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by Daisy Diva

If you’re planning a trip to Walt Disney World, then odds are one of the first decisions you are having to make is where to stay and whether or not you will be staying on Disney property or off-property.  Over the last couple of years, I have done both during my various Disney trips, and this article will discuss the pros and cons of both options.  Each off-property visit was booked differently, in a different hotel in a different location, and each one had its advantages and disadvantages.

 The Daisy Diva family’s first trip to Disney World (and my first since childhood) was the complete package—a day at each of the four parks, the dining plan, and staying on-property at POP Century Resort.  The pros and cons of staying on-property are pretty obvious.  The pros are the fun theming, the close proximity to the parks, having at least one good restaurant on the resort property that accepts the dining plan, and the free transportation to the parks.  The cons for me are the size of the room and the price.  So far we have only stayed in Value Resorts, and those rooms are pretty small for a family of four—not to mentioned the double beds are smaller than we are used to as well.  We don’t spend much time in the room, but when we ARE in the room, it’s a tight squeeze.  For the price, you can get a much larger room off-property.

 POP

My first off-property trip was just my husband and me for a little anniversary weekend getaway.  We were only staying a couple of nights and were on a tight budget.  After reading this article, I decided to try the Name Your Own Price option on Priceline.  It was so easy, and I was extremely pleased with what I ended up with.  Once I entered my location and dates, I was given the option to make more specific requests.  I chose the Disney Maingate area and wanted a hotel with a score of at least 2.5 stars.  After making several bids, I scored a room at a Baymont Inn and Suites in Kissimmee that was minutes from the parks for only $42 a night!  Score!  Our room was quite nice, and we really only needed a place to lay our heads when we weren’t gallivanting around Epcot.  My husband and I have often discussed staying there again. 

Another off-property stay was through a timeshare.  My husband got a call that we could stay in one of the Wyndham hotels for about $50 a night if we attended one of their timeshare presentations.  So we opted to take advantage of the offer and make a Disney trip out of it.  We stayed at the Wyndham Bahama Bay resort in Davenport, FL.  This was most definitely a giant step up from the Baymont!  We had a two bedroom condo with a living room, dining table and fully equipped kitchen.  The property was really lovely, and I wish we had had more time to spend there.  It had a nice pool and super fun splash pad that my kids adored!  We spent a pleasant afternoon enjoying the splash pad between breakfast at Chef Mickey’s and a trip to Downtown Disney.  Again, we were travelling on a budget, so having the option to keep breakfast and lunch items in a refrigerator and eat meals in the room was an added bonus.  The downside of this particular location was just that…the location.  It was a 20-30 minute drive from the parks, which made taking a midday break for naps or pool time pretty impossible for us since our kids would have probably fallen asleep on the ride back to the room and wouldn’t have napped or rested in the room making the whole “break time” pointless.  But I digress…So we wound up spending 17 hours at the Magic Kingdom which you can read about here.

 All Star Movies Pool

Our next stay on-property was at All-Star Movies Resort for a weekend, and it was pretty much exactly the same at POP.  The only difference was the shared buses with All-Star Music and All-Star Sports.  We were there in September and we only visited the water parks, so it wasn’t super busy and the bus sharing didn’t bother me.  I would probably avoid the All-Star resorts during busy season seeing as the buses would be pretty crowded.  Once again, the rooms and beds were small, but the theming was great, the pools were large and fun, and there was a great restaurant on property with lots of options.  You can read my review of All-Star Movies Resort here.

 All Star Movie Room

My third off-property stay, like my first, was booked through Priceline, but unlike my first trip, I did not name my own price.  I just did the regular search and found a room at Seasons Florida Resort that met the needs and budget of our travel group.  It was a small hotel about 5-10 minutes from “The World” and it served its purpose, but it was pretty dumpy.  I have absolutely no desire to stay there again.

For me, the purpose and budget of the trip really determine whether I will choose to stay on or off property.  If I’m really looking to save money, then I will probably stay off-property.  Just be sure to keep parking fees in mind.  When shopping around for places to stay, be sure to add $20 per day spent in a park to that cost to account for parking.  Parking is free for those staying on-property, as is the bus/monorail/ferry transportation, so don’t forget that when you are calculating cost.  You will also need to keep the room needs of your travel party in mind.  A room with a fully equipped kitchen and living space will be significantly more affordable off-property than an on-property suite with the same amenities.  For our family, the purpose of the trip also plays a big part in where we stay.  A quick trip with no kids can be off-property, but a celebratory trip (like a birthday) would mean a room on property for us because it’s just more fun for the kids.

So when you’re planning your next trip to Disney World, keep the following things in mind:  budget, purpose, and room needs.  If you’re ok with being “outside the magic,” there are lots of great, affordable places to stay with wonderful amenities to meet the needs of all families.

Contact Patricia at All For Dreams Travel to plan your vacation.

I am a Disney-loving former second grade teacher turned stay at home mom of two kids whom I homeschool and the wife of a Disney-tolerating husband. (But I think I am slowly starting to convert him!) If I'm not at Walt Disney World, you can probably find me planning my next Disney vacation or day-dreaming about being in the Magic Kingdom. I also love monograms, reading, Sonic Cherry Limeade's, autumn, and teaching kid's church.