Should you stay onsite or offsite at Walt Disney World?

Should you stay onsite or offsite at Walt Disney World?

Deciding whether or not to stay onsite or offsite is one of the first decisions people need to decide when planning their trip to Walt Disney World.  For some people, it may not be a question, but for others  it might be helpful to look at some of the benefits of both and choose which one is best for your vacation.

Let’s look at some benefits for staying both onsite and offsite. When you are trying to decide where to stay, think about what is most important to your vacation and what fits your family’s needs the best. For example, is having transportation to the parks important to you? Would you rather just hop on a bus or maybe board the monorail and go to the parks? Or do you not mind driving to the parks yourself?  Consider whether or not you want the resort perks, such as Extra Magic Hours or complimentary MagicBands.  Maybe you prefer to have more privacy and want to have a lot of private family time. In this case, maybe staying offsite is better for you. Here are some benefits for both.

ONSITE at a Walt Disney World Resort

Guests of resorts have complimentary transportation to and from the resorts and theme parks.  You can easily use buses, monorails, boats and the new Skyliner Gondolas

Extra Magic Hours.

The early Extra Magic Hour is a great time to be in the park.  You’ll need to wake up even earlier, but you can get more done.

Early access to FastPass reservations.

Onsite guests can book their Fastpasses up to 60 days in advance which is the only way to get popular Fastpasses like Flight of Passage, Slinky Dog Dash and Seven Dwarfs Mine Train in advance.  Club level guests may book up to 90 days in advance.

Complimentary MagicBands.

How often do you receive a FREE gift from Walt Disney World?  These cost you nothing additional and you can choose the color you like and customize them at home.

Disney Dining

Onsite guests can book their dining 180 days PLUS ten days out.  That is a great benefit for hard to find reservations like Cinderella’s Castle dining.

Hotel amenities.

Stay in the magic!  Enjoy your time at some of the most beautiful resorts in the World with a wide variety of themes.  The value hotels feature whimsical Disney and pop culture themes.  Some of the moderate hotels sleep up to 5 guests in a relaxing environment.  The Deluxe hotels rival any hotel in the world in terms of theming and are usually closer to one of the parks!

Disneys Wilderness Lodge DVC expansion 2015 kennythepirate
Disney’s Wilderness Lodge


Save money.

Guests staying offsite may save a lot of money if a family is on a budget.  However, you’ll need to be careful about staying at the “budget” motels along 192.  Many of those are very old and broken down.

Close to other attractions in Orlando.

If you are planning to visit Universal Orlando or SeaWorld while you’re in Orlando, some of the hotels along International Drive are closer to those parks.  BUT, you’ll have to park in the Transportation and Ticket Center to get to the Magic Kingdom and that is NOT a magical experience.

Driving can be a benefit at parks other than Magic Kingdom.

If you rent a car, you do not have to feel dependent on Disney transportation or worry about how to get from place to place.  Parking at most parks isn’t too bad and you don’t have to wait for the next available bus or stand in a long line at park closing.

If you are a person who loves being in the Disney atmosphere and if you feel as if Disney is your second home, staying onsite might be your best option. Being onsite gives you the benefit of being fully immersed in the Disney magic.  If you are someone who is looking to save some money or maybe interested in staying somewhere that is not Disney, then being offsite could be the better fit.  These are just some benefits of each option.

I have stayed onsite and offsite in our vacations. While I have loved the trips where we have stayed offsite, in my personal opinion there is nothing quite like staying at one of the Disney resorts.  I believe you really get a feel of being immersed in the magic of Disney and makes your vacation that much more enjoyable.  Not only that, but if you are a Mom, like me your vacation actually feels like a real vac

Which one is a best fit for you?

Maggie Baltz

3 thoughts on “Should you stay onsite or offsite at Walt Disney World?”

  1. Staying off site is the only way we can afford annual Disney vacations for a family of 6. We stay on a 2 or 3 bedroom condo/house, and truly enjoy all of the space after long park days. We work around FP issues, usually get our dining having own transportation. HOWEVER lol… for a shorter trip,.less people, I would consider onsite.. stayed onsite twice with just 2 of us, and it was pretty awesome

  2. Off site is always how we go 90% if the time! If you go in a more “off season” time we have never had issues parking and getting to the parks in as much or even less time it takes for Disney transportation! We eat breakfast at home and pack lunches to eat at the parks. Then head home for a quick dinner and swim (sometimes even in a private pool if the house) or we get a quick meal at the parks. It saves a TON of money and makes Disney a lot more affordable. My husband and I also love sitting and having a glass of wine while the kids are in a separate room at the end of the day.

  3. The best thing about staying offsite is the huge amount of space for the price. Our family of 4 likes to spread out and have a nice place to gather for a peaceful breakfast together before starting our day. For families of 6 or more it’s really hard to consider staying onsite because you’d either need a suite at 450+ per night or two rooms.
    We stay in a 3 BR 2 Ba townhome for right at $100 a night, with a 15-20 minute commute to the parks, same as the buses from the All-Stars. With Kenny’s TGM we have no need for the 60 day FP booking and we already know to avoid the EMH because of increased crowds. Staying onsite would help with dining for a couple of hard to get restaurants, but they aren’t going to make or break our vacation, especially considering the hefty price tag.

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