Choosing a place to stay on your Walt Disney World vacation

Choosing a place to stay for your Walt Disney World vacation can be a daunting task. By itself Disney owns and runs 28 hotels on it’s property. When you include all the hotels, rental homes, and time shares in the area surrounding Walt Disney, you have a lot of options to choose from. So how do you choose? Let’s start by comparing the advantages and disadvantages of staying in a Disney hotel versus a hotel or property not run by Disney.

Let’s start with the non-Disney properties usually referred to staying “offsite” by Disney fans.

Advantages of Offsite accommodations :

  • Most offsite accommodations cost less (sometimes significantly less) than the Disney resorts,
  • Most offsite locations offer more room than the Disney resorts
  • If you go the rental home route you will have a full kitchen, which will allow you to save money on dining.
  • You can escape the Disney Theming.

Disadvantages of Offsite accommodations :

  • Depending on where you are staying you may need a car, or need to plan on the additional expense of Uber.
  • Travel time to the parks may be increased. (When choosing offsite locations be sure to check how far away from Disney it is on a map).
  • If you hotel does offer bus transportation to the Theme Parks it may not be as reliable as Disney’s bus services.
  • If you are driving to the parks, you will have to pay $20 for parking each day.
  • You will not be able to reserve your fast passes till 30 days before you arrive at the theme park.
  • You will not be able to take part in Extra Magic Hours.

Now let’s look at the advantages and disadvantages of staying at a Disney resort. This is what you will usually see Disney fans referring to as staying “Onsite”.

Advantages of Onsite accommodations:

  • Free transportation from your resort to the Theme Parks, Water Parks and Disney Springs.
  • Disney’s Magical express, a free bus service to and from Orlando international airport.
  • Extra Magic Hours, which is time in the parks for only Disney Resort guest.
  • The ability to reserve your FastPasses 60 days prior to your check in date.
  • Free parking at the parks if you decide to drive your own vehicle or rental car.

Disadvantages of Onsite accommodations:

  • Rooms are normally more expensive than rooms at hotels offsite.
  • The standard rooms in the resort are normally far away from the bus stops and dining options.
  • Rooms are usually smaller that at offsite hotels.
  • You will often find yourself waiting in line for the Disney Buses, especially when trying to leave one of the parks after the nightly fireworks.

You also have to keep in mind that both the price and size of accommodations both Onsite and offsite vary widely. When making your accommodation you need to keep in mind that saving money and having more space in offsite accommodations may result in you sacrificing convenience, or exclusive benefits. You also need to consider the amenities at the place you are planning on staying. Will you actually be spending a lot of time there to enjoy the amenities, or will you be spending most of your waking hours in the parks.