Hey there, Disney vacationers! Are you planning a trip to the happiest place on Earth and wondering where to stay? It’s the classic dilemma: should you opt for the magic of staying onsite at Disney World or venture offsite for potential savings and variety? Let’s dive into the key considerations to help you make the best choice for your Disney vacation.
Onsite Disney Resorts: Staying onsite, such as at the Pop Century Resort, offers prices typically ranging from $166 to $304 per night. These resorts provide a complete Disney experience with themed rooms, close park proximity, and additional perks like early park access and unique transportation options like the Disney Skyliner. The cost includes the convenience and magic of staying within the Disney bubble, making it a valuable choice for many.
Offsite Options: Offsite accommodations offer a variety of choices, from budget-friendly hotels to luxurious condos. Areas like Kissimmee provide affordable options with more space, often allowing for longer stays within the same budget. These accommodations are ideal for larger families or those who want to explore Orlando beyond Disney. The trade-off is the added travel time to the parks and the lack of Disney-themed immersion. There are select rental properties that do offer accommodations that have Disney/Universal-themed rooms.
Getting Around: Transportation Considerations
Disney Transportation: Onsite guests have access to Disney’s extensive transportation network, including buses, monorails, Skyliner, and boats. This system is designed for convenience but can be crowded during the busier times of day and year, and operates on a fixed schedule. It’s a great way to stay immersed in the Disney experience and is particularly beneficial for families who prefer not to rent a car (and save the additional cost).
The Flexibility of a Car: For offsite guests, having a car offers greater flexibility and can be more time-efficient, especially for accommodations further from the parks. It allows for easy exploration of Orlando’s other attractions. However, consider factors like parking fees at the parks and the time needed to travel to and from your offsite location. Select off-site resorts do offer transportation to the themed parks. Cost, schedule, and where they can drop guests off can vary based on the resort
Food Costs: Dining In and Around Disney
Offsite Hotels: Many offsite hotels offer complimentary breakfasts, which can lead to significant savings, especially for larger families. Additionally, dining options outside the Disney parks are often more varied and less expensive, allowing for a wider range of culinary experiences.
Young Children: Convenience and Comfort
Onsite Stays: For families with young children, staying onsite can be a game-changer. The proximity to the parks makes it easier to return to the hotel for naps or a break. The Disney-themed environment also adds to the magic for young kids, making every moment of the stay special.
Splitting Up: Flexibility for Families and Groups
Onsite Advantages: Staying onsite offers more flexibility for groups or families who plan to split up. The variety of transportation options and the ability to charge back to the room make it easier for different members of the group to follow their own schedules while still enjoying the convenience and safety of the Disney environment.
Exploring Orlando: Beyond Disney
Offsite Benefits: If your vacation plans include visiting other attractions in Orlando, such as Universal Studios, SeaWorld, or local shopping and dining, staying offsite can be more convenient. It offers easier access to other parts of Orlando and can be a more central base for a diverse vacation experience.
Onsite Perks: The Magic Extras
- 7 AM Lightning Lane Selections: Onsite guests can make their Individual Lightning Lane Selections at 7 am, a significant advantage over offsite guests who have to wait until park opening. Here is the current list of Individual Lightning Lane attractions at each park:
- Magic Kingdom: Seven Dwarfs Mine Train and Tron Lightcycle / Run
- EPCOT: Guardians of the Galaxy Cosmic Rewind
- Hollywood Studios: Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance
- Animal Kingdom: Avatar Flight of Passage
- Dining Reservations: Onsite guests can make dining reservations 60 days in advance, plus 10 additional days, giving them a head start on securing popular dining spots.
- Disney Dining Plan: Exclusive to onsite guests, the Disney Dining Plan offers a convenient and often cost-effective way to enjoy meals throughout the parks and resorts. It simplifies dining by allowing guests to pre-pay for meals and snacks.
- Free Parking and Transportation: Onsite guests enjoy free parking at resorts and theme parks, along with complimentary transportation options.
- Early Theme Park Entry and Extended Hours: Onsite guests have access to Early Theme Park Entry and, for those at select hotels, Extended Evening Theme Park Hours.
- Room Charging Privileges: Onsite guests can charge purchases to their room using their MagicBand or Key to the World card.
- Being Inside the Disney Bubble: Staying onsite means being immersed in the Disney experience throughout your stay.
- Location: Onsite resorts often have prime locations, with some within walking distance to the parks.
In conclusion, whether you choose to stay onsite or offsite at Disney World, each option offers unique benefits tailored to different needs and preferences. Onsite stays provide an all-encompassing Disney experience with exclusive perks, while offsite accommodations can offer more space, flexibility, and potential savings. Consider what aspects are most important for your trip to make the best choice for your magical Disney adventure.
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Meet the Author: Nate Bishop
I’m a die-hard Disney fan with 38 years of visits under my belt, having stepped into Disney World 120+ times. Proud to be a Disney Annual Passholder, a Vacation Club member since ’92, a Castaway Club Member, and a runDisney enthusiast. Oh, and I’ve graduated from the Disney College of Knowledge. Need Disney insights or planning tips? I’m your guy!