Planning your trip to Disney World can be daunting.  One of the first decisions to make is where to stay and that is not an easy task.  This blog will cover the topic high level and attempt to be fair to both options.


This is an option to consider for those who:

– Want to save money. Yep, I said save money.  Isn’t that everyone?  Yes, but it isn’t as easy an equation as you would think.  Most of the time you will get the same quality room for a cheaper price.  This means you can typically get more hotel room bang for your buck by staying off site with the added bonus of a free breakfast.  The downside is that you generally need to have your own transportation.  Even the hotels that offer shuttles to the parks do not provide the flexibility of service I would need for my family.  It is usually just drop offs in the morning and pick-ups in the evening at the Ticket and Transportation Center with specific times.

– Also under the save money category is the increased availability of eating offsite.  Grabbing a quick breakfast at McDonald’s. Grabbing a quick breakfast at McDonald’s, snagging Subway sandwiches for your cooler to carry into the park, dinner anywhere will be cheaper offsite!  Don’t underestimate the power of the food budget savings that could be racked up.  On the flip side of that, taking advantage of this offsite eating means you’re off site and not in the parks.  Park tickets are a pretty penny and you want to make the most of those days as well.

– You are traveling with a large family. While Disney is improving the onsite offerings for families of 5 and larger, these options are typically expensive to the offsite counterparts.  There are many affordable options that sleep 6. Another option for a larger group is renting a vacation home.  It really isn’t as pricey as you would think and many have their own pool.  There is an onsite alternative with renting Disney Vacation Club Villas from owners who won’t be using their points.  This can save money but is not a flexible option.  You make the reservation and you pay 100% and are 100% locked in.  You can’t cancel.  If you would like to know more, comment in the blog or email Ryan or me.  We can talk with you about the pros and cons of this more.

– You are going to other central Florida attractions.  Yes, there is more to Orlando than Walt Disney World.  Universal Orlando’s Wizarding World of Harry Potter and Diagon Alley are not to be missed.  Sea World, Legoland, and much more are available.  It may make more sense to stay in a central location to all the places you plan on visiting.

If this sounds good to you, I would start first with the Walt Disney World Good Neighbor Hotels.


This is an option to consider for those who:

– Plan on visiting the Walt Disney Resort as their only or primary destination.  These resorts are the closest to the parks.

– Theme and resort quality is better.  Disney resorts are held to higher standards and it shows, plus I add in this section the feeling of never leaving the Disney magic.  There is something that makes it less stressful.

– Transportation is ample.  Transportation to the resort from the airport is free.  Transportation to the theme parks, Downtown Disney, and water parks is free and runs continually during operating hours.  Buses, boats, and monorails can get you there with ease.  You can get where you want to go without a rental car.  While I think this is a huge plus; there are some negatives.  You have to wait for the transportation.  It is often busy, so you may need to stand and are not guaranteed a seat.  We actually have been renting a car on most vacations to drive ourselves where we want to go without the transportation.  Parking is included when you stay onsite at the resort as well as the theme parks.

– You can book Advanced Dining reservations at the 180 days plus 10 mark before your vacation.  Offsite can book at 180 days.  You may be asking then “What is the advantage?”.  The ‘plus 10’ is the advantage.  At 180 days from your check-in date, you can book your dining for the first 10 days of your vacation.  Offsite would have to call back each day to book dining for the next day of their vacation.  The ‘plus 10’ is important for coveted reservations such as Cinderella’s Royal Table and Be Our Guest.

– You can book FastPass+ selections at the 60-day mark before your vacation.  Offsite can also book in advance but it is at the 30-day mark.  This advantage is important; especially for meeting Anna and Elsa, Soarin’, Toy Story Midway Mania, and Test Track.

Both Ryan and I have stayed off site multiple times.  Once we stayed onsite for the first time, we knew it would be our preference.  Note: I said preference. We would stay offsite if we needed to for financial reasons. I think that would be the main driver for staying off-site, especially if you already had a car available by either driving down or were getting a rental car for other reasons.

Ryan can walk clients through the options of offsite and onsite decisions.

Blog Written By Kim Slusher

Check out my podcast where I highlighted the information covered in this blog.

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