For today’s Trip Planning Tuesday article we want to share some tips for staying off-site. Below we have listed 5 things you need to know as you are in the process of booking your off-site hotel. These 5 things will help you pick the hotel that is right for you, will give you the biggest bang for your buck, and will make sure you get the added amenities you deserve when staying off-site.
- Know the Location – This is a huge part of selecting a good resort off Disney property. Orlando is a huge area and there are many hotels in many different areas, so you’ll want to make sure the ones you are looking at are close to Disney World. We recommend limiting your search to the towns of Lake Buena Vista and Celebration, as well as the area along highway 192 (the Irlo Bronson Memorial Highway). These areas will be within 10 minutes of Disney World and will offer any type of hotel room that you need at any price point. There are of course other hotels along I-4 and on International Drive that will do the same, but the further north you go the more trouble you will have getting back to the parks every day, so we recommend staying as close as you can. One of the best areas to be are what is called the Disney Springs Resort Area Hotels. There are 7 resorts located right across the street from Disney Springs that are mostly run by major hotel chains. These hotels usually have nice deals and discounts available if you are willing to do a little research. Of course we always recommend working with a travel agent who can help you select the perfect resort on-site or off-site. Travel agents are free to work with and you get someone working to help you plan the perfect vacation.
- Getting to The Parks – The one part of staying off-site that will be an inconvenience is having to drive in each morning to get into the parks. Orlando traffic can be bad, that is why we recommend staying as close as you can to Disney World property. Getting around Disney World is not easy for some people, although we find if you just follow the signs and not worry about what direction you are actually going you should be alright. Once you get to the parks you will have to pay the $20 daily parking fee, unless you are an annual pass holder. Make sure you have read our post on Everything You Need to Know About Parking. Once parked you can walk to the gate if you are close enough or there are always trams to take people to the front of the park. The key here is to make sure you leave yourself enough time to still get to the parks before rope drop as that is very important for park touring purposes as you will see on our Itinerary Planning Page.
- Can You Still Take a Break? – This is a major question that you need to answer when choosing an off-site hotel. On our Itinerary Planning Page we speak of the principle of visiting a park in the morning, taking a mid-day break, and returning to a park that night. This strategy allows you to enjoy the best things about your vacation while staying rested physically and mentally. If staying off-site we want to be close enough and easy enough to get to that you can take this mid-day break to let your family re-charge for the evening. Keep in mind though to take this break you will need to go back to your car in the parking lot, navigate your way off-property and back to your resort. This is often a little longer process than just getting back to your on-site resort, so that makes location even more important.
- Are You Getting Extra Resort Amenities? – One of the benefits to staying off-site are some extra resort amenities you will get into one of these hotels. Make sure you are getting some extra perks that you will not get on-site. If a hotel does not have any extra perks we recommend finding a different off-site hotel as there is probably one that offers some extras. By extras we are referring to things such as a free hot breakfast or evening appetizers. Also, a big extra that some hotels offer is extra space in the rooms or rooms with multiple bedrooms for larger families. Whatever your choice is make sure you are keeping in mind these extra resort amenities when booking your off-site hotel.
- Getting Around Orlando – A very important part of your off-site trip is keeping in mind how you will get around Orlando. We highly recommend that you have a rental car if you are staying off-property as that is the only efficient way to get around. If you do not you will have to pay for airport transportation as well as find transportation to the parks. Some off-site resorts have included transportation to the theme parks, but this transportation is not all its cracked up to be. It is usually only at certain times of the day instead of being constant like Disney Transportation. Also, this transportation will often times just drop you off at a central location like Epcot and you have to ride Disney Transportation to the park you want to go to, which can take a while. Bottom line, the best way to go is with a rental car when staying off-property as that will give you freedom to come and go when you want as well as do any other attractions off-property without much hassle.
As always, please leave your comments or questions below and we will be by to help you as soon as we can.