One of the most frequent questions I get from families traveling to Walt Disney World is, “Should we stay on or off property at Walt Disney World?”. You are likely to find people whose opinions solidly fall on either side of the issue – some people wouldn’t even think about staying off property, while others absolutely prefer it.
While we personally tend to stay on property for our Walt Disney World trips, there are many reasons why families should consider staying off property. Here are some reasons to consider staying on and off property.
Disclosure: 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.
Should You Stay On Property at Walt Disney World?
Reasons to stay on property
Besides the obvious (proximity to the parks, fun themes) there are lots of financial and practical reasons to stay at a Walt Disney World resort hotel. You’ll be able to utilize the Disney transportation (including the Magical Express from the airport), which is complimentary and runs frequently. Plus, you can take advantage of their luggage service, so you won’t need to roll your luggage and your stroller through Orlando International Airport – a huge advantage!
You don’t have to wait for your luggage at the airport, and it’s delivered directly to your room. If you’d prefer to rent a car, you won’t pay for parking at any of the Disney theme parks.
Guests staying on property at Walt Disney World can also take advantage of the Disney dining plan, which can represent a great discount off of regular restaurant rates. Another benefit is the early and late magic hours, which are special hours where the parks are only open to resort guests.
If you are staying on property, you will receive a complimentary MagicBand 2 for each member of your family. MagicBands can be purchased if you don’t get them, so you don’t have to miss out. They aren’t needed if you aren’t staying on property, so don’t feel obligated to buy them.
On property guests are able to book their FastPass+ allocations 60 days in advance, while off property guests can only do it 30 days in advance. So if there are specific attractions that you want to experience, you’ll be more likely to get them if you are staying on site.
Walt Disney World offers a variety of price points, from the concierge level at a deluxe resort all the way to a room at a value resort. So, there are lots of options for families regardless of budget.
Reasons to stay off property
After visiting four off-property hotels at Walt Disney World this past summer, I definitely know that there are some fabulous lodging options outside of the parks. Some families choose to stay off property because they want more space, and vacation homes and suite hotels off property can often be a great value.
Others have plans in Central Florida beyond Walt Disney World, and don’t want to spend all of their time in the parks.
If you do choose to stay off property, I’d really recommend that you do some significant research to find the best spot for your family. There are hundreds of options, and it can be overwhelming. Take a look at reviews and ask friends/family for recommendations.
If your chosen hotel has a shuttle to Walt Disney World, check to see when it runs. Often, families are disappointed to find that these free shuttles only make one or two stops per day to the parks. In that case a rental car may be essential.
Regardless of what you decide, check out this post for reviews of the best hotels (on and off property) for a Walt Disney World vacation.
Do you stay on property, or off property?