The big question when planning your trip, is where do you stay? Some of the Disney World hotels have a hefty price tag, which if you do plan a Disney resort plus all the tickets, food, etc, your trip may be way out of your price range.
If you are a Disney fanatic, advising you to stay off property is one of the worse things we can do, but let’s discuss the facts and see really if the benefits and the price tag are worth the stay at Disney World.
Yes, we know Fastpass went away but this was a perk if you stayed at a Disney World Hotel. You were able to book your Fastpasses months in advance and if you were not at a Disney World Hotel you only could book them 30 days prior to your trip. This meant all the best rides were taken. Now with Fastpasses gone this is no longer a factor and if this was the only reason you were staying at a Disney World Hotel, you now have no reason.
The one thing you can do is the virtual ques at 7am if you are staying at a Disney resort. If you are staying off property you can’t get into the ques until you walk into the park. Is the price tag for the Disney resorts worth that time? Depends on how bad you want to try to make the que.
No More Free Parking
Disney World used to have free parking at their hotels if you were staying there. This meant you can rent a car, drive to your hotel, use Disney transportation to the parks and Disney Springs, but also have the car to go to Universal or SeaWorld.
Now regardless of driving to the park from an outside hotel or staying at a Disney Hotel, you are paying for parking (most likely not at your offsite hotel though). Paying for hotel parking can cost anywhere from $15-$25 per day depending on the resort. Always double check this cost when booking and make sure you budget for it.
Disney Dining Plan
The Disney Dining plan has saved many families a lot of money. This has been suspended since COVID. Will it come back? We don’t know. But if it does and you are staying on-site you can take advantage of it. If you are staying off-site, you cannot. We will see if this perk will make it back to the parks or if it was another amazing benefit that is being cut out.
Transportation to the hotel
Previously Disney had the Magical Express that would pick you up from the airport, get your luggage, and take you to your Disney hotel. This was a free service. That way you really don’t have to rent a car.
You then can take the Disney transportation to the parks and other hotels around Disney World. This was a great service to keep customers in Disney World.
Unfortunately, this perk has been cut. Some off-site hotels will provide transportation to them complimentary, while for others you would have to take an uber or rent a car. If you find an off property hotel that does have a shuttle, is it worth saving the money?
Obviously, this is a big perk. Once you get to the hotel inside the park you can easily use Disney transportation around Disney world.
When staying at an off-site resort they may have transportation to Disney World but you would have to confirm this. Although once you get inside Disney World you can still take advantage of Disney transportation for free.
Extended hours have always been a great perk when staying at a Disney Hotel. The extended magic hours would have you staying at the park late or coming in early letting you enjoy the park when most people weren’t there.
After COVID things have changed and now while you still get to enjoy the extra hours in the park it is not be as much time.
If you are staying at a Disney resort, you can enjoy the park 30 minutes early anyday. To take advantage of this you have to be staying at a Disney resort, have valid park admission, a park reservation, and either key to the world card or a magicband.
If you are not an early bird and would like to enjoy the park later. You will have to be staying at a deluxe resort or deluxe villa. There are also only certain days/times you can take advantage of this.
Review Disney’s calendar for extended evening hours and dates.
Off-site resorts do charge resort fees, not all but some do. They can range from anywhere from $5 a night to $50 a night. When checking out off-site hotels it is important to look into the resort fees to make sure it still makes financial sense.
Currently, Disney is not charging resort fees. As we know with Disney this can always change.
If you want to really immerse yourself in Disney World, then staying at a resort property is probably the right choice for you. Sometimes it isn’t about the perks, but the experience that you probably wouldn’t get at an off site resort.
If you are looking to really save some cash to go visit other places and just do Disney for a day or two, then an off-site resort may be better.
Just like when you are booking a vacation package on different websites, Disney travel agents will do the same. Going through a Disney travel agent has its perks. It doesn’t cost you anything extra and may even save you some money.
So with all that information, what is better staying on or off the Disney property. You need to look at pricing and see what would be more beneficial to your own family.