Thinking about a Disney vacation but not sure you can afford to stay on Disney property? Here are a few things you need to know before staying “offsite.”
First let’s discuss what we mean by “offsite.” The terms in general refers to non-Disney owned properties. Despite the nomenclature there are non-Disney operated properties on Disney owned land.While none of these offer all of the benefits of Disney-owned hotels, some of the hotels do offer certain perks. If you are deciding to stay “on” or “off” site check out our blog post.
Most people think the biggest advantage to off-site hotels is that they are “cheaper,” but that is not always the case. You may find a better value at similar accommodations with larger room sizes or continental breakfast included but they won’t necessarily be cheaper. You need to be mindful about “hidden” fees at off-site hotels including the non-optional resort fees which includes amenities like internet, newspaper, and bottled water. Others charge for parking, which could be an issue if you have a rental car. It’s important to factor in all fees when comparison shopping hotel pricing, as that “great deal” might not be nearly as good of an option once you tack on all of those non-optional fees.
Who Should Stay Offsite:
Business Travelers with Loyalty Programs: If you travel a lot for work or otherwise , you might have loyalty to a specific chain of hotels. If you have status or points at one of those chains and want to take advantage of it, you have an obvious advantage in staying at those hotels. For a lot of people, the familiarity and known quality of a major chain like this is very appealing, even if they have no points to use.
Theme Park Junkies: If you plan on exploring the other theme parks, or area attractions you may want to find a more central location. Transportation from Disney to other attractions can be a little difficult, especially Legoland and Busch Gardens which are on the way to Tampa.
Large Parties on a Budget: Outside of Walt Disney World property, vacation homes, suites, and all sorts of varying sized accommodations all can be found at a multitude of price points. It’s much easier to find accommodations with individual rooms for everyone, a kitchen, activities room, or whatever you might want for your vacation if you stay off-site. These rooms do exist on-property, but most of the time their pricing puts them firmly in the Deluxe tier, making them cost prohibitive for many groups.
Tips for staying Offsite:
Rent A Car – One of the biggest advantages to staying offsite is your options. While your room may not offer significant savings over the Disney resorts where you can find significant savings is in your food and shopping options. Buying souvenirs at one of the many outlets or picking up groceries at Target or Publix for a quick breakfast or picnic lunch can help make your Disney vacation more budget friendly.
Get An Annual Pass – The biggest drawback to renting a car is that you then have to pay for parking at the theme parks. If you plan on going to the Disney parks at least 5 days it would make financial sense for one member in your party to purchase an annual pass. In addition to free parking AP holders also receive 10- 20% discounts on Disney owned retail and restaurant locations.
Swan and Dolphin – The most “Disney” of the third party options Swan & Dolphin is perhaps the best compromise between Disney and non-Disney hotels. Essentially one in the same, the Swan & Dolphin are great options if you’re looking for a luxury experience or walking-distance proximity to Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios at a lower price point than the Yacht and Beach Club. They do have the dreaded resort fee, but the fact remains that prices at the Swan & Dolphin are significantly better than the Deluxe Resorts even with added costs factored in, and the amenities give virtually every Disney-owned hotel a run for its money.
Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress – The Hyatt at Grand Cypress is an amazing property with a plethora of onsite activities. The amenities are what you would expect from a Hyatt. The pool and water play areas are what I think are the best in Orlando. Chic style, top-notch service, exquisite dining, and great rooms–this Hyatt has a lot to offer. The price is certainly higher than other off-site options, but is a great value for what you are getting. This is a great place to relax in between park days. Make sure you try the fish tacos by the pool.
Wydham Grand Orlando – One of the more well-rounded hotels on this list in terms of balancing price point, room quality, amenities quality, and location. Right in Bonnett Creek this is extremely convenient. They offer fantastic villa options for larger families. Many rooms have fireworks views. Not outstanding in terms of design or amenities but a dependable place to stay.
Sheraton Vistana Villages – Also a villa style resort they offer a comfortable and convenient place to rest your head after a long day in the parks. Conveniently located on I-Drive, the Orlando Tourist Corridor. It is not particularly noteworthy but it is probably the most consistently recommended in best offsite hotel lists. As a Starwood Resort this is a great option for Marriott Reward or SPG members.
Gaylord Palms – Also a Marriott resort, operated by the same people at the Opryland Hotel this resort is a destination. Incredible dining, breathtaking property this is top of the list of Orlando resorts to stay. Featuring 2 pools, 5 restaurants, live gator feedings, and nightly entertainment you want to devote time to explore the resort. Not super convenient to the parks this is a Centrally located resort for those interested in Universal, SeaWorld and Point Orlando Outlets.