Disney Resort stay verses staying outside Disney
by Jill Williams
(Bham, AL )
"We have only been to Disney World once, 3 years ago We stayed at the All Star Sports Resort. We are on a budget and although we enjoyed our stay I was a little disappointed in our room. I have found several places to stay outside of Disney that look nicer and are cheaper. What the advantages of staying inside the park vs outside the park?
I know we would have to pay for parking but other than that is there really that big of a difference.
Magic versus Reality
The Pop Century is a good option - Photo by Rich Ramos
This is a great question. It's one that a whole lot of us struggle with. Let's start with Disney Resorts.
The hotels at Walt Disney World are great. They are special. The theming is spectacular. The Disney Magic is part of why we go to Walt Disney World. It's a great experience, for the most part.
The problem is they are just too expensive. Yes, I said it, they are too expensive.
The Perks of Staying with Disney
What are the "perks" of staying in a Disney Hotel?
- Disney Magic - All Disney all the time is fun.
- Extra Magic Hours - Extra Magic Hours get you into the park an hour before the park opens or up to two after they close. It's a nice perk but not essential.
- Disney Dining Plan - you have access to the Disney Dining Plan which if used correctly can save you some money (although most people don't).
- 60 day FastPass+ reservations. You get an extra 30 day head start making FastPass+ reservations. A pretty big perk, but not worth hundreds of dollars.
- Free Parking - Parking is now $22 per day.
All of those perks are nice. They do bring a lot of extras and Magic to staying at a Disney Resort, but at what cost?
Staying in a Vacation Home near Disney World is an option - Photo by Top Villas
I LOVE staying in Disney Hotels. I still do it almost every trip, but I've started staying offsite a little and it's a very viable option.
Reasons to stay offsite
Here are some of the reasons to stay offsite
- SAVE MONEY - this is the number one reason. You can save a LOT of money. You can get a Vacation Home near Disney World for a fraction of the cost of a Disney Resort. in fact our partners at Top Villas have over 100 homes that will sleep up to 6 for less than $100 per night.
- Get out of Disney - all Disney all the time can get a little old for some. Not me, but for some. It can be nice to get out of the Disney Bubble for a while
- Restaurant choices - there are a whole bunch of restaurants available around the WDW area that have options not available in the parks. Less expensive options
- Entertainment - A lot of interesting entertainment options have sprung up around WDW. When you stay outside it's easier to head over to Universal, Sea World, NASA, ride the Orlando Eye, or maybe even take a helicopter ride.
- Did I say save money?
Dad's Bottom Line
Jill, the bottom line is it's a very personal decision. Are you willing to spend the money for the Disney Magic, or save the money and use it elsewhere? It really boils down to that.