The pros and cons of staying off resort at Disney World

Disney offers several levels of affordable accommodations within the Walt Disney World parks system. These resorts are true to the Disney spirit and are just downright fun to stay at. Cafeterias, restaurants, and coffee bars are all conveniently located throughout the park resorts. As well as, game rooms, pools, and splash pads to keep the younger generations well entertained.

But staying on-site is not always the best option for every family. Depending on the vacation that you are seeking – renting a local home, condo, or vacation property might be just the ticket for you. If you’ve ever considered staying offsite for your Disney/Orlando vacation, this list may help you make the right decision for your next Florida vacation.

Pros for staying off-site on a Walt Disney World vacation:

  • The immersive Disney experience may be too much for some families. They may enjoy taking time off in between park visits to just relax and have a bit of Un-Disney time.
  • Maybe you are just passing through town and you just need are one or two night stay to enjoy all of the Orlando area not just the theme park. Staying off resort allows you to have quicker access to local restaurants and attractions all around the Central Florida area not just the Disney parks.
  • You may be able to find cheaper accommodations locally than what you can find at the Disney parks allowing you to keep your vacation at a lower price point. Disney resort stays are very affordable, especially at the Value and Moderate resorts for the many amenities they include.  However, their price is most likely higher than your friendly Motel 6 or short sale condo rental.
  • Orlando condos and vacation properties are plentiful. Finding a place to stay will not be hard.
  • Staying in a condo or “breakfast-included” hotel can help save money on meals keeping your food costs more along the lines of what you would pay at home. While Disney accommodations can include a mini fridge and microwave, only select Disney options include a full kitchen for easy meal prep.
  • Orlando is a great place to use your rewards points for programs such as Hilton Honors and Marriot rewards.

The cons of staying off site on a Disney World vacation:

  • Getting to and from the parks will not be a breeze. You will have to park in the Disney parking lots and ride the tram system and then possibly have to get on a bus, ferry, or monorail ride further into the parks. When staying at a Disney property, they provide transportation directly from your Disney hotel/resort to the park system and while some resorts have better transportation options than others, they are all easier than using the parking lot.
  • With small children Disney resorts can be easier because you can cut down almost an hour of travel back and forth with the ability to go back to the room for a nap.
  • If you’re looking for a tried-and-true Disney vacation the only way to get the full immersive experience is to stay on the Disney properties
  • While most of the accommodations around Orlando are very nice, Disney quality is unsurpassed in the hospitality industry if you’re looking to be pampered and taken care of, Disney quality is hard to find at the same price point.
  • Prepare to plan. You will have to plan your itinerary for including meals and other adventures. The Disney experience is so well documented it is easy to find resources that can plan you entire vacation.  Your biggest resource being the Disney Travel Agents who love to help you plan and give you inside information.  Staying off site might keep you from being able to use those resources to their full extent.
  • If a member of your traveling party has severe food allergies and you do not want to spend the entire trip cooking in your condo, a Disney resort vacation may be a better option. Disney has exceeded in making accommodations for all those with food allergies so they can experience the magic the same as everyone else.  (Speak to a Disney travel agent or consult the Disney website for full details)

Staying off site comes down to just a handful of things: If you need more control over the food that you prepare, if you need more downtime, if you’re interested in doing all of the parks that are outside of the Disney system local accommodations may be the best bet for you, or if you are trying to cut down on your vacation price staying off site may be your better option.

If you are looking for that true immersive Disney experience, surrounded by the Disney team’s excellence, and you want a squeak every precious second out of your family vacation – Stay at the Disney resorts.

If you are looking for a laid back Florida vacation that includes but is not exclusively Disney Parks, staying off site may be the better vacation choice for your family.

A Wife, Mother, horseback riding, RV-ing, travel enthusiast always looking for the next adventure. As the Matriarch of a homeschooling family of four we keep our suitcases packed and our atlas handy. Join us on our adventures.