When you plan your Walt Disney World vacation, you’ll have the option of staying on property or off property. There are a number of benefits to both, so you should definitely make a careful decision by researching the pros and cons for each choice. This article can help you decide if you should stay on property at Walt Disney World.
If you do decide to stay off property, there are some things you’ll need to know as a Walt Disney World off property guest. There are definitely some benefits to staying on property, but with some advance planning, you can still have a fantastic vacation while staying off property.
Disclosure: Affiliate links within. Purchasing and/or clicking on some of the links in this post may result in a commission paid to us. I am a former member of the Disney Parks Moms Panel and have been on some complimentary press trips at Walt Disney World, but all opinions are my own.
What You Need to Know as a Walt Disney World Off Property Guest
Transportation to the Parks
Walt Disney World resort guests can take the Magical Express right from the airport to their hotel. If you aren’t staying on property, you’ll need to rent a car, or take other transportation to your hotel.
You’ll want to check with your specific hotel to find out what sort of transportation they offer to the parks. Some offer shuttles, but those are typically on a set schedule and may go to one central location at Walt Disney World.
If you decide to the parks, you will have to pay for parking. Keep that in mind when budgeting for your trip. Transportation between the parks is complimentary for all guests, so you can stay in one spot once you arrive, if you choose.
At Walt Disney World, FastPass+ is complimentary for all guests. With FastPass+, you can make reservations for the most popular attractions. Make a FastPass+ reservation, and you’ll be able to skip the line and go to the attraction during your return window.
While on property guests can make their FastPass+ reservations 60 days in advance for their whole vacation, off property guests can only make those reservations 30 days in advance. That means you’ll want to login daily for each day of your trip to make sure you get the reservations that you want. Note that annual passholders can make their FastPass + reservations 30 days in advance.
FastPass+ reservations can be made online, or through the My Disney Experience app. They can be made starting at 7am Eastern Time at the 30 day point. You’ll be able to get 3 reservations per day, but once you use those, you can book more on the app. Guests can also add their tickets to the app to streamline everything.
You’ll want to make those reservations as soon as possible in your booking window to ensure the best availability. Mark that date on your calendar so you don’t forgot.
You may have heard about MagicBand 2, the band you wear on your arm and wave at various touchpoints to open your hotel room door, enter the parks, pay for purchases, and use your FastPasses. On property guests will receive complimentary MagicBands in the mail (for US addresses), but off property guests have to pay for them if they want them.
Do you need a MagicBand if you are staying off property? Personally, I don’t think you do. You aren’t required to purchase one, but can if you want one. As an off property guest, it will have limited functionality. You’ll be able to use it as your park admission and for FastPasses. Without one, you’ll use your park tickets.
If you want to buy a MagicBand 2 because of the fun, novelty aspect of it, you’ll have lots of options to choose from. There are solid colors, character bands, and even some limited edition bands.
You can buy on property, or there are some available online here. Once you have the band, you can add it to My Disney Experience to link your reservations. If you have a band from a prior trip, you can use that as well, unless the battery has died.
Dining Reservations at Walt Disney World
Dining reservations at Walt Disney World table service restaurants, including character dining, can be made 180 days in advance. This is for both on property and off property guests.
However, on property guests can make reservations for up to 10 days of their vacation right at that 180 day point. Off property guests can only do one day at a time at the 180 day point. Many Disney table service restaurants book up early, so make those reservations as soon as your window opens, if you can. Again, make a note in your calendar so you don’t miss the date.
Read this post for more Walt Disney World tips.