Is it really worth the $ difference to stay onsite?


Earning My Ears
Jan 24, 2001
Okay, I am really confused here? My husband and I are going to WDW in November 2001. It will be our first trip, we do not have children, so it is just the 2 of us. I know on the Disney Resort thread it absolutely says to stay on site and it is worth the $. But I also have people at work that have gone and they all have stayed offsite and felt that the time you are in your hotel, that it is a waste of money to spend $155 a night when you can get a nice hotel offsite for $49-$99 a night especially since we do not have kids. They also like the freedom of having a car. We will be there for 7 nights/8days. We plan on spending 5 days at Disney and 2 days at Universal.

I already booked "The Swan" at $155 night but am thinking of changing it to an offsite hotel, Radisson Resort Parkway $99, Courtyard by Marriott in Disney Village for $89, or Holiday Inn Maingate East $49.

Is it really worth the $ difference? Sorry for this to be so long.
You're getting a $300 + room for $155. You're gaining:
1) better themed pool
2) ability to walk to EPCOT and MGM studios
3) ability to go to your hotel in afternoon and go back to EPCOT for dinner and illuminations
4) Boardwalk area with restaurants, Jellyrolls, dance club, bicycles etc.
If you were comparing a moderate resort on site or were paying rack rates my answer might be different but you're getting a great deal. If you're on a budget stay at Swan for the 5 nights you're doing disney and stay at a budget hotel closer to Universal (you might try Priceline)for 2 nights.
You are really not comparing apples to apples. There are no properties that I am aware of off site that are comparable to the Swan/Dolphin that would cost $49-$99/night in November. It could be argued that the Marriott Orlando World Center is a somewhat reasonable comparison, but the only time I've seen a $99 rate there is during part of the summer when they have a AAA rate of $99.

Don't get me wrong. There are plenty of very nice places for under $100/night, but they are nothing compared to the Swan/Dolphin.
We stayed offsite one time and on site every time since. Those who say it is not worth it are the ones who have never stayed on site to compare. There is nothing like being in the middle of everything....and as stated above, you can walk to EPCOT and MGM. You can still get a car...we do. It makes it easier if you get the urge to resort hop, which you may want to do to check out some of the other resorts for a place to stay next time. We love Dixie Landings, which is now Port Orleans Riverside, but bought into DVC at the Boardwalk when we were there in September. If you go often, you might want to at least take the DVC tour to see what it's like. It won't cost you anything but a little time if you don't buy, but once you see it and if you choose to buy in, you have a place to stay onsite for the next 41 years! IMHO staying on site is well worth the extra $$. ;)


Norma & Wayne

I've stayed both off-site and on-site. My last on-site stay was at the Dolphin, and I loved it. I'd never pay $200-300 for an on-site hotel, but it's definitely worth $155 for the Swan. I don't suppose you or your spouse are teachers or government employees, are you? Then the rate would be $129/night.

If you really want to save more, a moderate resort during value season is $129/night. If you are a AAA or Disney Club member, you might be able to save 20% off that rate, making it $103.20 plus tax. The All-Stars are $69.30 plus tax with the 10% AAA or DC discount.
In addition to the above, having Disney transportation available is wonderful!! If one of you was to want to go back to the hotel for whatever reason, or you have two different destinations in mind, one can use the car, another the busses...that's a biggy for our family where we often split up during our stay!! And there really is nothing like the Disney magic!! Your location at the Swan will be the BEST!! We can hardly wait for our trip in March!!
We stayed off site our first few times at WDW. At that time there were no moderate or value resorts and we couldn't afford the only WDW hotels that existed then. We haven't stayed offsite since our first on site trip the year CBR opened.
The other posters covered the advantages well. Another one is that if you have a car, you can CHOOSE whether or when to use it. Leaving the park at closing in a car is quite an experience. Even if you have to wait for a bus, you will likely be back at your hotel before most of the drivers will be out of the lot.

SueM in MN
Co-Moderator of disABILITIES

First, I want to echo the earlier comments that $155 is a bargain price for Swan, so the additional cost there for staying on site is not nearly as large as it could be.

However, you ought to consider the total cost of staying there if money is your concern. For example, breakfast - do you like to have a large sit-down breakfast? If so, it will be expensive at the Swan, whereas some offsite properties include breakfast for free, and others have much more reasonable options st the hotel or a Denny's nearby.

There is no one answer to the question, of course, but in addition to thinking about total cost, consider how much time you think you will spend at the hotel. If you want to drive to a theme park every day, get there in time for the rope drop and stay til the fireworks, the extra cost of on-site is probably a waste. If you think you might park-hop, if you don't want to drive, and/or if you want to take mid-day breaks at the hotel, then there's a lot more benefit to the location.

--- Mark
We stayed offsite on our first few visits without kids, back in the '80's on a very tight budget. We truly went to the parks from opening until closing *every* day. By evening, we appreciated our safe, clean, comfortable, basic room with a few palm trees in the parking lot. ;) Other than a few, nice, late night swims in the heated pool, we sure didn't need resort amenities. After soaking up theme park atmosphere all day and evening, we didn't feel that we were missing anything and spending more money for onsite would have been a complete waste! <IMG WIDTH="15" HEIGHT="15" SRC="/infopop/emoticons/icon_razz.gif" alt="razz">

Later, with children, we've stayed both onsite and offsite many times each. Onsite was highly preferable when we took a midday break and wanted to visit the parks for a portion of every day. It's also highly preferable when without a car.

Now that the kids are getting older, they want a full day (or more) of resort activities instead of midday breaks. And we all enjoy the nicer rooms (timeshare villas) we can afford offsite. So we still take advantage of both, sometimes combining them on a longer trip.

The Swan/Dolphin are a great value at the price you are paying. Only you can decide whether you think you would need or want it though. You may like to spend a good part of your trip at an inexpensive place, expecially when you plan to visit the Universal parks. End the trip with a couple nights at the Swan/Dolphin and slow down your pace to enjoy the atmosphere in that area. If you don't plan to actually spend time at the resort, there's little point in spending the money for it, IMHO. Just a thought. :)
I think it boils down to this:
If you want to return to your room during the day, staying on-site is worth the extra $$.
When I go, we leave our room early in the morning, and have no intentions of returning until the parks have closed. Since we spend so little time in the room, we don't feel the need to stay on-site. Some of the on-site hotels take almost as long to get to as some of the closest off-site hotels. So even if you want to return to your room, there can be only a minimal benefit.
The only disadvantages (for us):
1) No early entry or e-ticket nights. (although we find the regular hours are tiring enough!)
2) no package delivery to your room
3) A little less of the Disney "magic"

I've been researching the same thing - but we are going with 2 kids.

Both onsite and offsite have things to offer - but they are different things.

Make a list of the benefits reported for each, and then decide which list means the most to you.
I agree with the previous post from Kilarney.

I was able through priceline without bonus money to get 8 nights for $65 per night at the Marriot Orlando World Center for early April this year. I rather use the savings of $155-$65=$90 for a special dinner at Disney in the park and stay offsite. We will be pretty close to the parks anyway. Another good reason for staying offsite is the savings gives you a chance to buy more or better souvenirs because you don't feel as guilty since you saved on the resort costs. And bottomline, if you just save the extra bucks you may be able to justify a second trip. I rather have two trips offsite then one onsite. You may be able to extend your first trip longer too because of the savings. I'm not saying the savings will pay for a second trip or longer stay but it goes a long way to ease the costs. There are far greater reasons, in my opinion, to stay offsite than on, especially as adults only. About the only exception I could find to this is if you were on your honeymoon because you may want to be taken in by all the magic. In reality the Swan/Dolphin is not really Disney anyway and others who have gone this route have said it's not the same as a real, Disney resort. It's closer to it then the other, outside resorts but it's still not the real thing. There are Downtown Disney resorts that now offer the perks of early entry, etc. and you still don't have to pay the $155 per night. You have options.

I've been 8x going on #9 and we stayed onsite only once. I believe we could afford to stay on site but we purposely choose not to, all things considered. Without kids I think there is even less reason to stay onsite. I like winding down in a non-Disney resort. It clears my mind for the next day. Many people get a rental car even if they stay onsite; so, this not is not a big arguement in favor of staying onsite, either.

This has been debated time after time and there will always be both sides to this question. It's like you have to agree to disagree. Good luck and I think it's good for you to get the varied opinions here; so, you can see both sides to this never ending debate.
The final choice is up to you. We personally like spending the extra money and staying onsite. I save for vacations and I sometimes like to splurge on my accomodations. My wife and I feel that we're on vacation so we should be able to treat ourselves to something nice. We have friends who recommended that we stay in a budget motel offsite. We don't think of the room as simply a place to shower and sleep. We still need to feel comfortable as well.
We have stayed on and off-site on many trips. If you are going to Universal you may want to consider staying staying off-site on those days. We have quite often split our stay at two or more resorts.

We stay onsite on our days at Disney so we:
1) Have early entry to the parks
2) Don't have to pay for parking
3) Have the advantage of Disney transportation
4) Can return to the room for a break

None of the advantages mentioned are an asset if you are not doing the Disney parks.
We are big on bargains, and try to get the most bang for the buck. We also like to do offsite activities such as golf, USF/IOA, outlet mall shopping, etc. etc. We've stayed in Suites for around $100 a night. This year we tried Priceline for the first time, could'nt get 4* but really, we don't need it, we spend so little time in the hotel, we did 3* and got Hyatt Orlando for about $40 a night (starting this Friday for 8 days), plus a full size car rental (also Priceline through National) for $16 a day. We're not big breakfast eaters, except for DS who needs his cereal, so we checked with hotel and can add a refrigerator for $50 for the 8 days and will have breakfast in the room (alternative would have been to buy a cheap styrofoam cooler which we've done before too.)

By staying offsite, we can afford more days, do a variety of things including but not limited to Disney, and can afford to go back each year.

After 8 days at the Hyatt, we're going to Cocoa Beach for 4 more days.....(also Priceline Hotel)


Offsite Feb 2001
Offsite Feb 2000
Offsite March 1999
Offsite March 1998
Offsite Feb 1997

Hey - What can I say? Offsite gets me there every year.
Everyone on this board is the greatest. I truly appreciate all of your suggestions and wonderful advice.

I have never gone back and forth so much in my life in regards to accomendations. My husband thinks I am totally bonkers. He is all for off-site, but I cannot help but be swayed by "The Swan" and staying onsite. Knowing my husband and I we will probably be at the parks from dawn until dusk. I really do not see us going back to the hotel to rest during the day or take a break. As far as meals go, we would rather eat lite for breakfast and lunch and have a nice meal in the evening. We do plan on renting a car, because we would like to resort hop and check everything out and we do plan on doing Universal Studio's for a couple of days. I know if we stay at one of the Downtown Disney hotels, we get some of the same perks as staying on-site. And I also called The Hard Rock Hotel at Universal and told them I was an entertaiment member and they quoted me a price of $117 per night for the 2 nights we are planning on doing Universal. Although, this site says "The Clairon Universal" is only $49 a night. More decisions. I like the idea of HRH because you also get early entry and you can go to the front of all the lines if you stay at that resort.

I am really interested in Priceline. I am just afraid we would get stuck with a place we would not like and I have never used Priceline before. From what I have read on these boards, you can put a request in for a 4* hotel and then you put a bid in, if that bid is accepted than you have your room and you cannot make any changes. I understand that there are people who have gotten "The Swan" for $68 a night. Is it better to wait until you get closer to your date before using Priceline or does it matter.

Thank you all again, I still have alot more thinking to do. But you all have given me more food for thought.

We love to stay onsite and would not stay anywhere else. Save up and the extra waiting and money will feel well deserved. You will have a flawless vacation which includes the many perks to being an onsite guest. Best of Luck in making your decision. :eek:
I've been going to Disney for the last 20 years. I've stayed both on and offsite. While staying onsite IS magical, it is so much more expensive than staying offsite. This October, I'm going to Disney again and am staying at a motel 5 min. away for $26.00 a night. The money I save on the motel, I will use towards having nice dinners and more sight-seeing. Let us know what you decide!
Teresa -

As I'm sure you've figured out by now, there is never consensus on this issue and it's a totally personal and financial decision. If you can afford it, staying on-site at Disney and/or Universal will definitely make for a smoother, easier trip. As mentioned before, the major onsite benefits are early entry (very important in crowded times; not so important in November), e-night (also more important during crowded times), and Disney bus service (not all that important to me since I always rent a car, and even when I'm staying onsite, I usually drive to the parks because I don't like waiting for buses or being packed in like a sardine). If you will be worrying about how you're going to pay for the trip or if you'll end up being resentful about what you're spending, then it will put a damper on your vacation and I'd advise staying off-site. If you don't go on vacation often and you want to enjoy it to the fullest, stay onsite. BTW, I've done both and have had a great time either way. I just got back and I wavered on the onsite/offsite decision just like you are. My final decision was that it's my vacation, and as much money as I'm going to spend on it anyway, why not dish out the extra couple of hundred dollars and make it the best it can be (I always stay at moderates, though, since the price difference for a deluxe isn't worth it to me). If money is a major concern for you, Priceline is the way to go. And if you really want to save money and are not planning to spend much time at the hotel, I think you should go with a 3-star on Priceline, which will be a perfectly nice hotel for around /night.


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