As someone who is privileged enough to have been able to visit the Walt Disney World Resort about 20 times in my life, I am the go-to person in my social circles to talk about upcoming vacation to Orlando and the theme park area. When I discuss going to Walt Disney World with other parents and neighbours, one of the biggest rumours that persist is that it is “cheaper” to stay at an off-site hotel opposed to a Disney owned property. People will argue with me about this, but I stand by it – it is not cheaper to rent a villa or house “offsite”. For example, my Dad rented a 5-bedroom vacation home for two weeks in February 2010. He was very proud that it only cost him $2,300 USD for the accommodations. He thought he was saving so much money by putting all 9 (my mom, my dad, my sister, her husband and 2 young children, me, my husband and our daughter) of us in there.
But he forgot about the cost of renting a vehicle (actually 2), food for meals, supplies (laundry detergent, dish soap, toilet paper etc), gas (you will easily go through a couple of tanks of gas driving in and out of Disney during a week’s stay) parking ($12/day at Disney parks) and convenience. The time spent going back and forth was a huge waste and hassle – going through the parking lot alone to find our vehicle took eons and then we got in line behind cars to exit. Babies were cranky and naps had to be missed because we would have to drive a distance back to the house. It made for a lot of running around and incidental costs, which added up quickly – costs that would not have been incurred if we were a quick monorail ride away or a walk through the International Gateway.
Not to mention having breakfast with my brother in law in his underwear, hearing my Dad snore at night down the hall, my mother nagging me about folding laundry, cooking your own meals, and cleaning up after yourself is not a vacation in my humble opinion! My fiancée and I ended up checking into Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge for three nights to escape.
Never would I recommend staying “offsite” – non-Disney owned hotel/vacation villas/homes to any one, ever because I fail to see the “savings”. When doing so, you do not get use of Disney’s Magical Express (complimentary airport to resort transfers), you do not get full use of Disney’s transportation throughout the 47 square mile complex, you do not get to utilize Extra Magic Hours, you CANNOT have the dining plan (which saves you up to 30% on the cost of food) and you cannot have any purchases delivered to your resort. You would also miss out on the Magic and high level of service that a Disney Resort has to offer.
Staying at one of the 28 owned and operated Disney Resorts means being surrounded by Magic twenty four hours a day and also being close enough to return to your hotel for a snack, nap or dip in the pool. There are Resorts that suit all budgets. It’s your vacation and only you know what will work best for your family, but be certain you are making an educated decision.
For a Disney trip, do it right by staying on-site. It’s the only way to do it.
Disclaimer: I was hosted by Walt Disney World Resort for a media trip May 7-9th, 2017. These pictures and opinions are mine.