First time trip- need help!

whitneyebz

Mouseketeer
Joined
Jan 23, 2015
I hope this is the right place to post this. we have 4 kids and live in AZ, and have been to Disneyland many times. Since FL is so far away, and WDW requires a bigger (and therefore more expensive) trip, we haven't gone yet. But our kids will soon be at an age that I am ready to take them! They will be 13, 11, 9, and 7 when we plan to go (spring break 2021- unfortunately we are not very flexible on dates). I could use all the tips I can get! I am pretty big on planning, but I am overwhelmed because of all the choices. For now I will stick with the main issue- accomodations. I am sure you will tell me to stay onsite, however, with 6 people it makes it VERY expensive. So expensive that we may not be able to afford the trip at all if we do that. I don't really want to stay at a value, but even those are pretty pricey for 6 people. So I am considering offsite hotel or VRBO, which would save us thousands. Of course, then we lose quite a few perks.

I have actually been to WDW before- when I was 14. We stayed at Yacht Club! Part of me wants to recreate that experience for my kids, but I just don't think we can. So, give me all your tips and advice for accomodations! Offsite and onsite. Thank you!
 

mjmgsssp

Mouseketeer
Joined
Jun 6, 2016
I'm guessing coming from AZ means you'll be flying. If you fly into MCO instead of Stanford, you'll be able to use ME for free transport to an on site resort (no need for a rental car). Maybe 2 rooms at a value (I'd recommend Pop Century) would work for your budget.
 
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  • Shelly F - Ohio

    Disney Extraordinaire
    Joined
    Feb 22, 2004
    Yes I agree you would be better off renting a home because it would be a lot cheaper. You will have to budget for paying for parking at the parks each day.
     

    brewhome

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Feb 11, 2010
    I highly recommend looking into two rooms at an All Star resort, or the family suite at All Star Music. Prices are fairly reasonable and you get the perks of being onsite. When you do some comparison pricing to renting a home, keep in mind you will save on a rental car, gas, parking, etc. if you stay onsite. You can still have some groceries delivered for simple breakfast in the room, snacks, drinks, etc. that can help you save some money as well. Good luck and happy planning!
     

    YesterDark

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Aug 4, 2017
    I think the planning is easy, you just need options.

    Party of 6 will be difficult, that's essentially two rooms. You could do a split stay if you have your heart on staying on property. I would suggest you take a look at the new ticket package rules: https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/faq/tickets/ticket-dates/

    Walt Disney World Resort theme park tickets purchased after October 15, 2018 are valid for admission beginning on the selected start date and must be used within the valid use period provided at the time of purchase. Here are the details:

    • 1-day – The ticket expires on the selected start date.
    • 2-day – The ticket expires 4 days after the selected start date.
    • 3-day – The ticket expires 5 days after the selected start date.
    • 4-day – The ticket expires 7 days after the selected start date.
    • 5-day – The ticket expires 8 days after the selected start date.
    • 6-day – The ticket expires 9 days after the selected start date.
    • 7-day – The ticket expires 10 days after the selected start date.
    • 8-day – The ticket expires 12 days after the selected start date.
    • 9-day – The ticket expires 13 days after the selected start date.
    • 10-day – The ticket expires 14 days after the selected start date.

    Without knowing how long you want to stay, you can buy a 4-day ticket package, a 2 night stay, and use the tickets after you check out. Ask a CM for help if you need it. You may find a deal/discount for a ticketed package but I'm not sure how that works during spring break times.

    Also look into renting DVC points. May be an option, I'd look in to it.

    That being said, once you've made a decision on where you're staying you can book ADRs 180 days out and fastpasses 60/30 days out. You'll have to pick how to build your days there. Which parks, which days, how many park days in a row. Sleep in/Rope drop each day etc.

    Then the rest is just having fun and planning your days.
     

    mco65

    get busy living, or get busy dying!
    Joined
    May 2, 2012
    We have stayed at the AS Music Suite a few times. Its simply two rooms combined to make a suite. Its nice because it has 2 bathrooms and a seperate bedroom. I think with 6 kids their age, they probably will be fine in the living room which has a couple of sofa sleepers. Personally, i would opt for the cabins at Fort Wilderness, that sleeps 6 and has much more room including a full kitchen to help offset some of the meal cost. The only draw back would be only 1 bathroom.

    We have stayed off site a couple times and had just as much fun, no doubt you can save a little money but there are drawbacks.. EMH for one. Disney Transportation. Parking... If i were only saving 2 or 3 hundred bucks, I would opt to stay onsite... i think the cost savings needs to be closer to 500 or more to justify staying off site.. JMO.
     
  • mrd7896

    Earning My Ears
    Joined
    Jul 31, 2018
    i agree with everyone else above. My brother always takes his family and stays off property but when you add in the car rental, gas, parking, loss of time-with these types of few and far between trips, time is of a much higher value-it's pretty much a wash if at all any savings.

    a few points mentioned above:
    a family suite at AoA or specifically AS Music will provide ample amount of space. (My immediate family of my 2 siblings and our parents all 5 grown adults fit in these suites perfectly fine so you wouldn't have any issue)
    you can still get groceries delivered or bring non-perishable items for snacks and breakfast along in your bags. saving before the trip is daunting but you also will be feeding 6 humans while you are there. bringing gallon ziploc bags of snacks will save TONS. In the suites you have a microwave, bring oatmeal or pancake cups or what have you to cut down on breakfast and there goes a large chunk of your travel budget.
    if you don't rent a car you will still be able to have access to the free transportation to and from the airport-if you fly into MCO-won't have to pay onsite hotel parking and will have the free access to the buses
    you get the extra hours at the parks if you stay onsite

    ultimately, i think the savings would have to be immense to stay off property. when my brother lets me in on how much his trip cost in total, is it less than what i choose to spend with my family? yes. is it A LOT? no. does the amount of time he loses with not being able to take advantage of the extra park hours outweigh it? :confused3

    in my straight-forward opinion, a Disney trip is expensive but still should be enjoyable. Stressing over the money before hand will most likely make you stress over the money while you are there and can take away from your trip. if it isn't in the cards to go, then wait.
     

    whitneyebz

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Jan 23, 2015
    Thanks everyone, you all are so helpful! I have looked into a value suite and it's still around $500, I think 2 regular value rooms would put us at $400 a night. Whereas offsite is around $100 a night. I have pretty much decided to stay offsite. Part of it is that I'm picky and the only WDW resorts that appeal to me are moderate and deluxe! We are staying 6 nights (I think I forgot to mention that!) Even with renting a car, we save around $2k staying offsite. I would call that worth it!

    I priced it out as around $3300-3600 for 6 nights at either a value suite (which I don't like- the decor is WAY too much for me) or 2 moderates (which I love but do cost a little more). And it would cost us around $1k for 6 nights at a very nice offsite condo or hotel/resort. Add in rental car ($300) and parking ($150) and we are at right about $2k less.

    We would eat breakfast in our room either way so I wasn't factoring that into the cost- we don't eat much for breakfast. We are eating lunch/dinner in the parks either way, although I suppose we could save more money eating lunch at our offsite place, but we don't plan to go back and rest. We might pick one day to go into the parks late though, so we can have one lazy morning.

    Also, we HAVE waited a long time for this trip. We can afford it, but I know I will stress WAY more if we are spending $2k more than we need to. I do hope to one day stay at an onsite resort (maybe even deluxe!) but not this time. Our kids aren't getting any younger (they will be 13, 11, 9, 7 when we go) so we really can't wait any longer.

    However, if something changes for us financially, I will consider it! I just have found some really great offsite options.
     

    whitneyebz

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Jan 23, 2015
    We have stayed at the AS Music Suite a few times. Its simply two rooms combined to make a suite. Its nice because it has 2 bathrooms and a seperate bedroom. I think with 6 kids their age, they probably will be fine in the living room which has a couple of sofa sleepers. Personally, i would opt for the cabins at Fort Wilderness, that sleeps 6 and has much more room including a full kitchen to help offset some of the meal cost. The only draw back would be only 1 bathroom.

    We have stayed off site a couple times and had just as much fun, no doubt you can save a little money but there are drawbacks.. EMH for one. Disney Transportation. Parking... If i were only saving 2 or 3 hundred bucks, I would opt to stay onsite... i think the cost savings needs to be closer to 500 or more to justify staying off site.. JMO.
    Yeah, it's WAY more than a few hundred bucks difference. Because I agree with you! If the cost difference was minimal, onsite is a no brainer. But the cost difference would be enough to pay for all our food (possibly more) that we need for the week. A few thousand is a big difference to us. And it means we could come back again! I originally thought it would be a one time trip, but now I think we can afford to go every 2 years (we could go every year but we have other vacations we want to do as well).
     

    SDSUrulez

    Earning My Ears
    Joined
    Aug 1, 2019
    Have you thought of doing half on and half off? I know that it might suck to switch rooms but you get the best of both worlds. This is what we are doing with our probably only trip to WDW.

    We are stay for 8 nights and doing 4 offsite and 4 onsite.... The 4 onsite are where we plan to hit WDW hard (rope drop to close) while the other 4 are for the rest of Orlando (Kennedy space) and might stop in on WDW for some half day stuff since a 8 day ticket is almost the same price as a 4 day.

    Also look into leveraging the point rentals through DVC. It will cost more than offsite but isn't going to break the bank.
     
  • usshelena725

    Nou gaan ons braai!
    Joined
    Apr 11, 2018
    Thanks everyone, you all are so helpful! I have looked into a value suite and it's still around $500, I think 2 regular value rooms would put us at $400 a night. Whereas offsite is around $100 a night. I have pretty much decided to stay offsite. Part of it is that I'm picky and the only WDW resorts that appeal to me are moderate and deluxe! We are staying 6 nights (I think I forgot to mention that!) Even with renting a car, we save around $2k staying offsite. I would call that worth it!

    I priced it out as around $3300-3600 for 6 nights at either a value suite (which I don't like- the decor is WAY too much for me) or 2 moderates (which I love but do cost a little more). And it would cost us around $1k for 6 nights at a very nice offsite condo or hotel/resort. Add in rental car ($300) and parking ($150) and we are at right about $2k less.

    We would eat breakfast in our room either way so I wasn't factoring that into the cost- we don't eat much for breakfast. We are eating lunch/dinner in the parks either way, although I suppose we could save more money eating lunch at our offsite place, but we don't plan to go back and rest. We might pick one day to go into the parks late though, so we can have one lazy morning.

    Also, we HAVE waited a long time for this trip. We can afford it, but I know I will stress WAY more if we are spending $2k more than we need to. I do hope to one day stay at an onsite resort (maybe even deluxe!) but not this time. Our kids aren't getting any younger (they will be 13, 11, 9, 7 when we go) so we really can't wait any longer.

    However, if something changes for us financially, I will consider it! I just have found some really great offsite options.

    Just a couple of points:

    1) Where are you booking for 6 people at $100/night offsite? That seems cheap enough to be concerning. Even for a standard hotel room, I've had a hard time finding anything as nice as a moderate Disney resort for under $180 or so.

    2) My budget was $2,000 for 8 days / 7 nights accommodations for a family of 3 - as such, a standard hotel room would work for us. We ended up booking DVC points rentals through one of the popular DVC Rental sites at Animal Kingdom Lodge for $1,805 for the week (May 2020). That comes out to a very reasonable $257 per night, with no taxes since it's a private rental. Not sure if just a single hotel room could work for your family though.

    3) With a family of 6, I would certainly think a 1BR would do. I did a quick search and I am coming up with about $3,400 for a week in a 1BR Apartment Villa at Disney Saratoga Resort, Disney Old Key West Resort, or Disney Animal Kingdom Lodge. That breaks down to $485 per night.

    4) Cheapest I've found for a decent 1BR villa offsite is about $325 a night. So, still cheaper to be sure, but just wanted to point out some other options for you.
     

    whitneyebz

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Jan 23, 2015
    Have you thought of doing half on and half off? I know that it might suck to switch rooms but you get the best of both worlds. This is what we are doing with our probably only trip to WDW.

    We are stay for 8 nights and doing 4 offsite and 4 onsite.... The 4 onsite are where we plan to hit WDW hard (rope drop to close) while the other 4 are for the rest of Orlando (Kennedy space) and might stop in on WDW for some half day stuff since a 8 day ticket is almost the same price as a 4 day.

    Also look into leveraging the point rentals through DVC. It will cost more than offsite but isn't going to break the bank.
    Yes I have thought about it- I will definitely still consider doing 2-3 nights on property :)
     

    whitneyebz

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Jan 23, 2015
    Just a couple of points:

    1) Where are you booking for 6 people at $100/night offsite? That seems cheap enough to be concerning. Even for a standard hotel room, I've had a hard time finding anything as nice as a moderate Disney resort for under $180 or so.

    2) My budget was $2,000 for 8 days / 7 nights accommodations for a family of 3 - as such, a standard hotel room would work for us. We ended up booking DVC points rentals through one of the popular DVC Rental sites at Animal Kingdom Lodge for $1,805 for the week (May 2020). That comes out to a very reasonable $257 per night, with no taxes since it's a private rental. Not sure if just a single hotel room could work for your family though.

    3) With a family of 6, I would certainly think a 1BR would do. I did a quick search and I am coming up with about $3,400 for a week in a 1BR Apartment Villa at Disney Saratoga Resort, Disney Old Key West Resort, or Disney Animal Kingdom Lodge. That breaks down to $485 per night.

    4) Cheapest I've found for a decent 1BR villa offsite is about $325 a night. So, still cheaper to be sure, but just wanted to point out some other options for you.
    1. VRBO/airbnb. Two bedroom condos are anywhere from $80-140 for very nice places (I do a lot of research, look at reviews, etc). Most hotels are a little more, maybe $200 a night. I have found tons of places on VRBO though and that is likely what we will go with- I am looking at March 2020 just to get an idea, since we won't go until March 2021. And none of these places look concerning at all! They're just extremely plentiful in the area, so I believe that's why they can be so cheap.

    2. We have 6 people so we have to either book a suite or 2 rooms- it makes the price WAY more, and I was getting frustrated by that. I looked into DVC and it was still quite expensive.

    3. $485 is only slightly cheaper than what I was looking at- we have to go during spring break, so the prices might be higher than what you looked at. $100-120 a night is still a HUGE savings. I also prefer to have 2 bedrooms so we don't have the kids practically on top of us.

    4. Did you look at VRBO at all? I found many offsite condos that were a lot cheaper.

    Overall, I don't think I will be convinced to stay onsite unless I can stay for $300 a night or less, and that's just impossible with 6 people. But thank you for your help! I really am perfectly happy staying offsite now that I've done a lot of research and listened to some others' opinions.
     

    whitneyebz

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Jan 23, 2015
    Can I ask why you’re not interested in a Value resort?
    Sorry, must have missed this reply earlier!

    Um...the values don't appeal to me at all. The decor is loud and garish- I'd rather have a more resort feel. Our kids aren't little, so we don't need over the top Disney themeing. I've also heard the beds aren't as comfortable or as big? I think they have double beds and we want queen for the kids, king for us. And it would still cost us $400-600 a night (for either 2 bedrooms or a suite).
     

    BLTtinkerbell

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jun 15, 2009
    Sorry, must have missed this reply earlier!

    Um...the values don't appeal to me at all. The decor is loud and garish- I'd rather have a more resort feel. Our kids aren't little, so we don't need over the top Disney themeing. I've also heard the beds aren't as comfortable or as big? I think they have double beds and we want queen for the kids, king for us. And it would still cost us $400-600 a night (for either 2 bedrooms or a suite).
    I think your plan sounds perfect!

    I agree, the theming at All Stars is loud.
    We have stayed there for school trips (no choice) and when adding on to the beginning of a WDW trip.
    We found the beds to be comfortable, but you are correct, double beds no queens or kings.
    I will say, the pools and food court are great! Also no problems with the transportation.

    Happy planning and enjoy your vacation!
     

    Chris75

    Earning My Ears
    Joined
    May 30, 2019
    I think you have a good plan as well. I have 4 kids as well (though some are grown now) and we have done both values and offsite and I personally don't think the perks for staying onsite are worth the premium.

    My last trip we stayed at both AoA and Parkway International Resort. The AoA was fine and we got a great rate on Priceline but it did feel pretty cramped (and it was only me and my 2 daughters on this trip). Parkway International has 2 bedroom condos and they sell timeshares but also rent out like so many similar places in the area. I found a deal on Groupon and after taxes and a $12 resort fee I averaged around $90 per night for that part of my trip (and this wasn't some special that you have to attend a timeshare presentation to get the rate). I have checked since then and rates range from what we paid to around $125 or so for most dates and maxing around 200 over New Years. It was basically like a 2 bedroom apartment with a King in one room, 2 twins in another and a pull out couch in the living room. It also had a washer and dryer and full sized kitchen. It wasn't overly fancy but it was clean and comfortable and had tons of room and it was only about a mile outside the gates, I timed it and it was about a 10 min drive from hotel to any of the parks parking lots. We spent most of our time in the parks so didn't really check out the pool and other amenities though. It was mine and my kids favorite place to stay and we have been to Disney multiple times.

    There are definitely a lot of good choices in the area because it has been over built so competition is really high. As long as you are fine without really fancy pools and some of the other onsite perks in most cases I agree that you can save a ton of money. Like you I can afford the nicer on site hotels if I had to, but I know saving a few thousand on a trip lets me do more of what I want to. One last tip, if you book far ahead try to get a rate that is refundable. I have seen rates on offsite places drop down a lot when it is a month or two out and that would let you rebook at a lower rate. I have no idea what it will be like in spring of 21. Also, there is a board here for Orlando hotels that has a lot of people that stay offsite and may have experience with other places you are considering.
     

    whitneyebz

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Jan 23, 2015
    I think you have a good plan as well. I have 4 kids as well (though some are grown now) and we have done both values and offsite and I personally don't think the perks for staying onsite are worth the premium.

    My last trip we stayed at both AoA and Parkway International Resort. The AoA was fine and we got a great rate on Priceline but it did feel pretty cramped (and it was only me and my 2 daughters on this trip). Parkway International has 2 bedroom condos and they sell timeshares but also rent out like so many similar places in the area. I found a deal on Groupon and after taxes and a $12 resort fee I averaged around $90 per night for that part of my trip (and this wasn't some special that you have to attend a timeshare presentation to get the rate). I have checked since then and rates range from what we paid to around $125 or so for most dates and maxing around 200 over New Years. It was basically like a 2 bedroom apartment with a King in one room, 2 twins in another and a pull out couch in the living room. It also had a washer and dryer and full sized kitchen. It wasn't overly fancy but it was clean and comfortable and had tons of room and it was only about a mile outside the gates, I timed it and it was about a 10 min drive from hotel to any of the parks parking lots. We spent most of our time in the parks so didn't really check out the pool and other amenities though. It was mine and my kids favorite place to stay and we have been to Disney multiple times.

    There are definitely a lot of good choices in the area because it has been over built so competition is really high. As long as you are fine without really fancy pools and some of the other onsite perks in most cases I agree that you can save a ton of money. Like you I can afford the nicer on site hotels if I had to, but I know saving a few thousand on a trip lets me do more of what I want to. One last tip, if you book far ahead try to get a rate that is refundable. I have seen rates on offsite places drop down a lot when it is a month or two out and that would let you rebook at a lower rate. I have no idea what it will be like in spring of 21. Also, there is a board here for Orlando hotels that has a lot of people that stay offsite and may have experience with other places you are considering.
    Thanks so much for your reply...yes, I have looked at VRBO and there are some great, affordable places. And if we can keep the costs for this trip down, we are more likely to be able to go back again! Good idea on getting a refundable rate :) The pool isn't super important- we will definitely want some kind of pool, but coming from AZ, we already swim a lot so it's not like a novelty or anything.
     

    WDW_Michael

    Earning My Ears
    Joined
    Jun 7, 2018
    Sorry, must have missed this reply earlier!

    Um...the values don't appeal to me at all. The decor is loud and garish- I'd rather have a more resort feel. Our kids aren't little, so we don't need over the top Disney themeing. I've also heard the beds aren't as comfortable or as big? I think they have double beds and we want queen for the kids, king for us. And it would still cost us $400-600 a night (for either 2 bedrooms or a suite).
    I don't think you are going to get a "resort feel" from a 100$ airbnb. Staying onsite is part of what makes Disney World trips so special, especially for kids. There's a reason so many people are telling you to stay on site...its not like we work for Disney, we just know it makes the trip a million times better.

    If your trip isn't until March of 2021, why not just start saving extra from now until then to afford a moderate Disney resort. Thats almost 2 full years from now. Cut back a little on extra expenses for the time being. If the kids don't already know about the trip, make the trip a big Christmas gift for them and scale back on the rest of the gifts. Put the extra money you save from the holidays towards the trip. Disney gift cards can be used for resort stays so ask for Disney gift cards for holidays/birthdays or any other events where you may receive gifts.. Also, for the kids birthdays gift them Disney gift cards and tell friends/family to do the same. This way when you go each kid will have a little bit of their own spending money to use for toys and souvenirs saving you money in the process.
     

    whitneyebz

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Jan 23, 2015
    I don't think you are going to get a "resort feel" from a 100$ airbnb. Staying onsite is part of what makes Disney World trips so special, especially for kids. There's a reason so many people are telling you to stay on site...its not like we work for Disney, we just know it makes the trip a million times better.

    If your trip isn't until March of 2021, why not just start saving extra from now until then to afford a moderate Disney resort. Thats almost 2 full years from now. Cut back a little on extra expenses for the time being. If the kids don't already know about the trip, make the trip a big Christmas gift for them and scale back on the rest of the gifts. Put the extra money you save from the holidays towards the trip. Disney gift cards can be used for resort stays so ask for Disney gift cards for holidays/birthdays or any other events where you may receive gifts.. Also, for the kids birthdays gift them Disney gift cards and tell friends/family to do the same. This way when you go each kid will have a little bit of their own spending money to use for toys and souvenirs saving you money in the process.
    I understand what you're saying, but yes, I have looked into VRBO's (and read reviews) and many of them say they feel like a nice resort. And really, it's okay if it doesn't. I am not going to stay in a regular home- I am looking at condos that have nice amenities, etc. And $100 was just an example- we may end up going for something a little more expensive, but still not anywhere near $400-600 a night.

    I know why people are saying to stay at Disney, but we have other trips we want to take too, so unless one of us gets a major increase in income, we won't be saving up an extra $2kish to stay onsite. And who knows? We may decide to come back again and splurge the next time :) But we are used to cheap motels near Disneyland so really anything will feel like an upgrade to us!

    And I still may decide to do a split stay, and just do a few nights on property. Not sure yet. If the difference was a few hundred, it would be a no brainer to stay onsite. But I personally can't justify an extra $2k.

    Oh, and our kids save up their own money for souvenirs, so that's not a concern! We don't spend a lot on Christmas/birthdays as it is, so saying "this is your birthday/Christmas gift" wouldn't honestly save us much money.
     

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