INSIDE or OUTSIDE the park?

Discussion in 'Budget Board' started by michellecuff, Jun 15, 2004.

  1. michellecuff

    michellecuff Earning My Ears

    Jun 11, 2004
    Hi All,

    I haven't been to disney in about 25 years so this is all new to me. We are planning a vacation in November. Can someone tell me what the advantages are of staying in the park at one of the Resorts compared to staying at a hotel outside? The prices seem much cheaper outside but what would we be giving up?

    Also, is there a way to get a discount from one of the online travel agents (,, etc.) When I do a search none of the Disney Resorts come up.

    There are however hotels in "downtown disney" Is that actually inside the park? and do you get any benefits from there?

    Any input is appreciated. Thanks!
  2. kilee

    kilee <img src="

    Jan 20, 2003
    Staying inside the park will give you access to the EMH (extra magic hour). Meaning right now, each morning you will be able to enter a specific park 1 hr earlier than the general public opening. They recently tested an evening EMH plan, but no word on if it will be implemented or not.

    Many people say "it's just not the same" if you don't stay onsite, or you are missing the WDW magic. I for one disagree. I am so deadbeat tired when I'm there-- that I don't really take the time to enjoy the hotel/resort I'm at. There are so many places to pick from and in every price range-- that the possibilities are endless. It does almost always cost more to stay onsite though.

    Disney hotels specifically don't participate in the Hotwire or websites. Once in a blue moon the Swan or Dolphin will come up on Hotwire, but it's not common.

    The downtown disney hotels are on the outskirts of DD. They are not Disney owned, but they sit on Disney property (well the very outskirts of it anyhow). I personally don't think they feel like staying onsite.

    I for 1 say if you're going to spend $100+/nt then stay on site-- if you are going on a budget you can save a lot of money in a nice clean modern hotel staying offsite.
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  4. swilshire

    swilshire DIS Veteran

    Jan 26, 2004
    I would love to stay on-site if I could afford it, but with six in our family, at least a 2-br unit with a full kitchen is absolutely necessary. You can get that on-site, but not within my budget.

    There are terrific timeshares all over the area. Reasonable rentals are readily available at all but the busiest of times.

    Disney is so spread out that you are driving (or taking the official transportation) a lot anyway. It's worth it to me to drive a few extra minutes to have the roomy accomodations.

  5. crisi

    crisi DIS Veteran

    Feb 25, 2002
    We are onsite snobs, but it IS more expensive. (Worse, we are onsite, deluxe hotel snobs, really really expensive). For us, we spend a lot of time around the resort, and the resort is an important part of our vacation experience. Recently there was a list of all the reasons to stay onsite, I'll see if I can come up with some:

    1. Extra Magic Hour
    2. Package Delivery to resort
    3. Convience (especially for mid day swims, etc)
    4. Disney quality (there are nice offsite hotels, but onsite snobs feel the quality is more consistant on property)
    5. Disney Magic [super]tm[/super]
    6. Free parking at parks
    7. No need to rent a car
    8. Easy access to great restuarants (at Deluxes) and good food courts (at Moderates and Values).
    9. A "resort" feel (bike rentals, boat rentals are available at a lot of the resorts).
    10. Great theming

    There were a lot more.

    Everyone needs to make decisions within their budget. We don't go as often as some people around here or own a lot of pins or tshirts or princess dresses, but we like to stay on site in a nice hotel and eat nice sit down meals - and we have a fairly large budget when we go. Other people go less often on smaller budgets, and some go more often on larger budgets. Unless your budget is limitless, you'll need to make some choices.

    The DTD hotels are very convienient. Only one (and I can't remember which) participates in EMH, but most run fairly frequent shuttles and you may still be able to do it without a car. The Swan and Dolphin are onsite hotels not owned or managed by Disney - and are cheaper than the Disney Deluxes - but have great access for the price (you can walk to MGM or Epcot from the Swan/Dolphin). But they are fairly high end hotels. They do run deals for nurses, teachers, and some other deals (including, I believe, one through this site).
  6. michellecuff

    michellecuff Earning My Ears

    Jun 11, 2004
    A few more questions...

    What is Package Delivery to Resort?
    What is Disney Magic?
    Do you get any free meals, or welcome gifts staying on site?
    How much does it cost to park if you drive everyday?

    We just booked 7 nights at the Marriott Royal Palms which is a 4.5 star condo with kitchen, living room, patio, washer and dryer and in-room whirlpool tub for 179/night which is more expensive than the Disney caribbean at 140/night. Maybe this a mistake? The Marriott is about 8 miles from the park. Does that mean 10 minute ride?

    Any input appreciated.

  7. crisi

    crisi DIS Veteran

    Feb 25, 2002
    Package delivery to resort: Buy something in the parks, it shows up at the resort the next day. Don't need to turn DH into a pack mule to schlepp your stuff around. (Don't do it on your last day - buy your stuff early to take advantage).

    Disney Magic - nothing specific - the feeling some people get being at Disney or around Disney things. Tears come into your eyes when you see Mickey Mouse on the soap. Goofy doing your wake up call. If tears come into your eyes when you hear the music from Toy Story, you have Disneyitis and may find a Disney resort worth the extra money.

    No gifts for staying on site. No free meals. Disney is NOT about value or bribing people to stay in their resorts (they really don't have to - with the exception of the past few years when the travel industry has been hit hard - Disney has had no problems keeping their resorts relatively full at premium pricing). Occationally Disney will run specials (currently a 7 day for the price of 5, I believe). And sometimes their are gifts in their packages - or meals included in their packages - but you definately pay for those.

    Its been a long time since I paid for parking, but I think $9.
  8. crisi

    crisi DIS Veteran

    Feb 25, 2002
    Oh, and I think you'll be fine at the Marriott over the CBR. You'll have a lot of room for a great price (the same type of room at Disney would run around $500 a night). You will have a drive every day. If what you value is the space, the kitchen and the tub, take the Marriott. If what you want is convienent access to the parks and Mickey on your soap, stay at the CBR. There will also be a drive and travel time involved in staying at the CBR - Disney is 51 square miles.
  9. robinb

    robinb DIS Veteran

    Aug 29, 1999

    Welcome to the DIS!!!

    I prefer to stay onsite, but I have stayed offsite too. I like to be in the "Disney Magic" 24/7. Others prefer to save money.

    For an interesting perpective on this question, ask it over on the Resorts Board. You'll get different answers :).
  10. ILoveWDW2003

    ILoveWDW2003 DIS Veteran

    Feb 3, 2004
    When you purchase a souvenir in a shop on Disney property, you can ask them to deliver it to your resort. It may take up to 24 hours, but you will eventually be able to pick it up at the resort gift shop. No need to carry bags of items with you in the parks.

    Wow - wonderful service, terrific theming of a resort, from the entrance at the bus stop to the covers on your bed in your room; Mickey wake up calls, onsite dining; themed pools, large icons at the Value resorts, etc, etc.

    Parking is free for onsite resort guests.

    Possibly depending on time of day. For the MK for example, you would then need to go thru the entrance gates and pay the parking fee, and depending on where you park, then catch the tram to the transportation and ticket center. You would then need to take either the monorail of ferry to the front of the MK, and then go thru the security check.

    The onsite resort buses drop you within walking distance of the security check.
  11. scanmom

    scanmom DIS Veteran

    Dec 29, 2000
    We have stayed on and off site. Each one is good. You will save ALOT of $$ by staying at the Marriott, but the "Disney Magic", pkg delivery, and EMH will be lost...lets think about this

    1. Disney Magic- This is not a tangible thing. It really depends on if you personally will feel like you have lost something by having to leave the "disney compound" to return to your resort to sleep. Alot of offsite resorts are just as nice and have equal or more amenities than disney resorts.

    2. package delivery- This is a nice benefit, but don't forget that ANYONE (on site or offsite guests) can send their packages to "package pick up". This is a service that delivers your packages to a stand at the front of the park(s). They will hold your pkg. there for you to retrieve at the end of the day. I like this better than delivery resort, because you get your purchases the same day, not 24 hours later. With kids, this can be important. Plus, at resort pick up, they do not deliver to your room, so you still have to go to a specified place in the resort to get your package. With the disney resorts being so large, this could be quite a hike from your room.

    3. Extra magic hour- This is by far the best benefit of staying on site , in my opinion. However...remember that to use this benefit, you have to be willing to get up pretty early in the morning. Some people would rather have the extra hour for sleeping, or spending a little extra time enjoying breakfast. I usually feel like I HAVE to use this benefit if I am staying onsite. This usually leads to me feeling VERY tired by the end of the trip. And my husband HATES it. He would rather not get everyone up for showers and brakfast at 6:00 a.m. while on vacation!

    4.parking for off site guests is about $8.00/ day. Not bad if you factor in the savings you will get from the cheaper rates at on off site resort.

    5. Don't forget that not all of the disney resorts are adjacent to the theme parks. Using disneys transportation system can actually be a LONG commute time...especially if going from one resort to another. I have heard of people that have spent 1.5 hrs on a disney bus to get to a specific resort for dinner!

    whatever you choose, just be sure to relax and enjoy yourself! It is supposed to be fun, and it will be, no matter where you stay!:teeth:
  12. HaleyB

    HaleyB I am not a robot

    Nov 16, 2003
    We are just back and we split our stay between off and onsite. I paid less onsite w/ a discount code at Pop Century (you can find out all about those here, and at I had a lot more space offsite (Holiday in Family Suites). We only went into the parks on the days we were onsite (and we used the extra magic hour most days, if yiou have young kids that wake up early it is great and the only reasonable way to see MK in the summer months). The extra space off site was nice, however we were almost never in our room. The number one down side to off site after missing EMH is that you have to drive. WDW is huge and it was a maze for us. The signs were not always clear and often too late if you happened to be in the wrong lane. It was easy and for the most part quick to take a bus, plus there was no stress. My husband loved not having to deal with the car and has decided that we will always stay onsite from now on.
    Some people will say that the rooms are very small onsite. I don't find tham so. We had room to set up a single air matress so my son and daughter didn't have to share a bed (they both flip and flop too much) and to have a full size stroller set up (not folded down) plus four suitcases and two rubber made totes full of stuff (we were there for two weeks). We never felt like we were on top of each other or squeezed in at all. I was surprised to find the room even had a small tabel and two chairs in it.

    MELSMICE Hi Ho, Hi Ho, to Disney World we'll go. It'll be

    Feb 22, 2002
    We have done both on & off site, and personally, we prefer on-site for many of the reasons mentioned above.

    If you are looking for a total 100% Disney immersed vacation, then my suggestion would be on-site.

    If you are planning on doing other things, such as Sea World, Universal or any of the other Orlando attractions, then you may want to consider off-site.

    Will you be staying long enough that you could split your stay?

    Like I said, for us it's on-site, but I am total Disneyholic so I'm a little biased! :rolleyes:
  14. crisi

    crisi DIS Veteran

    Feb 25, 2002
    If you do package delivery to the front of the park, do NOT pick up your packages at park closing. The package delivery line may be the longest you wait in! But we have done this even when staying onsite (when we are shopping on our last two days), and it does work well. They also won't deliver liquor to the room, but will get it to the front of the park - so we did this with some wine bought in Epcot as well.

    A lot of people rent a car no matter where they stay - on site or off site. If you elect to go carless (on site or off site - a lot of off site resorts provide shuttle services) you will want to do a little research and learn some tricks. Its very true that it can take an hour or longer to get someplace (particularly resort to resort travel is tough) - if you need to transfer buses - for those events we choose a cab which costs about $10-$15. Its also true Disney buses can get quite crowded and you may need to stand. Knowing how the transportation system works can often save you a lot of time.

    The point about park access is a good one. In general, the more you pay for a resort, the better access to one (or more) parks you have. From the Deluxe resorts at the MK, you can take the monorail (in Wilderness Lodge's case, the boat) to the MK - from the Contemporary you can walk. For the Epcot resorts, you can walk or take a boat to both MGM and Epcot. (AKL is actually quite a distance from the Animal Kingdom gates). But all these are expensive Deluxe resorts (except the Ft. Wilderness Campgrounds - which do have "cabins" reasonably priced with a lot of room). The moderates all involve taking a bus ride to the parks - but most of the moderates are relatively close to Epcot. The Value resorts tend to be furthest out from the parks (Pop Century is fairly close in). Some people think a room at a Downtown Disney hotel is more convienent than staying off at a Moderate or Value. Another thing to be aware of is that the Value resorts don't have pool slides - and Deluxe resorts don't have a lot of "fast food" options.

    (I agree with the signs being confusing - we stopped driving in part because we would regularly spend more time missing an exit and turning around than we would have on the bus!)
  15. Local_Girl

    Local_Girl DIS Veteran

    Oct 6, 2002
    I think it really boils down to what is important for your own family. There is no way on earth my DH (or me, for that matter) will wake up at 6am every morning on vacation...And DH prefers to drive his own car vs. a rental car or taking Disney buses. We feel the Disney magic whenever we step into one of the parks or resort hop for meals, which is enough for us. The cost of parking is more than offset by the lower hotel rates we pay offsite...

    Sooooo....we stay offsite. The past couple of years, we've stayed in 2 bdrm units at Hilton Grand Vacation Club and Orange Lake, for 3 weeks total time. The best rate was $249 for the entire week (not per night); the most we paid was $411 (Christmas week). For that we got lots of space, a full kitchen and laundry facilities in the unit, and countless resort amenities that we didn't even use! And because we saved so much $$ on our accomodations, we were able to spend more on the FITS park passes that allowed us to come and go as we pleased every day. Now THAT was magical! ;)

    If you sit down with your family and decide what your priorities are, you should be able to make a decision as to whether to stay onsite or off. Perhaps, as was mentioned, you could split your stay between on site and off and get a feel for both. Good luck with your decision!
  16. disneysteve

    disneysteve DIS meet junkie

    Sep 29, 2002
    I don't feel like going into the whole onsite/offsite debate right now (too tired this morning), but let me just say this.

    I have heard nothing but good things about the Marriott properties, but $179 is well above what you could find a very nice condo or house for.

    For less than $75/nite, you could get a 2-bedroom condo at a place like Windsor Palms. For under $100/nite, you could rent a 3-bedroom pool home in many nice developments, a lot of which would be closer to Disney than Royal Palms.

    And if you go through SkyAuction, you could get a week in a 2-bed condo for as little as $260 for the whole week! We're booked in a 2-bed condo at Orbit One Villas in October for $261. That's less than $38/nite!

    Just something else to think about.
  17. Carrie Ellis

    Carrie Ellis DIS Veteran

    Apr 7, 2004
    May be this is not up your alley...but there are the Fort Wilderness cabins. They are for up to 6 guest and have a full kitchen. I believe the discount codes run through the end of August for AAA and AP holders. Check

    You would still have the Disney magic and the room to move around in. Plus they have campfires and movies every night.
  18. michellecuff

    michellecuff Earning My Ears

    Jun 11, 2004
    Hi All,

    I'd like to start by saying that this board and everyone on it is AWESOME! Thank you all for your fantastic input!

    I'll give you a little background on our vacation.
    My husband and I don't have children and are going to celebrate our 3rd wedding anniversary. We were hoping for a lot of fun as well as some quiet romantic time together. We like disney but are not disneyholics (at least not yet). We had a blast at Universal in Calif. a few years back and that's why we decided to go to Disney this year. Plus, I haven't been there since 1979 and my husband has never been.

    We've discussed it and we think that off-site (at least for this first visit) will be better for us. And after seeing the couple of posts regarding Extra Magic Hour, getting up at 6am on vacation and knowing me SO very well, my husband insisted on off-site ;)

    Thank you for the advise regarding the Package Delivery at the front of the park. My DH was very pleased about this because, yes, he usually is my pack mule :D

    As far as the price of the marriott, I was amazed at some of the prices quoted in this thread! While we do have reservations that would cost $25 to cancel, I think it's worth looking around a bit more to see what's out there.

    And, ah yes, the car rental. We are still toying with which way to go. 8 dollars to park is not bad but it is annoying to have to drive a lot on vacation. Keep you posted on that front.

    Thanks you again for all your input and keep the posts coming. It's great getting all this info and opinions from everyone!

  19. liznboys

    liznboys DIS Veteran

    Jan 30, 2004
    Seems like you already made your choice...but here's another link that may help:

    Onsite or Offsite?

    We are ONsite people. :teeth:

    Have a great trip! No matter where you stay, I'm sure you'll have a wonderful time! ::yes::
  20. michellecuff

    michellecuff Earning My Ears

    Jun 11, 2004
    THANKS! Passing it along to DH

    And nothing is set in stone. We can always cancel the reservation at the Marriott. We aren't going until November...
  21. Poohlovr

    Poohlovr <font color=red>Still SSB's archrival!<br><font co

    Sep 16, 1999
    Like others, I have stayed offiste and onsite. I am now firmly an onsite person for 2 very specific reasons.

    Leaving MK one night---after fighting the masses trying to shove to the front of the "group" to wait for the ferry, (and holding tight to my kids, with a very real fear that we were going to become separated), it took us a full hour(of sitting in our car) to even get out of the MK parking lot and onto the highway to get to our rental home.

    On another (onsite) trip, as we were leaving the Swan heading to the park, my younger grandson became ill.
    I took him back to our room and sent the rest of the party on their way.
    Later in the day, he said he felt better and wanted to go to MK for a while. We did and rode a few rides in Fantasyland, when he said he was tired and wanted to go back to the room.
    So, back on the bus we went.
    Had we been offsite, either everyone would have missed that day or he would have not been able to go for the little while that he did, had they gone on.

    Sold me and my normally frugal (read: tightwad) husband. The convenience makes it worth the extra $$$.
    We have just learned how to do it without spending a great deal of money

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