Hello again, friend!
Let’s get your wheels turning about your upcoming vacation. Dreaming about it is sometimes half the fun!
And you’ve got a lot of decisions to make soon so the more you’re thinking about Disney World the better.
Some of the things you’re going to have to decide soon:
When to go
How long to stay
What parks to visit
What kind of tickets should you buy
How many park days you’ll want
What rides to ride
What rides to FastPass
Where to eat
Which airline to fly with
What to take with you
Don’t be scared of all these decisions!
But the most important decision is:
WHERE ARE YOU GOING TO STAY?
If I had to pin down the one decision that makes the most difference in what kind of vacation you’re going to enjoy, I would say it’s the decision to stay onsite or offsite. I have done both many times and they are vastly different. Both can be great. Both can be fun and of my two best trips of all time, one was onsite and one was off.
Here’s some of the differences:
Onsite: All your onsite transportation needs will be met by Disney, including transfer from the airport if you fly into MCO (Orlando International Airport). You don’t need to worry about where anything is.
Offsite: You retain control of your transportation- you’ll need to rent a car to drive yourself every where.
Onsite: You’ll pay more per square foot for your room.
Offsite: You’ll enjoy saving money on your room, but sometimes the need to rent a car (and park it for $20/day) negates this.
Day to Day:
Onsite: You’ll be close to the action and in the Disney Bubble the whole time. To me the Disney Bubble means great service, food, theming and magic for the kids the entire time.
Offsite: You’ll drive a bit farther to get to the parks each day, but you’ll be able to buy food at (close to) normal prices off property. You’ll also get a break from all the Disney stimuli if you (or one of your kids) needs one.
Onsite: You’ll depend on Disney for your meals- a variety of quick service, sit down restaurants, snacks, amazing desserts and Signature Restaurants. You can participate in the dining plan. You can also have groceries delivered. I love using Instacart. They are awesome! Use this link for $10 off and free delivery on your first order. http://bit.ly/SMPDinstacart
Offsite: You can stop at a grocery store, cook some of your own meals and eat offsite at chain restaurants if you’d like.
In addition to these main differences, Disney throws in a few reasons to stay with them.
The main one in my opinion is being able to book your FastPasses an entire month before offsite guests. In most cases, this means that you’ll be able to book whatever you like at any time of day. By the time the offsiters book their FastPasses 30 days later, the selection will be picked over and some rides (the most popular with the longest standby waits) will not even be available.
Extra Magic Hours are also a perk of the Onsite guest. That’s extra time in the parks that is only available to those staying onsite.
Free MagicBands onsite, they cost Offsiters $13 a piece.
Free Parking- if you drive or rent a car, you can park it for free at both the resorts and parks if you stay onsite.
Dining Plan: as mentioned above, onsiters can use it, offsiters can’t. It may or may not be best for your family, but I’m a fan when it’s done right (and I’ll show you how.)
Also, this one may not be quantifiable, but I think there’s value to it: Disney will do whatever they have to do to take great care of you. Another hotel may or may not.
As I write this I realize that I’ve become much more of an “onsite snob” than I realized. I thought I was a non-partisan party! I truly do enjoy being onsite far more than off and I will pay more to stay onsite if I have to do so. In fact, of my 10 trips in 2016, I only stayed offsite twice.
But your situation may be different and offsite may suit you perfectly. My husband sometimes prefers the calm of offsite compared to the excitement of a Disney Value Resort. Of course, a Disney Deluxe Resort offers the best of both worlds… but that’s a topic for a different post.
Happy planning, Smart Mom!
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