Our 1st time staying "off property"..tips and advise

Discussion in 'Theme Parks Attractions and Strategies' started by scotty s, Jan 29, 2013.

  1. scotty s

    scotty s Mouseketeer

    Aug 20, 2009
    My how plans change! Originally my wife and I were taking our daughter to Hawaii in July for her 17th Bday....But, now we have decided to make it a Disney vacation for several reasons. Turns out our son was able to get vacation at the same time so he and his girlfriend also want to come with us AND we are allowing our daughter to invite her best friend to come along as well. Since I can't afford to fly us all to Hawaii and after tossin around many vacation ideas, our daughter is set on Disney. Her best friend has never been to DW so she is really excited to share the Disney magic with her!
    With that said...this will be our 1st time staying off property and the wife and I are a little worried Disney won't have the same feel as our previous trips. We have rented a 3 bdrm Townhouse at Windsorhills. We plan on doing 2 days at US (1st time) and 4 full days at Disney with park hopper tickets. After the last Disney trip during the summer months (June) we said never again....Now we're gonna be there June 29th - July 6th. I can just imagine how hot and humid it will be!!
    In the past we have always done the DDP amd obviously that is not an option for this trip....
    Any tips or advise for us "off property" newbies would be greatly appreciated!!
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  3. Planogirl

    Planogirl I feel the nerd in me stirring

    Aug 11, 2000
    It's a matter of perspective but we don't find offsite all that much different from onsite. Just like when we stay onsite, we get to the park at rope drop and then tour at our pace until we are tired. If we decide that we need a break, we head over to one of the resorts and have lunch and just sit for a bit.

    Of course, you won't have EMH but we really don't miss it when the hours are long anyway. You'll have to drive but we usually have a car anyway. I'm not a fan of Disney bus service.

    I think that it's still nice to go and stay offsite with only the "Disney Magic" lacking. That magic is in the eyes of the beholder IMO and the extra space is a nice tradeoff for that.
  4. got2sammies

    got2sammies DIS Veteran

    Feb 26, 2010
    When staying off property make sure you allow yourself extra time to get to the parks in the morning... Plus with your dates, July 4th will be a busy day for MK so expect closings...You might want to stay clear of that park for that day...If you need a break from the parks but dont want to go all the way back to your townhouse..hop on the monorail and have lunch at the poly, grand floridian or the Contemporary. It will get you out of the heat and a nice place to relax for a bit....
  5. pjhootch

    pjhootch Mouseketeer

    Apr 5, 2005
    Staying offsite is a great idea with a group that size. It may be hard to get teens to hit rope drop, but it is probably a good idea. Avoid the parks that have EMH in the morning because the lines will get long faster than non EMH parks.

    Universal will be a blast with a family that age! Going to Universal when you stay onsite and don't have a car is really a pain, so grab the opportunity and enjoy.

    We've stayed off-site many times, and the only real downside is the parking. I hate dragging my tired self back to the parking lot at the end of a long day. Remember that hitting rope drop means getting to the parking lot well before opening time. It can be a bit of a madhouse, but is well worth it to have the first couple of hours with very manageable lines.

    This is just me, but with 4 days at Disney and no EMH available, I would not bother with park hoppers around the 4th of July. The heat, humidity and crowds will sap the energy right out of everyone. We have a tendency to hit rope drop, go until we've done everything we think is realistic, and then leave the park and relax at our hotel and maybe swim to cool down before bed.

    Many people will go forward with park hoppers and try to bounce parks to avoid the crowds. Even with a car, going from park to park takes up a bit of time though, so figure that into your plans.

    Staying off site and having a vehicle gives you more flexibility about when and where you eat. In Orlando there is a representative of every chain you can think of!
  6. SA mom

    SA mom DIS Veteran

    Apr 15, 2012
    We've stayed off property before and it was great. We saved money on accommodations which we spent on food in the parks.

    Leave extra time to arrive. Go to the park that had evening EMH the night before. That one will be the least crowded because on property guest where there the night before.
  7. Mainebound

    Mainebound DIS Veteran

    Jul 24, 2002
    Just want to reassure you that you will have a great time. We have statyed at WH three times. Our most recent trip, in June 2012, was in a three bedroom town home there. I agree that avoiding the EMH parks is a good idea. Also, make sure to make a note on your phone of where you park your car at WDW parks. And the Sherberth Road is a good way to enter WDW, especially if your final destination is on the southern end (AK, etc.). I am sure there are many threads on this entrance on the Orlando hotels board.

    My final note is a caution: when we were at WH last year we discovered that some criminal elements attempt to enter the resort and hang flyers for restaurant delivery on your door. Some of those are legit, but others are scams. WH gave us a list of "approved" delivery places, and I would stick to those. Have fun!
  8. hsmamainva

    hsmamainva DIS Veteran

    Sep 13, 2009
    We're staying off-site at Windsor Hills in May

    My suggestions -- schedule an "off-day" where you do something other than a Disney park. Maybe it's a visit to one of the waterparks, or shopping in Downtown Disney, or just hanging out by the pool and relaxing. Make a nice breakfast in the townhouse and, if you want to head to a park in the evening then you can do so for dinner and fireworks.

    Make sure you make reservations for at least one nice table dinner in one of the parks or resorts! Don't try to cook dinner in the condo every night or it won't feel like you're on vacation.

    My hubby made that mistake our first trip. "Look, honey! A full kitchen and a washer and dryer!" Me: "Oh goodie...so I can cook and wash clothes...just like at home!" :rolleyes2

    This trip, we have *four* table service reservations!! I'm so excited to have *four* nights of no-cooking! :hyper:
  9. estherhead

    estherhead DIS Veteran

    Dec 28, 2004
    We've stayed in Windsor many times. It is different than onsite. Some of the differences are good, some are bad.

    In the bad column: You can't split up as easily. If half want to stay and half want to leave, someone in the leaving group is going to have to go pick up those that stayed. There is no just hopping on buses. And you don't have access to DDP, EMH, pkg delivery. You have to park and ride trams. And pay for parking.

    In the good column: The pool is very uncrowded. You have a kitchen AND washer and dryer (these two things are huge for my family.) You have your own rooms and space. You can park very close to your front door. And you don't have to wait for buses.

    So for us it's kind of a wash. It seems like it's every other time for us. And all the trips are fabulous.

    As for advice, we like to order food while still in the parking lot from Outback or Pizza Hut and pick it up on our way home. It's cheaper than onsite and even cheaper because you don't have to pay the servers or for drinks. Then we eat around our table at Windsor Hills. We do this at least 2-3 times a trip.

    We also buy a bunch of ham and cheese and bread and chips as if we were going to pack lunches. We never do actually pack lunches but when you go in the summer and it's SO HOT sometimes you don't want hot food You just want a sandwich. So it's cheap and easy and actually more pleasing.

    Sherbeth Road is good for AK and Blizzard Beach. We usually take the main way to Epcot, DTD, and DHS. MK is kind of the same either way.

    It's not a terrible idea to buy a cardboard screen thing for your front window. Your vehicle will get so hot the steering wheel will burn your hands when you try to get home.

    Also, on your grocery store list put lidded, disposable cups. That way you can make and take your own coffee and just throw away the cup.

    And if you like taking a break midway through the day, do it. We've found it's almost quicker to be offsite for breaks as the buses run less often midafternoon. If you get there at rope drop you will often be close to the front and can easily walk or ride to your car and be home in 15 minutes vs. the 30-40 a bus can take with waiting and other bus stops.

    Have FUN!!!!
  10. FamilyGuy

    FamilyGuy Mouseketeer DVC Gold

    Nov 11, 2004
    As long as you set your expectations accordingly, offsite can be just as fun as staying on property.

    The experience once in the park is virtually the same. Getting there and after departure is a little different, but that's it to me.

    Also keep it mind it's going to be hot, hot, hot - and crowded; but again, from my point of view, your expectations are what will make the difference in how much you enjoy the experience.
  11. Fairiesx3

    Fairiesx3 Earning My Ears

    Jan 21, 2013
    I've stayed on site and stayed in a 3 br townhouse in windsorhills and never again will I stay on site. I love windsorhills!!

    I love having SPACE for everyone. Spending a week in a hotel room really isn't my idea of a good time. Everyone has their own bedroom and bathroom and space to move around. You also get so much more bang for your buck.

    I love the kitchen! Walking downstairs in my jammies to make coffee and eat breakfast is much nicer to me than having to get dressed and walk to a food court for gross "coffee" and breakfast. I can relax and enjoy real coffee and then get dressed and go play.

    No buses! We get to and from the parks soooo much faster driving then we do waiting for and riding the buses. We take afternoon breaks and its so easy driving ourselves.

    Love the private splash pool! so great after a long day at the parks and the resort pool is very nice as well.

    Overall, I don't feel we loose any magic staying at windsorhills and it is a much more relaxing and enjoyable vacation for us.
  12. blessedby3

    blessedby3 Actually Blessedby4 now, but cant change my userna

    Mar 7, 2003
    We stayed off property this past Oct for the first time in a long time. We stayed at Bonnet Creek and it was nice to have room to spread out. I loved having all that space, a full kitchen (although I dont cook on vacation) and especially a washer and dryer in my room.
    We are a family of 6 and I love being able to do a load of laundry each evening to stay ahead of the game:thumbsup2
    We drive and have our own car and dont use EMH or the dining plan, so those dont have any effect on us. I think you will be fine. We actually enjoyed being able to go off property for a good meal. We dont find the meals at WDW to be great and the prices are huge. We could eat at the Olive Garden cheaper than we could eat CS in the parks!
    It was nice to have that break. I love staying on property for all the little details and magic, but that space is just so much more worth it so I think we will stay off property from now on (not to mention the money savings):thumbsup2
  13. wahoostampingirl

    wahoostampingirl DIS Veteran

    Sep 16, 2006
    We've stayed in Windsor Palms (1x) and Windsor Hills (4x) over the past 5 years. Obviously we really like it or we wouldn't go back. I love having the extra space, especially since we have a son who is a really light sleeper. A hotel room stay just about kills us every time since none of us get much sleep. But beyond that, I find it so relaxing coming "home" after the parks to WH. I like having the kitchen stocked with light snack and drink options. I like having the opportunity to throw in a load of laundry and then just go to bed. I like having tons of restaurant options nearby that aren't price like Disney. :goodvibes

    Windsor Hills is extremely close to the parks. We've never found that it takes more time driving than waiting on Disney buses. Plus, if you get to the parks early, you're usually close enough to walk to the gates and not have to wait on the trams.

    Every once in awhile, we stay at an on site hotel for a few days. It's usually fun, but it makes me so happy to get to our bigger accommodations at WH.
  14. conniehar90

    conniehar90 DIS Veteran

    Apr 5, 2005
    Enjoy! Once we went to Windsor Hills, we never looked back! The increase in space will be magic enough! It will NOT take you longer to get to the parks. In fact, we found it much faster than the buses. It will take you less than 10 minutes to get to AK and DHS and about 10-15 for Epcot and MK.

    Plan your days so that you aren't going to a park on it's EMH day - since you aren't eligible and it will be more crowded from those onsite guests that are taking advantage of it.
  15. Dallas_Lady

    Dallas_Lady I only work for the vacation money

    Dec 20, 2001
    Ditto on all points. For the extra space you can get for the price, I doubt I will go back onsite again.
  16. Sparkly

    Sparkly Starlight, starbright...

    Mar 5, 2012
    You'll love the space of offsite. We stay 15 or so minutes away from Disney so still convenient for the parks. We often left the park for the day and had dinner on the way home, so no leaving and coming back.
  17. melliemelo

    melliemelo Mouseketeer

    Jul 10, 2009
    We love Windsor Hills and don't feel like we are missing anything. It's close to the parks and we don't mind driving 10 minutes. The space, kitchen, and having a washer/dryer are worth staying offsite for us. All the conveniences of home! It's so nice to get up, make a pot of coffee, make a quick hot breakfast and we are set to start the day. We are heading there next week for the 3rd time. I priced staying onsite for comparison and it was double what WH is for less.
  18. Dallas_Lady

    Dallas_Lady I only work for the vacation money

    Dec 20, 2001
    We used Disney gift cards for all our purchases when we stay offsite. That way if they are lost it's not as bad as losing a credit card. If you keep the original gift card receipt you can get them replaced at guest services (we kept that, along with our ticket receipts, in the glove compartment.)

    You can still use Disney transit for park hopping. This is especially nice when going between MK and Epcot, just catch the monorail.
  19. Jill in Chicago

    Jill in Chicago DIS Veteran

    Mar 11, 2007
    Remember that in the summer you will sweat right through all of your clothes and underwear. If you go home swim/shower you will not want to put those clothes back on for the evening. Pack accordingly and you can also take advantage of the washer and dryer.

    Plan one evening that you don't go back to the parks in the evening. Instead have a super easy dinner (pick up pizza....) and go sit by the pool and relax.

    Also in the heat powder your feet, then socks and then sneakers. the powder helps absorb the sweat.

    We went in October and it was in the 90's every day. We did a sit down, air conditioned lunch every day. This does not have to be expensive. You can share dinners.... Or 2 people can order a salad and split an entree...... The air conditioning really helps your body cool down.

    Order a fun fruity drink, and then when there is only ice left, fill it with water for a refreshing second drink that doesn't taste like the Disney water.

    Don't haul a ton around the parks. Just take breaks, sit down and enjoy a cool drink. Or bring powder packets of lemonade to put in the free water. I went to the parks every day (son in teens and DH) with only my tiny camera bag that you wear on your arm: dental floss (I always get stuff stuck in my teeth.) one band aid, credit card, carmex, and tissue.

    In the heat you don't need to bring any snacks. When you get hungry sit down and share something. Again, not that expensive when you share.

    Put down towels in the car. The seats are blistering in the heat. Also the towels are great if you go on the water rides.

    Always do the water rides at the end of your trip so you are not walking around in sticky clothes. That water ride at AK gets us drenched every time.

    Do not over buy snacks and drinks for the off site rental facility. You will not be there to eat that much. Really think it through and buy accordingly.

    For the rental bring those squares of dishwasher detergent just in case they don't have any, and pack up some dry/powder laundry detergent and Bounce sheets, again, just in case. Also bring soap for the bathroom. Yes most rentals provide all of that, but you never know and it's one less trip to the store. Also some ziplock bags to put any kind of leftovers in.

    Really know your skin and decide if you truly need to reapply suntan lotion, and haul the lotion to the park. We put the lotion on at the rental house, and we are good all day. (I'm a fair skinned, fair eyed blond. At the beach yes I reapply, at the park don't have to.)

    Parking. Take a photo with your phone of where you parked, or write it down.

    Make photo copies of your tickets. DH left mine at a Fast Pass booth by accident, and it made it soooo easy to get new tickets.

    Don't know if you have time to go to the waterparks but they are so much fun! They are gorgeous with rides from tame to OMG!
  20. brymolmom

    brymolmom DIS Veteran

    Jun 8, 2005
    We like both on and offsite. I actually find offsite more relaxing (usually) - the main reason - the food court (or lack thereof). At the end of a LOOOONG day at the parks with the family getting off the bus hungry - the last thing I want to do is bring everyone to the LOUD an crowded food court. I LOVE being able to go back to a condo/house - let the kids unwind in the pool there OR just veg in their own rooms - And sit back and open a bottle of wine and use a real wineglass to enjoy a glass or two.

    Other tips are good - go to NON - magic hours park.

    One of my favorite offsite tips is to get the phone numbers of a couple of takeout places (chinese, pizza, subs) between your offsite place and put them in your phone. When everyone is tired and on the way out to the parking lot to leave - Call and order ahead and then grab it on your way home. Quick, easy and everyone's eating right when you get 'home'.
  21. MichiganDVC

    MichiganDVC Can barely see my Kool-aid bath with these Rose-co

    Sep 1, 2010
    That's what I love about DVC... All the benefits of staying onsite, yet the comforts of a suite: full kitchen, laundry, etc...

    Windsor Hills looks nice! If I had a family of 6, I'd probably have to consider it.

    But... I don't think I, personally, would LOVE a Disney vacation where I can't either walk or take a monorail to a park. I'm not sure it would be worth it. I did stay at Omni Championsgate for a conference a few years ago and looking back, I consider that a Florida trip, not a Disney trip...although we did go to parks two of the four days we were there.

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