Should I Stay In A Disney World Resort
Should you stay in a Disney World resort, or off-site? In most cases Id suggest staying in a Disney resort for sure!!! While there are some people who might do better in a non-Disney resort , for most people, there are a lot of good reasons to choose Disney. Ill explain the pros and cons. First, check out whats coming soon:
For years when we first came to Disney we didnt know about the option to stay on Disney property. We stayed all over Orlando in a wide variety of hotels and resorts. Eventually we found out about the Disney resorts, and we figured out that we could pay about the same, or depending on the time of year and deals available, slightly more than what we could pay at a non-Disney resort. From our first Disney resort stay, weve never looked back.
Personally, we love the Disney-owned resorts, and we stay in them as often as possible. We do stay in other resorts so that we can investigate and write about them, but weve found that theres something very unique and special about the Disney resort experience.
Lets look at both sides. Heres the downside to staying in a Disney-owned resort:
But, what you pay for with a Disney resort is something that you dont get anywhere else.
On site is so much better, we have been 6 times and only been able to afford to stay on site twice, most recent visit being one of them. It just engulfs you in all the magic of Disney 24 hours a day, really makes it a truly magical trip.
Disney Resorts For Larger Families
If youve got more than the typical family of 4, you may be wondering what options Disney would have for you. I have a complete list over in this post about how to plan a Disney trip for 5 or more people, but a few of the more popular options include:
- Family suites at the Art of Animation or All-Star Music
- Standard rooms with a 5th pull out sleeper available at a number of resorts
- The Cabins at Fort Wilderness
- 1 bedroom villas
- The treehouses at Saratoga Springs
- Two standard rooms at a resort with connecting doors
So there are actually a lot of options for families and groups who want to stay on Disney property. Some of these options are more affordable than others. If youre looking for a place with a full kitchen, multiple bedrooms, etc., youll be looking at a villa and those can get quite pricey. In that case you may want to look at off site options.
Not Requesting A Room
Another common mistake that Disney-goers make when booking their hotel stay at Disney World is not requesting a room. Select Disney World resorts will allow you to note a room preference when you check-in online. And, if that isnt a feature online for the hotel youll be staying at, you can actually call Disney and the Cast Member that you speak with can note your preference on your reservation.
Hippy Dippy Pool view at Disneys Pop Century Resort
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Should You Stay At A Hotel Or An Airbnb
Alright, now that weve established the benefits and challenges of each, lets talk about when you should stay at a hotel or an Airbnb. Much of this will depend on your budget and the size of your family, but also what you expect from your vacation.
Best Fit for Hotel Stay:
- Short Trips If youre only staying a night or two, you want to be as close to the parks as possible to save on travel time.
- Small Families or Couples Theres less of a need for small families to have a lot of space when they travel so a hotel room might be enough.
- Flexible Budget If money is no problem, staying at one of the luxurious on property hotels is a great experience.
Best Fit for Airbnb Stay:
Lake Buena Vista / Walt Disney World
Aerial view of Epcot theme park from the monorail
Walt Disney World is actually located in two towns Bay Lake and Lake Buena Vista. While there are many Disney resorts to stay at, most lodgings in the surrounding area offer more affordable rates and similar benefits . For the best deals, check out my article on the best times to visit Disney World.
Since families tend to stay in the area around Disney, most resorts offer childrens activities and entertainment offerings for the younger guests, like a kids water park near the swimming pool or an activity area with crafts and games.
Pros of Staying in Lake Buena Vista
- Closest neighborhood to Walt Disney World
- Most resorts have shuttle service to the theme parks
Cons of Staying in Lake Buena Vista
- Traffic is bad at almost any time
- Many resorts charge a resort fee and self-parking
Lake Buena Vista Mini Guide Best Area to Stay for Families
- Where to Eat Sofrito Latin Cafe , Susuru , Raglan Road Irish Pub
- Where to Drink Disney Springs, Player 1 Video Game Bar
- Top Attraction Walt Disney World Resort
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Transportation From Orlando International Airport To Your Hotel
As of Jan. 1, 2022, Disneys Magical Express complimentary airport transfer service is turning into a pumpkin at midnight. Without this service, many Disney travelers are wondering what their options are for getting from the Orlando International Airport to Disney World, outside of renting a car or using a ride-hailing service.
Mears Transportation Group announced in August it would operate its own airport shuttle service to Disney World hotels beginning in January.
Like Magical Express, Mears Connect will coordinate luggage handling and getting you to and from the airport. Unlike its predecessor, however, there is a fee.
The introductory rate for standard service is $16 each way for adults and $13.50 each way for kids, and the premium service is $200 round-trip for up to four passengers . The reason for the steep price bump is the premium service is a private coach for your party that takes you directly to your resort with no other stops along the way.
Reservations are now available for arrivals beginning Jan. 1.
Should You Stay At A Disney Resort Or Not
One of the most popular questions I get from people planning a Disney World vacation is Should I stay at a Disney resort or off site?. There really isnt a clear cut answer to this, it really depends on a lot of factors. My preference is to always stay at a Disney resort, but it doesnt always work out that way.
Im going to break down for you the most important factors to consider when deciding where to stay:
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Package Deliveries To Your Resort
Of course, you will be some souvenirs to commemorate your Disney vacation. But do you really want to lug it around all day? If you stay at a Disney Hotels in Orlando, you wont have to.
In-park purchases can be delivered to your hotel, for no additional charge. Just be aware it is typically delivered the following day, so dont save shopping for your last day.
Best Disney World Resort Pools
If you just want to know which Disney resort hotels have the best pools, there are two clear winners for the best pools at Disney World.
Disneys Beach and Yacht Club Resorts offer five-star poolside fun.
These sister properties have the distinct feel of a beach in an otherwise landlocked resort, as this is where you will find sand-bottomed pools with a lazy river, pirate ship and a wicked waterslide that will keep young swimmers entertained.
For younger kids, the winner might be the Art of Animation, which also has the largest, more traditional pool, known as the Big Blue Pool. It has a zero-entry area and also a separate water play space for smaller children. Theres no waterslide, but the resort also has two other pools, the Cozy Cones pool and Flippin Fins pool.
An honorable mention goes to the Lava Pool at Polynesian Village, which has a volcano waterslide in the middle, along with a separate toddler slide area. Getting a poolside view of the Magic Kingdom fireworks and easily accessible Dole Whip doesnt hurt either.
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Staying In The Bubble
The Disney Bubble can be described as the overall feeling of staying and visiting Disney World without venturing off property. Also described as maintaining the magic, its the theming, awesome cast members and joy of removing yourself from the real world for the duration of your trip.
Walt Disney Worlds cast members are the real stars of the show and can help guarantee a smooth vacation. We have countless examples over the years of cast members going out of their way to make our trip a special one. That little extra isnt always guaranteed, but when it happens its hard not to feel the magic. Its nice knowing that Disney will try their best to make things better even when something goes wrong.
Are You Picky Pool People
If you are traveling to The World in the midst of summer, or any time apart from about two weeks in January when it can be a little brisk, adding in some pool time is usually a given. Some guests like to choose their accommodation based on the type of pool access available and its suitability to their traveling family.
If you have children that love swimming, water play, and water slides, there are many resorts in the lower price ranges that can make your time magical. On the other hand, if you have much younger children, you may prefer a quieter environment for them to cool down and enjoy the water.
Since many of the resorts offer multiple pools and buildings, consider where your room will be located compared to where you want your pool time to be spent. You may prefer to be further away from the action if the sanity of your afternoon relies on little ones getting a midday nap. Alternatively, you may have older children that you would allow to visit the pool alone but would like to be close by or in eyesight of them.
There are many options available, and while Disney doesnt guarantee which building you want to be in, special requests can be made, and if needed, preferred buildings can be booked.
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Where Will You Spend Most Of Your Time
This one is often overlooked but can be the biggest factor worth considering when deciding between that big splurge for something fancy and saving that money to bank for the next trip. If you are planning to spend most of your time in the parks, dont be too tempted to up the budget for a fancier resort. Instead, you might like to do what I do and consider the quality of the bedding and configurations available.
When planning a dawn-till-dusk park day, it is far more important to come back to a comfortable bed that allows you to recover from the day than it is to make sure you have a mural of The Little Mermaid in your bathroom. Spend that extra money on dining experiences or special mementos instead.
Think twice before sleeping on a table for the sake of the theming.
Prioritize the comfort of your family over all the fancy features. Convenient restaurant access and pretty colors dont make up for lost sleep.
That will do it for today. If you have any questions about your accommodation, ask your agent and put your question to the brain trust of the DisBoards to make sure you have covered all the bases.
Planning A Trip To Disney World On A Budget: Top Tips + Costs
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Yes, planning a trip to Disney World on a budget is possible! Its never going to be the cheapest trip, but there are many ways you can save money on accommodation, transport, and food.
Weve been to Disney World in Orlando, Florida three times as adults. The first two visits we were on a tight budget and stayed in off-site motels and packed sandwiches.
On our last trip we had more to spend and stayed in Disney Worlds cheapest resort hotel and ate in the parks at a mix of fast food and table service restaurants.
They have all been wonderful experiences, and below I compare the costs of staying on-site vs off-site, explain step by step how to plan a Disney vacation on a budget, and give tips on how to save money on every aspect of your stay.
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Where To Stay In Orlando By An Area Local
Many people head to Orlando and bee-line straight for Disney or Universal. But since the city is over 100 square miles, plus many surrounding neighborhoods and small towns, Orlando actually offers much more than just theme parks.
Im an Orlando local and Im here to help you navigate exactly where to stay in Orlando, for every type of trip and for every budget.
Generally speaking, the best places to stay in Orlando are located between the Walt Disney World Resort and Downtown Orlando. But it is important to choose where to stay based on what you plan to do while youre visiting.
For a hardcore Hufflepuff planning to spend all your time in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, then staying at a Universal Orlando Resort hotel will get you transportation to the theme parks and early entry into the magical land. If you want to explore all that Orlando has to offer, International Drive gives you the most central location.
You get my drift a lot depends on the activities you plan to do in Orlando! So lets dive in and figure out the best area for you:
- Best Budget Hotel Tru by Hilton
Ok, lets do a deep dive into the best areas and neighborhoods in Orlando:
When Should I Go
Before you choose where to stay, you need to determine when you are traveling. Disney resorts are least expensive during off-peak times of the year. Those times are usually when schools are traditionally in session and not around holidays. Reserving a Walt Disney World room during off-peak times can cost up to 40% less than during holidays and other busier times of the year.
Disney hotel rates vary not only by seasons but also by days of the week. Guests may pay a higher weekend rate on Friday and Saturday nights than during the rest of the week. Rooms are priced nightly so that the rate can vary nightly throughout your stay.
In addition to the overall lower prices during off-peak times, Disney is much more likely to offer special promotions during slower periods, reducing the cost of your vacation even further. Dont expect to see any special offers or promotions from Disney during the week of Easter, Thanksgiving, or Christmas through New Years Eve!
TheMouseForLess Tip: For a complete analysis of the best time to plan your visit, read our Choosing Vacation Dates Guide.
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Best Disney Hotel For Little Kids
Animated movies spring to life at Disneys Art of Animation Resort, a value-priced resort with four different wings themed around The Lion King, Cars, Finding Nemo, and The Little Mermaid. Choose from standard rooms with two queen-size beds that sleep four, or family suites with two bathrooms, a kitchenette, and three separate sleeping areas that sleep six. The pool is always one of the most important features for little kids, and Disneys Art of Animations Big Blue Pool is the largest at any of the Disney World resort hotels.
Disneys Coronado Springs Resort
Since its recent refurbishment and the addition of the Gran Destino Tower, Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort has become one of the top choices in the Moderate resort category. Located near Disney’s Animal Kingdom, this Spanish-, Mexican-, and American Southwest-inspired hotel has one of the best pools on property, with a 50-foot Mayan pyramid centerpiece and a 123-foot waterslide . Rooftop Toledo Tapas, Steak, & Seafood and Dahlia Lounge offer upscale Spanish flavors with a great view. We recommend staying in the Gran Destino Tower for easy access to the restaurants and resort transportation with nearly 2,000 rooms spread out in many buildings across the resort, some are a bit of a walk from the main tower.
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Why Staying On Disney World Property Matters
First of all, staying at a Disney World Resort hotel means that you have access to Early Theme Park Entry as well as Extended Evening Hours if youre staying at a Deluxe Resort. Youll also get free transportation from your Resort to and from the theme parks.
Park Hopper Plus Option
This is another upgrade to the basic ticket it allows you to park hop between the Disney World theme parks and grants entrance to the two Disney World water parks , to the two miniature golf courses , spectator admission for amateur evens at Wide World of Sports, and Disney Oak Trail golf benefits. The number of total entrances allowed is equal to the number of days on your Basic Ticket. Because these admissions are separate from the theme park entrances, you can go to a theme park and a water park on the same day with this option even without paying for the Park Hopper option. I love this option during warm months, especially if I have a full week or more at Disney World, but it may not be a great value for short trips. Families with toddlers and very young children may find that this option isnt especially practical. Remember too that Disney closes one water park for refurbishment from late October mid-March. If youre going in the winter months, you may want to wait until your vacation to add this option when you have a better sense of the actual temperatures during your trip this option can be added at the guest services desk at your resort or at any of the parks. You can purchase a separate single-day admission to the water parks but this option is the best deal if you plan to do two or more of these activities.
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