Disney – the On-site vs. Off-site Debate

If you’ve decided you’re going to Disney, and it’s your first time; you’re going to get a lot of advice. I tell my clients that announcing you’re going to Disney for the first time is a little like announcing you’re expecting your first child. Those already in the “parent club” will congratuate you, smile, and then quickly launch into reminiscing. You’ll probably get a lengthy disposition about their first parenting experiences, and their views on how to do it right. The same is true for those that are already in the “Disney club.”

And, just like your first baby experience, when you first go to Disney, you’ll hear a 100 different, often conflicting, views; you’ll pick up a 100 different, often conflicting, authoritative-sounding guidebooks; and you’ll make up your mind 100 different times about how to proceed. But if you’re wise, you’ll treat the Disney experience like that first parenthood experience – take everyone’s views, put it in the mix, consider all. But don’t give too much weight to anyone’s ideas. Educate yourself, and figure out what’s right for your family.

Of course, figuring out what’s right for your family takes research. And, all that research takes time and patience. Few folks have that kind of energy. Few will get into the nuances about how to perfect their Disney vacation. Few will research details, like onsite vs. offsite hotel, as they would research how to care for their first child. Instead, busy folks often gravitate towards what the first person tells them. Or, if they are really wise , they’ll look for a travel agent with Disney expertise. That’s where I come in!

Clients ask for my advice, knowing I’ve taken my family to Walt Disney World 18 times. I’ve educated myself, done the research, read the guidebooks, and stayed in a multitude of hotels – both offsite, and onsite. I’ve also passed Disney’s College of Knowledge!

My very strong preference is to stay at one of the 22 official Disney hotels onsite, with a very definite nod towards the 3 deluxe hotels on the Magic Kingdom monorail (especially the Grand Floridian).

Here’s my thinking: by the time you’ve factored in airfare, dining costs, and park tickets; you’re already spending a pretty penny on your Disney vacation. Investing wisely in your hotel can make the difference between a good vacation and an absolutely fantastic vacation. Location is key! Of course, when I counsel clients, I always examine their family’s particular needs and interests. But the huge advantages to staying at an official onsite Disney hotel have to be examined.

Staying at an onsite Disney hotel:

1.) gives you the Magical Express shuttle to your hotel from the airport, and back again – not only do you get whisked away from the cab and rental car queue, but your luggage gets delivered directly to your hotel room

2.) gives you access to the Disney transportation system all around Walt Disney World (WDW) – monorail, boat, bus – there’s no need to rent a car unless you want one (and even then, Disney has its own Car Centre on property for easy access)

3.) staying really close (at a monorail hotel) gives you the quick access to your hotel when you need a break from the heat and crowds – so you can zip back and forth

4.) gives you the ability to buy the Disney dining plan (over 100 WDW restaurants participate in this plan, which loads up credits on your room key like a prepaid credit card – you can spend as you choose. Buying the dining plan also gives you some scheduling advantages in the strict advance day count for making dining reservations)

5.) gives you the ability to go shopping around WDW, and free your hands – purchases can be delivered to your hotel room

6.) gives you the primo perk of them all – EXTRA MAGIC HOURS – only Disney onsite guests can get early entry (1hr) + late exit (up to 3hrs later) access to the parks (this perk alternates between the 4 major theme parks each day). Extra Magic Hours are not available to offsite guests. So, staying onsite extends the hours you can play! , AND

7.) puts you in the centre of the magic,surrounded 24 hours by Disney theming, and getting top-notch Disney quality and service!

Stay onsite at Disney when you visit. You won’t be disappointed!