Any links in this post to a merchant may contain an affiliate link, which means that if you click on that link and then buy something, I may earn a commission from it. However, all opinions in this link are 100% mine and 100% honest. If I didn't believe in a particular product, I wouldn't recommend it to you.
One of the biggest questions people have when planning a Disney World trip is: should we stay onsite? Is it really worth the extra money? Keep reading to find out if you should stay on property at Disney World!
Several years ago, I would have told you that it was definitely worth it to stay on property at Disney World. But recently, Disney has changed or eliminated many of the benefits of staying in their hotels. This has definitely changed the analysis.
Honestly, it’s not as easy to justify paying the high price of Disney hotels now as it once was. But, for some people, it is still worth it. To help you determine if you should stay on property, here are all of the pros and cons of staying at Disney.
- The pros of staying on property at Disney World
- The cons of staying on property at Disney World
The pros of staying on property at Disney World
1. The Disney Bubble
Disney World can completely transport you to a fantasy world. When you stay at a Disney hotel, you can stay in this idyllic bubble during your entire trip.
For me, being in the Disney bubble erases all my stress and makes me feel like a kid again. I don’t like losing that feeling each night by going back to an offsite hotel. Staying in the bubble for a whole week allows me to completely recharge.
The ability to stay completely inside the bubble is the biggest benefit of staying on property at Disney World.
2. Daily Naps
A trip to Disney World can be exhausting. Not only are you getting up early and staying up late, but you are also walking a lot!
So, another huge benefit of staying on property is the ability to go back to the hotel to take a nap during the hottest part of the day. This is especially helpful when you have little ones.
Staying at a Disney hotel makes it easy to go to the parks in the morning, head back to the room for a nap, and then hop back to the parks in the evenings.
Walt Disney World has its own transportation system. So, when you stay on property at Disney World, you can go anywhere within Walt Disney World without having to drive.
Additionally, the drop off points for the buses are much closer to the front gate than the parking lot, especially at the Magic Kingdom.
Goodbye fighting traffic. Hello less walking!
For me, taking Disney transportation is also part of the Disney experience. It has a way of getting you excited for a day at the parks.
4. Lots of Theming
Disney hotels all have a theme which is elaborately followed throughout the resort grounds. Some themed are very over the top, while others are more subtle. But, there is nothing standard about any of them.
For my family, the heavy theming of the resorts is a plus because it adds to the fun. There are also little Disney touches woven into each theme.
5. Early Theme Park Entry/Extended Evening Hours
Each day, guests staying at Disney hotels can get into one of the four theme parks up to 30 minutes before regular park opening.
This can be a huge advantage, especially during busy periods, if you take full advantage of it. This will allow you to get ahead of the crowds and be able to ride some of the most popular rides before those staying offsite are able to get into the parks.
Additionally, guests at Disney’s deluxe hotels can enjoy staying in one or more parks up to two extra hours on select nights after regular park closing.
Only select rides are open during Early Theme Park Entry and Extended Evening Hours.
6. Early Access to Book Lightning Lane Reservations
Disney recently replaced the old Fastpass system with two paid systems: Genie+ and Individual Lightning Lanes.
Genie+ reservations can be made beginning at 7 am on the day you go to the park. There is no advantage given for staying on property for these reservations.
Individual Lightning Lane reservations, however, can be made by onsite guests beginning at 7 am the day of your visit to the parks. Guests staying offsite must wait until park opening to make these reservations. This can be a big advantage if you are planning on paying for individual Lightning Lane reservations.
7. Online Check-in
When you stay on property at Disney World, you can check into your hotel online up to 10 days before your arrival.
Then, when your room is ready on your arrival day, Disney will text or email you your room number. This means you can skip the front desk and go straight to your room. Talk about speeding up the check-in process!
Of course, the front desk is still available if you need them.
8. Package shipments
Another advantage to staying on property at Disney World is the ability to ship packages from the parks to your hotel.
It is a pain to buy a souvenir at the parks and have to carry it around all day. For Disney’s onsite guests, the gift shops in the parks will ship your purchases to your hotel for you. Just fill out a short form. Then a day or two later, drop by the hotel gift shop at your convenience and pick up your package.
Talk about convenience!
The cons of staying on property at Disney World
1. It’s More Expensive
The biggest downside to staying on property at Disney World is that it is much more expensive than staying offsite.
For some, the price of even the cheapest Disney value hotels will be too much. For others, the price will need to be balanced against the pros listed above. Are those benefits worth the higher price tag?
I believe the benefits are still worth it to stay on property, but this may not be so for your family.
2. Parking Fees
Up until a few years ago, parking at the parks and hotels was free for resort guests. However, Disney did away with this benefit.
Now, you will be charged a parking fee at your Disney World hotel if you drive to the resort. This is a big negative for those who either drive to Orlando or rent a car to get from the airport.
The parking fees may be seen by you as just another travel expense or it may be a deal breaker when it is on top of the higher price of the rooms at Disney hotels.
3. Small Rooms
Another disadvantage of staying on property at Disney World versus staying offsite is the size of the Disney rooms.
They tend to be a bit smaller than what you can get at hotels or vacation rentals outside of Disney World.
For some people, it is a no brainer to stay offsite where you can get more space for less money. Do you agree?
4. Very Few Options for Families Bigger Than Four
Lastly, Disney World offers very few options of places to stay if your family is bigger than four people. Almost all of the rooms at the Disney hotels are for up to four people.
If your family has five or more members, your lodging options at Disney are smaller and usually will cost more than they would for a family of four.
Staying offsite gives larger families more choices at better prices.
Staying on property at Disney World will definitely cost you more than staying at an offsite hotel. Yet, it comes with some benefits you can’t get elsewhere. Are these benefits worth that extra cost?
The answer for some will be yes, while for others it will be no. It really comes down to the value you place on each of the benefits of staying in a Disney hotel. By examining the pros and cons of staying onsite, you will be able to make the best choice of where to stay for your family’s next Disney World vacation.
P.S. Are you planning a trip to Disney World and not sure what you need to do or when? Do you feel completely overwhelmed by it all? My Disney World Trip Planning Checklist can help! It will guide you through every step of the planning process! And it’s FREE! Grab yours in the box below!