One of the questions we get asked the most, is whether or not it’s worth it to stay on property when visiting the Walt Disney World Resort. Now, what we mean by ‘on property’, is staying at one of the Walt Disney World Resorts, vs staying at a hotel that is not part of the Walt Disney World Resort. There are pros and cons to both staying on and off property, and we have done both, and will continue to do both. In this coming blog, we will break down the factors to consider when choosing an on or off property hotel for your family, and what the bottom line comes down to for us.
If price is your bottom line, you’re better off looking outside the Walt Disney World Resort Hotel bubble. Walt Disney World Resorts are many things, but even the Value Resorts out-price themselves, when you start looking at the rock-bottom priced accommodations that can be found at the many hotels, VRBO’s, and airbnbs that are close to property. David and I have spent a considerable amount of time searching through vacation rental websites, and sites like Expedia, and at at the end of the day, you will (almost) always be able to find a better deal off property.
While Disney does have accommodations that can comfortably fit larger families when you start looking at their DVC Villas, large families, or families traveling together, would be more comfortable in a vacation home in our opinion. We’ve stayed at several in the Celebration Area, and have found them to be modern, comfortable, and well equipped to service large groups of people, at very affordable prices.
If being close to the Parks is your priority, then you should stay at a Walt Disney World Resort. I know that seems like there’s not a lot of build up, or overly simplified, but the closest you can get to the parks, is staying at a resort, and the nicer resorts, are even closer to the parks. We stay at all levels of Disney Resorts (Value, Moderate, and Deluxe), and think they’re all great for all different reasons. But we have to admit, when we have the money, or they’re discounted, staying at a Deluxe Resort, especially the ones on the monorail, or within walking distance to a Park, really make you feel closer to the magic.
This is a tricky section to write about, as what it’s worth cannot really be measured in dollars and cents, and it’s different to each person. For us, it’s the reason that we chose to stay at a Disney Resort, even though it almost always costs us more money that it would to stay off property. The bottom line is this – staying at a Disney Resort is magical. Disney does one helluva job at theming it’s resorts, and making them immersive experiences, not just places to crash for the night. Whether it’s staying in a Savannah view room at The Animal Kingdom Lodge, and feeling like you’ve gone to Africa for the week, getting swept up in the romance of turn of the century Victoria at The Grand Floridian, or feeling like you’re stepping into your favorite Disney movie at The Art of Animation – we can’t put a price tag on what this magic adds to our trip. The resorts are part of the reason that we come back, year after year.
There are some extra perks involved with staying on Disney property. One of those perks are ‘Extra Magic Hours’, which is where certain parks allow Disney Resort guests into the parks either early or late on certain days. Another perk of staying on property is that guests enjoy complimentary transportation. All Disney Resorts have complimentary bus transportation to the parks, while some enjoy monorails, boats, or the ability to walk to the parks.
David and I usually take short, quick trips (like a weekend) to WDW, in order to maximize PTO time. Maximizing our time is important to us – but so is napping, because of our tendency to get to parks when they open, and stay until after they close. Being close to the parks, at a Disney Resort, is the only way that we are able to keep our schedule.
At the end of the day, we can’t draw a conclusion about what’s best for your family on this topic, we can just lay out the pro’s and con’s. We love staying and property, even if it costs more money. We see the value in it, and will continue to stay on property. There are times though, when money is tight, that we stay off property, because it doesn’t financially make sense to spend the extra cash. We hope our guide helps your family decide if it’s worth it for you, as you plan your time at Walt Disney World.