Disney World Vacation Planning – Do I Stay ON property or OFF-site?

Disney World Cinderella Coach

If Disney World is your vacation destination, you’ll likely need a place to stay while you’re visiting (besides the castle since we’re all princesses!). Disney World travel planning can instill fear in even the best vacation planners. There are hundreds of options within a few miles of the parks. While there are condo and home rentals as well as timeshare options, I wanted to focus on hotels today. Unlike other vacation destinations, this is where an informed certified Disney travel agent can be your best friend.

When I was planning my first trip to Disney World, the Grand Floridian was the only property I was interested in. But when I was told it wasn’t available for my dates of travel I had a little panic because I hadn’t researched any other options. I was so intent on that one property it never dawned on me that I wouldn’t be able to reserve my dates. That’s when I discovered that hotel options at Disney abound. Whatever your budget there is something for you!

While staying at the Grand Floridian isn’t for everyone, when it comes to visiting Walt Disney World the first decision about hotels you make is this: Do you stay on-property or off-property? (Oops, I jumped the real first question which is do you want to stay in a hotel or other type of property. For this discussion, we’ve decided to stay in a hotel.)

So, back to the discussion. We’re staying at a hotel, now to determine if it will be on-site (a Disney-owned accommodation) or off-site (owned by another company but close to Disney World). There are benefits and drawbacks to both decisions. I’ve stayed at both types and both worked well for my family. You know your family and your travel needs, so don’t believe that one or the other the only option. Disney’s all about options!

Staying on-site means you’re staying at one of the 25 resorts, villas or campground in the Value, Moderate or Deluxe and Villas categories of accommodations. Disney also has a campground facility for those who wish to camp or are traveling by camper or RV and want to enjoy the benefits offered to guest staying at Disney properties.

With over 30,000 rooms, you’ll definitely find a Disney Resort to fit your needs. This is where working with a certified Disney World Travel Agent like The Affordable Mouse can really help. With so many options, and possibly special needs due to size of family or need for certain types of amenities, it’s nice to have someone to prompt you and narrow down your options quickly.

The benefits of staying at a Disney Resort are many. They include Extra Magic Hours (getting to enter the parks early or stay later), complimentary airport shuttle service on Disney’s Magical Express, in-park package delivery back to your room (who wants to carry around bags all day?), using your room key for in-park charges, convenient and complimentary transportation to and from the parks to your hotel, the option of using one of the Disney Dining plans as well as the 24-hours a day Disney magic sprinkled throughout your stay.

Of course, there can be drawbacks to staying on-site which could be a deciding factor. The magic does not come free. Disney resorts are often at a premium when compared to other similar area resorts. However, it’s not an apples to apples comparison and you’ll need to prioritize your needs to make sure you’re getting what is best for you. One other concern I’ve heard from people is that they don’t like having to pay a deposit equal to one-nights stay when they book a Disney property. Over the past few years, though, that policy has begun to carry over to off-site hotels as well so it may not be a factor.

For many people, the benefits to staying off-property when traveling to Disney World far outweigh the drawbacks. While I missed the convenience of Disney’s Magical Express it was nice to arrange my own times for transportation. And since my family doesn’t do the Extra Magic Hours that was a benefit we were willing to forego. Overall, staying off-property for my family wasn’t a big deal. Then again, we stayed at the Swan hotel so we were close to both Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios and were able to use the Disney resort transportation services.

If reading this has you  concerned about choosing the right resort when you visit Disney World, don’t fret. Like most other hotel decisions these days, when you get online and start researching options the choices can become overwhelming. Nancy from The Affordable Mouse did an excellent step by step plan to help you decide which hotel option is best for you when planning your Disney World vacation. It’s a great first step to helping you create a magical Disney vacation.

If you’re planning a Disney vacation, using a certified Disney World travel agent is free to you and will not increase the price of your vacation. Nancy is terrific and can help you maximize your magic!

When planning your Disney World vacation, do you think you’d stay on-site or off-site?

Disclosure: Using The Affordable Mouse will NOT increase the price of your trip. If anything, it may save you money. Please let them know I sent you!



Disney World Travel Planning

Disney World Travel

As much as I love Disney, many are surprised to find that I did not visit Walt Disney World until I was nearly 40. I know! Why would I have wait so long? Was there something about it that made it a non-priority?

Having been to Disneyland well over 500 times, I have a special affection for ‘the land’. I can close my eyes and envision the entire park. Getting there has always been pretty easy since I’ve spent most of my life within driving distance to the land. For me, Disneyland was less of a vacation spot than it was just a place to go. It never screamed ‘big vacation’. That was what Disney World was for.

When I got married in 1994, I wanted a Disney wedding. Unfortunately, with my mom gone, my uncle dying and my grandfather becoming more and more frail, my dream wedding was in need of re-imagineering. No coach, no castle. And because I had my eye on the Grand Floridian, and only the Grand Floridian, my dream wedding took on another vision.

After I got married, work, life, school, mortgage, and retirement all started to take priority over my Disney World vacation (which was going to happen “someday”!). See, I wasn’t going to go to Disney World unless I could stay at the Grand Floridian. Pretty high goals. And during the 90s, a pretty hefty price tag too. The economy was good and prices were, for the time, definitely very premium.

Then something happened and CycleGuy and I decided that our Disney World trip was no longer a want but more of a need. Since I had been researching a Disney vacation for pretty much all my adult life you’d think it would be easy to plan a week-long trip to Disney World at the drop of a hat.

Uh, no! While I was intent on the Grand Floridian, it was not available for our dates. Dejection! What to do? I outsourced my stress! I’ve only once before used a travel agent and that was for our honeymoon. Other than that, I’ve always been one to plan and organize. But when it comes to Disney World, an authorized Disney travel planner was my savior. Disney has three tiers of resorts, various dining plans, ticket options for every family and a variety of extras if you stay on property. I just wanted to go Disney World. I didn’t want to think about how many permutations and combinations were possible. I was already dealing with a stressful situation, planning a vacation had to be easy.

When it comes to a Disney World trip, many people save for a long time and want to make sure they do everything right. Other times, they’re crazy and plan the trip in just a few weeks. Either way, a perfect Disney vacation is simply a phone call or email away. Seriously!

Since that first trip in 2007, we’ve gone back each year and have spent 10 days at Disney World, and I’ve planned a girl’s trip for a long weekend. I’ve tried the DIY planning, the travel agent, online with the Disney World travel website, and combinations of these. For the money (FREE!), a Disney World travel agent is the best way to go. So when Nancy at The Affordable Mouse approached me to explore a relationship to help my readers with their Disney travel planning it was easy to say YES!

No matter the size of your family, if there is a special occasion (Disney loves to celebrate your birthday and anniversary with you), short trips or long, using a travel agent can make for affordable Disney vacations. When I first went I had no idea there was “free dining”, but my travel planner did! Saved me big bucks right there and sold me on the value of having a Disney travel planning partner.

We’re a very DIY society when it comes to travel planning. But sometimes, using a travel agent who is in the know about the destination can be a big benefit. Now, with a short email to Nancy you can count on her and her staff to plan your ultimate Disney vacation! Whether you’re a (self-admitted) Disney snob like me and must stay at a deluxe resort or you love the music and movies themes at the value resorts, if you’re considering a Disney World vacation talk to Nancy first!

Since I’ve fully admitted to my love of Disney I’ll be writing more about my trips and travel planning. And I have put up a little button on the right side with a direct link to The Affordable Mouse so you won’t need to hunt down this post. Anytime you’re here you’ll see that little button to remind you that free Disney travel planning is just a click away.

When you fill out your trip details, if you could tell Nancy that you found out about her from me that would be terrific. The Affordable Mouse can help you all your Disney travel needs – even big groups (like family reunions). I look forward to hearing about your Disney trip!

So, when are you going to Disney World?

Disclosure: Using The Affordable Mouse will NOT increase the price of your trip. If anything, it may save you money. Please let them know I sent you!