Visiting Walt Disney World (or just about any other vacation destination) is something most families plan for a while before actually taking the trip. Many things come into play while planning and budget is usually first on the list. Hotels in a prime location can certainly add to the expense of your vacation but they don’t have to eat up your budget! Here are some things to consider when looking at staying off property at Disney:
It’s both a blessing and a curse that there are so many options in the area surrounding Walt Disney World. Having a lot of options means you’ll be able to find something that fits your budget and needs for your vacation. It also means that picking the right off property resort at Disney can be tricky. They all want your business and it can be hard to decipher exactly what’s being offered.
What’s most important to you when choosing your resort?
Are you looking for something that best fits your budget? Or is in a certain location? Or maybe you’re looking for a Good Neighbor Resort. Knowing what’s important to you and your family during your stay will help you narrow down your options.
Become familiar with the area.
On MapQuest it might look just a few minutes away but locals know that those few minutes during rush hour can really be hours. That means more time spent in your car and less time having fun at your destination. It might be worth the few extra dollars to stay a little bit closer so you’re not fighting traffic.
Still want early access to the parks?
Did you know that some resorts offer guests transportation to and from the parks as well as Extra Magic Hours even though they’re not exactly a Disney resort? There are a handful of Good Neighbor Resorts near the theme parks that give you some of the benefits of staying on site without the hefty price tag.
Need a ride?
If you’ll be driving to Walt Disney World? Make sure you account for the cost of parking – both at your hotel and at the theme parks. Not driving? Be sure to budget to transportation to and from the airport as well as to and from the parks.
Read the reviews for the resorts before you decide.
Every property looks wonderful on their own website and will post stunning reviews. Take a few extra moments to read real reviews before actually making your reservations. I personally use Trip Advisor and love it. The reviews are fair and honest and I love that travelers can actually post their own pictures of the properties from their stay.
Look at the fine print.
Before you book, take a look at the fine print on the website. Regardless of how you book, any additional fees should be disclosed to you. When you’re trying to decide between different resorts, make sure you’re comparing apples to apples and that means including all the fees involved.
Contact the property
If you have any kind of special needs, take a moment to contact the property before your arrival. You might consider asking for a first floor unit if you’ve got little ones so you don’t haul bags or sleeping kids up flights of stairs at the end of a long day. On the other hand, if you’re traveling without kids, you could consider asking for a unit on a higher floor.
Also be sure to ask if they have any specials booking directly through them instead of your travel agent or a vacation booking site.
How much time will you be at the property?
Many properties have a long list of amenities available to guests. Sometimes there’s enough to keep you busy for a day or two at the resort alone! Having a day of down time at your resort isn’t a bad thing so make sure you’ve got time to enjoy those amenities you’re paying for. If you’re going to spend sun up to sun down in the parks, picking an inexpensive place with less amenities might be a better fit.
What are you going to eat?
Do you need space in your room to cook? What kinds of things are you looking for – microwave? Fridge? Will you need somewhere that has a restaurant or room service?
There’s no right or wrong answer for where to stay during your vacation. Sometimes we stay on property and sometimes it makes more sense to stay off property. Only you know if staying off property at Disney is a good deal for your family.
Have you stayed off property during a vacation? What’s the one thing you look for when choosing the perfect property for your stay?