(Updated 3/30/21) Everything you need to consider if you’re thinking about staying off site at Disney World:
One of the big questions when planning a Disney World vacation is where to stay. There are the “on property” resorts which Disney owns, and then there are tons of off site options outside the Disney World gates. Most of the time people that stay off property do so in order to save some money – and sometimes this works out really well! But if you’re planning a trip for the first time or don’t go very often, there are some hidden or extra costs that come along with staying off off site at Disney World that you might not have considered.
There are a number of things I want to cover here, but the cost is the #1 – because if you’re going to Disney World and thinking about staying off property, it’s probably because you’re looking to save money that way. We’ll talk about whether or not staying off site will really save you a lot of money, if it’s worth losing some of the perks of staying on Disney property, and how to make the decision of what the best option is for you.
Is it cheaper to stay off site?
This is, of course, the top question asked when looking at hotel options. And it’s no secret that in comparison, Disney resorts can seem expensive. At first glance at the numbers it definitely seems cheaper to stay off site – but let’s take a closer look at some of the expenses you might not be considering.
I’m a numbers person and I always feel like concrete examples help, so I’m going to give an example for a trip I’m planning for a week in May. This is a Sunday-Sunday trip for 2 adults and I’m booked at Pop Century. If I were looking at off-site hotels I’d look at a Disney Springs area hotel (like B Resort) or Flamingo Crossings (like Springhill Suites). I’ll go into more detail later on in this post with recommendations of where to stay off-site.
Here are the prices for those 3 hotels for that week:
Pop Century: $1,133.50
B Resort and Spa: $1,076.66 (this is including a resort fee – more on that in a moment)
SpringHill Suites by Marriott: $700.88
A couple of things to note – I applied any available discounts in all situations (Disney was offering 30% off these dates. The SpringHill Suite had a “long stay” discount if you were staying more than 5 nights). Also, if you are looking for the most affordable option Pop Century isn’t the cheapest at Disney – that would be the All-Star resorts. The total there would have been about $945.40 with the discount.
Renting a Car
This is only an issue if you are flying down rather than driving. When you stay at a Disney resort it’s much easier to get around without a car. I always fly down and I almost never rent a car when I go and stay at Disney World. But the few times I’ve stayed off site I’ve needed to rent a car.
I would not recommend staying off property and not having a car.
I’ll get into more of the details and why on that later in the section on transportation, but even off site hotels that advertise free transportation to the theme parks are usually not worth using. So you’ll need to have a car, and if you’re flying to Disney World, as many people do, the cost of a rental car has to be factored into the price of your vacation.
Depending on how long you’re staying, what type of car you want, and how many people you need to fit into the vehicle, this can add anywhere from an extra $100-700 to your budget. For an example, I priced a rental car for my upcoming trip even though I won’t actually be renting a car. That trip is about two months from now, for a Sunday-Sunday in May. You can definitely price shop but I just looked at Dollar rental cars because I’ve used them before and they’ve been reliable and affordable.
When looking at rental car options be careful to read everything. That first price in black lists the “price per week” but the light blue price underneath is the actual total, because it includes tax and all the extra fees. I’m not picky so I can take the cheapest option, the compact. This is still going to add an extra $337 to my trip. If you’ve got a larger family and need more space, you’ll pay higher prices.
If you are driving instead of flying you’ll already have your vehicle with you, so of course then renting a car is not an extra expense. The other option if you’re staying off site would be to calculate how much it would be to use Uber or Lyft every time you want to go somewhere.
Here’s another big one that you won’t avoid even if you do have your own car and don’t have to rent. Parking at Disney parks is up to $25 per day, so if you’re going to be in the parks for 4 days that’s an extra $100. The only way you’ll really get out of this parking fee when you’re still of property is if you have an annual pass – in that case parking is included.
For this May trip I am planning to be in the parks for 6 days. So that’s $150 in parking as well. Between my rental car and parking at the theme parks I am now up to an additional $487 for my trip, you may be starting to see why I usually choose to stay on property without a car.
Another thing to look into is parking at the hotel. Many area resorts and hotels do charge an overnight parking fee. Disney’s hotels do too ($15-25 per night depending on which resort). One off site hotel I might consider is a Disney Springs area hotel like the B Resort – parking there is $23/night. I’d also look at the Flamingo Crossings area and a place like the Springhill Suites – parking there is free.
|Total for hotel||Rental car + |
theme park parking
|Pop Century (without car)||$1,133.50||$0||$0||$1,133.50|
One nice thing about Disney when you look at their pricing is they aren’t hiding lots of extra fees, which can be the case at other places. Sometimes they will tell you the resort fee in the total, sometimes it’s more in the fine print. But for example, when I search for a room at B Resort it tells me rooms are $105/night for that week. Then when you get to the checkout page, you realize it’s actually that $105 plus a $32/night resort fee added on. Springhill Suites did not have a resort fee when I checked.
Discounted Magic Bands
If the convenience of having your park ticket and fastpasses right on your wrist sounds good to you, keep in mind that you don’t get a discount on magic bands if you stay off property. You can still get an RFID card with your ticket or use the app, but you lose the convenience of the band. On property guests can opt to purchase them at a special pre-order price, starting at $5 for basic colors (up to $20 for specialty bands). You can buy them if you wish on property for $15 for the basic colors, or more for specialty bands. A family of 4 would be looking at an extra $40 (minimum) for basic magic bands if they wanted them. For my May trip my friend and I both opted to get special magic bands that were $10 each (and sell online for $25 each). So we would have paid $30 more to buy them if we were off property.
Disney hotel discounts
One other thing to keep in mind is that Disney is somewhat unique in that they very often offer major discounts – and these discounts can be applied to reservations even after you book. So if you’re planning in advance and see that Pop Century is $200/night, keep in mind that a discount (like the 30% I mentioned above) could come out and be applied to your reservation even after you book. Of course it’s not guaranteed, but it’s not unusual to get a discount later, especially if you’re not traveling during a majorly busy time.
So is it actually cheaper off site?
Obviously I didn’t look at every off-site hotel option, and you can find things that are much cheaper if you book, say, a Motel 6 that’s 40 minutes away from the theme parks. But if you’re looking for something decent that’s nearby the examples above are good ones.
|Total for hotel stay||Rental car + |
theme park parking
|Resort parking||Magic Bands||Total|
|Pop Century (without car)||$1,133.50||$0||$0||$20||$1,153.50|
Wow. When you consider renting a car and parking, suddenly the B Resort that looked like it might save me $100 or so is actually almost $600 more than staying on property. And Springhill Suites, which seemed much cheaper at first, is almost $100 more as well.
“But Becky,” you might be saying, “I’ve looked at the options and there are off site hotels with free shuttles. I know I don’t have to spend that money to rent a car or pay for parking.” And I hear that, but there’s a reason why I mentioned above I wouldn’t stay off property without a car. Or maybe you’ll have a car anyway since you’ll be driving down so even if you stay at Disney you’ll have to pay for resort parking. Perhaps you want to rent a car just because you prefer it over public transportation so you know that’s an expense you’ll have regardless. Let’s look at the options for those situations as well.
Off Site Disney World hotels with shuttles
One of the major expenses outlined above with staying off-site is transportation, so I wanted to talk about that a bit more. Renting a car and paying for parking can get very pricey. Many hotels near Disney offer free shuttles to the parks – so why not just use those?
Unless you’re okay with being super inflexible or restricted during your vacation, you’re probably not going to find the shuttles they provide useful. Staying at a Disney resort, they run buses to the parks every 20 minutes. Sometimes it might take longer but that’s what they aim to do. So you can head out to the bus stop whenever you’re ready and wait for the bus and be on your way to the park in 20 minutes at most generally. Some Disney resorts have other modes of transportation as well, such as the monorail, boats, the skyliner, or even being within walking distance to certain parks. My stay at Pop Century will include using the skyliner to get to Epcot and Hollywood Studios.
B Resort advertises a free shuttle to the theme parks. Which sounds great, but right now their shuttle is requiring a reservation to use it, and they request you try to make the reservations 48 hours in advance (required if you need wheelchair or scooter assistance). They don’t share how often they run shuttles. At Springhill Suites they have a shuttle that costs $5 per person round trip per day which you must also make reservations for. In addition they note that drop off is at the Disney World ticket and transportation center. That means after you get there you still have to get on Disney transportation to your actual theme park. Depending which park you’re headed to, it could be another 20 minute ride (not to mention waiting for another bus).
So for this super limited shuttle that would most likely take over an hour to get me anywhere at best, we’d be paying $10 extra per day for our 2 adults (families would pay more).
Other hotels that offer shuttles often have other drawbacks – they might stop at multiple hotels in the area for pick-ups, making your travel time much longer. Or they only run one shuttle in the morning and one in the evening, so you have to plan your day within their time frame.
Using Uber or Lyft
I didn’t include a chart above with the pricing for staying off site and using a free or low cost shuttle because I just can’t recommend it given the restrictions and circumstances. That being said, there is one other option that doesn’t involve having a car or using a hotel shuttle, and that’s using a ride sharing service. You can absolutely use Uber or Lyft to get around, but you’ll have to price it out to see if it’s worth it to you because their pricing varies.
Uber’s website has a price estimator that allows you to price out rides on different dates and times. I used it for my upcoming trip to see what prices would be if I took an Uber to and from the theme parks each day for each of my 3 example hotels. For Springhill Suites it ranged from $13-15 one way. B Resort was $12-16 each way depending on the park, an Pop Century was $9-15 for one way. I included Pop in my pricing because some people prefer to pay for the convenience of Uber instead of waiting for a bus.
|Total for hotel stay||Daily Uber||Magic Bands||Total|
|Pop Century (without car)||$1,133.50||$130||$20||$1,283.50|
Keep in mind that if you have more than 3 people you’ll have to price out an UberXL. And if you wanted to take an afternoon break you’d have to pay for another back and forth trip (I’m a big fan of afternoon breaks but I know not everyone is). These are all just estimates and can vary (sometimes a lot) depending on the season and the time. These are also the prices before tip – please tip your Uber drivers!
So in this case, if you’re going to be using Uber to get around, the Springhill Suites will be your most affordable option.
If you’ll have a car anyway
Of course, you may have a car regardless. If you’re driving down to Orlando rather than flying you’ll have your car with you anyway. It seems like it would be much easier to stay off site in that situation because you’ll have your own vehicle. You may also be a person who wants to rent a car while you’re there anyway because you like driving around yourself, or because you’ll be going elsewhere in Florida too. But keep in mind you’ll still have to pay for theme park parking (and possibly resort parking) so let’s take a look at that.
|Total for hotel stay||theme park parking||Resort parking||Magic Bands||Total|
|Pop Century (with car)||$1,133.50||$0||$105||$20||$1,258.50|
|B Resort (with car)||$1,076.66||$150||$161||$50||$1,437.66|
|Springhill Suites (with car)||$700.88||$150||$0||$50||$900.88|
Once again the Springhill Suites is your cheapest option, largely due to the fact that they don’t charge for resort parking.
Distance from the parks
The last thing worth noting while we’re talking about transportation is the distance from the hotels to the theme parks. Disney World is quite large – even getting between two of their theme parks can take 20 minutes, so once you head off property you can imagine the time adds up. I purposely picked the hotels in this example because most of them are pretty close to Disney World. But Orlando is huge, and getting around can take a really long time.
For example, if I search for a “cheap hotel near Disney World” I see a result for a Howard Johnson for around only $50/night. Their website says “close to Disney World” and even on the map it doesn’t look that far away. But it’s actually about 12 miles from Disney. And Orlando traffic can get really, really bad, especially at rush hours. That 12 miles could easily take an hour to drive (and even if Google maps says it takes 20 minutes, lots of people who live in Orlando will tell you differently). So if you’re looking off site just do your research to see how far away it really is.
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Perks of a Disney Resort
Most of the above just deals with cost and logistics in terms of transportation. These things are important, but the Disney resorts offer more advantages than just location. Many of these don’t really come with a dollar sign next to them to tell you their worth, so you’ll have to consider them and decide if any of these things are important to you and if so, is it worth paying a little bit extra for them.
Themeing and the magic
There’s no doubt that Disney resorts have that extra magic to them. If you’re a big Disney fan you can find resorts like Art of Animation, themed after different movies, or Pop Century, with larger than life statues of Disney characters such as Lady and the Tramp. Caribbean Beach has pirate rooms, Port Orleans Riverside has princess rooms, and Animal Kingdom Lodge is on an actual savanna so you can see real giraffes and zebras from your balcony.
The service is above and beyond at Disney, and there are just extra little magic touches everywhere. The storytelling elements and care that you see in the theme parks are also present at the hotels. Some hotels have character breakfasts and they all have great pools. Plus little things, like being able to get a wake-up call from Mickey. Some people call staying at Disney being in the “Disney bubble” because it truly is an escape.
Early theme park entry
Previously extra magic hours, Disney will soon be introducing early theme park entry. This allows Disney resort guests to get into the theme parks 30 minutes early every day. In the past, extra magic hours generally let resort guests into one park an hour early each day or less often, stay 2 hours after closing.
I actually think this could be a fairly major disadvantage for off-site guests. In the past you could look at Disney’s calendar and know that Magic Kingdom would be opening early for their guests on Monday – so you’d go to Epcot that day instead to avoid larger crowds. Now if you’re off-site there will be people there before you every morning – so for major attractions you’re never going to be able to get a super short wait right at opening.
Disney has temporarily suspended fastpass+ due to COVID-19, so we don’t know yet whether it will come back looking exactly the way it was or if the system will be changed. What I can be reasonably sure of is that Disney will offer some sort of advantage to their resort guests.
Previously fastpass was free for everyone, but Disney resort guests could book fastpasses 60 days before their trip while off site guests had to wait until 30 days before.That meant that many of the more popular attractions would already be out of fastpasses by the time you hit that 30 day mark.
There’s no telling what it will look like when fastpass does return but I’m confident Disney will find a way to use it to entice people to stay at their resorts. It could be an advantage to book early, a discount if they switch to a paid system similar to Universal’s Express Pass, or being able to book more fastpasses than other guests. Time will tell on this one.
Magical Express (in 2021)
At least for this year, Disney resort guests get free transportation to and from the airport and their resort. This makes it even easier if you don’t have a car or don’t want the expense of a rental. While Disney has announced they will be discontinuing Magical Express after this year, we’ll see if they introduce anything else for their guests that may also be helpful.
Option to add the dining plan
This is another item that Disney has not yet brought back since COVID, but I am sure they will bring it back soon. The dining plan is an option to pre-pay for a food package. It may or may not save you money (that’s a discussion for another blog post!), but many people also love it for the convenience. Dining plans are only available to Disney resort guests.
Charging to the room
Speaking of convenience, another nice option is being able to charge pretty much everything you pay for in Disney back to your room and then just have Disney charge your card at the end (similar to a cruise). You can charge to your room at most restaurants and merchandise locations. Plus you can use your magic band to charge so you don’t even have to take out your wallet.
Along with this Disney previously allowed their resort guests to have merchandise sent to their resorts for free so they don’t have to carry it around the theme parks all day. While they have not yet brought back this perk it may still return, and can be a handy benefit.
Avoiding anxiety and overwhelm
I know this may not be the case for everyone, but anxiety is part of my daily life so trying to mitigate that while on vacation definitely helps me to relax more and have a better time. You don’t want to stress about everything while you’re on vacation, but you also don’t want to be stressed and overwhelmed planning your vacation either.
Just look at everything in this blog post – it’s a lot! While there’s still a lot to plan even when you stay at a Disney resort, being on property can certainly take some of the stress away and make it easier to keep track of everything.
I am a big fan of afternoon breaks at Disney for several reasons:
- It gives my body a break from walking around all day (and I like to nap)
- It avoids the parks during the busiest times (late morning/early afternoon)
- If I’m park hopping it’s easy to work in a break
- Sometimes I need a mental break from the crowds and/or overwhelming heat
And I’m saying this as an adult – if you have kids there are even more reasons why you may want that afternoon break. It’s so much easier to take a break when you’re on Disney property.
Some people love driving, some don’t mind it, and some get stressed out from driving. I actually enjoy driving when I know where I’m going – trying to navigate a new place can definitely cause some anxiety. This is especially true if I’ve had to rent a car and I don’t know it as well as what I typically drive.
Plus if I’m enjoying a few drinks in Epcot I don’t want to have to worry about driving back to my hotel that evening. In my daily life I have a long commute and spend a lot of time driving. So for me, not having to drive is a benefit of being on vacation.
More logistics to figure out off site
There are just more things to have to figure out and worry about when you’re staying off property. What’s the best or cheapest way to get to the theme parks? How will I get from the airport to my hotel? Will I make the shuttle on time? Will the wait times be too long if I don’t get good fastpasses? Do I have time for that afternoon break? How bad could the traffic on I-4 really be?
You can’t eliminate every worry, but you can definitely ease some of them.
Use a travel agent
Another good way to take some of the stress out of planning is to use a travel agent. They can plan a lot of this for you and they are free to use. The amount of resorts both on and off property can be overwhelming but travel agents should know the on property ones inside out and have a good idea of off property options as well.
Not every hotel is willing to partner with or work with a travel agent – this is often true of the cheaper hotels and motels. However, a good travel agent should be able to help you with a Disney resort, the Disney Springs area, or major chains like Marriott and Hilton.
A travel agent can not only help you select the right hotel and location, they can also help you plan dining, fastpasses, rental cars, and most other things related to your vacation.
Hopefully the detail in this post shows you that I have a good idea of how to help people plan their Disney vacations – I’m currently taking on a limited number of new clients so contact me today about your trip.
Large families or groups
If you have a large family or group of people traveling, you may want to look into off site options for more space. The Disney resorts have some accommodations for families too.
Disney resorts for larger families
If you’ve got more than the “typical” family of 4, you may be wondering what options Disney would have for you. I have a complete list over in this post about how to plan a Disney trip for 5 or more people, but a few of the more popular options include:
- Family suites at the Art of Animation or All-Star Music (sleeps up to 6)
- Standard rooms with a 5th pull out sleeper available at a number of resorts
- The Cabins at Fort Wilderness
- 1 bedroom villas
- 2 bedroom villas
- The “treehouses” at Saratoga Springs
- Two standard rooms at a resort with connecting doors
So there are actually a lot of options for families and groups who want to stay on Disney property. Some of these options are more affordable than others. If you’re looking for a place with a full kitchen, multiple bedrooms, etc., you’ll be looking at a villa and those can get quite pricey. In that case you may want to look at off site options.
Off site for larger families
Many places outside of Disney advertise suites and stays for larger families. Like always, make sure you do your research on any non-Disney hotels. Some places specialize in families and only offer 2, 3, or 4 bedroom condos. Make sure you learn about a place before you book it, especially if it only has those condos – these are sometimes part of a timeshare and a requirement for booking (often hidden in the fine print) is sitting through a long timeshare presentation.
Things I would recommend looking into if you are considering one of these options:
- Are there any hidden fees (resort fees, parking fees, etc.)
- Will you have to sit through a timeshare presentation
- Distance from Disney (I typically see how many miles a place is from the ticket and transportation center, or TTC, since that is where you’ll go for Magic Kingdom)
You can also look into something like AirBnB or VRBO, though there are other precautions you want to take when you book something like that too (make sure you’re aware of cancellation policies, for instance – not just if you need to cancel on them, but if they can cancel on you).
You may find one of these off site options to be a better fit if you are really set on having a full kitchen, or if everyone absolutely needs their own bedroom. Otherwise I would still typically recommend a family suite or two standard, adjoining rooms at a Disney resort. There are many, many options, but a few I’d recommend below:
Homewood Suites by Hilton Flamingo Crossings
- Suites sleep up to 6
- Have kitchenette with a full fridge, microwave, stovetop
- 7.8 miles to the TTC
Margaritaville Resort Orlando
- Suites that sleep up to 6 and cottages that sleep up to 18
- Cottages have full kitchen, washer/dryer
- 8.8 miles to the TTC
Lake Buena Vista Resort Village and Spa
- Suites with up to 4 bedrooms that sleep up to 10
- Full kitchen
- 8.2 miles to the TTC
Off site at Disney World is NOT like Disneyland
If you’ve read the above you’ve probably already figured this out, but off site hotels at Disney World and Disneyland are very different situations. At Disneyland everything is compact – there are a number of hotels within walking distance to the parks, and you can walk between the two theme parks.
Disney World is over 40 square miles of land, so you’re not walking to a theme park from an off site hotel. In fact, you’re not walking to the parks from many of the on site hotels either. And you can’t really walk between the 4 parks either (with the exception of Epcot and Hollywood Studios, though it’s not a short walk). So if you think you’re gonna hit all 4 parks on foot, I hope you’re signed up for the Disney World marathon 😉
Orlando is much larger than Anaheim as well, almost 3 times the size. So even if you’re thinking about driving a hotel in “Orlando” could still be very far away from Disney (despite what the hotel’s website might say about being “close to Disney!”).
Finally, Disney World has more value options on property than Disneyland. If you go to Disneyland you’re probably choosing an off-site hotel for $150/night because the cheapest Disneyland option is closer to $300/night. At Disney World the value resorts like the All-Stars can tend more to that $100-125/night depending on the season, so you have more affordable Disney options.
Where should I stay off site?
There are hundreds (thousands?) of off site hotels in Orlando, so it would be impossible to go through all of them. But there are certain areas or types or hotels that I would definitely look at first if I was thinking about staying off site at Disney.
Disney Springs hotels
These hotels are technically on Disney property in the Disney Springs area, though they are not official Disney resorts. They get some of the perks of a being a Disney guest (like fastpass booking) but not all (like transportation or being able to add a dining plan). There are a number of them for different budgets, they are all nice hotels, and they are closer than any other “off site” hotel. The B Resort and Spa has a cool vibe and some nice amenities. The Holiday Inn is a good budget option.
This is a brand new area outside of Disney with a number of hotel and dining options. Even though Orlando Weekly called it a “glorified strip mall”, it has some reliable and affordable hotels from different chains. It’s about as different from being in the “Disney Bubble” as you can get though, being surrounded by Marriotts, Hiltons, chain restaurants, and fast food.
With it being so new there are advantages and disadvantages. A good thing is that everything there is, of course, new, and the rooms are up to date. However much of it is still under construction.
Split stay with Universal
If you’re thinking about visiting Universal during your Orlando trip I’d strongly consider at least doing a split stay at one of their resorts. They have recently built more affordable options that are generally less than Disney (like the Surfside Inn). If you’re thinking about a lot of time in Universal you may even think about staying there your whole trip and driving or ubering to Disney, rather than doing it the other way around.
Other “good neighbor” hotels
There are a few other hotels that Disney has given their stamp of approval to. Some of the ones listed above, like Margaritaville, are good options. They also include the Waldorf Astoria Orlando and the Four Seasons. Obviously some of those are luxury options so if you’re on a budget they might not be the best, but if you’re looking for a deluxe experience without paying for the Grand Floridian you might consider it.
So, should I stay off site?
When it comes down to this final decision, I really want you to think about one major question:
What do I want my Disney World experience to be?
There are so many ways to “do Disney,” and none are wrong or right in general – but some may be better or worse than what you’re looking for. What’s most important is that you’re aware of the experience you’re getting and you won’t be disappointed or surprised by anything. Here are just a few different ways to approach a Disney trip and you want some recommendations:
The most magical vacation
Recommendation: Stay on site at Disney World and keep yourself in the Disney bubble. If you can swing a deluxe resort take advantage of the incredible locations and amenities, but also look into a moderate like Coronado Springs or Caribbean Beach. Use their transportation or uber if you hate waiting at all, relax, and enjoy the ambiance and resort activities and attention to detail.
The cheapest way to go to Disney World
Recommendation: Stay off site at a reliable, nearby hotel not more than 7-8 miles from Disney World. Use Uber to get back and forth and don’t rely on hotel shuttles. Consider an off site hotel with a kitchen or kitchenette and take an uber to nearby grocery store your first day to save money on food.
A balance of something special on a budget
Recommendation: Stay on site at Disney World but look into the value resorts like Pop Century and the All Stars. Use Disney transportation to get around so you don’t have to pay at all for parking, a rental car, or Uber. Do a combination of Disney quick service meals and nicer table service meals to experience the amazing food and restaurants they have to offer.
A big family trip with park time and down time
Recommendation: For a family of 6, look first at the suites at Art of Animation and see if they offer what you’re looking for so you can have some space but also enjoy the convenience of a Disney hotel, an excellent food court, and a great pool. For families of 6+, if you have the budget make your stay very magical by looking at 2 bedroom villas or suites at deluxe resorts. If you have more than 6 people and you’re on a budget, consider one of the off site properties with more space and suites that have multiple bedrooms, activities at the hotel, pools, and restaurants. If you stay at Disney take advantage of their transportation. If you’re off site look at renting a mini van so you don’t have to pay for multiple ubers.
You might consider staying on site if:
- Getting the best possible Disney experience is important to you
- You want to be able to enjoy Disney without long waits by taking advantage of early entry and fastpass
- You have kids who will love the magic of a Disney hotel (or if you’re a kid at heart!)
- You have limited time and don’t want to waste it waiting for really long shuttle rides or in bad Orlando traffic
- You don’t want to drive or have a car
- You get stressed or overwhelmed thinking about all of the logistics and want to be able to relax on vacation (and while planning!)
You might consider staying off site if:
- You are comfortable using Uber or Lyft to go to and from the theme parks every day
- You’re driving to Orlando and will have your car with you anyway
- You are used to hotel chains and don’t feel the need for a hotel with a theme or Disney magic
- You really want a full kitchen and multiple bedrooms and you don’t want to pay a ton for it at Disney
- You absolutely need the cheapest option possible or else you can’t go
- You plan to do a lot of other Orlando area attractions during your trip
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This is not to argue that you should always stay on property – rather, it is to make sure you know all of the extras that can come up when planning a Disney vacation off-property. There are things that are benefits when booking off property (lower rates, sometimes a kitchen to make your own meals, more space), and other benefits about being on property (closer to everything, Disney magic and service, transportation) so make sure to keep everything in mind when making your decision! It really comes down to what is important to you.
Have you ever tried staying off site at Disney World? Where is your favorite place to stay?