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6 Reasons to Stay Offsite for your Next Disney Trip

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6 Reasons to Stay Offsite for your Next Disney Trip


If you’ve been busy planning a Disney World trip, one of the most important decisions you’ll need to make is whether to stay onsite in a Walt Disney World Resort or offsite.  With pros and cons to both, it is enough to make your head spin! 

You may have read about the amazing benefits Disney World offers its onsite guests, and there are many. You can read more about that here.  But what many do not know is staying off property doesn’t make your stay any less magical. In fact, I would argue your trip will be more enjoyable if you stay off property! Here’s why:

You can save $$$

Perhaps the biggest factor many consider when choosing accommodations is price.  If you’ve ever looked into staying on property, you know how expensive it is.  Even the Value resorts, which start at $99 per night, get pricier for preferred rooms or during busier seasons.  You can find similar accommodations (or even more luxurious!) close to Walt Disney World for way less. Many offsite guests like to rent entire houses with private pools for around $200 per night.

Space to relax

Another benefit of staying off property is s p a c e.  The Disney World Resort rooms are….tiny.  This may not be a huge deal if you are just traveling with 1 other person, but an entire family crammed in a tiny hotel room for a week is not my idea of a vacation.  I need space!  For less than what you can pay staying on Disney property, you can rent an entire house, including more than one bathroom….enough said!

asmoviesroom
Photo Credit: Walt Disney World

Access to a kitchen

Some people feel strongly that when they are on vacation they shouldn’t have to cook.  While I can respect that, I know for many, eating every meal out isn’t always a great option for various reasons.  Unless you are staying in a suite, the rooms at Disney World Resorts do not have kitchens.  If you prefer to save money (or calories) by cooking your own food, staying on property will make this much harder.  We like to eat one meal and some snacks in the Disney parks but make sandwiches to bring into the parks with us for another meal.  It saves us money, time (instead of waiting in food lines, we can wait in ride lines instead!), and keeps the vacation weight gain to a minimum.

You aren’t stuck with Disney transportation

Some view using Disney Transportation as a pro for staying onsite, but I always view it as a con.  Using Disney Transportation is, in my opinion, the absolute easiest way to ruin your magical time.  Riding a packed bus at the end of a long day and standing next to all of the sweaty, stinky people and screaming children is not the way I want to spend my vacation.  I have also experienced extremely long waits for transportation to arrive, only to have it fill up and pull away without me.  There is nothing more magical than making your way back to your own car, passing by the lines of cranky children and adults who are waiting, cranking the air conditioner, and driving back to your hotel in peace.  

If you love Disney Transportation and feel your trip isn’t complete without it, don’t worry, you can still use it!  You may board any of the transportation options once at the parks and can use it freely.  Even though I really don’t like the transportation as a whole, I can’t resist riding the Monorail at least once every trip.  I’m also looking forward to riding the Skyliner for fun on my next trip.

monorail

Fastpass+

A few weeks ago I told a friend I was staying off property for my next trip, and his immediate response was, “Is that a good idea?  You won’t get any good Fastpasses if you book at 30 days out instead of 60.”  I have never found this to be a problem.  Sure, Slinky Dog Dash, Avatar Flight of Passage, and Seven Dwarfs Mine Train won’t be available for me to prebook at 30 days out. It never has been.  But guess what?  On my last trip, I rode Flight of Passage 3 times, Slinky Dog Dash 4 times, and Seven Dwarfs Mine Train twice.  How you ask?  Using the tips I learned through Kenny the Pirate’s Character Locator!  These tips alone have saved me so much time and money.  I don’t worry at all about pre-booking Fastpasses, because I know I will experience every attraction I want to!

minetrain

But what about Extra Magic Hours?

Onsite guests have the opportunity to either get into select parks earlier than offsite guests or stay later in the evening after offsite guests leave.  You may think that staying offsite and losing this benefit will harm your touring plans.  However, even when I stay onsite, I never spend my day in the parks with Extra Magic Hours; it is always the busiest park.  KtP crowd calendar has more information on the best parks to attend each day.

Have you ever stayed off property?  What is the best thing about experiencing Disney World this way?  Drop me a comment below and let me know!

Jamie Fonseca

“All our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them.”-Walt Disney


11 COMMENTS

  1. We stayed on property for the first time last month. I don’t think we will ever do it again. We could not stand the packed buses to and from the parks. We also had a few medical issues while there,and really could have utilized our own car and easy access to local stores. Also, we did not find many of the Disney meals appetizing… being able to go to a decent restaurant elsewhere a few times would have been nice.

  2. We have done both but the last time we rented a house with a pool and so much room ! It was amazing and so much cheaper for our family of 5! We were able to bring our dog too! The transportation is horrible. We always got stuck on the busses for long periods of time and they always made us late! Off property is best for our family of 5 plus friends!

    • I completely agree! Avoiding the transportation and having a pool is key, but getting to bring your dog too? A perfect trip!

  3. We stay both on-site and at WDW (DVC). We usually start out in 2 bedroom timeshare (so reasonably priced) outside of WDW, and enjoy having the kitchen for breakfast and lunch prep. The last couple of days of our trip, we move inside the WDW bubble, and utilize the airport desk to take our luggage, enjoy a last few hours, and have an easy drive to MCO. Early this year, we did an entire trip in studios in WDW, and Magical Express was less than magical on our way to the airport. We were on the bus for 3 1/2 hours as the bus picked up from all the Magic Kingdom resorts, and then got stuck in traffic on the way to the airport. Thank goodness our flight was delayed, so we didn’t miss our plane. By staying off-site, we save so much money, that it usually covers our meals and the rental car. Our version of “Free Dining” with 2 bathrooms and lots of extra space!

    • Oh my gosh, that makes for a stressful trip! I’m glad you didn’t miss your flight! Staying offsite has so many benefits, but being in charge of your own transportation is a great one!

  4. I could have written every word of this article myself! We love staying offsite. You are 100% correct regarding the downsides of Disney transportation (especially with cranky kids). Countless times my husband and I have tested the efficiency and the one time my husband beat me to another park was from MK to Epcot. He was a whole 2 people ahead of me in the bag check line. Like you, I’ve had plenty of FP for SDD, SDMT, FOP, Frozen and Soarin and I haven’t stayed on site in over 20 years! I think the only way I’d stay onsite is if I went with a group of mothers and we were splitting the cost.

    • I did stay onsite with my sisters and nieces recently and splitting the cost did make it worthwhile, but the whole time I was cursing the transportation and wishing I had my own car!

  5. We’ve done two trips staying on-site, one off-site. When my kids were little and I was there several days on my own while my husband was at a conference, being on-site was a lifesaver because the hotel staff are a whole different level of helpful from any other hotel I’ve ever stayed at. Most recently, we stayed off-site with our older kids, in part because we wanted a car so we could go to Legoland as well. We loved having a car! We paid for the close-up parking each day and that, plus our hotel room, was still less than half the same amount of hotel space would have cost us on-site, so we put the money towards a longer stay.

  6. Stay onsight at French Quarter 3 to 4 times a year. Only one bus depot there. Never convince me that off sight is better. We dont go to wdw to spend time in a room or swim. We take other trips to beach to dive, swim, fish etc. We love eating at Royal table, BOG, Artisan, etc EVERYTIME we visit.
    Would not want to be among hundreds of cars trying to get out of wdw each night. That’s a nightmare. Sometimes we use Lyft and it’s great. We are first inside parks and last out. To each his own …we love our way. We are AP.

    • Everyone has different needs for their family trip and it sounds like you have figured out what works best for you! Enjoy your next visit to French Quarter!

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