Sunday, July 3, 2011

Staying On or Off Property on Your Disney Vacation

Staying On or Off Property on Your Disney Vacation

        We go to Disneyland at least once a month for just the day. We live about an hour away from the park. Once a year or so we stay at Disneyland for a few days. This is usually for a special occasion or mini vacation. Sometimes we stay on property and sometimes we stay at a local non Disney hotel.

       The biggest advantage of staying onsite is the short walks to the park. The second greatest advantage is the Extra Magic Hours given to guests at the Disney hotels. You get to go into the park an hour before opening and visit the characters in Toontown and do a few other things. Since it is only Disney hotel guests the lines are shorter. Another advantage is the short walk back to the park at the end of the day or for a mid-day break with a swim. The pools at the Disneyland Hotels are larger, more interesting and I believe better maintained than the non Disney hotels I’ve stayed at.

       I suggest if you wish to be totally immersed in Disney then stay at one of the three Disney Hotels. You have Disney Character wake up calls and subtle and not so subtle Disney touches in your room. But, even the local non Disney Hotels have Disney pictures in the room and may even have a Mickey in their lobby. One hotel even has a Mickey on one of the lower roofs that you can see from a higher walk way.

       Usually the difference in price between the Disney and non Disney hotels is $20-$40 per night but I’ve seen it as high as a $100 higher to stay at a Disney Hotel. If I can get it for $20-$30 above a local non Disney hotel I’ll take it. That $20-$30 per night is worth the Disney Difference in service that you get.

       If you stay at a non Disney hotel check the distance from park gate. Is it a distance you can easily walk. Check if there is free or low cost transportation from the hotel to the parks. Some hotels have either started charging for transportation to the park, limited service to around park opening and closing times or stopped offering transportation to the parks all together.

       I’ve only been to WDW once but, IMHO I think staying on property is the only way to go. The size of the resort makes just coming and going each day a logistical nightmare. It would take time away from having fun at the parks. I feel it also add stress to getting there every day. If you stay at a WDW Resort you have access to free transportation around WDW to other resorts and all the parks. If you stay off site you also have to pay for parking and, if you did not drive to your distention a rental car. You could also pay a taxi to take you to and from the park but remember the park is 47 square miles and you pay by the mile. Also the Disney Difference in service makes up for what you would save. Staying off site also makes it harder to go back to your hotel to cool off, swim or take a nap. These are important thing to consider if you have young kids.

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