/ The Disney Traveler
Disney — By Jenni Ingersoll on May 4, 2010 at 8:43 pm
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Disney Lodging On-Site or Off-Property?

There is a debate that rages among Disney guests, is it better to stay on-site at a Disney Resort or to choose lodging off Disney property?  Good arguments can be made for either option and to me it seems that it is a question of budget, the length of your stay, and type of experience you seek.

A recent poll taken on the Disney Parks Blog asked for tips for first time guests.  One of the top pieces of advice given was to stay at a Disney Resort.  This is not to say that these properties are better, but offer first time guests extra convenience and a little less planning.

Until recently, our family has always been the on-site type of guests.  We have enjoyed the ease of complimentary transportation to and around the theme parks, water parks and Downtown Disney.  The extra magic hours for Disney Resort guests, allowed us additional time in the parks to enjoy some of the most popular attractions with lighter crowds.

When our children were younger, the closeness of the on-site properties, allowed for frequent breaks from the excitement of the park.  A little rest and regrouping and we were all ready for a return trip for more magic later in the day.

All these conveniences come with a price and the Disney Resort properties are traditionally higher priced than off-site lodging options.  If your budget allows for these conveniences, great.  If not, it is not the end of the World or Land,  just a call for a few extra preparations:

  • Park Arrival – guests staying off property must drive themselves to the parks, or, at select¬†hotels, rely on their transportation.¬† Caution: many hotels offer transportation, not¬†all of the transportation is complimentary.
  • Guests who drive to¬†the theme¬†parks, must pay for parking.¬† The good news is that a parking pass in your windshield is good for the entire day, so if you choose to hop to another park, you may move your car and not pay additional parking. Caution:¬†if the parks become too crowded, or as a cast member told me, there is no more parking, the park may be closed.¬† To avoid this, most guests arrive early.¬† By late afternoon or early evening¬†we noticed these early arrivals begin to tire out and the¬†crowds begin to thin out, so¬†late risers and night owls may benefit from a¬†later arrivals.
  • Organization – since it will not be convenient to run back to the hotel, make sure you have everything you need with you including tickets, camera, sunscreen, and change of clothes for the younger guests.¬† Even if these items are left behind, it is not a day breaker as most convenience items are available at the parks, including diapers at the Baby Care Centers, though perhaps not the correct size.

Our family discovered that by not staying at a Disney property our vacation was a little more relaxing. We found that we spent more time by the pool, saving our Disney experiences for the evening.   Not that guests staying on site cannot do the same, for me the close proximity was too great a temptation to stay away from the parks.

It should also be noted that our vacation was a little longer this time, allowing us the luxury of a slower paced itinerary.  Guests with shorter stays may not want to spend as much time driving back and forth to the parks.

So as you see there is no right or wrong choice, it is truly a matter of personal preference.  Whatever your preference, I know you will enjoy your vacation at Walt Disney World Resort (map) or Disneyland Resort (map).

Related places:
  1. A
    Disney World, Orlando, FL
    Disney World, Orlando, FL
    View Details and Book
  2. B
    Disneyland, Anaheim, CA
    Disneyland, Anaheim, CA, Anaheim, , US
    View Details and Book


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