or more. However, literally minutes off property there are three bedroom condos for rent for around $100/night, or luxury resorts for $120/night.
7. Transportation – However, you will get perks for the price of staying on-property. One big one is the use of Disney Transportation. Once on property you can park your car once and never move it again, unless you want to. (Kinda nice for road-trippers, right?) If you are not staying on-property be prepared to pay for parking (in the range of $17/day) when you go to the parks, and possibly having to move your car if you plan to move from park to park in the same day. (Your parking pass is still good even if you switch parks though.)
6. Food – If your idea of vacation means never having to cook, the Magic Your Way Packages can be your ticket to eating well and also saving a little when it comes to your on-property room. There are several options available, depending on where you want to stay, how “fancy” you want to eat, and how much you can spend. However, if you’re OK with preparing meals (cereal and PBJ’s, anyone?) it might be in your best interest to stay off-property in a place that has a kitchen. That way, you can save some money on both food and lodging. Disney allows you to bring food in the parks, in case BYO is your style.
5. Magic Hours – Another big perk of staying on-property is Extra Magic Hours. EMHs are additional hour(s) that a certain park is open exclusively to those staying at one of the resorts on-property. Sometimes they are hours early in the morning and sometimes later at night, but either way the park will be less crowded, which means more efficient ride time. The schedule for EMHs rotates somewhat randomly, so check online.
4. Space – This one kinda goes along with price…you will get more space for your buck off-property, for sure. If you have a large party who needs/wants to stay together, then space is an issue for you. Plan on spending a small fortune on-property AND booking early to get adjacent rooms if you have six or more in your party. Most regular rooms are capped at a 5 person occupancy. (I have four kids. This kills me…couldn’t the small ones just sleep on the floor?) But stay a little ways off-property, and you’ll enjoy some space to spread out with your tribe.
3. Other Orlando Attractions – Let’s be real…there are other things to do in Orlando besides Disney World (gasp!). If you plan on hitting up other attractions on your vacation, you should not stay on WDW property. The days that you are not on property would be days you are paying for perks that you are not using.
2. Time Share Pitch – Orlando is home to many really nice time share resorts, some just right off Disney property. You might be inwardly groaning right now just thinking of how you’ll dodge the salespeople. But don’t write it off without a thought. Even if you think you’re not interested in vacation ownership, use the pitch to your advantage. Sitting through a 45 minute sales presentation will often get you free perks, such as (ahem) Disney tickets! Of course, ask for details before you go.
1. Disney Resort Experience – No matter how you look at it, there is that special something about a Disney resort experience that you won’t get elsewhere. The Disney themed art. The Disney music playing in the elevators. The Disney level of service. The Disney resort activities (trivia, games, movies, etc.). If this is your once-in-a-lifetime trip, then a splurge on a Disney Resort could be priceless.
So take some time to weigh your options. On or off Disney property, you can definitely find a fit that’s best for you to make those magical memories. Check out our article “10 Sensational Benefits to Staying At A Disney Resort.”
BONUS TIP: Consider planning and booking your next Disney trip with an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner you can trust like Mickey Travels. They’ll help you get the best price for your vacation, share expert advice and their services are totally FREE! It’s genius!