When trying to decide where to stay at Walt Disney World you have endless options. Do you stay onsite or offsite? How do you choose the best offsite hotel?
In this post I will recommend who I think will benefit most from an offsite resort, how to choose the offsite resort that is best for you, and share some of my favorite nonDisney resorts in Orlando.
First things first, you may think that staying “offsite” at a non-Disney property is going to save you a TON of money. This is not necessarily the case, anymore. When looking at room rates alone Disney may seem more expensive but once you take into account transportation to/from the airport, resort fees, parking, and rental car or shuttle fees they get a little more comparable. Be sure to do some math before you decide to stay offsite as Disney offers some additional non-cost related perks as well.
The first is if you are part of a hotel loyalty program. If you travel a lot for work or use a hotel credit card and have racked up enough points for a complimentary hotel stay why not use that to bring the family to Walt Disney World. Free is better any way you slice it.
Staying at a Disney resort puts you in a bubble. You are taken directly from the airport to your resort and back. While there is plenty to do on Disney property, there is the whole city of Orlando to explore. From other theme parks to attractions and restaurants there is so much the City of Orlando has to offer which most Disney fans never experience. With your rental car you can see so much more.
There is definite cost savings in terms of dining: you can eat at Golden Corral, Chik-Fil-A, or even Wa-Wa (their pretzels are worth the drive to find one) and save so much over the cost of eating at Disney. Some resorts also offer complimentary continental breakfast. With your rental car, you can stop at Target or Publix (the area grocery chain) to get essentials.
Even if the price is the same as staying at a Disney resort you probably will get a little more for your money in terms of space. At Disney you are paying for convenience whereas offsite you are paying for a room. If square footage is a priority for you, offsite will offer a better value. You will find significant savings if you are a larger family looking at villa-style accommodations. There are some incredible villa options at Disney resorts but they are all located at Deluxe Resorts and just not feasible for families on a budget. Looking offsite opens a whole new world of options to fit any budget.
Once you decide to stay offsite the options open up and seem almost endless. You should consider the following when choosing your resort:
Depending on what you are doing in the Orlando area, this could be the ultimate deciding factor. If you intend to spend most of your time at Walt Disney World, you want to be closer to the park. If you intend to visit several different area attractions something more centrally located would be better.
Word of Advice: make sure you look up your location on a map. Most hotels market themselves as “near,” “minutes from,” or “conveniently accessible to” these terms are very vague. Disney world is 48 square miles; if it is “near” Disney it could be 30 minutes away from the parks. Watch out for this especially when looking at rental properties check out the Dibb Villa Map to find the location of rental communities.
By Choosing an off-site hotel or vacation rental you have many more options in terms of layout. In Suites, Villas and Vacation Rentals you typically have access to a common area for everyone to relax when spending time away from the parks. It is important to pay attention to the number of bedrooms versus the amount the property sleeps. Most locations take advantage of pull out couches and other hidden sleep surfaces that may be in common areas. Many Vacation Rental Homes in Orlando also offer private plunge pools!
Many of the off-site hotels or vacation rental neighborhoods offer shuttles, many car per person and they often leave at odd hours. It would be best for you to plan on a car rental. There are many great deals to be had and services that track prices even after booking. Consider ordering a Sunpass Toll Tag to make it easier to navigate the Florida tolls. If you are planning on going to the Disney Parks five or more days, look into the cost of an Annual Pass. Parking at the parks is free with an Annual Pass, you also receive a discount on restaurants and merchandise that the cost savings may make up for the cost difference.
Did you know that there are some off-site hotels that provide nearly all of the benefits that you’d find at an on-site Disney World resort?
The hotels located in Disney Springs plus Shades of Green, The Four Seasons, Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek, Waldorf Astoria and the Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resorts all offer some of the perks you find for onsite guests.
These include 60 Day Fastpass Booking, Access to Extra Magic Hours, and purchases Delivered to your resort hotel. The Disney Dining Plan, Magical Express (FREE airport transportation) and complimentary magic bands are only available to guests of Walt Disney World hotels.
Best location of all “offsite” resorts because it is technically located on Disney property. Conveniently located between EPCOT and DHS– walkable enjoys some of the perks of Disney resorts including transportation and EMH. You are going to play Deluxe prices for this resort but the rooms are much larger than what you would find at Disney. There are 7 great restaurant choices.
7 Resorts adjacent to Disney Springs. Most offer infrequent shuttles but you can utilize Disney Transportation if willing to cross the street. Just note you will need to take a bus to a resort before reaching the parks. The resorts here are Best Western, DoubleTree, Two Hiltons, Holiday Inn, Wyndham Garden and a B – boutique hotel. I prefer the Hilton Orlando Lake Buena Vista but it comes with a pretty hefty resort fee.
The Bonnet Creek Area is comprised of what is basically a tiny island (70-acres) of land that is surrounded on 3 sides by Disney-owned property near Caribbean Beach. It consists of 4 resorts, Waldorf Astoria Orlando, Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek, Wyndham Bonnet Creek and the timeshare property Wyndham Grand Orlando Resort Bonnet Creek (a timeshare property.) We frequently stay at the Wyndham Grand Orlando, it is a GREAT option for larger families. Much more affordable than the Disney villas. It is a HUGE property with an incredible pool. If you are lucky you may get an EPCOT fireworks view.
Another great villa resort for large families. There are options in any configuration you can imagine. With 4 pools you are sure to find one your kids love. Its location on I-Drive means you’re also close to area restaurants and all of the amusements — including the Orlando Eye.
This is my favorite offsite property. It is a little further away from the parks and you will definitely want a rental car but the resort is incredible. Check out this video tour from Hyatt. The pool is amazing, but my favorite thing about this resort is the fish tacos at the poolside restaurant. They are probably the best fish tacos I have ever eaten and I LOVE them and try them everywhere I go, including Southern California.
If you are looking to save a little money Springhill Suites is a great option for you. Unlike most offsite resorts there are no resort fees. As an added benefit there is also a free breakfast buffet. It’s newer, Affordable without a ton of bells and whistle and located near the west entrance to Disney World.
Many people think if they choose a non-Disney property that they can not use a Disney Travel Agent. This could not be further from the truth. I can help you book any of these properties plus dozens more. If you are a timeshare member and want help as long as you purchase your Disney tickets with me I can help you with your touring.
This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to offsite properties. I would love to chat about what works best for your family.
If you are still trying to decide whether or not to stay onsite or offsite check out these resources:
Disney World Onsite or Offsite?
Benefits to Staying at a Disney Resort
Download Your FREE Guide to Choosing the Best Disney Resort
The right resort can upgrade your entire Disney vacation—but with more than 25 Disney resorts and hotels to choose from, it’s easy to get overwhelmed! I can help you so you can choose the perfect-fit resort for your family—based on your budget, travel style, and family’s interests. DOWNLOAD the Guide to Choosing the Right Resort to understand the differences in amenities, how to choose the resort with the right location and which resorts offer the activities you are looking for.
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