Home Disney Planning Tips Here’s why you should stay OFFSITE on your next trip to Walt...

Here’s why you should stay OFFSITE on your next trip to Walt Disney World!

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Here's why you should stay OFFSITE on your next trip to Walt Disney World!
Credit: Disney

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If you’ve been busy planning a Disney World trip, one of the most important decisions you’ll need to make is where to stay. Here’s why you should consider staying outside of Disney World on your next visit to the most magical place on Earth.

Where to stay?

Credit: Jamie F

So many seasoned Disney fans will tell you that in order to have the most magical vacation ever, you’ll need to stay at a Disney Resort on Disney property. They aren’t wrong. Staying on property certainly has its benefits!

But, there is a lot to be said for staying off property. Here are some things to consider.

Save some money!

Credit: Jamie F

Perhaps the biggest factor many consider when choosing where to rest your head at night is price.  If you’ve ever looked into staying on property, you know how expensive it is.  Even the Value resorts get pricier for preferred rooms or during busier seasons. Value isn’t always a great value.

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. And there are plenty of fantastic hotels surrounding Walt Disney World for a fraction of the price of staying in a Disney hotel.

Space to breathe….and relax

Credit: Monica

Another benefit of staying at a hotel outside of Disney 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! And I need more than one bathroom, thank you!

For less than what you can pay staying on Disney property, you can rent an entire house or even a two bedroom suite with more than one bathroom….enough said!

A kitchen!

Credit: Jaelyn

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 or villa, 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.  Some Guests like to eat one meal and some snacks in the Disney parks but make sandwiches to bring into the parks for another meal.  Approaching meals in this way saves money, time (instead of waiting in food lines, you can wait in ride lines instead!), and keeps the vacation weight gain to a minimum.

No Disney buses!

Credit: Jamie F

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.  Waiting for a bus and then riding a packed bus at the end of a long day is the absolute worst. Especially when you have exhausted children (and spouses) with you!

I have also experienced extremely long waits for transportation to arrive, only to have it fill up and pull away without me.  I can assure you, 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. 

But what about Early Theme Park Entry and Extended Evening Hours?

Credit: Susan

Onsite guests have the opportunity to get into select parks 30 minutes earlier than offsite guests every day in Walt Disney World. There is also a benefit to Guests staying in Deluxe Resorts: Extended Evening Hours. Extended Evening hours take place on select nights in select parks and allow Deluxe Resort Guests to stay in the Parks after the Parks close to other Guests.  You may think that staying offsite and losing this benefit will harm your touring plans.

So let’s start with Early Theme Park entry. Just how much advantage do onsite Guests have with access to the Parks for only 30 extra minutes? Maybe the opportunity to experience one attraction? Is this really worth the added cost of staying onsite?

As for Extended Evening Hours, this is open to such a small group of Guests anyway and only a few nights a week, that it may not be worth much to miss out on it. With the hours being so late in the evening, Guests with young children or who are early birds may not benefit from this perk anyway.

Less perks than ever

Credit: KtP

Staying onsite in Disney World used to have many more perks than Disney World offers Guests today.

Onsite Guests used to have early access to making FastPass+ selections, but with Genie+ and Lightning Lanes, offsite Guests aren’t at much of a disadvantage when booking attractions. And with Disney’s Magical Express no longer being offered, Guests will have to arrange transportation to and from the airport either way.

So, you really aren’t missing out if you decide to stay in a non-Disney Resort. 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!

Are you planning a vacation? Reach out to our trusted travel agency sponsor Authorized Disney Vacation Planner Mouse Class Travel!

14 COMMENTS

  1. Oh my word! What rich informative information. I probably live 25 minutes from Disney. Moved 2020. I always had that little envy in my heart for those guest that stays on the Disney property. Of course, years ago, long before covid, my family and I stayed on Disney’s property twice, but girl! What you wrote, shared here, is worth the savings. Laugh. May 2022.

  2. Hmmm. It seems to me Amber you just described the reasoning behind park reservations. Don’t allow people to make reservations in some of the parks forcing them to buy hopper passes at $65 a day. On top of that you are forced to buy hopper passes for each day you go to the parks REGARDLESS whether you plan to hop or not. I recently learned that if you purchase (non-hopper) park passes for a number of days and on the last day you decide to hop – YOU MUST PAY HOPPER FEES FOR ALL THE DAYS YOU ALREADY WENT!!!
    Gauging the public has a whole new definition when it comes to Disney!!!!

  3. I am currently planning a trip to WDW for my birthday, but only EPCOT and Holliwood Studios are available to purchase tickets for the week I will be there. I can spend extra money for a hopper ticket that might get me into the other two parks, but only if they open up and only after I go to the park I sign up for and only after 2pm. I can’t justify paying the money or spending time waiting for a bus. Plus what will be relaxing about an over crowded amusement park in Florida’s June heat. I could have some resort days, but half the restaurants are closed and you can only visit a resort if you have a dining reservation. :(

  4. In my life time I have been to WDW at the very least 35 times. I will never ever go again. 6 years ago we took my 3yr old granddaughter. She had such a good time
    You could see stars in her eyes
    From what I hear now, that is no longer available. There’s no reason on earth to go now. Poor Walt he is turning in his grave. He would never let this crap happen. He had it built for children FOR CHILDREN not for the almighty dollar

  5. We’ve been going to Walt Disney World for the last six years staying an average 14 days with a family of nine. Our last and final trip to Walt Disney World was the summer of 2021. Since Chapek screwed the entire park system up we decided to go to Europe. We finished our first spring trip in France and enjoyed Disneyland Paris plus everything that France has to offer. No lines no hidden fees no expensive on site food and the property rates very very affordable! Until the US side of Disney gets their stuff together Will continue to travel outside the United States and recommend it others start considering the same

  6. Recently stayed at Buena Vista Suites at half the cost of Caribbean Beach Resort. 2 Queen beds plus pullout couch in another room, 2 tvs, microwave. Nice breakfast buffet included. The only negative, not as scenic of a view from room and onsite restaurant for dinner closed but could go to hotel restaurants next door; not much else within walking distance unless you wanted to take your chances running across 6 lanes of highway. They had shuttle bus to all the parks and Disney Springs. A much nicer bus than the bus within Disney. Parks too expensive, too crowded. Waiting in line for Slinky dog coaster for 2 hours was not my idea of fun for a 2 minute ride. Posted wait time was 85 minutes. There were no lightening lane passes available. Most other rides went quicker than the 60 minute posted wait time. Difficult to maneuver elderly parents in wheelchairs or ECV(?) through the crowds.

  7. We never stay on sighted. I get really good deals as a travel agent for staying on site, but the rooms are just too small even for our tiny family of three. All three of us like to go to bed at different times, so sharing a room with two beds is not our idea of a relaxing vacation. Our favorite resorts are either staying at the lake Buena Vista resort, or the Holiday inn Orange lake resort. We get to dedicate an entire day just to hanging out at the pool. Plus, we can have breakfast in the room, spread out and really relax. Also, lake Buena Vista offers transportation to the Disney parks so if we don’t feel like driving, we still get to take advantage of transportation.

  8. If you stay on property Disney has the right to enter your room (s) unannounced and inspect. And they actually do this. It happened on successive days to our family. We belive they were in our room every day. Their staff is not bonded as far as I know. Read the fine print on your room registration at check-in.

  9. That’s been the norm in many hotels across the country for the past 18 months. I’ve had that happen at a gorgeous and pricey hotel in Boston, and also at several 3 star hotels in Chicago, Orlando, and Dallas.

  10. I am a DVC member since 2008. Got to WDW once or twice a year. Great villas, full kitchen, go offsite to buy groceries the day we arrive for breakfast, snacks and whatever. No parking charge at the resort. Use their transportation while there, never had a problem with it. Love being able to go to parks early, go back to resort for a rest and swimming, then back to park without having to get in a hot car and drive. As a DVC member, it just makes sense. Great rooms, great views, no out of pocket costs, just my monthly HOA fees.

  11. Stayed on site in December. First time ever, anywhere, that beds weren’t made up!!!!!!! Expect that!!!!!!!

  12. Regardless of where you stay at WDW it is a challenge and requires more than enjoyable research. Staying at a hotel outside WDW becareful of hidden prices. Resort charges and parking. If you pay for parking at the hotel you then have to pay $25 a day at WDW parking. Most Disney hotel pools have extensive slides and the hotel areas are more WDW decor than your basic hotel. Renting a home gives you so much more. Kitchen, free parking and your own private pool. The negative – Disney atmosphere. Possible more driving. As I said – a lot more research needed. Not to mention all the reservations at the park needed, regardless of where you stay! Vacation????

  13. I’ve traveled to WDW 5 times in the last 3 yrs. I’ve stayed off property on 2 trips for a total of 20 nts and on property ( C.B.R., All Star Music, and Pop Century ) the other 3 trips for a 19 nt total.
    Staying off property is definitely the way to go. On our 2 trips off property we rented a 3 BR house each time off Vrbo. Each house was less than 5 miles from the Animal Kingdom parking lot, very clean, had a private screened in pool with jetted tub attached, a game room with pool table. The Master BR in each house had a Master Bathroom with a 2 person walk in shower, and 2person jetted roman bathtub. Paid $94 per night for the 1st and $120 the 2nd time. There is a small cleaning fee attached but only about 150 – $200

  14. It’s a real shame that people now have to make this call. Just been costing my trip later this year. I struggle to justify the expense. I could go to Norway, Paris, Rome or Africa for less. I could see the real world as opposed to a fictious version. So I have to reavaluate and ask myself, is it worth it ? Is it the most magical place on earth or is the real world far more magical. I can still go as a long-standing DVC Member but will no longer be buying food on site or beverages. Simply not worth the inflated cost. I even question whether the parks are worth the admission. Feel like I am being mugged off with the price v value. This has to be the most shameful era in Disney history. As I say, such a shame it has come to this.

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