Deciding to Stay Onsite or Offsite at Walt Disney World

When planning a vacation to Walt Disney World one of your first decisions to make is where to stay. When traveling to Orlando Florida, there is certainly no shortage of choices in regards to available hotels. In addition to Disney offering its own lodging choices, every major hotel chain is represented there. Every class of hotel; from low budget motel options to five star resort facilities are readily available.

With all these choices it becomes difficult for travelers to determine where to stay. Disney makes their options more appealing by adding features such as early entry to theme parks, free bus transportation and a variety of resorts in all different price classes.Disney’s hotel range from the value level (such as All Stars, All Sports) to moderate level resorts (Caribbean Beach, Dixie Landing) to Deluxe Resorts (Contemporary and Polynesian). Another benefit from staying on-site at Walt Disney World includes the availability of Disney’s Magical Express, which transports you from the airport directly to your resort. It also allows you to skip the baggage claim in the airport, as Disney picks up your bags for you.

Disney does go out of the way to create a themed experience in all of their resorts. Even the value priced ones work at every detail to immerse you in the Disney theme. The value styled ones offer the basic hotel room set ups, pool area and usually a food court. The moderate ones have slightly larger rooms, more pool options and in addition to food court areas, sometimes a sit down restaurant. Deluxe hotel options in Disney pull out all the stops in theming and atmosphere. The rooms are larger, with more details – more than one pool is usually available and several restaurants are on site. These deluxe resorts also include beach areas, on site water sports and gift shops.

Off-site hotels can be found beginning right outside of Disney’s property and many options are available. Budget hotels can be found at very reasonable prices and offer the basic necessities. Mid priced hotels are very popular and cater to vacationing families with focuses on the needs of families and tourists. Travelers looking for upscale hotels can also find many choices outside of the Disney property. Almost all hotels that are off site offer bus service to the theme parks.

In addition to being a top vacation destination, Orlando is also a popular convention area, and many convention type hotels can be found in the area. They are usually full service resorts with spas, health clubs and very comfortable rooms.

When making your decision it is always helpful to ask friends or relatives for feedback on hotels they have stayed at when visiting the Orlando area. Another option is to research on line reviews of hotels (although the information is not always reliable). When choosing where to stay at Walt Disney World, you will need to consider your budget for your hotel stay along with the people in your traveling party. If you are traveling with small children it might make more sense for you to consider staying on site, as you will be able to travel back and forth to the parks easier than staying off site. You can also be certain that the Disney hotels will be modern and clean and will cater to families with small children (even nosier children are not an issue). Likewise if you are honeymooning or traveling without children staying at a value Disney hotel will not be a quite, romantic experience. Consider all of your options and if you are on a budget, check online for any hotel deals. Most Disney hotels offer pricing based on the season so you can save money by traveling at a non-peak time. You can also find hotel deals on non-Disney hotels by checking online or calling the hotels directly.

When comparing on site and off site facilities you can figure that for the most part off site hotels will get you more for your money (in terms of room size and included features). However a Disney hotel will give you what they do best, a complete Disney experience.

It is always wise to decide what features you are looking for during your stay and focus on them when choosing a hotel. Consider what is important to you and your traveling party before you make a decision. Even for a short trip, your comfort level is truly important during your vacation to Walt Disney World.

Creative Commons Licensephoto credit: Flickr/
Christian Lambert Photography