Disney World Resorts VS. the resorts near Disney World: Which to book?

Finding Luxury at Disney World Resorts

To stay at Disney World resorts or stay off-site is one of the first questions to consider when planning your Disney vacation, and everyone has an opinion. I love Disney World. I can’t say I love Disney World resorts, though they are improving all of the time.

I provide this information for families seeking a more luxury experience at Disney World, whose expectations and standards are set by the luxury hotels and resorts from their travels. And I am not out to yuck anyone’s yum. We still stay onsite on occasion and appreciate why it works for many families.

I will always give Disney credit where its due, but I consider myself a pretty knowledgeable consumer of the hospitality industry, and there are some sacrifices when staying on property that I want Luxe Recess readers to know before choosing their accommodations. I simply want every family to enjoy their Disney World vacation.

There is so much content on the internet written by those incredibly passionate about Disney World, and those sites are so helpful when planning a vacation to offer advice. But I don’t see a lot of objective assessment of resorts with the intention of being a guidebook. I stay at several different resorts each time I visit Disney World with the purpose of knowing how each property rates within the Orlando market. This year I will have stayed at nearly 30!

If you are new to planning a Disney World vacation, be sure to read our 7 essential tips to planning a stress-free trip. The ultimate stress-free luxury is, of course, are Disney VIP tours.


Disney World Resorts: The Myth of convenience

A lot of marketing and money has gone into making everyone think that staying on property is more convenient. I thought that made sense, too, until I experienced it first hand. I have already stayed at twenty-three different hotels in Orlando, six on-site Disney resorts and 17 off-site in the last three years researching our Disney section for readers. These hotel stays in a compressed amount of time have given me a unique perspective to understand how every place stacks up against each other.

The Best Disney World Hotels. Period.

Park Transportation: Disney Resort Buses

Buses to the parks really don’t differ. Disney World resort buses run “continuously” but that doesn’t mean you can’t wait a good thirty minutes or more for your bus. To Disney’s credit, after waiting more than 30 minutes for a bus at the Grand Floridian, a staff member came out to do hat tricks to entertain us until a bus arrived. If you are using the Four Seasons or Waldorf Astoria buses, though, their departure times are set and easy to coordinate. The Waldorf Astoria even has a fantastic website with departure times to each park.

But honestly, Uber and Lyft are so easy to use, I am not sure why people suffer with bus wait times unless they face issues with needing more than two car seats. Disney has caught on and will be launching their own car for hire program in red Minnie Mouse cars called Minnie Vans that guests can request for door-to-door service.

In the future there will be a new method of transportation: the Disney Skyliner, a gondola system that connects a the newest Disney Riviera Resort (a new DVC property), the Art of Animation, and Pop Century with Epcot and Hollywood Studios.

Early Magic Hours aren’t all that magic

When you choose the park that has the morning hours, you are choosing the park most popular that day for every Disney World resort guest. All park crowd calendars suggest avoiding those parks on those days for a good reason. Is that extra hour in the morning worth a much heavier crowd for the whole day?

I certainly bought into the hype our first few visits but have since learned it’s not, for us, a true benefit. One exception may be for days the forecast is really hot and humid where an extra hour before the brutal heat and humidity can make a difference. But as a rule, if some friend is trying to tell you that the Early Magic Hours are a great perk, take what they say with a grain of salt.

Magical Express vs. Renting a Car vs. Hiring a Car Service

If you stay on Disney property, Magical Express is a free bus service from the airport to your Disney resort. This is a great perk for travelers who don’t mind the extra walking, waiting, and schlepping.

But for luxury travelers, they will likely choose a car service or rent a car. If you care about eating well, a rental car or Uber is key in reaching the many great restaurants in Disney World and beyond the resort area. If you are a foodie family who also tries to avoid junk food, here’s our list of favorites.

Join the Luxury Disney World Facebook group if we can answer your questions when planning your next Disney vacation.

And speaking of restaurants at the Disney World resorts

The food at Disney World’s resorts is very limiting for foodies and the health conscious, and this element, besides pretty drab hotel rooms, are what keep us looking off site. But it IS getting better. All of the newer restaurants are significantly better than many of the existing offers.

Each deluxe resort has a signature restaurant for dinner that is typically great, but breakfast and lunch will fall short. Outside of those signature restaurants with $45 entrées, it is hard to eat well at the resorts if you don’t eat pizza, burgers, processed food, and those addictive Mickey bars. Here’s our list of favorite Disney park and resort restaurants.

The exception to this is the food court at the Art of Animation resort (check dates & rates), whose Landscape of Flavors is as excellent as cafeteria food can be, with options like saag paneer, roasted fish, freshly baked naan breads, and vegan cupcakes.

I have observed the food offerings improving over the last few years, particularly with healthier children’s menu options, but good food, not junk food, at Disney World will cost you.

And the breakfast buffets are nearby properties like the Swan and Waldorf are in another league than the Disney resort breakfasts.

I do want to give Disney World credit for being outstanding to those with food allergies. Their policies are typically ironclad, and Disney World has rightly earned the loyalties of families with special dietary needs.

But Orlando-area luxury resorts are used to guests having these allergies, too, and when notified, can be equally accommodating and serve much better tasting food for the same or lower cost.

Disney World resorts offer neither value nor luxury

I’ll say it a different way: Deluxe Disney World resorts are not worth their premium price compared to the luxury hotels in the area. They are very expensive; the Mouse gets a very big commission on a hotel room that will feel like a chain business hotel room with a few not-so-hidden Mickeys in the décor.

Let’s take a long weekend at the beginning of November. As of today, the Waldorf Astoria lists $256 per night, the Ritz-Carlton Grande Lakes $359, the Four Seasons $425 per night, and one can reserve a two-bedroom villa with full kitchen at the Villas at Grand Cypress for $603 per night. The better Disney resorts range from $486, The Beach Club, up to $714 at the Contemporary Resort. Three days of savings will cover private car services for airport transfers as well as a few spa treatments.

Join the Luxury Disney World Facebook Group where I can try and answer any questions about hotels, spas, and restaurants.

Conference rates at the Disney Resorts run from $199 to $299, and I find that, at that price, the value and experiences offered are well aligned.

If you feel there is not enough Disney magic without being on site for your kids, you can order a welcome gift of stuffed Disney characters and balloons through Disney Floral & Gifts.

I can also tell you your food and room will be exponentially better offsite at those luxury resorts compared to the deluxe Disney World resorts.

So why stay on Disney property at all?

The most profitable strategy Disney World resorts has capitalized on is nostalgia. If you grew up staying at the Polynesian, you probably still place great value on staying there still. If you didn’t grow up going to Disney, they even themed an entire resort for a stroll down Memory Lane called the Pop Century Resort.

With memorabilia from the 1950’s to the 1990’s every adult guest can enjoy the iconography of their childhood. People stay at Disney hotels because it is what they did before, and the trip just won’t feel the same unless they stay on site every time.

Don’t change what is working for you.

The New Club Level Fast Passes

In 2018, Disney World is now offering club level fast passes for those who stay three nights or longer with 3-day or longer tickets. Club level guests of the Polynesian, Grand Floridian, Beach & Yacht Club, Animal Kingdom Lodge, Boardwalk Inn, Wilderness Lodge, and Contemporary are eligible for this new VIP Fast Pass offer. Also guests of the luxury DVC units like the Polynesian Bungalows, the Copper Creek Canyon Cabins, too.

Surprisingly, guests at the Swan and Dolphin in the following room categories can book these, too: Presidential Suites, Governor Suites, Parlor Suites, Premium Alcove Rooms.

These guests can book 3 extra Fast Passes that work for any park at the 90-day window. This means that in addition to the traditional 3 Fast Passes available to all, these extra VIP Fast Passes can confirm you can book the new hot rides like Pandora or Toy Story Land in the summer of 2018. The cost is $50 per person per day.

The Star Wars Resort Experience

And speaking of nostalgia, Disney World will likely announce (at least I hope) a Star Wars-themed resort experience at the Disney World resorts to tie in with the planned Star Wars Land expansion of Hollywood studios for 2019.

This will probably be the game-changer in how Disney World creates immersive guest experiences.

Parents will probably be able to choose Star Wars-themed rooms and pretend it is for their kids’ enjoyment. (Guilty I will be!)

The rumors around this multi-day experience sounds like a cruise style experience, in that it will be all-inclusive about a Star Wars ship hotel, and guests check in for a two night experience that follows a sequence of experiences like flight training, character interaction and more.

This Star Wars Resort will possibly have a pool area, a cantina, and robotic butler droids. Rumors are pricing this two night all inclusive experience about about $1,000 per person.


The benefits of Disney World Resorts

The biggest perks to staying on site is to take full advantage of their very fancy technology like online check-in, Magic Bands, and an early Fast Pass window before the public (the ride reservation system). Disney World boasts one of the most technologically advanced guest experiences while offering, ironically, some of the least reliable WiFi service.

Guests at Disney World resorts may check in at home and even choose their preferred room. I found this feature pretty cool, but unless you have been to the resort before, it is hard to know what to choose. Guests may also elect to receive a text notification that their room is ready, which can even include the room number.

This worked for us at the first resort we tried the service, and we dragged our bags straight to our room. We left the property without ever once interacting with the front desk. Some people may like this efficiency. I felt it was kind of strange and impersonal.

2 ways Disney World resort guests benefit:

Magic Bands

Disney World mails Magic Bands in advance to resort guests in a beautifully designed packages with the same Incredibles theme that the resort confirmation uses.  It is a gleeful box to open. Not quite like a Tiffany’s robin egg blue box, but close.

Both the bands and their inscription of each family member’s name are included with the cost of the stay. They can be customized by color and are inscribed underneath the Mickey. They are used as a park ticket, charge account, and room key. They are incredibly convenient. I’m a huge fan. Even when my son lost his on our last trip, we merely had to go to the guest services window at the park entrance to pick up a replacement.

Guests at non-Disney resorts can purchase Magic Bands from the Disney store web site or once on site and load their park ticket and Fast Pass information on them, but they won’t work as charge cards or room keys.

Standard magic bands that are included free for Disney guests run about $12, while the character-themed designs cost about $20.

The Four Seasons has a Disney relations stand opposite their concierge service, and I have found these cast members to be some of the bet I have ever consulted with questions, even before checking in.

The Hilton Bonnet Creek has an on site Disney store of its guests and the Waldorf guests to link purchased Magic Bands with their tickets, too. (Though this can be done online in your My Disney Experience account, too).

Fast Pass Windows

Guests of the Walt Disney World resorts (and the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin resorts*) can choose their Fast Passes sixty days before while off-site guests may do so thirty days before arrival.

This matters in terms of reserving the most coveted Fast Pass options like the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, the new Frozen Ever After ride at Epcot, an Anna and Elsa meet and greet, or the new Pandora Avatar experience, but most options are still available at thirty days.

Plans change, so if you check the My Disney Experience website regularly, especially the week of your trip, you’ll find that cancelations open up.

*Swan and Dolphin guests will not receive magic bands by mail and must purchase them separately and link them to their park tickets in their My Disney Experience accounts.

The Disney Magic


Do Mickey stickers and pats of butter make up for the 60 minute wait with room service?

I think Disney can lose sight of the fact that not everyone taking their children to Disney World places value on the total immersion of Disney characters. Clearly if that is appealing to you, then the choice is quite obvious.

When someone starts referring to a hotel’s theming, I know they are best suited to a Disney World resort.

When I tried room service for breakfast on a recent visit at a Disney deluxe resort, called “private dining” in Disney speak, I was shocked that the cast member chirped, “That will be 60 minutes.”

Most hotels live by the 30-minute rule, so an hour for breakfast with hungry children was irksome to me. The room service tray arrived with napkins covered in Mickey Mouse stickers. That will either thrill you or annoy you. Your reaction tells you where you belong. No judgement.

Where should you stay at Disney World?

I don’t know! There are so many options. I can tell you what we do. We always stay at more than one property while visiting Disney World. If we are visiting a park, we can’t take advantage of the resort amenities we are paying for. We like to start at a Disney resort and finish off property where we can relax and rest up after tiring park days.

I think the best Disney resort for the money and experience is the Art of Animation resort (check dates & rates). You can’t be more immersed in Disney than those themed family suites with Cars, Little Mermaid, Lion King, or Little Nemo movie characters. Walking around the property and seeing the life-sized characters is a treat. Their food court is edible, and the suites are spacious. It is, at heart, still a motel with few amenities and little service, though, but if you are at the parks all day, who cares?

For those who claim they really want the immersive Disney experience, you can’t top the Art of Animation.

I also think the Contemporary Resort is a great place to start a stay. Check in, grab dinner at California Grill, and walk over to Magic Kingdom on your first morning.

California Grill

One of the best restaurants on Disney property at the penthouse level of the Contemporary is a must for any visiting foodie.

For those who want to be at the deluxe Disney World resorts, I encourage you to consider renting points to book on the the Disney Vacation Club villas at the Grand Floridian (check dates & rates), Polynesian (check dates & rates), or Contemporary (check dates & rates).

But to save save money we have repeatedly used David’s DVC Rentals (check your dates using their point calculator) with great satisfaction, giving us a discounted price at the nicest, newest rooms on Disney property. When I am paying closer to $300 per deluxe villa studio per night, the whole equation of value and luxury of the onsite properties works very well for me.

After our park days, there are many great choices of luxury resorts. My daughter’s favorite is the Villas at Grand Cypress. She loved the spacious villas and the mellow vibe where we could ride bikes and golf carts around the acres of property.

I couldn’t choose a favorite between the big three: the Four Seasons, Ritz-Carlton, or Waldorf Astoria. They are all great; it just depends on how much you want to spend, how close you want to be to the parks, and what childcare options you seek.

The Four Seasons kids’ club is included in the price, the Ritz-Carlton offers two free hours per day, and the Waldorf’s is by appointment only. They all have spectacular pools, rooms, service, and restaurant options. The Ritz-Carlton is the furthest away from Disney World but well situated to visit Universal Studios, too.


If you are still confused, or seeking Disney World advice, join my Luxury Disney World Facebook Group where I can try and answer any questions about hotels, spas, and restaurants.

Headed to Disneyland? Here’s an expert assessment on deciding between off-Property hotels at Disneyland is completely different.


Luxury Orlando Resorts

37 Responses
  • sarah HIrsch
    April 29, 2015

    Great advice! I too think the Art of Animation Resort is the best bang for your buck at a Disney Resort!

  • Lynn
    April 29, 2015

    This is such a knowledgeable post! I haven’t found better and more honest evaluations.

  • Cathy Sweeney
    April 30, 2015

    Lots of considerations, many of which apply to everyone, not just families. I haven’t been to Disney World since they’ve had so many on-property hotels or even off-property one, for that matter. Yes, it was a looooong time ago. I know the hubby would love to make a visit sometime, so will take your reviews into account. Also have some Disney-loving friends and family with whom I’ll share your post.

  • I’ve never been to a Disney World property, but this is a great guide for family travelers. All too often, write-ups online aren’t this comprehensive and honest. Will share!

  • Wandering Educators
    April 30, 2015

    Excellent advice, especially about the Magic Bands and tips on where to stay. I’d choose Four Seasons over a Disney resort. 🙂

  • Jessica
    April 30, 2015

    This is a fabulous post not only for those in the market for luxury hotels near WDW, but for people who regularly stay at mid-grade hotels. Let me explain, as I read more about planning a trip to WDW I was convinced I had to stay on Disney property to enjoy the perks and convenience. I’ve never stayed at a Four Seasons or Ritz Carlton, but seeing the comparison you made with those prices to the pricer Disney hotels—I can now see how staying at one of those options makes more sense. Our family can enjoy a fabulous hotel that we wouldn’t consider any other time. If we were already planning on paying $500+ to stay onsite, why not stay at a nicer, true luxury hotel for less and have a private car? Thank you for those tips!

    • Robin
      April 30, 2015

      Glad to help, Jessica! The price of staying on site at the deluxe hotels has never made sense to me when such amazing hotels near Disney are far nicer and better priced.

  • Lillie
    May 1, 2015

    I’m a total Disney novice, but with my baby growing, I’ll need to know these tips soon! Super interesting and useful. Thanks!

  • penny sadler
    May 3, 2015

    Oh my gosh, I don’t have kids, but can I stay there! I’ll go!

    • Marcy
      September 24, 2016

      Personally, I love going without kids. More relaxing for sure. Also, staying on Disney property is all in the atmosphere. I wouldn’t stay anyplace else. If you have a car, parking is free at the parks. If you have a car, you can get into every one of the resorts except Shades of Green. If you have a car, you don’t have to wait for a bus. Having said that, I have gone many times and parked the car and not moved it until I went home. Buses sometimes are restful between places. And don’t forget all the boat rides you can do for free. 🙂 Rarely have I ever seen obnoxious kids even on bus rides at 11:00 PM after a long day. There is no place like Disney – world or land.

      • Robin
        September 24, 2016

        I love the passion you have for this, Marcy. It is a special place indeed.

  • Katja
    May 3, 2015

    It’s always refreshing to read a honest post such as this one. We’ve only taken the kids to Disneyworld once and we stayed outside the park. I’m always reluctant to pay so much for a hotel room, particularly when you are going to spend so little time in it, and would much rather save the money for either an additional day in the park or to put towards another holiday!

  • Love the solid hard truth 😀

  • THANK YOU for writing this post! I am probably one of the very few parents who don’t think going to Disney EVERY. SINGLE. YEAR is the best way to vacation with kids. And even when we did go, we did not stay on the property, and saved quite a bundle. Yes, we had to drive and park, but it wasn’t so bad, and our location also allowed us to explore other places around Orlando.

  • Allison
    May 6, 2015

    There are SO MANY OPTIONS for lodging in Orlando. For some, the Disney resorts will always be the way to go, but it’s refreshing to read an alternate opinion.

  • Tonya
    May 6, 2015

    I’ve stayed both on and off Disney property and my preference is to stay off-site. After a day in the parks, my family craves quiet. I also prefer having a vehicle to avoid as much wait time as possible. We rented a vacation home near Disney and that was by far our favorite option. The kids could swim in the private pool, I could prepare our own meals (with my husband manning the grill) and we each had our own bathroom- perfect when you have three teens (at the time) who like to primp.

  • Matt
    May 19, 2015

    Does the convenience myth calculus include resorts that have the Monorail running through them? That bypasses the bus issue, and it’s an experience all its own (albeit one that any visitor can have free if they want, I believe, but maybe not worth going out of the way for).

    Thanks for all your investigative Disney work and great site!

    • Robin
      May 19, 2015

      Actually, in our recent stay at the Grand Floridian, the monorail was down half the time, thereby reducing its appeal and premium cost for a service that doesn’t work with consistency. Those really into Disney parks love the Contemporary because Magic Kingdom is accessible by foot. But travelers used to luxury hotels will find the scheduled buses by resorts like the Four Seasons and Waldorf Astoria pleasant, and the room and food quality will be exponentially better for the money spent. And the monorail only serves two of the four Disney parks.

  • Christa
    June 8, 2015

    Great post! We stayed off-site for the non-Disney portion of our Orlando vacation at on-site for the days we planned to visit the Disney parks. We didn’t use the extra Magic Hours because like you said, it’s way too crowded and not worth it. We booked on-site for the extra Disney magic but at $350 a night for the Beach Club Resort we could have probably gotten more for our money by staying off-site.

    Next time we visit Orlando we’ll probably use our Hilton rewards to stay a night or two off-site and then check out Art of Animation (based on your great feedback of it!)

  • Susan
    July 7, 2015

    After much research, we decided staying at a Disney property was so not worth it. The sleeping arrangements in their resorts did not work for us. No one wanted an uncomfortable sofa bed or chair bed. For those prices, everyone should have a comfortable bed to sleep in. The prices are outrageous. We chose a gorgeous, spacious 4 br condo with full kitchen, d/r, l/r, private balcony and en suite washer and dryer. 3 full baths as well. All for much less than a Disney property. Lots of research totally paid off! Thanks for your honest posts.

    • Kalyn morris
      October 16, 2015

      What was the name of the place you stayed?

  • eileen g
    July 22, 2015

    I do think that if you have small kids who might need a mid-day break from the parks, being able to get from the Magic Kingdom back to the Polynesian, Grand Floridian, Contemporary or Wilderness Lodge in 10-15 minutes is very handy. If you are staying at a hotel that is on property but further away from the parks you want to visit that convenience diminishes and you are probably right that staying off site can work just as well. If you are going to compare prices though, keep in mind that no body pays the rack rates you list above. We stayed at Wilderness Lodge during Thanksgiving Week for maybe $225/night. The luggage transfers, free airport shuttle, staff to play with your kids by the pool in the afternoon, concierge who could help us with reservations and adding to our tickets, etc., and ease of getting to and from the MK, where we spent most of our time, really did make for a visit that was actually relaxing. They’re “mid-priced” restaurant is very good, btw.

    • Robin
      July 22, 2015

      Thanks for your comment, Eilieen! I would agree that any monorail resort for $225 changes the equation a bit, and for the $200 something we paid a night using a DVC rental agency, the Grand Floridian villas was a fine choice. No monorail resort is worth more than $300 when comparing what the offsite luxury resorts offer, if you like nice hotels. Which ones have you been to? But in terms of paying rack rates, I notice the huge majority of people staying at Disney resorts that I speak with are there on employee discounts or attending meetings with dramatically reduced rates. But the public who sign up for the packages online don’t get those rates. The annual Disney discounts that promote up to 30% off in set spring and fall seasons still come out very high for the monorail resorts. What year was your stay at the Wilderness? We had a reservation there during the quiet season this past December and it was still $330 per night before the holiday rates kicked in.

    • Tracy tesseneer
      October 15, 2016

      what are the prices for the “mid-priced” restaurants? I have never been to disney and am trying to decide whether to stay at the Disney Resorts or off-site. Food prices is definitely a deciding factor for me. We will have a total of 7 people going – 4 teenagers between 17-19 and my mother-n-law, husband, and myself. All of my kids are very hefty eaters, and we need to go as cheap as we can with food expenses! Any advice is greatly appreciated! Thanks. 🙂

      • Robin Hutson
        October 15, 2016

        You’ll definitely want to stay offsite and have access to a kitchen to keep costs down. I would suggest looking at Vacatia.com for the resort residences that have full kitchens and multiple bedrooms, but you will also have to rent a car if you are not driving to Orlando. There are loads of articles on saving money for food at Disney. Check Pinterest for those articles or check out Travelingmom.com for more info. I tend to focus on the splurge style of vacation, though I really appreciate value, too. Having a kitchen, eat breakfasts, pack sandwiches to eat around 11, have a nice big meal at 3 or 4 at the parks, and have more food back at your condo when you return.

  • Jason
    October 20, 2015

    $486 for Animal Kingdom Lodge? You are paying rack rates. No wonder you don’t think it’s worth it. It’s actually around $210 if you do a little research..

    • Robin
      October 20, 2015

      Fantastic, Jason! Do tell! I have seen rates at Animal Kingdom below $300, even club level occasionally, especially with the additional discounts that Orbitz offers. I think it definitely is the best deal for deluxe hotels on site, and one can rent those rooms for even less by using a service that rents DVC points. What other sites have been most helpful to you in your research for hotel prices?

  • Lauren
    October 28, 2015

    While I certainly agree that Disney hotels are by no meals luxurious, they also don’t cost nearly as much as luxury hotels do. Rack rate, yes, but I don’t really know anyone who pays that, and if you do, you’re not doing your research! We average around $200 for Disney deluxe, which is a lot cheaper than a true luxury hotel. Not to mention, more convenient than offsite (there’s no offsite hotel in which you can WALK and/or boat to Epcot and Hollywood Studios, and even if the monorail isn’t convenient, those staying at the Contemporary can walk to the Magic Kingdom. That’s for sure a huge selling point for those looking for convenience, depending on which park(s) you plan on visiting. I agree that a bus isn’t convenient, and I would never stay at an onsite hotel just to utilize a bus, especially when I could stay at a far better offsite hotel utilizing the same transportation. Not to mention, offsite hotels have far superior pools – that’s where Disney hotels are greatly lacking, although some argue that stormalong bay is pretty unique, and I tend to agree – especially now that they’ve added poolside service! We’ve also have had great luck with extra magic hours, in particular the evening ones at Magic Kingdom. We’ve been able to walk on rides, thanks to them, including meeting Anna and Elsa with only a 10 minute wait (without FP), which at the time we went, was really hard to get!

    • Robin
      November 2, 2015

      Thanks so much, Lauren, for your comments. Would you say you are able to find Grand Floridian rates in the $200 without having a meeting or employee discount? I’d love to know your tips! We think alike in the ability to walk to a park, as it makes it so much more pleasant. You can walk to Epcot from the Swan and Dolphin, and they are non-Disney resorts that many families love, too.

  • Aunna
    February 7, 2016

    I did a lot of research before booking our onsite DW resort. It was actually cheaper to stay onsite…..

    • Robin
      February 7, 2016

      That’s fantastic, Aunna! It’s always great to get a good deal. Can you share the resorts you were comparing and what you chose so others can benefit from your research? I definitely think Value resorts offer a good deal when replacing the cost of rental cars, particularly if you are willing to each at fast service restaurants.

  • Lesli
    March 1, 2016

    Thanks for the opinions, I was happy to see finally some pros for staying off site in my research. We have our first trip planned for the first week of June and we are staying at the Hilton SeaWorld. Do you have an opinion on visiting the park for the morning, taking a break in the afternoon and returning for the evening when staying off site? Trying to decide if its able to be done efficiently.

    • Robin
      March 1, 2016

      Lesli, although that is what makes the most sense, we have never been able to to do that. Once we stop, we are too wiped out to head back into the parks later. It depends on the age of your kids (mine are still young) and what will be enjoyable. One tip is to leave at 2 or 3 and head to the Grand Floridian or Polynesian by boat from magic Kingdom and walk around their beach and pool areas. They will have few people by comparison. Let the kids play in the sand a bit while you rest on a lounge chair. Eat dinner at the one of the resorts and then head back in to the park. This break from the over-stimulation from the park will help.

  • Tracy tesseneer
    October 15, 2016

    I am planning my first trip EVER to DisneyWorld in March 2017. I will have a total of 7 people – 4 teenagers ranging in age from 17-19, my husband, my mother-n-law, and myself. I have some health issues – previous back surgery and arthritis in both my knees -so I need to know any advice on how to have the least walking involved. And do they offer any kind of scooter rentals for inside the parks? I would also like to hear advice on the Disney Dining plans. With 7 people, 4 of those being hungry-all-the-time teenagers, I expect food expense to be a lot. I need to know how to save as much money as I can on food cost! Really, any advice that anyone has on the disney resorts and vacation in general would be GREATLY appreciated!

    • Robin Hutson
      October 15, 2016

      There are scooter rentals inside the park to make mobility easier, but be prepared for the hikes to the scooter rental place that really can’t be avoided. I would have your family drop you and a few other in your party off while the other half parks about a half an hour before rope drop, so that there is time for everything and you avoid rush hour crowds. Private scooter rental companies may deliver a scooter to your accommodations, just like the private stroller companies, and then you can use it from the parking lots and on the monorail.

  • PegP
    March 17, 2018

    I had to laugh when I started reading how much you value the 5-star resort experience and ended with reading how much you recommend the Art of Animation! We’ve stayed there. And while it’s a nice resort that we would stay in again, it hardly ranks up there with the quality this article starts out being about. Art of Animation is one of the farthest resorts from the Magic Kingdom park. Not to mention the dining at AoA isn’t exactly the greatest. There’s no table service restaurant at this value resort. I’m still shaking my head at this article.

    • Robin Hutson
      March 24, 2018

      Thanks for your point, Peg. It’s certainly true Art of Animation is not a deluxe Disney resort. The reason I still suggest Art of Animation is because of its value and it is simply such a well conceived hotel experience to immerse in the Disney bubble. For parents who want to give their kids a really Disney experience on site while still having room to spread out, I think it is a great value compared to other suite options on site. I think a few nights here while visiting the parks leaves room in the budget to head off site to a luxury resort like the Four Seasons Orlando for a few pool days.

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