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Choosing to Stay Onsite vs Offsite (Walt Disney World)

March 5, 2017

Choosing where to stay is Step 2 in our planning process and deciding whether to stay onsite or offsite is one of the most important things to consider.  Staying onsite simply means staying on a Disney owned property.  Staying offsite means well the opposite of that.  There are many resorts close to Disney World. There are even a few that are on Disney Property, but not owned by Disney.  There is also a plethora of vacation homes and condos to rent in the Disney World area.   As with most decisions we make,  listing the pros and cons to each is a great way to help us determine which choice is best.  We have made a list of what we consider to be the pros and cons of each.





Onsite- Disney Owned Resorts


There are several types of onsite resorts.  Disney breaks its resorts into 4 categories which are Value, Moderate, Deluxe, and Deluxe Villas.  Guests staying at any of the Disney owned resorts regardless of the category receive all of the benefits that we have listed below.



  • Free Transportation from the Orlando Airport to the resorts via the Magical Express

  • Free Transportation from the resorts to the Orlando Airport via the Magical Express

  • Free Transportation to the all of the parks, resorts, and Disney Springs

  • Proximity to the parks and Disney Springs (this makes it easy to take a midday break)

  • Complimentary parking at all of the resorts, parks, and Disney Springs

  • Extra Magic Hours- on certain days the parks open an hour early or stay open 2 hours after closing time for resort guests only

  • Guests can book their FastPass+ selections 60 days in advance and for up to 10 days of their stay

  • Guests can book their dining reservations 180 days in advance for up to 10 days of their stay

  • Stay in the "Disney Bubble"

  • Disney theming at the resorts including the pools

  • Merchandise delivery from any onsite store to your resort (means you don't have to carry all your purchases with you)

  • Complimentary MagicBands

  • Resort room charging with the use of your MagicBand

  • Airline check in at the resort-  get your boarding pass & check your luggage right from your resort

  • Skip baggage claim at the Orlando Airport- Disney gets your bags and delivers them to your room

  • The ability to purchase the Disney Dining Plan



  • More expensive- generally speaking it will costs more

  • Less square footage for the price

  • You are stuck in the Disney "Bubble"  (we think this is a pro, but not everyone wants to be completely immersed in the magic 24/7)

  • Many rooms only have an max occupancy of 4  (this is the case at all of the Value hotels unless you stay in a suite)



Off-site Properties-

There are many resorts, condos, and vacations homes located near Disney World. 



  • Less expensive- generally speaking 

  • Full Kitchen- (this probably does not apply to staying at a resort in a standard room)- Being able to prepare meals will save you a lot of money

  • Free Breakfast- (applies to resorts only)- many resorts offer a free breakfast to their guests

  • Free Shuttle- (applies to resorts only)- many resorts offer a free shuttle to Disney parks and Disney Springs

  • Better access to non-Disney restaurants, parks, and shopping

  • More square footage for your dollar, especially if you rent a home or condo

  • Max capacity is greater, especially if you are renting a home or condo, but even the majority of standard resort rooms can accommodate more than 4 people

  • A place to escape the "Disney Bubble" 

  • Last minute deals and/or availability- You most likely will be able to find an offsite place to stay and may even snag a discount if you decide to travel to Disney World on short notice.



  • Transportation- Car rental is necessary unless you are staying at a resort with a free shuttle, however we recommend that you rent a car even if you have a free shuttle.  The shuttles at off property hotels do not run as frequently as Disney transportation and are often inconsistent or do not offer transportation during the midday hours. 

  • Taking a break from the parks is less convenient and more time consuming

  • Resort fees- be careful of hidden costs.  Many resorts charge fees for parking and what they call "resort fees "

  • Parking fees - You will pay to park at Disney Parks (unless you have an annual pass)

  • You have to leave the "Disney Bubble"

  • FastPass+ booking window opens 30 days before your trip rather than 60 days before your trip.  That means getting a FastPass+ for popular attractions may not be available.

  • Dining Reservations- You can book your reservations 180 days in advance, but only 1 day at a time vs. up to 10 days if you were staying at a Disney resort.   This means getting a reservation for popular restaurants like Cinderella's Royal Table or Be Our Guest may not be available

  • You cannot purchase the Disney Dining Plan

  • No Extra Magic Hours

If you have any additional Pros or Cons for staying onsite or offsite.  Please leave your comments below.  






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