When we do Disney we always go round in circles debating whether to stay on site at a hotel like the Art of Animation or stay off site in one of the many hotels or villas available. I’ve outlined what I think are the key points when you are deciding what to do.
Pros to staying on Disney property
1. Free Disney transportation. There are convenient buses that run regularly to all the different parks, the water parks and Disney Springs. There are several reasons why Disney transport is brilliant. Firstly, if you are flying into Orlando and staying on Disney property, you don’t really need a car, besides it is now $20 a day to park in Disney. Then if you are taking your car you need to walk from where you park, which can be a decent distance.
2. You are right in the middle of the magic. From the time your trip starts to when it ends, you don’t need to leave Disney property and can feel safe and cocooned. You know the service in a Disney resort will be good.
3. Sometimes you can get ‘free Disney dining’ when you stay in a Disney property – if a deal is running at the time you book (worth checking ahead and waiting if there isn’t a current deal). You can read all of the details of the Disney Dining Plan here. If you can get it free, it’s a game changer. There are so many wonderful restaurants to try in Disney, but they are quite expensive if you are paying out of your own pocket and not on a dining plan.
Cons to staying on Disney property
1. It’s expensive. Yes, it’s so much more expensive to stay in a Disney property than in a local hotel or a villa.
2. Unless you pay extra for a suite then the whole family is in one room. If you have little ones it means staying really quiet on a night so that they can go to sleep. If you are travelling with extended family, it can mean paying for more than one room.
3. Without additional transport, you are a little trapped within Disney. (Although, there are worse places to be trapped!)
Pros to staying off site
1. You can stay off site so much cheaper and there are lots of different styles of accommodation to choose from.
2. If you go for a villa, you have the whole house to yourself and so much more room. You can also cook or barbecue, or get food delivered to keep costs down. Many villas come with a private pool and hot tub, some have games rooms and private cinemas.
3. You are more likely to need to hire a car when you stay off site. This gives you more flexibility regarding travelling and you can see more of the sights that Orlando and the rest of Florida has to offer. You can come and go more easily and don’t need to queue or wait for buses.
4. There are some amazing restaurants in Orlando, and they are much less expensive than Disney.
Cons to staying off site
1. Travelling – you won’t have the convenience of the Disney transport and you must be careful where the hotel or villa is located. It might say ‘easy drive to Disney’ but is that in reality an hour away?
2. No chance of getting ‘free Disney dining’.