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Does your family stay on-site or off-site when you travel to Walt Disney World?

On-site or off-site? When planning a trip to Walt Disney World, deciding where to stay can be one of the biggest parts of your planning. For some, this is easy; for others, they really need to weigh out the pros and cons.

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When I was growing up, my parents had a time-share in Kissimmee, so we stayed there when we were in Florida for vacation. However, since getting married and starting our own family, we have always stayed on property. For us, it comes down to a few reasons:


  • Magical Express – it’s so nice that you don’t have to worry about scheduling/paying for transportation from the airport to your hotel
  • We have young children, so we like staying onsite and being able to get back to the hotel easily for an afternoon nap.
  • We often travel with my in-laws, so staying on-site allows us to use Disney transportation and split up as needed, without requiring two vehicles.


  • We always take advantage of Extra Magic Hours and even plan our park days around them.
  • We like being able to book our FastPasses 60 days in advance instead of just 30.

It’s Disney!

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  • We love the Disney feel that we get from staying at the on-site resorts. I know this doesn’t make sense to non-Disney fans, but the rest of you will get it. Just walking into the lobby to check in is a fun experience!
  • You don’t have to leave the “Disney bubble” after the parks are closed for the day.
  • We love to explore our resort and find all the extra Disney touches, some hidden and some right out in the open!

We’ve always said that after our children are done the afternoon nap stage, we will explore off-site options. I know that many people find them cheaper and a better fit for their families. I’m definitely interested in saving money, but it will be a hard change for me and I’ll really miss staying in the resorts that we’ve grown to love.  And who knows? Maybe we’ll decide that the benefits of staying on-site outweigh the potential cost savings and we’ll end up continuing to stay on Disney property!

As I said, we haven’t stayed off property in years, but here are a few of the pros and cons I can see:


  • Potential to be cheaper
  • May have complimentary breakfast (and evening food, depending on where you stay)
  • Gives you a chance to get out of the Disney bubble – I like being immersed in Disney, but there are many who don’t and need a little breathing room.


  • Transportation – must have your own vehicle or use the hotel’s shuttles. Many of the local hotels offer shuttles to the theme parks, but they often run on inconvenient schedules.
  • Must pay for parking at the theme parks.
  • May take more time to get back to your hotel from the theme parks

So, tell me – does your family stay on-site or off-site? What makes it work for you?

Leah grew up in a little farming town in Illinois, right on the Mississippi River. Her Chicago-born husband, David, left the city for her, and they're now raising their three children (Jacob, Jonah and Lydia) just 12 miles from her hometown. As the Senior Editor of the DIS (wdwinfo.com), Leah spends a lot of time writing about, reading about, and discussing Disney. So, it should come as no surprise that one of her family's favorite ways to spend time is going to Walt Disney World and traveling on Disney Cruise Line. She also enjoys shopping, watching movies with her husband and doing crafts with and for her kids.


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