When Should You Really Stay at a Disney Resort?

When planning a vacation to Walt Disney World, one of the things that is most discussed is where to stay. And it’s certainly easy to understand why, as this is a central piece to any vacation, partly because it is often the most expensive part. So this is a conversation I have with my travel clients often, as folks are always looking for the best ways to save money. 🙂

And I’m happy to help because I’m all about saving money. But I am also about getting the most value on your vacation too….and sometimes that means that you pay a little more to get a LOT more as a result.

So, while there are times when it may be in your best interest, financially, to stay off property, there are other times when you really, really, really, really need to stay with Disney. Really. 🙂

Let’s look at 3 situations that folks ask me about a lot:

You are Visiting Disney World During a Peak Time of Year

While many people like to be able to go to Disney World during non-crowded times of the year, for others that is just not an option. So, if your plans to visit Disney are during very busy times of the year – the Thanksgiving/Christmas/New Years holidays, Spring Break/Easter, 4th of July, holiday weekends – you really need to figure out a way if at all possible to stay with Disney. Why?

Because first, Disney rewards their resort guests with things like Extra Magic Hours….time to be in the parks before they open or after they close….which is a great way to see and do more with lower crowd levels, which means getting a lot more for your park tickets money!! And second, during the very high traffic times (Christmas week for example) when the parks can and do close in stages, the first folks to be blocked from being able to enter are the non-Disney resort guests. Which would be a very poor value for those park tickets.

You are Visiting Disney World for Just a Few Days

While we would all like to be able to plan leisurely, ten-day vacations to Disney World, the fact is that finances, school and work schedules, and a host of other things mean that for many, their Disney vacation will be a short one of just a few days. And while you can still have a fantastic visit to Walt Disney World in a short time frame, you really need to make the most of that time while you are there. One way to do that? Stay on Disney property!

As already mentioned, Disney resort guests can make use of those Extra Magic Hours, so you can squeeze a bit more into your park time. But beyond that is the transportation scenario: if you are off-property, you need to factor time spent traveling to and from the parks, whether by car or by some other hotel’s shuttle that may or may not run as frequently as you like. Either way….it will be taking you longer to get to the parks than if you can just hop a Disney bus, boat or monorail to get where you are going. Think of it like this: knowing that Walt Disney World has enough to see and do to last a week or more, if you are only there 3 days, do you really want to waste valuable vacation time in traveling to the parks? If you’re like me, I want to be in the parks, getting the most for my ticket dollars as possible!

You are Visiting Disney World with Small Children

While I realize there are a variety of opinions on this one, I usually recommend to my clients that if you have young children, I truly think it is best to stay with Disney if at all possible. The reason for this is ease and convenience for your family: The Disney resorts are the closest, meaning when everyone, young and old, need a break, you can get to your resort pretty quickly and easily. In fact, this is one reason that many families with young children often choose the monorail resorts, choosing to save money on other factors of their trip, in order to have the ability to just hop on that monorail to get back for an afternoon nap. 🙂 Because a happy family is a better value for those vacation dollars than a cranky one.

The bottom line, as I tell my clients all the time, is that there is no one right or wrong answer to where you should stay at Walt Disney World….only the answer that is best for your family situation. Yes, when it comes to a Disney vacation, what you spend is important, but in my opinion, what you get for what you spend is perhaps more important. 🙂

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One Response to When Should You Really Stay at a Disney Resort?

  1. Taryn says:

    So agree!! Our last trip we stayed offsite and the entire time we were like…this is so not worth it. Even though the hotel was technically closer to the parks than some of the resorts, it took half an hour or more to get to the parks, and then more time to park, which is time I want to be in the parks playing. Add onto that the $20 parking fee and the sad feeling of having to leave when you know that there are Extra Magic Hours going on — I am totally devoted to Disney resorts!

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