– Staying On-Property –
Pro – Convenience – Whether you are staying at a Value, Moderate, or Deluxe Resort your hotel is going to be placed near one of the four theme parks or in the Downtown Disney area.
Pro – Transportation – Walt Disney World has a very extensive transportation system. If you happen to drive to WDW, once you park your car at your particular resort that you’re staying at you never have to touch it again! You can travel on Disney’s transportation system via bus, boat or monorail, whichever gets you to your destination with more ease! You can also use this transportation service if you have purchased a theme park ticket!
Pro – Extra Magic Hours – Disney resort guests are awarded with Extra Magic Hours! You will be able to enter the parks an hour early in the morning and stay two hours later in the evening!
Pro – Theming – Walt Disney World’s resorts appeal to a vast array of guests by using unique theming throughout each resort. They use the Disney immersive magic to transport us to whichever theme that particular resort has. Everything from being on a beach in the pacific at the Polynesian, to being around your favorite sports at All-Star Sports, or being at ski lodge up in the mountains at Wilderness Lodge; WDW resorts truly have something for everyone.
Pro – Escape from reality – Once you enter Disney World property you will be completely immersed into the Disney Magic, at least that’s how it is for us! It is almost like your everyday life is put on hold so you and your family can enjoy their vacation. That’s the reason we take vacations in the first place, right?
Pro – Disney’s Magical Express – If you happen to be flying to Orlando and staying at a Walt Disney World resort you automatically get the complimentary bus service to your resort otherwise know as the Magical Express. Not only that but your luggage will be delivered to your room. Once you arrive and get checked in the world is yours! All the specifics are available on the official Disney web site.
Pro – Disney Dining Plans – When you book your Walt Disney World vacation and purchase one of the Magic Your Way Vacation Packages, you can choose to include a Disney dining plan! Each dining plan is different and you may only be able to purchase certain ones when you stay at certain Walt Disney World Resorts! To find out more information on Disney Dining Plans, click here!
Pro – Character Meals at Select Hotels – Each resort at Walt Disney World has its own unique eating establishment and most of them have some amazing and relaxing lounges. If you want to eat at a certain restaurant in a different resort or hang out in an epic lounge you’re just a short bus ride away to any of the other resorts you wold like to hang out in. You can also have a meal with a Character!
Pro – Online Check-in – If you participate in Online Check-In and begin your check-in process in advance of your arrival, you may experience reduced registration time upon arrival at your Disney Resort hotel. But don’t worry a Disney Cast Member will still be there to greet you and answer your questions!
Pro – Charge purchases to room – If you’re staying at a Walt Disney World Resort Hotel, you can charge purchases to your room by touching your MagicBand or card against a sensor called a touch point and entering a PIN code to uniquely identify yourself. You self-select your PIN upon check-in at your Walt Disney World Resort hotel.
Pro – Disney staff provides excellent service – Disney’s customer service is well known for being among the best of any company in the world. They really do an excellent job of making sure your visit is as magical as it can possibly be. Why not have that superb service for your entire vacation by staying on property at a Disney resort? From the moment you arrive to the time you leave, you’ll truly get that oh so unique Disney experience from everyone you encounter.
Pro – Merchandise delivery from the parks to your Disney resort – Have you been in one of the parks at WDW and picked out a wonderful souvenir that is a must have, but you really don’t want to carry it around and take it on the attractions with you? Well, if you are staying at a WDW resort they provide complimentary package delivery from any of the parks.
Con – Transportation system can be slow at times – The buses operate approximately 20 minutes apart (at times they were much quicker…but at midnight with a really tired kid, 20 minutes is a LONG wait). Then it’s about 20 minutes once on the bus to get to most destinations. In the mornings we typically had seats, but in the evenings (at park closing or when a nighttime show was over) we were packed in like sardines. If you can linger to let the crowds thin, do so. If you can’t…you can expect to sit and wait for a while to get on.
Con – Luggage delivery by Magical Express may take several hours – If you used the Magical Express luggage tags for your checked bags, those bags will be picked up and delivered to your resort room but this process could take up to 4 hours or so. Be sure you have things with you that you’ll need while you wait for your luggage to arrive.
Con – Resort rates are higher – Like every hotel or resort, Disney World resorts’ rates fluctuate throughout the year based on the the season or holiday. Disney ups prices an additional $10-50 per night during certain weekends and holidays–particularly over the Marathon weekend, Martin Luther King Day weekend, Memorial Day weekend, 4th of July weekend, and Columbus Day weekend.
Con – Room availability is less, especially if you wait until the last minute – Some Disney resorts are very popular and if you wait until the last minute to book your room, you may not get your desired hotel room or resort.
Con – Getting to and from non-Disney attractions may be more difficult – If you flew into Orlando it may cost you a little bit more extra to experience the non-Disney attractions like LegoLand, Universal & Islands of Adventure, Seaworld etc. You will most likely have to rent a car or take a taxi, Disney World transportation does not provide services to non-Disney attractions.
Con – Disney makes it almost impossible to want to stay anywhere else – After you have stayed at a Walt Disney World resort and then you go and stay somewhere else for your family’s vacation, you will catch yourself saying. “This is sure not Disney!”
– Staying Off-Property –
Pro – Sometimes better/larger accommodations for the same or lower price as Disney resorts – Many of the off property hotels offer family suites to accommodate larger parties. At Disney, in order to book a family suite you will have to pay extra or choose between a Moderate or Deluxe hotel room.
Pro – More likely to find rooms in a desired price range at the last minute – More than half the families that take a vacation to Disney stay on property, so you are more than likely to find your hotel room at an off-property location at the last minute.
Pro – Better access to non-Disney attractions – If you flew into Orlando or drove, you will have better access to non-Disney attractions. Most of the time these hotels have a scheduled shuttle that goes to each attraction or you can just simply drive yourself there via your rental car or personal vehicle.
Pro – Some hotels offer scheduled shuttle service – Some of the hotels offer a scheduled shuttle service to either a certain park or the Transportation Center near the Magic Kingdom.
Pro – Some hotels offer free breakfast – Like most hotel chains these days, many of them offer a complementary breakfast as part of your hotel accommodation.
Pro – Many Off-Property hotels off discounts to non-Disney attractions and restaurants – In order to try and get more business, these hotels will offer discounts to the non-Disney attractions or restaurants that are in waling distance from their hotel.
Pro – Not in the “Disney Bubble” – Sometimes when you go on a Disney vacation you may not want to be immersed in the “Disney Bubble”. You may be staying at a central location so that you can enjoy all of the Central Florida attractions and not just Disney.
Con – Getting to and from Disney parks may be more difficult – Yes your hotel may have a scheduled shuttle to runs to and from the Disney parks, but what happens when you miss it or it only runs until a certain time at night or so early in the morning?
Con – No Extra Magic Hours – When you stay off-property you do not get to experience
Con – Not eligible for Disney Dining Plans – Disney Dining Plans are only offered to those that stay on-property at a Disney World Resort Hotel.
Con – Not eligible for Disney’s Magical Express – Disney’s Magical Express is only offered to those that stay on-property at a Disney World Resort Hotel.
Con – Not immersed in the “Disney Bubble” – The off-property hotels may be extravagant and have man awards, but they won’t have the Disney theming and immersive experience like you get when you stay at a Disney World Resort Hotel.
Con – Hotel staff may not live up to “Disney” quality – Disney’s customer service is well known for being among the best of any company in the world. They really do an excellent job of making sure your visit is as magical as it can possibly be. Some hotels may or may not live up to this expectation and it can sometimes ruin your trip.
If you have any additional questions please do not hesitate to Ask Me! If you are still having trouble figuring out if you should stay on property or off check out this post, “How to Choose a Walt Disney World Resort?”. If you are ready to Get The Magic Started on you and your family’s Disney Vacation, please feel free to fill out my FREE Quote Sheet! I hope to hear from ya real soon!