14 October 2012

31 Days:: Location Location Location

{Booking Series}
Welcome to today's topic: Location Location Location! Today I'll mention a few things about stay in a Disney property hotel vs. staying off property. I've had experience in both staying on-property and staying off-property at my parents' timeshare. Both have their perks, but I'll admit that I'm a sucker for staying on-property when the budget can afford it!!

Disney's Port Orleans Riverside
On Property
We have had the great fortune to stay on-property three times: a 3-day and 10-day stay at Port Orleans Riverside (our favorite!) and a 14-day trip at Coronado Springs (another great stay!). We truly love staying on-property- you get the full Disney experience that way!! It was so nice to not have to drive or worry about anything really! There are different price categories for staying on-property, one for almost every budget :) Here are some perks and drawbacks to staying on-property...

  • All Disney all the time!! Truly a magical experience :)
  • Complementary shuttle from MCO airport- no need for a rental car
  • Complementary shuttles throughout the parks- no need for a rental car or parking fees
  • Shuttle service to other local non-Disney attractions is very easy- Mears shuttles brought us to Sea World and Universal Studios, picked us up at the front door to our resort! You can also get rental cars for the day (or longer) at various places throughout WDW (I'll discuss that later in the month!).
  • Keys to the World! Your room key also can be used for purchasing anything throughout the parks, no need to bring a credit card to the parks (but bring a little cash, the free standing ice cream carts don't take Keys to the World)
  • Any of your in park purchases can be sent back to your resort! they're usually delivered by ~1 PM the following day (so don't use this service on your last day!). Pick up is generally at your resorts' gift shop.
  • Each resort has unique theming that makes the stay really special!
  • Extended Theme Park Hours! Throughout the week, different parks stay open late or open early, and you can only participate if you're staying at a Disney resort or Shades of Green
  • complimentary baggage check at your resort for many airlines (we used this, SO convenient!!)
  • Disney Dining Plan! You can only purchase a DDP if you're staying at the resorts. Just hand your waiter your Key to the World and tell them you're on the DDP. I'll talk more about this later in the month!
  • You can have special gift baskets or flowers pre-delievered to your room, waiting for you upon arrival. Perfect for kids birthdays, first visits, or anniversaries! Pick from pre-arranged assortments or create your own. I created one for DH one year, and we loved it! Filled it with snacks and drinks we could bring to the parks, along with some chips and salsa (best salsa we've ever had!!) for late night snacks in the room :) Find out more {here}.
  • They often run discount packages of rooms, park tickets, and dining. Sometimes the dining plan is even free!
  • Each resort has a concierge service near the front desk- they can really help you out with anything on or off property that you'd like to do!
  • Priority on Disney golf course tee times!
  • Quality of staff and service is overall very high!
  • WDW TV! With exclusive insider Disney info being shown all day and night

  • All Disney all the time- if you want a break, you won't really get one staying on-property.
  • Always surrounded by families and children (can be a small downer if you're looking for a romantic trip... we were kept up once by our small neighbors jumping on the bed until 11 PM)
  • If you don't get a rental car, you'll need to pay for a shuttle service to any off-property activities (we used Mears shuttle service and it was not a problem) or get a rental car for the day (again, available at various WDW locations). In general, it will take you longer to get to any off-property attractions.
  • Unless you get a family suite or stay at the new Animation resort, you won't have a kitchen of sorts so you'll likely have to eat out all the time, unless you bring snacks with you from home!
  • Relying on Disney transportation can sometimes be a hassle. If you forgo the rental car, and you have a fussy child, it may may feel like forever getting back to your resort via Disney buses- you may have to wait to catch a bus and then they may make other stops at other resorts first and a few stops around your own resort, then the walk back to your room. As a couple, DH and I didn't mind (it was worth the trade off to not have to drive anywhere during our trip!)
  • During special events, the resorts will also likely be even more packed than usual.
  • Your standard size hotel room, sometimes smaller than standard.
  • Last minute accommodations can be hard to come by sometimes.
  • Generally higher priced rooms and dining on-property.

our favorite off property timeshare
Off Property
I have had many a stay off property at our family's timeshare. If you don't want 24/7 Disney, I'd recommend a resort or hotel off property. If you're renting a car, it can be nice to just get away from it all. Here are a few perks and drawbacks to staying off property....

  • Get a respite from everything Disney
  • Timeshares (and some hotels) will have full kitchens or kitchenettes to facilitate cooking meals so you don't have to always eat at the parks. This is the BIG perk about off-property, in my opinion.
  • Some hotels may even offer free breakfast (another meal cost you don't have to budget for!)
  • Potentially fewer children around (can be nice if you're looking for a romantic trip)
  • Convenience of having a car allows you the flexibility to leave whenever you want and go wherever you want whenever you want. All you'll need to do is wait for a tram out to the parking lot (granted those lines can be long at closing time!).
  • Check out {AllEars here} before you book- their readers can get special discounts for some hotels and resorts!
  • Cheaper, often times. Your basic Holiday Inn is likely going to be cheaper than even the lowest price point Disney resorts. Even kitchenette rooms at off-property hotels can often be cheaper than staying on-property anywhere.
  • Often times you can get larger accommodations off-site for the same or lower prices.
  • Last minute accommodations can be easier to get off-site.
  • One of my favorite sites for booking is Kayak.com

  • Requires a rental car and parking fees at the parks or a daily shuttle service
  • It will usually take more time to drive to the parks if you're off-site
  • At peak holiday times, sometimes the Disney parking lots will fill up and close
  • Not as close to all the Disney action
  • No Disney Dining Plan available, so you have to keep tabs on your meal spending
  • No Keys to the World, so you'll have to have credit cards, room keys, cash, etc. all with you at the parks
  • No complementary package delivery. You'll have to carry them throughout the park or remember to pick them up at the front of the park before you leave (more on that later in the month).
  • Hotel/resort staff may or may not be familiar with Disney information
  • Varying degrees of staff quality and hotel/resort cleanliness

So I hope this has helped you weigh the pros and cons of staying on or off property. If you hope to save money by bringing your snacks to the park (and there's no DDP discount being offered), staying off property with kitchen facilities can be a major plus. If you're looking for convenience, not having to drive or think about much of anything besides having fun and relaxing, on-property could be the way to go! Check back in with us tomorrow when I'll be sharing with you my packing list and tips!

NOTE:: I do not receive any compensation for recommending the above links or locations. These opinions are purely my own!!

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