Considering Offsite, Worried About Losing the 'Magic'

Discussion in 'Orlando Hotels and Attractions' started by MamaBelleRN, Jan 9, 2017.

  1. MamaBelleRN

    MamaBelleRN Earning My Ears

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    We made our first family trip to WDW in 2015 and we all LOVED it! We rented DVC points and stayed at AKL in a two bedroom villa as we were a group of nine. For that trip, we brought my MIL and three of my DH's siblings.

    For our next trip, we will likely not bring extras, but we are still a large group as we have five kiddos, currently ranging from nine to soon-to-be born :) I am starting to price out different options and would REALLY prefer not to spend $4k on accommodations alone. Right now I am hoping to do a nine night stay the week after Thanksgiving.

    First, we are looking for a resort experience. Is this possible with a group of our size? And by resort experience, I am referring to great pools, onsite dining options and activities, and housekeeping services (although the last is not needed, but would be a nice bonus).

    Secondly, for those that have done both on and off site, my DD9 still talks about waking up and seeing giraffes right outside our room. Which offsite resort offers a similar wow factor for your family? I know AKL is a unique experience, but would love to find another fun and exciting place to stay.

    Any tips or advice would be greatly appreciated!!
     
  2. AdamEfimoff

    AdamEfimoff DIS Veteran

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    So 200 a night?
     
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  4. Klayfish

    Klayfish DIS Veteran

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    We're a family of 5. We have never stayed on site, so I can't give you a comparison to on site hotels. I have no doubt they have some Disney "magic" to them, as we've toured a lot of them (at least the deluxe ones) and they're very nice. However, for us, we'd have no interest in staying on site and the magic is just as special. We also pay no more than $600-$750/week for a 3 or 4 bedroom townhouse/condo, which is a fraction of what you'd pay on site.

    There are an incredible number of resort type places within a 10 minute drive of the park. Use VRBO.com or Homeaway to help you find what you're looking for. Rt. 192 is a road that runs east/west and is on the south side of WDW. You will find endless condo and townhouse communities along that road. Many of them have the amenities you're looking for, such as very nice pool complexes. The bigger ones have on site dining options. Or if they don't, as some of them don't, you literally would have to go no more than 3 or 4 blocks to find more restaurants than you'd know what to do with. Many of them have activities for the kids, though some don't. Housekeeping typically isn't done, as you're renting a condo for the week and it's like living in your own home. Though if you wanted to pay for it, I'm sure they can make that happen.

    As for losing the magic, again I can't compare it to staying on site, but it's still quite magical to us. The drive into WDW is magical as everyone is excited. There are big "Welcome" signs as you come into WDW entrances, followed by highway type exit signs for the park you want to go to. That gets the kids all excited. It's also nice to ride in our own vehicle in comfort and not have to wait for a bus or share the space.

    Try places like Sheraton Vistana Villages or Windsor. Those are just two names I threw out, but there are dozens and dozens more really awesome places. Many of the units are privately owned, and many of those owners take extra care to make their place really nice. One place we stayed in Windsor, the owners had the unit fully decked out in WDW stuff, so it felt like staying in a WDW apartment. They even had a stroller if we wanted (we didn't need it), a cooler and other nice touches a family could use.

    For us, the rental home is something no WDW hotel could ever offer. A place where everyone has their own space (the kids have a bedroom, and we have our own, which is AWESOME), a full kitchen, a family room to chill out, a nice pool complex, endless restaurants/gift shops, etc...all around. Plus we have freedom to come and go where we want, when we want.
     
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  5. MamaBelleRN

    MamaBelleRN Earning My Ears

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    Thank you for the reply! I have been pricing out all sorts of options (split stays, value only, on and offsite, etc). It's helpful to hear the positives of the offsite experiences. The space and freedom of a rental home/condo may be just what we need this time around!



     
  6. Gr8t Fan

    Gr8t Fan DIS Veteran

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    WBC sounds like it would be perfect for your family (2 bedrooms sleep 8 and a 3 bedrooms sleep 10). The resort is amazing with several pools, onsite food options and activities for the kids. In fact, when we visit, our kids want to spend more time at the resort than we do at the parks. Best of all, it's right next to Caribbean Beach Resort and a stone's throw from the parks.
     
  7. mco65

    mco65 DIS Veteran

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    Although i do prefer onsite... I don't think you loose much magic outside the bubble. I know we LEFT the bubble twice on our last trip for dinner.. just to save a few bucks..

    We have stayed offsite a few times and enjoyed it just as much.. as i recall.
     
  8. msb578

    msb578 DIS Veteran

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    Yes- I have to say, I'm feeling pretty magical about my April stay at WBC (Wyndham Bonnet Creek). $103 a night for 2 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms (and a kitchen). A far better price than any of the Value resorts that week.
     
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  9. Chelley00

    Chelley00 DIS Veteran

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    Magic is what you make it. You can have a crappy time staying onsite and a fantastic time staying offsite.
     
  10. MamaBelleRN

    MamaBelleRN Earning My Ears

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    This sounds perfect!

     
  11. MamaBelleRN

    MamaBelleRN Earning My Ears

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    That is an AMAZING price! Which site did you book through?

     
  12. BeerMe

    BeerMe DIS Veteran

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    For longer trips we stay offsite in RCI condos - shorter trips we stay onsite. By long I mean 3 weeks or longer. I don't think we lose any of the magic offsite, plus it's a whole lot less expensive. Bonnet Creek is a very nice resort. I highly recommend it.
     
  13. msb578

    msb578 DIS Veteran

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    Vacation Strategy. I've seen people get even better prices elsewhere, but I liked the comfort/security of booking through them.
     
  14. BigredNole

    BigredNole DIS Veteran

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    I'll try to answer on my experience. First, there is not going to be any WOW FACTOR of a giraffe outside your room anywhere but AKL. If you are looking for that level of wow, you are extremely limited. There is no reason to sugar coat it though. If the animals near your balcony are a requirement, then AKL is the only way to go. If you can live with taking an afternoon run over to AKL to see giraffes, then we have options.

    With your party size, you could get by with a 1BR unit, but a 2BR unit would be much better. After tons of research, Orange Lake Resort is very nice and from personal experience Wyndham Bonnet Creek is amazing. WBC in my opinion is by far the best value around. I find it better than most Disney Deluxe resorts.

    As for being completely immersed in Disney, you will not get it offsite. You can decorate your room to help but the resorts won't have it. Even Disney resorts are not immersed in it for the most part. There are some that are complete immersion and others have Disney around. I think most have Disney around. All it takes to get back into that immersion is a short car ride and you are filled with it.

    I guess it comes down to: how much you want to save and do you have a car? If you said you want to save $1,000s and you have a car, offsite is an extremely viable option and I would bet that you would be amazed.

    Just running a quick price comparison since you said you stayed in a 2BR AKL room last time. For 9 nights starting Sunday after Thanksgiving, you are looking at $10,000 for that room. For an equal, possibly better room, you are looking at about $1,200 - $1,500 at WBC. If you wanted to stay in a DVC Studio, it would be about $1,400 or about $2,800 for a 1BR.
     
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  15. Woodview

    Woodview DIS Veteran

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    There are a lot of 5 bed villas ... with a good swim pool ..... within 20 min drive of Disney

    On Hwy 27 ( Between Hwy I-4 & Hwy 192 ) going for $ 1000 per week

    Look them up
     
  16. MamaBelleRN

    MamaBelleRN Earning My Ears

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    Thank you for the thorough reply! We planned our first trip as a once in a lifetime, so giraffes are not needed for this go round. I am much more interested in saving money on accommodations but still having a nice feel to it. With littles, we need to have the option to take it slowly, so a couple of extra nights would make this much more doable. $1200-$1500 to stay somewhere comfortable and fun sounds perfect.

    It really helps to hear from people who have done both vs the blog reviews. They are helpful, but nothing like hearing someone's personal experience. I love the idea of decorating the room and would never have thought of that!

    We drive to WDW, so we will have a car and getting to the parks will be a non-issue. I just requested a quote from Vacation Strategies for WBC based on the recommendation above. Is this who you use or do you have another suggestion for booking?


     
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2017
  17. 5kidsmommy

    5kidsmommy DIS Veteran

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    I think WBC would fit the bill for you. I haven't stayed there but from everything I've read and seen it's a lovely resort that definitely has a wow factor. And since you are driving you won't need to worry about paying for the shuttle. Just remember to factor in parking.
     
  18. BigredNole

    BigredNole DIS Veteran

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    Just a word of advice is to spend time searching for a Platinum VIP member. They can get you one heck of a deal. Vacation Strategy is excellent. I have used them on previous trips to other destinations. They are a Platinum VIP company, but I do not know if they do the book/rebook deal. You can always wait to go to them for the reservation. I am not 100% sure, but the week following Thanksgiving may be the Value season. If it is Value season and you are going for 9-nights, you are looking at a total of ~150,000 points. Rough estimate is that this will be about a $1,200 rental ($1,100 for the points and $100 cleaning fee). My understanding is that anything over 7-nights requires the cleaning and fee. There is no way around it.

    A PlatVIP member that works with you can book the room in their name now. When it gets to the 60-day window, the release the reservation back to inventory, rebook the room if it is still available for 50% of the points. There is a small window of time 2-3 minutes where if there is no inventory, they could lose getting a room. This is very unlikely except the most busy times. Plus, PlatVIP members get a free upgrade inside 60 days when they book. The upgrade is the first step up of available inventory. If you book a 2BR Dlx and a 3BR Dlx is in inventory, they get the 3BR Dlx free upgrade. But, if you book a 2BR and the only upgrade available is a 4BR Presidential, they will get the 4BR Presidential upgrade free. In the end, it is very low risk because they do it late at night when most people are not looking at inventory. In Value season, there should be plenty of rooms still available.

    My recommendation is to go to the TUG website and do some research there, find an owner with great reviews, and go through them.
     
  19. maxiesmom

    maxiesmom The Mean Squinty Eye Works

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    I've stayed off site a few times (prefer on) so make sure you keep in mind a few things:

    First, you do lose a few perks. Extra Magic Hours, the Dining Plan, 180 day out ADRs for your whole trip, FP+ at 60 days out. So there are a few things you miss out on. Second, I think you do lose a bit of the magic by not staying on property. But I don't like being out of the Disney bubble at all. So you may want to think a few ways to make the resort feel more Disney. Maybe pack along a few surprises for the kiddos, and say Mickey left them for them.

    Off site is not the same as on, no question, but it can still be loads of fun.
     
  20. MamaBelleRN

    MamaBelleRN Earning My Ears

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    This is great advice! I had NO idea about any of this when I booked my first trip. I'm excited to look into this option more :) Thanks again for the great tip!
     
  21. BigredNole

    BigredNole DIS Veteran

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    Some other points to the above. You only lose out on morning EMH. You DO NOT have to leave the park on evening EMH. You just can't go on rides or attractions. You can shop, pin trade, eat, have dining reservations, stage shows, explore parts of the park you wouldn't otherwise. If you like the dining plan, you do lose out on that. For the 3 of us, the cost of a dining plan is my grocery bill for a month with just the QS plan. You can still make ADRs 180 days out. You should be able to get everything you want except the best times for CRT, Le Caliers, maybe one or two others. However, you have the amazing dining options offsite that are better and half the price. I have never had any issue with FPs 30 days out.
     

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