A Chance To Step Back Recharge And Renew
If you havent explored our website in detail, you may be unaware that our son worked at Disney World as a cast member for 18 months. We have been visiting Central Florida since 1997, and we know the resort very well inside and out, having taken behind the scenes tours, and visited so many times I have lost count. I love Disney! I am a crazed rabid fan! I can tell you so much trivia about Walt Disney and Disney World that Ill bore myself in the process!
I have learned however, that when it comes to Walt Disney World, it is absolutely wonderful to leave the craziness behind, escape to somewhere outside the tourist zone, and really rest up before tackling it again.
You see, a vacation to Walt Disney World is an amazing experience. It is exciting, exhilarating, educational, fun, entertaining challenging, and motivating! But it is hardly restful. To me, if you dont feel like you need a vacation after visiting Disney World, you havent done it right! So in order to experience all of the real magic that is Disney World meaning the theme parks, water parks, and recreational, shopping and dining attractions, it is great to be able to get away from it and get well rested in between your attacks on this mecca of fun and entertainment.
One of our first guests described Breezy Oak Villa as the most relaxing place he had ever been on a vacation, and it truly is! There is an absolute joy that permeates the place. And it is just what you need to not feel trapped by the mouse!
Everything Shows Up On The My Disney Experience App
This includes your hotel stay, the room number, transportation times to and from your resort, a resort map, resort dining options and the ability to open your room with your phone. The Works! One of our biggest reasons to try and always stay on site at Walt Disney World, is simply the convenience of having everything in the My Disney Experience App. You just wont get this with an AirBnB or Orlando Hotel experience. When you stay at a Disney Resort everything is connected and linked for a super simple at-your-fingertips vacation experience.
You Can Possibly Stay Late
Not an early bird? Along with early theme park entry, Disney is also debuting a new extended evening hours benefit for guests staying at Deluxe Resorts, Deluxe Villas, the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin hotels and Disneys Shades of Green resort.
Unlike the daily early entry, extended hours only take place on select evenings and only at one park per day. As of now, it alternates between Magic Kingdom and Epcot, with Magic Kingdom staying open from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. and Epcot from 10 p.m. to 12 a.m.
Most of the designated parks most popular attractions remain open for extended evening hours. With only a few hotels being eligible, you can expect wait times to be very low and crowds minimal.
A valid ticket and Park Pass reservation or Park Hopper option are required for extended theme park hours.
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The Ultimate Guide To Staying Offsite At Disney World
Disney World Onsite Vs Offsite
Is it Better to Stay at Disney World or Offsite?
Before booking your Disney World vacation, consider what options you may have to shave some dollars off your bill. Take the time to figure out what aspects of your Disney vacation are more important to you. Do you want to be the first one in line at the gates of Magic Kingdom each morning? Is being able to prepare healthy meals for your family important to you? Will there be time during your vacation to sit back and lounge by the pool or enjoy some activities? How long do you plan to stay? According to various experts, a 6-to-7-day stay allows you the most time to experience the best of Disney. With four theme parks , two water parks , the massive Disney Springs entertainment-shopping-dining complex, ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, and four golf courses, there is a lot to do and squeeze into your trip! It can seem a bit overwhelming and crowded, especially during the busy season. Staying at a resort off Disney property is provides you with a major opportunity to save while experiencing all the comforts of home during your getaway. Lets dive deeper!
Tips for Staying Offsite at Disney World
Benefits of Staying Offsite at Disney World
Walt Disney World Resort Area Hotel/Resort
Westgate Resorts Hotel
6-Day StayOne-Bedroom Grand Villa: 905 sq. ft. of deluxe space
Sleeps 4 guests
Disney World Hotel Benefits
There can be a lot of added value when staying at a Disney World Hotel. Sometimes guests just look and compare room prices and go with the lower, off site hotel because its cheaper. But what they are missing out on could end up making things even or in Disneys favor.
Weve listed the Disney World Hotel benefits below and then discuss them in a bit of detail so you know exactly what they are and the value they add to your stay. Keep in mind that during COVID some of these things may have been put on hold. Look for the asterisks.
- Disneys Magical Express Service
- Theme Park Bus Transportation
- Disney Dining Plan*
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Pros And Cons To Staying On Property At Disney World
One of the first steps to planning your#DisneyWorldvacation will be figuring out where to stay when you are in Orlando. The biggest decision will be if you want to stay on Disney property or if you would prefer to stay off-property. You might think that staying on Disney property is a necessity but we have never stayed on Disney property even though we have been on at least 15 wonderful Disney vacations over the years. We also have a podcast about this topic available on our podcast page or through this link: Pros and Cons of Disney World Property Podcast Let’s take a closer look at some of the pros and cons of staying on and off property.
Are There Still Enough Perks To Stay Onsite
Growing up, I was lucky to visit Walt Disney World Resort with my family multiple times. My parents werent rich but worked hard and made sacrifices to be able to spend on the things they viewed as priorities. Luckily for me, family travel was included in that.
We all know Disney World is way more expensive now than it was in the 80s and 90s when I grew up, but as a family of six and usually traveling with some extended family staying offsite was just more economical. So when my husband and I took our daughter for our first family trip to Walt Disney World, it was the first time we had stayed onsite. Now with several more onsite trips with kids under our belts, and a more recent offsite stay, I can see both sides of the argument regarding which of the two is better.
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Ability To Book Disney Dining Plan
Note: Dining plans are temporarily suspended. As of July 2021, Disney has confirmed they will return, but has not yet said when.
Only guests of Disney hotels can book Disney dining plans. Very few people are going to be worse off without the dining plan, which is why we dont value them particularly high. But in the right circumstancesif you plan deliberately around themthe dining plans can save you money on your meals at Disney World.
Disney hotel guests are also the only guests able to access packages with Free Dining, which can definitely be a huge way to save at Walt Disney World.
Its More Magical Than An Off
Weve written about the Pros and Cons of staying off-site at Disney World before. Whats the point of taking a Walt Disney World vacation if youre not there for the magic. Trust us when we say that with travel deals everywhere these days, you can travel many places cheaper than Walt Disney World. So if youre at Disney, you might as well be ALL IN at Disney. This means enjoying the crazy cafeterias at your resort, taking a break at the character-themed pool, eating all the Mickey-shaped snacks you can find, and watch the lawn movie at night. It also means standing on the crowded bus after a rainy evening, grateful youre not sitting in Orlando traffic. With resort rooms themed to characters you know and love, the grounds at each property meticulously crafted to Disney perfection and Instagram-worthy cupcakes magically appearing at your resort cafeteria, why stay anywhere else?
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A Word About Disney World Resort Transportation
Youre visiting Disney World to go to Disney parks, right? So you want to get there fast! Most Deluxe Resorts stand out in the transportation category. However, youll pay a premium.
The Grand Floridian, Polynesian and Contemporary resorts are on the coveted Monorail line. They also offer transportation to the Magic Kingdom via boat, as does the Wilderness Lodge. Other Deluxe hotels offer boat transportation to EPCOT and Hollywood Studios, and some are even within walking distance!
Bus service is the main form of transportation for most Value and Moderate Resorts. In addition, Disneys Port Orleans Riverside and Port Orleans French Quarter resorts offer boat transportation to Disney Springs, and the Skyliner has stops at Disneys Pop Century and Art of Animation Resorts, Disneys Caribbean Beach Resort, and Disneys Riviera Resort.
In the world of Disney transportation as with everything else you really do get what you pay for!
Which of the Disney World Resorts did you pick? Tell us why in the comment section below.
Youll Have To Pay For Parking Twice
Chances are you already paid for your hotel parking off-site. Unless you were lucky and got a deal, or are staying at an airbnb. And now youll have to pay for parking at the parks as well. Unless youre an Annual Passholder or are taking an Uber, the sad fact is that parking at WDW is EXPENSIVE. At $20/day, depending on how many days you plan to go, that can add up pretty quickly.
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Pros Of Staying Off Of Disney Property
- Less expensive nightly rates, but it depends on the resort. You may encounter a more expensive rate off property versus staying in a value or moderate resort. You may have a bigger room off property than the value or moderate resort, but be sure to look at both options before making a final decision. The smaller Disney value or moderate room may be worth it to you not only for the lower nightly rate, but also for the perks and benefits of staying on Disney property.
- Stay off property + eat off property for some meals = save money. It depends on how much time you spend at Disney. If you are there from the moment it opens to the moment it closes, you may be eating all meals at Disney.
- Some hotels offer a free breakfast.
- Can book bigger rooms for less money. Vacation parties with more than 4 people can benefit with a suite or villa for less money off property. Especially if they need more beds in one villa versus a villa that allows a certain number of people to sleep there. For instance, a Disney 2 bedroom villa sleeps 8 or 9, but only has 3 beds, 1 pullout couch and a sleeper chair in rooms that allow a 9th person. Some 2 bedrooms have 2 beds, 2 pullout couches and 1 sleeper chair. If there are people who cannot sleep in the same room or on a pullout couch, these rooms would be problematic. It depends on the dynamics of the vacation party.
Fastpass Selections And The Age Of Genie+
Genie+ is a whole different ballgame. Photo courtesy of Disney
When the parks reopened after their temporary COVID closure, one feature was notably absent: FastPass. And, as we all feared, Disney did eventually announce that FastPass was being discontinued in favor of Genie+, a paid FastPass system.
Thats right: FastPass was free, but youll now have to pay for usage of the Lightning Lanes to get on rides faster. Disney World Resort guests used to have an advantage for staying on property: They could make FastPass selections 60 days in advance while non-resort guests only had a 30-day lead time. This alone was a major reason to stay on property.
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No FastPass? Why Stay on Property?
So is staying at a Disney World hotel worth it without early FastPass selections? I still think so. I know its not ideal to suddenly pay for Genie+ when youve been used to free FastPasses, but all other major theme parks have been doing this for years. And now with the Individual Lightning Lanes, well be able to guarantee a ride on Rise of the Resistance. Boo-yah.
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So Which Is Right For You
So which is better? On-site or off property? Honestly, the only person who can tell you which is best for you, is you. Grab a pencil, pull up Google, and start comparing. Once you have an idea of actual costs and financial value, you can compare it to perceived value, and then be an educated consumer based on whats most important to you. This one is definitely a matter of Your Mileage May Vary.
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Resort Stays Dont Use Up Annual Pass Park Reservation Slots
Staying on property wont eat into your park reservations. Photo by Judd Helms
The Park Reservation system is here to stay, whether you love it or hate it. And this is where staying on Disney Property makes a lot of sense for Annual Passholders.
Each tier of Annual Pass gets you a certain amount of park reservations that you can hold at once:
But when you book a stay at a Disney World hotel, you dont have to use up your park reservations. That means you, as a Pirate Passholder, could have four random days locked down in the future, but also have a week at Disney guaranteed when you stay at a hotel like All-Star Movies or Caribbean Beach Club.
Staying at Disney World Resort just to guarantee more time in the parks sounds like the move to me.
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The Disney Dining Plan
You can add the Disney Dining Plan to any on-site resort package.
The Disney Dining Plan is available to guests who either purchase a Magic Your Way Package or use Disney Vacation Club points. With the Disney Dining Plan, you purchase a certain number of meals ahead of time on a voucher system. Every night during your stay, each guest on your reservation receives an allotment of quick service meals and table service meals and snacks. How many of these meals and snacks you receive depends on which dining plan you choose.
Many people LOVE this and swear by it, and others are not as thrilled with the actual savings. Many users report they like knowing everything is paid for in advance. While you pay for the food, unless you get it free during the Free Dining promotions, you dont pay anything for the service itself as an on property guest.
With this Disney Splurge, you wont be carrying any cash around with you out of necessity. While your food is free, remember your tip is not included.
Pay for meals in advance = less to worry about come meal time
Perks Of Staying At A Disney Hotel
Now, the perks! Things have changed the last few months, so if youre getting back to planning a postponed trip or you just havent kept up to date on things, be prepared for some surprises.
We also might mention the non-Disney hotels a few times in this section. Its important to remember, though, that the specifics of the non-Disney hotels change frequently, so you always need to confirm the latest set of benefits directly with your hotel when you book.
Last thingalmost all of these perks are consistent across all Disney hotels. The big exception is Extended Evening Hours, which is available only to guests of Disney Deluxe Hotels and DVC resorts. For the other perks, it doesnt matter whether youre staying at All Star Sports or Grand Floridian.
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