Disney hotel, condo, or house for a family get together
by Kt (Easton, PA)
Hi Dad! I apologize if you answered this already, as I know you believe it’s better to stay “inside” Disney. However, I am planning a FAMILY vacation including my Brother in law, sister in law, 4 nieces and nephews, my husband, my 2 kids and me.
I have been to Walt Disney World approx. 10 times…But I haven’t been there in the last ten years (so I am feeling out of the loop!) I stayed inside Disney 8 of 10 times and lovvveee the convenience!!! Anyway, I looked @ some condos in the Orlando area (on lake, with pool, game room, etc.) and there are REALLY HUGE and nice houses for less than it would cost us to stay at the cheapest Disney resort.
Would you stay in the condo or on Disney property? WHY? I just feel like it would be “neat” to all stay together (we live 1500 miles away from each other)…But we could get adjoining rooms … The condos just look amazing!!!!
Old Key West has the biggest rooms and the lowest prices
KT, Disney excels at FAMILY vacations, as you put it, so I wouldn’t worry about losing special family time by staying on property – just the opposite! If anything, a Disney hotel will afford you more quality time together. You said yourself said that you love the convenience of staying at a Disney hotel, but it’s been ten years since your last visit, so let me catch you up on the perks of staying onsite at Walt Disney World.
Let’s start with convenience from the moment you step off the plane. If you stay at a Disney resort, you’ll be able to take advantage of Disney’s Magical Express – you can step off the plane and onto a coach bus that will whisk you to your hotel, without even having to pick up your luggage (which Disney will deliver to your room within 3 hours). Not having to juggle kids and bags? Sign me up!
You’ll be able to travel around Walt Disney World via their fleet of Luxury Motorcoaches (buses), which makes it easier to split up during the day if one child gets cranky, or if some of your family wants to take an afternoon break to nap or swim at the hotel while everyone else stays in the park. It will also be much quicker and easier to take midday breaks if you stay onsite.
You’ll also get more time in the parks as a hotel guest by taking advantage of Extra Magic Hours, which allow you to get into a park 1 hour early or stay 3 hours later every day. This can be a huge bonus since the crowds during Extra Magic Hours are smaller and you can get more done. The larger your travel party, the longer everything seems to take, so this could be a great value for your family.
Using your time in the parks wisely will be key in getting the best value for your money, regardless of whether you stay onsite or offsite. Make sure you have a plan to tackle the parks – there is a lot more happening than the last time you visited. Check out Touringplans.com – they can help you see more in less time, give you info on crowd levels, and help you monitor wait times while you’re in the parks!
We’ve talked a lot about convenience, so let’s talk about cars. Yes, Dad does suggest you always have a car at Walt Disney World. But by staying at a Disney hotel, you have a choice of when to use the car versus take the bus, in addition to the choice of whether you need a car at all. Even if you drive to a park in the morning, one adult might take a child back to the hotel for a nap by using the bus!
There is also a cost associated with having a car. For your family, you’d probably need at least 2 midsize cars, which will cost you about $33 per day per car if you get a good rate. You’ll also need to pay $14 per day per car for parking. That’s $94 extra dollars per day that you could save by staying on site and not having a car! Of course, if you stay on site with a car, you’ll still have the rental fee, but at least parking is free!
Now lets look at the time to get to and from your hotel. Staying on site, the furthest you’ll be from a park will be 30 minutes of bus time or 20 minutes of drive time. Staying off site, you’ll be looking at 30 mins to an hour (or longer depending on where you stay and how bad the traffic is!). That’s a lot of commuting time every day, and in Dad’s humble opinion, commuting time is not family bonding time.
Finally, lets talk about your hotel versus condo dilemma. Yes, the condo may look lovely (and probably is), but online photos can be deceiving – make sure you thoroughly research any off site accommodations. At Disney you know what to expect – a clean, safe, and whimsical stay.
Staying together with family you don’t see often is a neat idea, but don’t forget – travelling can be stressful and you may want some space to yourself. And staying at a Disney hotel, you can request that rooms be side by side or very close – they can’t guarantee this, but they’ll do their best to keep your family together. Besides, how much time do you spend in the room? If you’re like us, not a lot!
All of this being said, every family is different. You asked if I would stay in the condo or at Disney, and I’d stay at Disney and did (one of Dad’s stories about his family trip.) Staying off site might be a better fit for your family’s vacation style.
If cost is your major concern, don’t forget to budget in for a car, gas, and parking. It may not make financial sense to stay offsite after those items are added in, but it might. If you’re flexible with your travel dates, go during “value season” or watch for specials – sometimes rooms are as little as $49 per night! Or have a travel agent help you with this (Dad likes Destinations to Travel).
Dad’s Bottom Line
KT, you answered your own question – staying onsite at Disney is convenient. That’s a big deal for a family of 10 travelling with 6 kids. Add to that all the other perks you’ll receive as a hotel guest, and I think you’ll agree that choosing a Walt Disney World hotel might just make sense.