Is it REALLY that much Cheaper staying Off-site?

Discussion in 'Orlando Hotels and Attractions' started by lauralong81, Jan 8, 2010.

  1. lauralong81

    lauralong81 (insert witty, Disney related remark here)

    Mar 1, 2009
    Sorry, I tried the search feature but I couldnt find anything relevant to my question... probably me and my lacking search skills, so I apologize in advance if this is one of those questions someone asks every few days....

    That said, I was just wondering if it really is that much cheaper staying off-site as opposed to on-site in a Disney hotel. We would be flying in from St. Louis, so we would have to add the expense of a rental car (last time we just used Disney transportation and it worked perfect for us). I wanted to do 6 nights on-site (value or moderate) + tickets and DDP, but not sure we can swing what it would cost us this year (about $3k when all is said and done). So I just started looking at off-site options on some other travel websites (bundled the flight + car + hotel, plus money for food) and after all the math is done, it seems about the same amount $-wise, but + more hassle.

    Has anyone else come to this conclusion???
    If not, how do you make it work more cheaply?
    What are the advantages of off-site???

    I'm a very frugal mom normally (I'm one of those coupon nuts that saves at least 50%-80% off our grocery bills)... so I'm open to any ideas!

    TIA!!!! :flower3:
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  3. nblobstr

    nblobstr Earning My Ears

    Dec 4, 2009
    I would say depends on age of kids and your plans. If you have older kids and want to do the parks all day every day, you could likely find it would be cheaper on site.

    But, if you have younger kids, don't want to do the parks all the time, make your own meals some of the time, not only is it cheaper, but it is more comfortable. Instead over evryone crammed into a hotel room, you can get a 4 bedroom condo for less than $100/nt.

    I see your kids are young - you will likely find they don't want/need to be in a theme park everyday, and are happy by the pool somewhere. Save money on park passes by only planning to go to the park on alternating days.

    Seaworld is actually very kid friendly, minimal lines, cheaper, and second day is free, so add that into your plans to save even more.

    My kids don't do well sleeping in a hotel, so we love that each has their own bedroom at night, and we have our own. Actually a vacation.

    Friends went at Xmas with 4&6 year olds, stayed on site, and wished they had stayed off and gone to parks less as it was too much for the kids.
  4. disneymami

    disneymami por favor mantengase alejado de las puertas

    Jun 3, 2009
    I think it all depends on the variables. I don't think you can say conclusively that staying off site is cheaper because there are so many variations you can do. First there are the disney promotions like buy 4 nights get 3 free. Or the free disney dining when buying 5 nights which I got last august which I thought was a great deal. As for point for point comparisons, this is what helps me when desiging my next disney vacation. I create a spreadsheet with all the fixed and variable costs. I play around with the different hotels and compare them with comparable hotels or condo rentals that are offsite. Then I consider the tradeoffs (renting a car versus taking disney transportation)
    You have to put a price on what you value (convenience; luxury accomodations; the disney treatment; eating out or cooking)
    Only then can you make your decisions because one person's idea of a dream vacation is another person's "roughing it."
    As for me, once I stayed at the WL, I don't think I can do a value resort. They look fine and it might be real fun to stay there but I'd rather stay have the convenience of riding a ferry to MK. Its worth a lot to me.
    I have to say I'm having fun with my spreadsheets. I know sounds a little weird but I get a kick out of locating off site condos, comparing prices, determining how far away I would be from the parks, determining rental car prices, stuff like that.

    Good luck.
  5. Purseval

    Purseval DIS Veteran

    Jul 31, 2008
    It doesn't matter if we sit here and point out a thousand different ways it would be cheaper to stay offsite. If you think it's cheaper or just as cheap to stay onsite you'll find a way to rationalize it. You're already doing it and there's no reason to discourage you. It's your money.
  6. lauralong81

    lauralong81 (insert witty, Disney related remark here)

    Mar 1, 2009
  7. carpetride

    carpetride Earning My Ears

    Apr 24, 2006
    Our youngest still takes/needs a nap in the afternoon and I tend to be a night owl as well. Having the extra space so as not having to quietly creep around to keep from waking everyone up is worth it me. Generally we stay offsite with the thought that it is cheaper for us...depends upon your needs and wants. We do not book a package though.
  8. lauralong81

    lauralong81 (insert witty, Disney related remark here)

    Mar 1, 2009

    Thanks Disneymami (and others) - a good idea to spreadsheet it out... :) I do it at work all the time (part of my job is buying) so I'm not sure why I didn't really consider it for this! lol.... And it's true that I really need to look at what's valuable to me... I've only been once so I'm not quite sure what that is yet. I've got a lot of thinking to do, and thanks for some real food for thought!
  9. TotoToo

    TotoToo And Your Litte Dog Too!

    Apr 2, 2005
    If you allow for the unit size/features in addition to just the absolute bottom line price then off site will invariably be lower. Even if you add in a renatl car (much more convenient than the miserable Disney transport after a short time) and parking it is STILL cheaper the vast majority of the time.

    But as already stated if you are determined to think that somehow on site is "just as cheap" you can justify it. Having done both I'd never pay to be on site again even if it cost a few dollars more! It is far more relaxing, has bigger rooms, far more amenities, and offers a better access to non-Disney places by staying off site.
  10. kathy884

    kathy884 DIS Veteran

    Sep 26, 2009
    We live in St. Louis too!;)

    Based on the plans you listed, I think onsite makes sense. For what we usually do offsite is more cost effective.

    Cost of Moderate Resort = Cost of Two Bedroom Condo Timehare resort offsite if you rent from and owner. We often get owner two or three bedroom rentals for $800 - $1000 a week at great resorts like the Sheraton Vistana or Cypress Point in Lake Buena Vista. For about the same price we could stay at a Disney Moderate property such as Port Orleans Riverside.

    We personally unless we are at a monerail resort (big bucks) we get a car even if we are onsite. If, though, you don't mind the bus travel from a value or moderate, that makes Disney cheaper. Rental cars are not cheap these days. For offsite, I think you'd want a car. Many people do it without one using buses, hotel shuttles, etc. but that can limit flexibility and take up valuable vacation time.

    Where condos can really save is food -- eating in for some meals vs. eating out all the time. Part of my getting a condo is that my family eats healthier in and I find it to be a pain to have to have breakfast and lunch out all the time. I love the condo for that. I also love the extra space and being able to do laundry. (Disney condos are very expensive.) (If you are comparing a condo offsite to a condo onsite -- offsite is way cheaper.) If, though, for onsite you'd be happy to go with a moderate hotel room, that makes a big difference.)

    Another factor is what you are going to be doing. If you're going to do a Disney theme park almost every day, onsite is probably the way to go. You can't prepare meals at your condo except breakfast if you're at theme parks all the time. Another way that we save by doing offsite, is that our kids love the resort so much -- the pools, tennis, game room, etc. that we only do a park every other day vs. every day.

    With everything you've described, your numbers for onsite being a better value I think are right on.

    20 Trips with # 21 coming up // The boards, though, say I’m just earning my ears.
    • March 1971 – KOA closest to Disney (camping)
    • March 1972 – Jellystone Park (camping)
    • March 1974 – Outdoor Resorts of America (camping)
    • Dec. 1974 – Outdoor Resorts of American (camping)
    • March 1975 – Outdoor Resorts of America (camping)
    • Dec. 1975 – Fort Wilderness (camping)
    • Dec. 1976 – Fort Wilderness (camping)
    • Dec 1977 -- Outdoor Resorts of America (camping)
    • Dec . 1986 – Marriott Royal Palms (condo by Marriott World Center)
    • May 1993 – Disney Contemporary (Garden Wing) (hotel)
    • Dec .1994 – Polynesian Isles (condo)
    • May 1999 – Disney Contemporary (Main Building with high floor and Magic Kingdom view) (hotel)
    • Dec. 2001 – Cypress Pointe (condo)
    • March 2003 – Sheraton Vistana – Cascades section (condo)
    • March 2004 – Sheraton Vistana – Cascades section (condo)
    • Dec. 2004 -- Cypress Pointe (condo)
    • June 2006 – Actually at my cousin’s condo (permanent residence) in Tampa (do day trips count?? – This was a chance to really explore Busch Gardens too.)
    • June 2007 – Cypress Point Grandvillas (condo), Disney -- Port Orleans Riverside (hotel), and Sheraton Vistana – Fountains section (condo) – stayed three different places on this trip.
    • Dec. 2008 – Sheraton Vistana Resort (remodeled Fountains section) (condo)
    • Oct. 2009 – Hilton Garden Inn Seaworld (hotel)
    (Will be going again March 2010 – staying at the Hilton Garden Inn Seaworld again)
  11. ksumn1

    ksumn1 DIS Veteran

    Dec 31, 2001
    On our first trip, we weighed on site vs off site. (In 2002) Even though we had a car because we drove down, DH didn't want to have to drive since he travels frequently for his job. At the time, it was just DH, DD and I. Next trip (2006) we thought about it again. One point to consider is what type of hotel do you normally stay in when you travel? We usually stay at budget or family run hotels when we go go the beach. So for us, a value resort was perfectly fine. Nicer than usual, to be honest. However, if you're used to staying ina suite or a nicer hotel such as a Sheraton or Westi you need to make sure that for comaparison purposes you pick a moderate or delux resort.

    If your kids still nap in the afternoon, then your room choice becomes more important. You want to have enough room to read, watch TV, etc when they nap without disturbing them. So in this case, a value resort might not be the best choice.

    We've always chosen onsite. We've also booked with some type of discount that helped justify the nominal difference in off site vs onsite. next trip, we booked POP, but really would like to change to POFQ or CBR if we have the money to pay the difference.

    To me, one of the most important points is one you can't really put a price value on. And that's the MAGIC. How mush is it worth to know that when you drive onsite to check in, you don't have to leave the magic until it's time to go home. You can, eat, sleep and be totally immersed in the WDW experience. That's of the reasons we always stay onsite. We're AT Wdw, not 5 miles down the road or a 10 minute drive away...we're there. The entire time. To us, it's a very important factor. Don't forget to include this in your calculations....maybe not a huge issue, but one I would definately give some thought to.

    Have a great trip!!
  12. Chelley00

    Chelley00 DIS Veteran

    Aug 21, 2005
    I'm with the poster that said it depends on your situation. For our entire family to go, it's much cheaper to stay offsite, even with coupons and rental cars. With just 4 of you, it may not be. I always spreadsheet hotel, food, transportation, parking, extras etc side by side and then go from there. When I run just DH and I with the 2 youngest, staying onsite at a value far outweighs staying offsite. Add in another 2 kids, not so much :)
  13. Jfstorm

    Jfstorm Dang straight I'm a Disney Dad! ARGH!

    May 4, 2005
    From what i saw, you are better off onsite. here's a tip also. if you are going to spend at least 5 days in the park and will be returning within the next YEAR; by all means buy at least one person an annual pass. YES, it is $400 or so, but the hotel discount alone for your one trip will make up the difference if not make you a proffit with all the bonuses it gives. I have literally saved THOUSANDS of dollars in only two week long trips before as compared to buying passes and hoping for a measly 10% off AAA discount or something.
  14. neonurse

    neonurse Hidden Mickeys Everywhere!

    Oct 27, 2006
    If you consider the money you save by not eating all meals on disney property (and getting dining plan) I'm sure it would pay for part of your rental car. I know when I broke it down myself I can get a much better deal than booking all together with a TA. Check out airtran, southwest and jet blue for flights. Rental cars check out for discount codes. Eating out in orlando is so much cheaper than disney. Cici's pizza $5 pp, golden corral $10 pp. If you get a car you can buy water to bring to the parks and eat breakfast in the condo as well as snacks or even pack a light lunch and save your $$ for mickey bars and dole whips.

    The last time I stayed on property it was nice but waiting in line to stand up on the bus all they way to and from the parks was not fun. The rest of that trip we drove our car rather than taking disney transportation (with the exception of the that!!)
  15. HeatherC

    HeatherC <font color=blue>Alas...these people I live with t

    May 23, 2003
    I'm an "offsiter" here who actually thinks it could be cheaper to stay onsite! For a smaller family...that is.

    But...we are a family of five and just prefer the space of not being crammed into a small studio or having to pay for 2 rooms (that is definitely more money). Even renting DVC points is alot more than we have ever paid for a hotel.

    I think Orlando is one place where there are just SO many beautiful resorts and the competition is so tough among them that it is very easy to find a great deal.

    We've gotten incredible deals over the years through places like Govarm and Getravelop and SkyAuction. One example was paying under $300 a week total for a 2 bedroom villa with full kitchen, washer/dryer, jacuzzi tub, etc., at Orange Lake Resort one year. That was awesome!

    When we added things up, it was DEFINITELY cheaper to stay offsite.

    I don't think there is a right answer. I think it's what works for each family. There are pros and cons to both.

    My thinking is everyone should just figure out how their vacation will be awesome and take it from there.

    Have fun planning your trip!
  16. englishteacha

    englishteacha Have courage and be kind.

    Apr 2, 2006
    We find offsite to be cheaper for us, and a "luxurious" vacation. We stay in a condo, 3 bedrooms, 2 baths (more rooms than our house!), rent a car (the cheapest we can find), and eat some meals offsite and some in the parks.

    I have priced out vacations staying onsite, but since we have to travel during "peak" seasons, onsite is much more expensive.
  17. Pats Dragon

    Pats Dragon DIS Veteran

    Jul 19, 2004
    We love onsite stays but Dis has stopped allowing the same rate for each stay and our Christmas trips in the resort are now outrageous. A tiny room for 4 adults is close to 200$ where you can get a luxurious room for 4 adults for 79 off site. We used to go the 16 and stay until after Christmas for a reasonable rate for 2 value rooms. Not anymore. Actually we are considering universal and seaworld next christmas.
  18. LauraAnn630

    LauraAnn630 See you in April 2011!

    Dec 27, 2004
    You cant go on the price quoted at the Disney site. We always use a room only code. That makes a big difference.

    For us, we fly so we dont have a car. Staying off site wed have to rent a car and pay for gas and parking.

    So if the ASM room is $80.00 a night.(with a room only code) We'd have to find a room for way less to make up for the car rental, gas and parking. I dont see that happening cheaper?

    How can it be cheaper to stay off site unless your planning on drive down?
  19. littlestar

    littlestar DIS Veteran

    Jun 9, 2000
    We travel with usually at least 6 adult people (who snore). I won't stay in a Disney value (hate the loud toilets, tiny beds, and thin walls). So we'd have to have at least three moderate rooms - so with an AP rate we're looking at a minimum of $2,500 just in Disney lodging for a 7 night trip.

    I'm an RCI and II (exchange company) member. Through II, some of our family just booked Marriott Vacation Club two bedrooms for the month of May for $332 a week - so less than $1,000 for three 2 bedroom condos. If you add in the cars at $150 a week that's $450 more. So we're saving around $1,000 and raising our comfort/privacy factor by leaps and bounds. If you factor this for a couple traveling by themselves the savings would be AP rate at Disney moderate at $840 for the week vs off site 2 bedroom Marriott condo at $332 plus $150 = $482, so a savings of $358 for the week. Of course, that's comparing a Disney moderate, if you compare a Disney deluxe - the savings go way up for the offsite 2 bedroom condo.

    Me and the hubby do stay once a year at DVC in at least a 1 bedroom with DVC points, but the rest of our trips are usually off site using timeshares for the savings/comfort factor - especially when we're traveling with a large group.

    I can see where a small family with young children who doesn't mind not having much space/privacy for a week might choose a moderate for a Disney vacation - especially for a Disney park concentrated trip. But, we've been there and done that and we wouldn't go back to hotel rooms for week long stays for nothing. The longest I could stand a hotel room would probably only be for 2 nights max. I want my space with the jacuzzi tub, washer/dryer, and separate living room from the bedrooms for sleeping in.
  20. CattailGal

    CattailGal Mouseketeer

    Feb 27, 2006
    It looks like to join II you have to OWN a timeshare, right? I'd like to rent Bonnet Creek for a week...

  21. littlestar

    littlestar DIS Veteran

    Jun 9, 2000
    Yeah, you have to own a timeshare. If you have any friends or relatives who have a II membership you can stay through their membership. If they are not with you on the trip, you have to purchase a $39 guest certificate, though.

    If you want to rent Bonnet Creek, I'd try - I've seen Wyndham owners renting 2 bedrooms over there for $71 a night or less at BC. We just recently purchased some Wyndham points off Ebay for $26.00!! :goodvibes I plan on booking one bedrooms at Bonnet Creek twice a year with those points - my cost will be about $300 a week, so about $43 a night.

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