August 18, 2015

Where To Stay at Disney

So you can't save much on tickets and you will spend a ridiculous amount of money on food.  As I have shared in previous posts there isn't so much you can do there.  But here is my favorite tip for people trying to plan a Walt Disney World Trip.  Don't Stay on Disney.

People get the idea that staying on Disney is like having the theme parks in your back yard.  That is not true.  Except for one or two hotels (which will not have room for more than a family of four) you must drive or take the bus or train to everywhere you want to go on Disney.  Although, Disney promotes their transportation as convenient, most guests report it is not.  It takes a long time (on average about an hour) to go anywhere using the Disney transportation systems.  Plus, you are locked in to their time tables.  It, in fact I am told, takes less time to get to the theme parks when staying in one of the surrounding towns of Kissimee and driving your own car.

The one down side to staying off Disney is the crazy parking expense once you get to the theme parks.  I think it was $14 a day last time we were there.  And it goes up every year.  When you are talking a day or two it is not a very significant part of your vacation expenditure.  And yet, if you are visiting the parks for ten days it becomes a hefty sun.  However, even with the added cost of parking, you save a killing by staying off Disney. 

Which brings me to my favorite tidbit.   For a fraction of the cost of even one economy Disney hotel room which is equivalent to a cheap econo lodge type room, we rent a 2600 (or larger) house with 4-6 bedrooms, a private heated pool, usually a game room, multiple bathrooms, a full kitchen (which means you aren't stuck eating out night after night - a healthier and less expensive option) etc... We usually plan extra non Disney days in our vacation to just stay at the house and swim and enjoy the various amenities such as a private movie theater, tennis courts or whatever else is offered in the community.  You might think a house like this is crazy expensive but with all fees and taxes included we rent these houses for the negotiated rate of $600 a week (that's with the heated pool option).

The closest thing Disney resorts offers that will house our entire family is one of their villas and it runs in the neighborhood of $4000 a week.  And we would still have neighbors upstairs and downstairs.

Now, there are perks to staying on property that may make the added cost work better for you.  Resort guests get extra magic hours, have access to the Disney meal plan and can make fast pass plus reservations 60 days in advance.  Non of these options are available if you stay off property.
However, even figuring all that in, we find staying in a private house works best for our family.  I have used VRBO, FlipKey and to find vacation homes.   One last word of advice, Whereas hotels, time shares, and rental companies won't negotiate price, private home owners will often agree to large discounts, particularly if you are traveling off season.  Make an offer or ask if they can do better on the price.  One home owner, whose house was listed for $110 a night during the off season plus a significant tax and fees, agreed to $600 a week, all included because we have rented with him multiple times before.

Still not sold?  Compare this listing with a Disney resort in the same price range.  

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