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Is a Disney hotel worth double the cost of an offsite hotel?

by Keith
(Staffordshire, England, UK)

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“Hi Dad,

We’re traveling over from the UK to be in Disney from 13th April to 28th April 2019. We’ve stayed in Disney once before – in Art of Animation (2015).

This time the family (5 of us) wanted more room and freedom so we’ve plumped for a car and a non-Disney 4-Bed Villa. However, the crowd predictions for April are for a busy month and I was wondering whether the extra price of a Disney hotel would be worth the extra (double!) cost for Extra Magic Hours and an extra 30 days FastPass+ booking period. In your opinion would the extra Magic Hours and 60-day (rather than 30 day) FP+ booking period be worth the extra cost of a Disney Hotel for this period?

P.S – Love the site – great advice for all us Dad’s.


That’s a tough choice

Sunset over a pool at a rental house near Disney World

Should you choose staying offsite? – Photo by Our partners at Top Villas




But what a tough choice and I’m not sure I’m the best one to ask, but I’ll give it my best shot.

April 2019 Crowds

Dad's April 2019 Crowd Calendar

You mentioned that the crowds would be big for your trip, and for the most part that’s true. With Easter being late next year (April 21st) the crowds will last well into April.

But they won’t be crazy crowds. Most of the days will be moderate, not heavy. Very manageable.

Dad’s April Disney World Crowds page

Some great perks but what are they actually worth

Fillmore's area of the Art of Animation

Or should you choose a beautiful Disney hotel? – Photo by Mike Billick

Staying in a Disney Hotel gives you some great perks for your vacation, but what are they actually worth? Let’s take a look at each one and see if it’s worth it to double your hotel price.

Extra Magic Hours – Extra Magic Hours allows Disney Hotel guests into the parks one hour before they open or up to 2 hours after they close on select days.

I love this perk. Early morning in the parks is by far the best time to avoid the lines. And when the crowds are heavy it’s pretty important. It gets less important the smaller the crowds are.

Dad’s Extra Magic Hours page

FastPass+ at 60 days – This is a biggie. Not being able to make FastPass+ reservations at 60 days probably means you won’t be able to get FastPasses for several rides. Rides like Slinky Dog Dash, Flight of Passage, the Mountains in the Magic Kingdom, and Test Track.

There are ways to work around that (be at the parks early, ride those busy rides first, ride during nighttime shows, ride late, etc.).

The good thing is the expansion at EPCOT, Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom have made it easier to get FastPasses for the “older” attractions and not as necessary at others (Soarin’ and Toy Story Mania).

Dad’s FastPass+ page

Free Dining or Free Tickets – Being that you are in the UK, watch closely for Free Dining promotions or Free Ticket promotions. Those happen frequently for UK guests. That will make a big difference in the final price you pay and may make staying at Disney worth it.

Staying inside the Magic – There is something to be said and some value in being immersed in the Magic all the time. There’s something to be said for not having to deal with the traffic outside of “the World”, or just not having to deal with the real world.

On the other hand

OK, we’ve talked about the perks of staying in a Disney Hotel, but what about staying offsite? Are their any “perks” to staying offsite.

Saving Money – The biggest perk of staying outside of Walt Disney World is saving money. Like you said, the cost of your offsite resort is half of a Disney Resort.

Our partners at Top Villas have over 100 houses for less than $100 per night. The smallest of those houses is 4 rooms and some of them can accommodate up to 20 people. For $100 per night.

Compare that to even the Value Resorts which are around $150 per night or more and only have 250 square feet. A 4-bedroom house sounds luxurious compared to that.

Dad’s Vacation Homes page

You also can save money on food. You can go to the grocery store and stock up your kitchen, you can eat at some of the restaurants around WDW which will save you some. Just grabbing water and soft drinks and taking them with you will save you a bunch.

Too much of a good thing – Sometimes being inside of Walt Disney World is too much of a good thing. I can never get too much Disney but for some it gets a little old. Sometimes it’s a relief to get outside of the “Magic”. (If for nothing else than for the non-stop marketing.)

The World outside of “the World” – One big thing about staying outside of Walt Disney World is that you’re staying outside of Disney World. There’s a whole big world of things to do outside of WDW and I’m not just talking about the other theme park in town.

There are about a thousand things to do in the Orlando area. Just within a few miles of WDW you’ll find helicopter rides, Dinner Shows, world class golf courses, Gatorland, indoor go cart racing, and more. Within 20 miles you have Legoland, Universal, and Sea World. Just 90 miles away is NASA, a great day trip and 90 miles the other way is Busch Gardens and the Florida Aquarium.

There is a huge world outside of Disney World!

You are going to be there two weeks

The best news is you are going to be there two weeks. That gives you plenty of time to work in all the rides even without Extra Magic Hours or FastPasses. It gives you some time to stop and smell the roses and enjoy a lot of the small things that make Disney special.

Destinations to Travel

Dad’s Bottom Line

The bottom line is you are going to be fine staying offsite. Yes, you’ll have to have a good PLAN and get to the parks early, but it’s very doable especially since you are going to be there for two full weeks.

For you I don’t think a Disney hotel is worth double the price of an offsite resort.

You’re going to have a great time.


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Comments for

Oct 23, 2018 YES!
by: Anonymous

Especially if you choose a value resort a resounding YES!
Disney has done the math and they win either the price is so great but you take away a LOT of the features given to your resort (magical express saves hundreds!) then you end up paying in another manner.

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