The Great On-Property vs. Off-Property Debate

Trip Planning Tuesday CastleOne of the most difficult decisions when it comes to planning a Disney World vacation is to decide on your hotel. Before you can decide on where you want to stay you must face the difficult question of whether to stay in a Disney World resort, which will be called “On-Property” from now on, or an “Off-Property” resort. This decision is not one that we are going to tell you an exact answer on because there are many factors that you must look at and answer based on what will be best for your family. So below we are going to give some of our top reasons to stay on-property and some of our top reasons to stay off-property. As always, make sure you comment below if you have any questions.

Top Reasons to Stay “On-Property” When Visiting Disney World

  1. Location, Location, Location! – One of our top reasons to stay on property when visiting Walt Disney World is the location and ease of getting to the theme parks. When you say off-property you have to consider the hassle of driving, parking, riding the tram, and all of the other steps involved in getting into a theme park. When you stay on-site you are just a bus, monorail, or boat ride away from the parks, and you don’t even have to walk through the parking lot. The Disney transportation system is not perfect, but for the most part the location of being on Disney property is a great positive.
  2. It’s All in the Theme – Another of our favorite reasons for staying in a Disney resort is that you get to be completely immersed in the theme of a Disney resort, known to us Disney nerds as the “Disney Bubble”. The theming of Disney resorts are above and beyond anything off-property and it just makes you feel like you are on vacation and in a completely different place.
  3. You Mean I Am Actually Saving Money – Although the price of staying in a Disney resort is often higher than staying off-site you do get some features that could actually save you some money on your vacation. First, due to the free use of Disney’s Magical Express as well as the Disney Transportation System you can save on the cost of a rental car as well as gas money while in Orlando. When staying off-site it is almost impossible to do a trip without renting a car which can cost $250 or more for the week. Add that $250 to the cost of gas while you are in Orlando as well as $20 per day to park at the theme parks you could have an expense of close to $400 for transportation which you save when staying in a Disney Resort. This is an area you must look closely at when planning a trip and see where the biggest bang for your buck is.
  4. Disney’s Magical Express – One great feature of staying at Disney World is the added feature of free use of the Disney’s Magical Express service. Read more on this service in our blog post here.
  5. Extra Magic Hours – Disney really markets the use of Extra Magic Hours when staying at their resorts. We don’t actually recommend the use of this time a whole lot because they tend to be a crowd magnet, but it is still a nice where that every day one park opens an hour early or stays open two hours late for only Disney resort guests.
  6. Use of the Dining Plan – Another benefit many people enjoy that is only available when staying on-site is the availability of the Disney Dining plan, which in effect allows you to purchase your meals as part of your vacation package. Disney will market that the dining plan saves you money and it certainly has the ability to do that, but we do urge you to make sure you consider your family’s eating habits to figure out whether or not it is right for you.
  7. Uniqueness of Repeat Trips – This final reason we love Disney resorts is that when staying in these resorts complete with their fantastic themes you can take repeat trips to Disney World, but it feels like a completely different vacation destination. You can stay in a Caribbean Beach Resort on one trip and then return the next time to a relaxing stay in the Pacific Northwest at Wilderness Lodge. We feel that repeat trips being a unique experience for a family is a great positive for Disney Resorts.

Top Reasons to Stay “Off-Property” When Visiting Disney World

  1. Saving on Hotel Cost – No doubt, the biggest reason people stay off-site when visiting Disney World is that you can get a hotel for much less cost than on-site. These hotels will not be fancy, nor will they have a theme like those on-property, but they will almost always be clean and well kept and serve your family well. It is important to see #3 above and see if you can save enough by staying on-site to make this a tough decision, but if you can pay less for your hotel, rent a car, and pay for gas and parking, and still be less expensive than a Disney resort off-site may be the best option for you. We would be the first to tell you if you can take a trip and stay off-site or not take a trip at all, by all means, take the trip and stay off-site!
  2. Different Room Sizes – A great benefit to staying off site in a hotel or rental property is the ability to get rooms suited for bigger families. Disney has a lot of hotel rooms that sleep four people, but the options get drastically smaller once your family gets larger than that. Off-site you have all kinds of options in terms of multiple bedrooms condominiums to renting a house nearby that you can find something for any type of family for a price that works. Disney prices go up at very fast rates for rooms that sleep more than four people.
  3. Added Benefits at the Hotel – Some off-site hotels may have added benefits that a Disney resort will not. The major benefit we hear people talking about is hotels that service a free hot breakfast which is a great way to jumpstart your family before a long day in the parks. Another benefit may be a short walk to things such as restaurants and shopping. These restaurants may be cheaper than what you would find in the parks and would thus save you some money on your trip budget. Finally, if you have a membership in a certain hotel chain’s customer appreciation program (i.e. Wyndham Rewards) you may get a better rate, special perks, or free nights with your points.
  4. Ease of Visiting Other Orlando Attractions – A final reason we think staying off-site can be a benefit is if you are interested in visiting other attractions in the Orlando area such as Universal Orlando, SeaWorld, or LegoLand. If you are staying off-site you are probably closer to these attractions and already have a rental car which will be easy for you to get your family to these places. If you are staying on-site you would have to purchase transportation which could eat into the budget and make a trip to those locations as easy as if you were staying off-site.

Please leave a comment or question below about this topic and we will be by to answer your question as soon as we can.