“We’re going to Disney World!” is the excited squeal of millions of children (and truth be told, thousands of adults too) when a family begins planning a trip to the Orlando area. And then as the planning starts, the reality sets in for many families: this is going to be one expensive vacation! Or is it? There are many ways to have an affordable Disney vacation. One of the best strategies is to consider staying off Disney property in one of the hundreds of hotels near Walt Disney World.
Off-Site Hotels Tend to Cost Less…and Maybe Offer More Space
The advantages of staying off-site are numerous. First you will generally save money, or at least get larger/better accommodations for the same price. If you have a larger family, where a standard size hotel room is not big enough, this may be important for you. You may also find it easier to find rooms in your (lower) price range if you are planning on traveling during peak travel times, or at the last minute. Especially in these situations, where Disney properties will probably be the most expensive, an off-site hotel may be the best way to really have an affordable Disney vacation.
Think About What Else the Hotel May Offer
Considering other non-Disney attractions on your trip? Many off-site hotels will offer discounts to non-Disney parks, activities, and restaurants, plus you will find it easier to have access to more (cheaper) restaurants and shopping.
Other aspects to consider when staying off-site include transportation (many hotels offer regular shuttle service to the Disney parks), and meals (free breakfast anyone?) You are also likely to find some lovely and fairly elaborate themed pool areas, as well as large suites with mini-kitchenettes, spas and workout rooms, multiple recreation opportunities and family-oriented activities.
What About That Disney “Magic”?
Probably the only thing that a Disney property provides, that you will not have if you stay off-site, is that 24/7 immersion in the Disney “magic”. But for many folks, that may be the biggest advantage! After all, how often can you stand to hear “It’s a Small World” in one day? It may be that for your family, having a break from all that pixie dust may be a very good thing indeed.
Non-Disney Hotels on Disney Property
And realize too that there are several “non-Disney” hotels that are located on Disney property: there a few in the Downtown Disney area, as well as the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin located near Epcot and Hollywood Studios. These hotels, while not owned by Walt Disney World, still offer a number of Disney perks, but without the Disney property cost. It’s a nice compromise if you are trying to save money but would still like the Disney ambiance.
Consider Transportation Before You Decide
Any disadvantages? Probably the major thing to research carefully would be the transportation aspect. Traveling to and from the parks may be a challenge, depending on the available shuttle service: some hotels share shuttles, or charge for their use. If you want to take afternoon breaks from the parks, you may want to consider renting a car, but if you do, realize that there will be a parking fee, and if visiting on peak holidays, the parking lots may be closed to non-Disney guests. My major advice here is to ask questions, and read the fine print. You will find a number of excellent options where transportation will not be an issue.
With careful planning, there are many hotels near Walt Disney World that offer great advantages, few if any real disadvantages, and at a lower cost. Actually having an affordable Disney vacation sounds pretty “magical”!