Staying Offsite vs Onsite Guide

Discussion in 'Orlando Hotels and Attractions' started by BigredNole, Jan 8, 2017.

  1. BigredNole

    BigredNole DIS Veteran

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    I seem to be answering posts on MY EXPERIENCE ONLY quite often. I figured I would post some things that may help people decide staying onsite vs offsite. I will note a few Pros and Cons (to me).

    Caveat: I have only been offsite on one visit. We will most likely never stay on property again unless a massive deal presents itself.

    Decisions:
    1. Will you have your own car? If not, then transportation to/from Disney parks gets expensive and will most likely cancel out any savings. I think this is the ultimate deciding factor in the whole discussion. You could stay some place like Wyndham Bonnet Creek, get an estimate for Uber to another resort like CBR, Pop, AoA, Boardwalk. Once there, you can hop on the park buses. I would guess Uber would be less than $10 each way. Quick Uber calculator. This would add travel time, but still doable maybe.
    2. Do I have to stay in the Disney bubble? If yes, then there is no decision to make.
    3. How much space do you need? If you need more than a 400sf studio, everyone in one room, and sharing beds, then your price for Disney rooms just skyrocketed if you don't have a car.
    4. How many people are in your party? For 2 people, staying on site is easy. For more than that, studios can get cramped and mommy/daddy time is not easy.
    5. Where are some of the best places to stay? There are tons and it comes down to how much space you want, what you want from the place you stay, and how far you are willing to drive each day.
    Pros for Onsite:
    1. You don't need a car. You can rely on Disney transportation, Uber, and taxi.
    2. You get free use of Disney Magical Express
    3. You can make FP selections 60 days in advance
    4. You get a Magic Band that can charge everything to your room.
    5. You can make dining reservations for your whole stay 180 days out from your first day
    6. You can have packages delivered to your resort.
    7. You get Extra Magic Hours.
    8. You stay in the Disney bubble
    Pros for Offsite
    1. You save $1,000s vs comparable Disney accommodations and this is the main reason
    2. Resorts have the same and in many cases better amenities
    3. You get at least 3x the space and usually 2 or more bathrooms
    4. You have full kitchens to eat healthier and much cheaper meals
    5. If you don't have a car, Uber indicates it is about $10 each way.
    6. You can enjoy almost everything Disney resort guest enjoy: All activities at a Disney resort can be done by non-resort guests. It is NOT a perk to Disney resort guests.

    7. Depending on the resort, your kids may fight going back to the park and just want to stay at the resort.
    8. You still get FPs, but may miss out on 1 or 2 top attractions. Simply hit those at rope drop and there are no issues. We usually schedule our FPs for the evening hours anyway. Although not the most scrupulous of behaviors, some renters have a pass they call VIP. I do not know the exact specifics to it, but it is most likely something similar to the GAC. It lets a group up to 8 on to each FP attraction once per day. People can call this what they want. I have not rented a place with this benefit. It is simply a private owner that knows a CM or has a child in the College Program that can pass down a hidden benefit. In some cases, I would think the owner has a $20 handshake with a CM that makes $10/hr. If I ever rented a place that offered it, I would most likely use it...just being honest.
    9. Faster transportation times. Many people will fight this with me, but my experience with Disney bus transportation is that it takes me 45-60 minutes from the time I leave my room, get to a bus stop, wait for the bus, wait for ECVs to load, load the bus, get herded in like cattle, then off to the next stop, repeat, off to the next stop repeat, off to the next repeat, then off to the park, unload, and walk. Then, reverse the process from the park. At an offsite resort, walk from my room, hop in my car, scan pass for free parking, park, and get to the gate is about 15-30 minutes. Plus, when going to MK I get to take a ride before many resort guests be it the monorail or ferry.
    10. At the end of the night after fireworks or Fantasmic, the herds are going to their bus stop with 100s of people for your same resort. As I pass the corrals to walk to my car, exit with no real traffic, and at my resort in just a few minutes, those same people are still packed in like cattle waiting for bus #1, #2, #3, #4.

    Many people will argue with my time assessment for Disney buses. All I can say is that these are my REAL wait times and travel times for Disney buses. It is why we stopped flying in. If we stay onsite, we still drive to all parks. All I can say is if I am there when you are and you are waiting for a bus with me, you are screwed. I don't advertise "no way is a bus this long". Time it yourself from room exit to ticket gate and park exit to room for your entire trip. I am willing to bet my offsite times are half and that your times are definitely closer to 45-60 minutes each way.
     
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2017
  2. 100AcreWood

    100AcreWood DIS Veteran

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    Number 8 made me laugh :). I have heard of that phenomenon but never experienced it myself. My kids always want to be in the park. I agree with your assessment on the buses. The only place I hate to park is Magic Kingdom because of the Ticket and Transportation Center. Getting on the monorail or boat can really slow things down.
     
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  4. Allie B

    Allie B I always dream of Disney

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    My daughter does #8 onsite!
     
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  5. loves to dive

    loves to dive DIS Veteran

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    #7 is bad advice, if the Disney pools are an attraction to someone, they should not think they are going to be able to use them if not staying at that resort. Some are more closely monitored than others but they are adding fences which require use of your MB to get into them at a lot of them.

    #10 depends on where you are staying. If you are staying at one of the Epcot resorts, you are in walking distance of two parks, HS and Epcot and have access to the boats if you don't want to walk. You can catch the monorail to MK from Epcot (while it is a bit of a hike through Epcot it is doable, we do it all the time and you do have to have park hoppers) so basically you only have to deal with one bus, to AK. If you stay at one of the MK resorts, you have boats and the monorail to get to MK, you have the monorail to get to Epcot so again, you would only need the bus for HS and AK.

    #1 again depends on where on you stay as to whether you can save $1000.

    #4 this might or might not be an advantage, personally even when I stay in a WDW DVC villa with a kitchen, I don't use it. I don't cook on vacation and find plenty of healthy options of meals while on property.

    I agree there are advantages and disadvantages to both options and each family is going to be different. Heck, there are some who do both depending on the length of the trip or time of year.
     
  6. BigredNole

    BigredNole DIS Veteran

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    I never said it is possible to swim. I just said it is loosely monitored. Yes, gates have MB access, but most people will hold it open.

    Yes, some resorts will be faster to get to specific parks but if you need to use a bus, offsite with a car is faster. As for boats (BC/YC, Boardwalk, Swan/Dolphin), my car ride will be faster no matter what with all the stops and offs/ons.

    You are correct. If I stay at the Four Seasons at $700 a night, I am not going to save a penny. If I stay at WBC, Windsor Hills, Orange Lake, or a plethora of other available rentals, I am going to save money, even on the cheapest Value resort.
     
  7. 2Pirates2Princesses

    2Pirates2Princesses DIS Veteran

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    This is a nice synopsis of the benefits of both options.
     
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2017
  8. BeerMe

    BeerMe DIS Veteran

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    We have stayed over 60 times since 1995 until 2008 every stay except one was onsite (many at SOG) and they were all by air. Since 2008 the stays were about half onsite and half off....... only two of those stays did we drive - a 6 week stay in 2013 and a 10 week stay for F&W 2017 - all of it. All of the longer trips are offsite.

    I agree in general with BigredNole's assessment. The points are all valid and they are what my experience has been. The only thing I pretty much disagree with is the "Disney bubble." Many people cite that and in my opinion is not always a good thing.

    We have trips planned for March for F&G and early December for Christmas. Both are short trips of about 10 days. Flying again. We have been at Christmas time about 10 times. Great time to go except Disney keeps taking decorations away.
     
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  9. Accident

    Accident DIS Veteran

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    I disagree with all the car vs no car points.. There is a lot of places that will save you money, even more if you don't park a car there that offer included in room disney (and sometimes other park) shuttles so in some ways, someone doing a central florida stay actually gains an advantage over onsite because there is other than disney no cost transportation options... Also some offer shuttles for things like shopping and getting to local eateries which may not cost you more (depends on where). Is it convenient to not have one? no. but a car is not a requirement and may not cost you a penny more not having it.

    also, separate point, nobody really thinks of good neighbor hotels which is commonplace in anaheim but they do exist here and disney does have a website for them.
     
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  10. AdamEfimoff

    AdamEfimoff DIS Veteran

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    I choose the four seasons for none of those reasons . First and foremost its luxury at its finest.

    FS buses are great
     
  11. AdamEfimoff

    AdamEfimoff DIS Veteran

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    I stayed at four seasons some will really love it and some will hate it. But I think the some will hate it will be few and far between. I personally think its good a better pool than most of disney hotels. And a spa and great dining. But the funny thing is even saying that its 700 a night I though I saved myself from Disney's Nickle and diming
     
  12. AdamEfimoff

    AdamEfimoff DIS Veteran

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    Don't vacation club have kitchens?
     
  13. BigredNole

    BigredNole DIS Veteran

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    Yes they do, but the price of the room skyrockets to $500-$700 a night for a 1BR and much higher for 2BR
     
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  14. Klayfish

    Klayfish DIS Veteran

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    It's all a matter of personal choice. I don't argue that the pros listed for staying on site would be pros for some people, but honestly for us all of them except number 3 would be negatives for us.

    I don't want to rely on Disney buses or the Magical Express, that would be a huge negative for me. I don't see an advantage to using my Magic Band to charge food to my room. We pack most of our food, but when we do buy, it's just as easy to swipe a credit card as it is to tap a band. The EMH lure does nothing for us, nor does the "Disney bubble". To us, it's just as magical to drive in the front entrance and pass the welcome signs (and do it in the comfort of our own vehicle), and the tram/monorail/ferry are part of the experience. You can make dining reservations 180 days out. I just did it this morning for Be Our Guest.

    I would, however, like the ability to do FP+ 60 days out. I fully understand why WDW does it the way they do however, so I accept it for what it is. It really hasn't hindered our abilities to do what we want, so it hasn't been that big of a deal.
     
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  15. BigredNole

    BigredNole DIS Veteran

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    I expect that to change. I seriously see them changing it to a tiered system where Monorail Deluxes can reserve 90 days out and 4 a day, other deluxe 75 days out and 4 per day, Moderates 60 days out and 3 per day, and Value 45-days out and 3 per day.
     
  16. 100AcreWood

    100AcreWood DIS Veteran

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    I agree with the FP+. I also wish we could book sooner than 30 days but I understand they are trying to encourage people to stay onsite. I'm still in the camp that doesn't like FP+ and would like to bring back the old system. We could debate that all day!
     
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  17. smiths02

    smiths02 DIS Veteran

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    #10 Can be really variable
    --You can also have a car if you stay at Disney resort...only you aren't paying parking (If you are offsite, you might pay parking at the other resort AND at Disney).
    --As PP pointed out if you are at an Epcot resort or MK resort, transportation can be pretty easy
    --If you are offsite, you are either driving altogether, having more than one car, using Uber or having a designated driver
    (If you are onsite, different people in the group can go different places easily on Disney transport, you can have an alcoholic beverage and not worry, etc)
     
  18. BigredNole

    BigredNole DIS Veteran

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    Yes, monorail resorts will get to MK faster. Epcot resorts will get to DHS about the same time walking and the front of Epcot slower through the back entrance. Then the buses to MK, AK, and DS are extremely slow. In a 7-day trip, I will save at least 2 hours in travel time by driving vs anyone staying on site. Time it from the minute you exit your room to the ticket check for the whole trip.
     
  19. bankr63

    bankr63 DIS Veteran

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    Great list @BigredNole. Interesting all the counterpoints to your points.

    I actually disagree somewhat with your point #1 in Decisions about not having your "own" car. Orlando has one of the most competitive rental car markets in North America, and for the several times we have rented, it was stupid cheap. lately we have been driving down more, but that is because of the cost of the airfare not because of the car rental costs. Even adding in the $200ish I'll spend for parking at Disney during the week, plus rental, plus gas, it is still way cheaper than staying onsite. If you have NO car (owned or rented) then I would have highly recommended staying on site in the past, although access to Uber now makes this recommendation dubious as well.

    Counterpoint to #6 onsite - you can also have your packages forwarded for pickup at guest services on your way out of the park when staying offsite, you only need to carry them from the gate back to the car. This is a great benefit that many aren't aware of.

    Regarding #7 offsite - but why the heck would I want to go to a Disney pool to be assaulted by the yellow jackets? The pools at my resort are just fine, and nice and quiet (well some of them) and have lots of fun features for the kids.
     
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2017
  20. spiceycat

    spiceycat dvc-blt

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    please also consider the new parking - if you want nice parking close to the parks - then that is an extra charge of $15 - since I have an AP - really don't like this EXTRA charge that Disney does now. Ap gets free parking - but in all the parks it is way in the back. the close parking is now an extra charge.

    Now the express transportation that Disney recently offered - to on and off siders sounds really interesting.
     
  21. robinb

    robinb DIS Veteran

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    I think this is a really great analysis! We stayed both onsite and offsite last year and I loved them both.

    Like others said, I would take out the bit about pool hopping. It's against Disney's rules and is also one of those banned topics of discussion on the DIS.

    I would add one thing to your off-site pros:

    12. Convenient access to off-site restaurants.

    When we stayed off-site in July we passed a lot of restaurants on the way to/from the parks and once we saw them, we planned to eat at them. When we're in the "Disney Bubble" and we're not reminded of all the other options we usually only plan on eating on-site even when we do have a car.
     
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