Staying On or Off Site at Disney World

It’s that time of year again..time to head off to another Disney World vacation! This year is going to be different though, in many ways! For the past few years it has just been Jesse and I on our Disney trips. We now have our newest little mouse who will be just over 3 months old for his first trip to Disney! We will also be traveling with my mom, which will be our first family vacation since my dad passed away, and my sister and her husband will also be bringing my niece and nephew for their fist Disney trip as well. With such a large group, as well as our 2 german shepherds and our cat coming along for the ride, we will be staying off Disney property for the 1st time since 2013 (Jesse’s very 1st trip with my family!)

Growing up, I had always stayed in vacation rental homes with my family when traveling to Disney World. Not until our honeymoon did Jesse and I start visiting the Disney resorts, that we quickly fell in love with. We are now vacation club members so it is normal for us to stay on site. With such a large group going on this trip, we debated between using our points to book a 3 bedroom villa at a deluxe resort, 2 deluxe studios with conjoining rooms or a vacation home. The biggest deciding factor was our pets, we just couldn’t get ourselves to leave them at home with someone other than my parents (since my mom is coming too). Disney does allow dogs at certain properties now but there are specific guidelines that have to be followed, like no barking, that my dogs just do not follow šŸ™‚

So after a long debate, we finally decided on the vacation rental home. I am a complete advocate for the perks to staying on Disney property, but sometimes it just doesn’t work out and that will absolutely not take any of the fun out of your Disney vacation because there are also perks to staying off property!

Perks to staying on-site at a Disney resort hotel:                                                                                    
  • Magic bands included for all guests 3 and up
  • Access to make Fastpass+ reservations 60 days in advance
  • Ability to make all dining reservations 180 days in advance from the first day of your trip, not on a day by day basis.
  • Access to extra magic hours at the parks
  • Free parking at the parks
  • Free transportation to and from the parks and Disney Springs
  • Free magical express to and from the Orlando airport
  • Option to purchase one of the 3 Disney dining plans
  • Plus read my tips here on why you should stay at a Disney resort based on how Disney handles emergency situations!
Perks to staying in a vacation rental home:
  • Typically more affordable for large groups that want to stay together
  • More space
  • Private pool/game rooms
  • Pet friendly options (hotels typically have a weight limit)
  • Full kitchen/refrigerator (also available in 1, 2 & 3 bedroom villas, cabins or tree houses at Disney resorts)
  • Ability to purchase magic bands
  • No resort parking fees

So as you can see there are perks to both on and off site properties when traveling to Disney World. Hopefully these lists help you decide which option is better for you and your travel party!

And don’t forget to check out my additional reasons to stay on Disney property based on how Disney handles emergency situations such as the COVID-19 closure!

Why You Should Stay at a Disney Resort (COVID-19 Edition)


About Enchanting Wishes

Hi, Iā€™m Denise! Wife, mom, professor, animal lover and Disney freak! I am a DVC member, former Disney travel consultant and now the face behind Enchanting Wishes. My family and I spend a lot of time in Disney and I hope to help you enjoy your Disney vacations by sharing my experiences and travel tips with you! Follow me on Pinterest for more Disney fun!

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