Disney Resort: On-site or Off?

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Welcome to Disney Wednesdays, Week 3!
Check out the other posts in the series:

So far we have discussed the top ten ways to save on a Disney World vacation and how to make a budget and stick with it.  This week we will discuss one of the age old debates when it comes to a Disney World vacation is staying on-site vs. off-site.  Most people assume that staying off of Disney property will save them more money.  I used to be one of those people.  My first two Disney vacations I too stayed off site.  On our last trip to Disney World we were taking our children for the first time.  This is also the first time I really researched the benefits of staying on site.  Here are a few things that I discovered:

  • Disney resorts are the only resorts in the Orlando area that offer free transportation to and from the Orlando airport and to and from the Disney parks.  Some of the area hotels do have free shuttles to the parks, but you will need to rent a car or pay for a shuttle service to and from the airport.  If you do not stay at a hotel that has transportation to and from the parks, Disney charges $15.00 per day for parking.
  • Most off-site hotels do not offer any discounts.  These hotels offer everyday “low, flat rate”.  Disney resorts offer different discounts throughout the year such as 30% off your room and free dining.  There isn’t ever a reason to pay the rack rate if staying on site at Disney World.
  • Disney offers Extra Magic Hours to their guests staying on-site.  Every day one park is open either early or late for guests staying on site.  If you stay at an off-site hotel you will only be able to visit the parks during regular hours.
  • Deluxe villas are the most expensive of the Disney resort rooms.  If you have a large family or would like a full kitchen, you may save more money by renting a home or a condo nearby.

On our last trip we ended up staying at a value resort on the Disney property.  After one trip on-site and two trips off-site, I can honestly say that I would prefer to always stay on-site.  I love getting in those few extra hours at the parks and the convenience of Disney transportation.  The price of All Stars Movies (an on-site resort) ended up being about the same price we would have spent if we had stayed at a nearby hotel off-site.  We also traveled while Disney was offering their free dining promotion, so all of our meals were free!  This saved us a lot of money.  If we had stayed at an offsite hotel, we would have had to figure out a dining budget or packed food for the parks every day.

What do you guys think?  Are you fans of onsite hotels or offsite at Disney World?

Just for Femme Frugality readers!  Last week!
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4 thoughts on “Disney Resort: On-site or Off?

  1. Alexa

    The only time I have visited Disney World we stayed on site and it was a blast. We stayed in what looked like a small trailer and drove golf carts around the resort. It was great!

    Reply
    1. femmefrugality

      I did the first time I went to Disney, too! It was some New Orleans themed hotel. No golf carts, but it was pretty amazing. The second time I went we stayed off site, but it was with a school trip so all my friends were there. I was a teen, and my friends were the most important thing in the world, so I don’t remember if the hotel or transportation was a PITA. I bet our chaperons would, though!

      Reply
  2. Thomas | Your Daily Finance

    Every time we go to Disney we stay off site. My wifey’s family is from Orlando and we have always crashed with them. I have a few friends that have stayed some enjoyed it and others think its a waste of money. Just depends on what you are looking for.

    Reply

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