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?
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!
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
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!
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!
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?
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
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!