Where Oh Where Do I Stay?
Recently, I've seen a continuous question in several social media groups. Where should you stay during a Disney trip? That's a great question and it has MANY variables. There isn't ONE answer. There isn't even ONE location. It all depends on your trip plans, what parks you're visiting, what price range you're searching for, how many people are in your party, what age ranges you have, your food plan... You get the picture I'm sure. But don't let this be overwhelming. You have a specific idea of what you want to get out of your trip to Walt Disney World. And there are options to meet EVERY need...and then some! So let's break a few of these down to help you get a clearer picture. If you are a person who plans to be in the parks from open to close, every day, have dining reservations already made and a plan to see parades, shows, etc., then you probably will only be using your lodging location as a place to sleep and shower. In this case, a simple hotel room may be your best choice. Now, whether you have your own transportation and want to drive, or if you are relying on other transportation to get around, may be the determining factor in WHERE you get a hotel room. Time to take a deeper dive into all your options.
If you're looking for free transportation that is constant throughout the day, a Disney Resort room is probably your best bet. Off property hotels offer transportation but many have scheduled pick-up/drop-off times, locations and limited service versus the Disney Resorts' continuous options. There are many selections to choose from when it comes to staying on the property. Disney Resorts are broken down into 4 categories: Value, Moderate, Deluxe and Deluxe Villas. Obviously, the category helps a bit with understanding the pricing. But that pricing does bring a different set of amenities too, so keep that in mind. I've stayed at all 4 categories and there are significant differences. Deluxe Resorts tend to have multiple transportation options outside of just a bus. A few examples: Polynesian has monorail to Magic Kingdom and Beach Club has entrance into World Showcase at EPCOT. Deluxe Resorts (for the most part) tend to be quieter overall and less crowded (outside of peak season when things can get a little crazy everywhere). Room size varies across all categories so it's hard to say that just because it's a Deluxe Resort the rooms are bigger. Deluxe Villas can be VERY spacious, depending on the size room you choose. Some are up to 3 bedroom, 2 bath, which is essentially the size of a condo. Some rooms are as small as a Studio and offer a pull down bed. Several Deluxe Villa Resorts offer cabin options as well to provide a different level of comfort and privacy. If camping is your thing, you can find a variety of sites for tent camping all the way up to premium sites with full RV hookups at Disney's Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground. It's all about meeting your specific needs in order to determine which works best for you and trust me when I say, the options are endless!
If you do have your own transportation and would prefer to stay off the property, there are perks there too. Just outside of the Walt Disney World property, there are many options from hotels, suites, condos, townhouses, to entire homes you can rent-some even 6 or 7 bedroom houses. One of my best memories renting a vacation home was when we had a party of 17 and all stayed together to celebrate our niece's 21st birthday. It was the BEST time! While "herding" a group this large at parks can be difficult, coming back to a common house where everyone can be together, can create some really great long-lasting memories. Renting a condo, townhouse, or vacation rental home offers several possible benefits like: having your own fully equipped kitchen so you can cook meals and save on eating out, having your own private pool, having separate bedrooms to allow some space after activities where everyone is together for long periods of time, etc. Now, if you are not an Annual Passholder, you will be required to pay for parking when you visit the 4 theme parks. Parking at Disney Springs and the waterparks is free. But this expense can be offset by the money saved eating a meal outside the parks. So let's talk about off-site locations. There are TONS of options here! And many areas have clusters of hotels to choose from. This is where you want to be very specific (and realistic) about your needs. There are locations surrounding the Walt Disney World property and location truly does make the difference when it comes to staying off-site. For example, if you are coming in from downtown Orlando or from the East (Interstate 4), or are planning to visit Disney Springs during your trip, then staying in the Lake Buena Vista area may make the most sense for you. If you are visiting Magic Kingdom or are coming from North of Disney World (off Highway 429), finding a vacation rental in the Horizon West or Windermere area may be your best bet. If you are visiting Animal Kingdom or arriving from the West (Interstate 75) direction, you may want to stay in the Flamingo Crossings Town Center area. In the Kissimmee area, there are tons of choices for rental homes, hotels, suites and lots of shopping and dining options as well. All of these locations have different access onto the property and vary in level of traffic. It truly does come down to what works according to your plan. But my recommendation is to design your plan for your Disney visit PRIOR to booking a lodging reservation.
Overall, much like deciding which parks to visit when, which rides are a priority, which dining reservations you want to make...the key here is PLANNING! But don't get overwhelmed. That's what I'm here for. I'll take my 40+ years of doing this exact thing and provide you with the ideal options for your needs. I have many rental properties, hotels, suites and Disney Resort suggestions that I'd love to share with you! I want to ensure that you are NOT the person I find in the parks completely lost and frustrated, trying to figure out where they went wrong. NOPE-NOT ME and NOT YOU! I want to help you understand what you'll do each day and feel confident about getting the most out of your trip. Where you stay makes a HUGE impact on your trip and how successful (or unsuccessful) it will end up being. So contact me now and let's talk.