Why To Stay at an On-Site Walt Disney World Resort

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.

10 Comments

  1. Which Disney Resort Should You Stay At? – Kathryn Anywhere

    May 26, 2017 at 11:58 pm

    […] that we have already established why you should stay in a Walt Disney World owned Resort, we need to choose which resort you should stay in for your vacation! The Walt Disney World Resort […]

  2. Shelly

    June 9, 2017 at 9:48 am

    We usually start at the Art of Animation but will try to get closer to the parks next time so we have more time to rest at nap time. 🙂 I live doing laundry during that time too… We only bring carry on.

    1. kathrynanywhere

      June 9, 2017 at 10:04 am

      In my ideal trip itinerary, I’d be stay at The Polynesian Resort EVERY TIME!

  3. Jessica

    June 13, 2017 at 11:04 am

    Great advice! I was wondering if it was worth it to stay on-site or not. Seems like there are a lot of extra perks! I’ll definitely keep this in mind on my next trip to Disney.

    1. kathrynanywhere

      June 13, 2017 at 11:22 am

      Totally! And I’m always happy to answer any questions!

  4. Kristin | The Grape Soda Club

    June 13, 2017 at 1:14 pm

    Staying on-site is a must for Disney events! We have stayed on-site for runDisney races and for the Food & Wine Festival, and we have saved a lot by not having to rent a car, pay for gas, pay for parking, and just hassle getting to and from the resort. That’s a big plus for the Food & Wine Festival, since not having to drive meant we could try sipping our way around the world at EPCOT!

  5. Larissa

    June 13, 2017 at 1:31 pm

    I’m one of those that shys away at staying in one of Disney’s resorts when I go down to visit. It just seems like it’d be ridiculously expensive. I’ve never actually looked at the numbers though; I’ve always just assumed. I guess it’s time for me to start doing my homework! And this works out because I’ve always wanted to stay in one of their resorts!

    1. kathrynanywhere

      June 14, 2017 at 10:36 pm

      Totally do a cost comparison work sheet! There are Disney Resorts on the lower price point end AND if you go off-peak season and can score a discount, it’s a great deal!

  6. Melanie

    June 13, 2017 at 10:53 pm

    Yes! I am a FIRM believer in staying onsite! And this is coming from an Orlando native. It’s totally worth it! Especially when, if you do your research, you can stay for the price that you would pay to stay offsite. We stayed at Animal Kingdom when we got engaged, and that was definitely more of a special occasion resort, but there are other spots you can pick that are much more moderate while still having SO much Disney magic!

    1. kathrynanywhere

      June 14, 2017 at 10:37 pm

      Eeeeeee! You got engaged at DAKL?!?!?! That had to have been so amazing! Congratulations!

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