True Confessions of an On-Site Snob (How I stayed at Hojo's, Had Fun, & Saved $500!


Earning My Ears
May 8, 2001
I have been to WDW at least 12 times since I was a child and have ALWAYS stayed on-site at either the Poly or the Contemporary. In fact, when we went two years ago, my husband and I vowed we would NEVER stay anyplace other than the Poly -- we love the atmosphere, the monorail...everything.
Even on our two trips to Disney Paris, I insisited on staying on-site and loved every minute.

Well, last month we did a four day weekend over MLK holiday. I had booked it was before 9/11 and the recession (my DH is a high-tech lawyer, so we worry...) I had booked us in the Poly, but switched in December to the Contemporary to get on the the postcard rates ($165.)

I was already VERY unhappy at WDW for getting rid of Early Entry when I was looking for some info on this site and saw the $29 night deal at Howard Johnson's Maingate East and just for kicks tried our dates and was surprised to actually get the deal. After some soul searching, my DH and I agreed that we'd give it a try --Hey, we were now paying $170 for five nights at HoJo's versus $850 at the Contemporary AND we wouldn't even get the benefit of early entry, so we bit the bullet and did it.

Guess what???

We had a GREAT time. This was the first time we rented a car and we enjoyed having one and found parking a breeeze (everyday we toured a different park and parked right in the front row by the gates). We really preferred eating off-site because the food is so much better at Benihana's or Bennigans and CHEAPER! We even loved the pool at Hojo's and the Jacuzzi.

Was it as nice? NO? Was it as convenient? NO. Was it as magical? NO! But is was okay, clean, convenient, and my daughter didn't even know the difference. We still went to Chef Mickey's and O'Hanas and breakfast with Cindy, but now we had plenty of extra money to pay for it!

As for taying on-site. we've been there and done that, and we know we will go there and do that again. We still had a fabulous vacation and saved enough money on our hotel bill alone to go on a great trip to the Grand Canyon at Easter. I'm not kidding -- that savings bought our airline tickets to Phoenix!

And we had PLENTY of magical moments -- if you want a great tip on how to have your own private parade at AK, see my post on the Parks discussion!

I'm still an on-site snob, but until the bring back early entry, I'll be tempted to stay off-site.

Now, all of you are going to beat me up, right??????

Thanks Cathy! That was so refreshing to hear. We too love the Poly and staying on-site but with the high March rates and no EE we too are staying off site!
I love to hear both sides and you are right the money you save and the great off site eateries it's a ton of fun! So glad you enjoyed yourselves :D

That is a huge difference in cost and if you don't use the room except for sleeping, it doesn't make a whole lot of difference anyway. Can you expand a bit on Benihana's? What type of food is served there? I've seen it listed on the giftcertificate list at one of my reward sites so I'm curious.

I won't beat you up...we stayed off-site for many years when my DS was young and we ALWAYS had a wonderful time. We also loved the affordablity. Hey, as long as you're with your family and having fun...well, what more could you ask for?! Glad to hear you had such a good time! :D

Hi cathy:

Can you tell me how long it takes to get to one of the wdw parks from the howard johnson.
Also is it looking old inside the room or fairly new, and the room size small or large? Thanks,

When the kids were small we also stayed offsite to save money. We always enjoyed ourself and never were disappointed with the offerings. We stay onsite now because the kids are grown and we always wanted to give them a try. Like you mentioned being onsite has it's advantages but is still far to expensive but what the heck. I think the offsites don't get the credit they should thanks to Disney Marketing ploys and the such.. There are many very fine hotels far cheaper than Disney and there is a lot to do as a family offsite also..smjj
I'm an on-site snob myself, but $29 per night for a Downtown Disney hotel - that would really be tough to pass up.

CathyScotland, please help me find your "private parade at AK post"! With the search function down......
We have stayed off site also, but one thing I do find is its not as much fun hanging around the hotel. When we do commando style it is fine, but when we plan on reaxing we like on site better.

Can't beat $29 a night though :D
I think it really depends on what type of trip your doing. We took a similar "quick" trip last year over a three day weekend, so we knew we wouldnt be hanging around the hotel that much, so we stayed off-site and had no problem with it, but if its a 7 day trip theres no way im staying off-site. I just like the little things too much. Disney getting rid of early entry doesnt make a difference to me. That was never why I enjoyed staying on-site anyway and thats not a big enough reason to make me change. It all depends on what you desire. If you dont need the "disney Magic" it would make sense to save off-site. To each his own!
Thanks for posting this Cathy. It is so refreshing to hear that someone else has had a great time while staying off-site. I love staying on-site too, but the magic wasn't diminished when we stayed off-site. It's all about being with your loved ones. That - and a good attitude - is what makes the magic.
We've stayed offsite and we enjoyed doing so. I find that it's a completely different experience with us doing more exploring in the Orlando area and also having MORE money for dining and souvenirs. Of course, it helps that I don't mind driving a rental car and I don't mind parking in the big parking lots either.

I love onsite but offsite is fun too in it's own way IMO. :D
We just returned from a 10 night stay OFF-SITE at Vistana Village. We had a 2 bedroom luxury condo and had about as good a vacation that one can have and it only cost us $79.90 a night. Go figure. The idea that staying on-property is the only way you can have a great Disney vacation is and always has been a myth. One that Disney perpetuates to the max. Your family is what makes the vacation, Disney is just one ingredient of the trip to Orlando. We could be staying in the GF for $100 a night and if our 2 little boys weren't there it would be a lousy vacation.
Thanks everybody!

Sorry, I was away for the weekend and didn't answer a couple of you who asked questions.

A) I don't know what happened to my private parade at AK post, so i will post it again now

b) Benihana's was fun -- there are several Teppan-aki places right neart each other as well as the one at Epcot. The Japanese chefs cook right at the table and you get rice, noodles, soup, salad, and your main course. Very entertaining -- kis love it and it's good food. Most of them have coupons in those books you get when you check in and I noticed several had special prices from 5-7 pm.

The punchline of me saving that money?????? I broke a tooth (eating M&M's) on Sunday and the bill to get it crowned was $1,150. So, thank goodness we saved the money at Disney!!!!

One more thing....

for Cottontail,

we think it took about 10 minutes or less each day to get to the parks. We alwasy planned on arriving about 30 minutes before the parks opened and we got their very easily and parked so close we didn't need to take the trams.

Have fun!
Agree with you totally. Both on & off site have there merits. We enjoy on site with our 3 year old DD, especially Mousekeeping! She's been there twice. But as she gets older we will be going off site again to save money. As already mentioned, on site your tied to Disney (without a car that is) & don't get out to experience other things. You can definately save a bundle off site.

Thanks Cathy for the honest post!
Our friends are going on their first trip and staying off-site and I couldn't give them any good reasons not to. They will be saving a bundle too. If they don't bring back early entry we are going to consider off-site for our next trip also.
I never thought of myself as an "on-site" snob but I guess I because no matter the cost I
imagine giving up being right there in the middle of it. We have talked about it before and always agree that we would if we had to, if it was the only way we could go. We loved the Poly ..but our real true love is the C.B. and we cant wait for April when we are going back
Thanks for posting! We've stayed off site in a rental home and it was heaven!!
That's awful about your tooth,:(


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