My family and I just recently stayed off-property for the first time on our last Walt Disney World trip. We have always stayed on property over the years that we have been traveling to Florida. We love staying at a different resort each stay. No one does it better than Disney. We had a stay booked for 5 of us at Disney's Polynesian resort until my husband, son, and nephew decided they wanted to go as well. When I went to change our reservations there was hardly anything left to book for our week and nothing to book for seven people.
So, we ended up booking off-property. There are many ways that you can book off-property. You can either book at a hotel that is very close to Disney or rent a condo or a house. We will talk more about booking other hotels later. We ended up renting a 5-bedroom house. Let's go over the pros and cons of staying off-property.
Cons of Staying off Disney Property
There are not a lot of cons to staying off-property but they might not work out with your budget. Then again they just might fit your budget.
Rental Car and Park transportation
Depending on where you stay you may need a rental car. Some of the hotels that are close to Walt Disney World or a Disney Good Neighbor Resort have their own transportation to the parks. Some even include transportation to the Universal parks. Keep in mind that these buses do not drop you off at the Disney bus stops. If you are going to Magic Kingdom you will be dropped off at the Ticket and Transportation Center. Some other things to think about with off-property Disney Parks transportation are they only run at certain times, Some you have to make a reservation, and you might have stops at multiple parks.
With having a rental car you may have to pay for parking twice. Some of the resorts have a parking fee to park in their parking lot. If you decide to drive to the parks you will also pay for parking at the park. Keep in mind that if you park hop then you will just pay for parking at the first park. When you get to the next park just show them your receipt.
Let's also not forget about paying those pesky toll booths or the traffic getting to the parks in the morning.
No Early Entry
If you are a Walt Disney World guest you can get into the park half an hour before the park opens. Also, for select resorts on select days, you can get extra magic hours in certain parks. If you stay at an off-property resort that isn't a Good Neighbor resort or if you are staying in a house or condo you won't be able to get into the parks until opening time.
If you purchase Genie+ each day you can still purchase it like you were staying on property, but you cannot make any selections until park opening time. If you were staying on property you can start selections at 7:00 AM. This was the biggest drawback for me. By the time I could make my selections or buy an individual selection, they were either really late in the day or they were gone.
Pros Of Staying Off Walt Disney World Property
Cost can be a huge determining factor. The off-property hotels are sometimes half the cost of a Walt Disney World Resort. They also have some great amenities too. The other thing that can help out with cost is not eating at Disney parks. If you have a kitchen, you can go to the grocery store and be able to cook your own meals. You can also eat out at other restaurants. There are a ton of great restaurants to choose from around the area. I highly recommend the Black Angus Steakhouse and Flipper's Pizza.
We touched a little bit on this in cost, but I want to go into details a little bit. There are many hotels and rental properties that offer something that another property doesn't offer. For Example, a Good Neighbor Hotel, the Drury Inn offers Free Food. They have a hot Breakfast and they also offer appetizers, beer, wine, mixed drinks, and soda around 5:30 PM. Many resorts have an arcade, pools, and onsite Dining. If you have a house rental you might even have your own private pool and hot tub.
Other Theme Parks
Orlando is known as the Theme Park Capital of the United States. There are quite a few Theme Parks to choose from besides Walt Disney World. Universal Orlando is one of their biggest competitors. If you happen to be staying at a Universal resort they also have transportation to Disney World Parks, for a cost of course. With staying off-property you can go to any of these other Theme parks at your leisure with a purchase of a ticket.
It really depends on what you are looking to get out of your Walt Disney World vacation. Do you want to stay in the Disney Magic or would you like to help your vacation budget and stay off-property? The choice is yours. Any of our Story Guides would be happy to help you plan a Walt Disney World vacation by staying at a Walt Disney World Resort, A Good Neighbor Resort, another hotel, condo rentals, or house rentals. Let's plan your next vacation.
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