You've finally decided to take the family on the long awaited trip to DisneyWorld. Now you have to decide where to stay while you're there. The options may seem limited, but there really are more choices than you might think.
Important Points to Consider When Choosing Accommodations
Before you make your final decision regarding your accommodations, there are a few factors that should be taken into consideration. First and formost is your budget. Obviously, the larger your budget the more options that are available to you.
You also need to consider number of people in your party. A family of 4 can usually fit into an average room at one of the many Disney Resort properties or an off-site hotel quite comfortably. However, if your party is larger than 4, or includes several families or a large group travelling together you will need more space and you may want to consider an off-site vacation home or resort condo. Another option for large families is to book 2 or more adjoining rooms at a hotel.
What type of amenities are important to you and your family? Is privacy and seclusion a high priority for you? Or are you more concerned with the type of amenities available to you during your stay? Will you have a car, either your own or a rental? Or will you need transportation to and from the parks? Do you plan on spending the majority of your vacation on Disney property, or are you interested in spending some time away from the theme parks and exploring the many other attractions central Florida has to offer?
The answers to all of these questions will help to make your choice of accommodations much easier.
The Pros and Cons of On-Site Accommodations
Most first time visitors to the Orlando area choose to stay at one of the many Walt Disney World Resort Properties. These properties have long had a reputation for being clean, well maintained, and very family friendly. The excellent service provided by the Disney staff is also a big plus. Other advantages of staying on-site at one of the resort properties is the use of the resort's transportation system. There is no need to rent a car if you plan on spending your entire stay at the Disney theme parks. There is an extensive transportation system available to guests that will take you anywhere you want to go within the resort. However, if you think you may want to venture off-site to some of the other attractions, restaurants, or shows in the Orlando area then you will need to find your own transportation.
Your vacation budget should also be carefully considered if you are planning on staying on-site. The resort accommodations tend to be more expensive than off-site alternatives, and rooms are limited. It may be difficult to find availability if you are planning your trip at the last minute.
The Pros and Cons of Off-Site Accommodations
Many visitors to the Orlando area, especially first time visitors, are not aware of the many off-site accommodation options available to them. There are hotels, motels, resorts, and privately owned condos and vacation pool homes all within a 10-15 minute drive of the parks. All of these are viable alternatives to staying within the Walt Disney World Resort.
Choosing an off-site hotel or motel can be a good alternative to on-site accoommodations. Many offer free shuttles to and from the theme parks and other popular area attractions. This can be very convenient and can also save you from paying daily parking fees. However, shuttle times can be limiting and may not fit your party's schedule. On the plus side, many guests enjoy being able to "escape" the Disney atmosphere at the end of a long day. On the other hand, the quality of off-site hotels and motels can vary greatly and is often inconsistant, unlike the resort properties with their high standards of excellence.
Another accommodation option that has been growing steadily in popularity, especially among U.S. visitors to the Orlando area are privately owned vacation homes. These homes can be booked through one of the many management companies in the Orlando area, or even through a travel agent.
A vacation home offers guests comfort, convenience, and privacy. Often, large families or groups find it more cost effective to rent a larger vacation home rather than book 2 or more hotels rooms. Vacation homes also offer the opportunity to save money on dining out, as each home comes with a fully equipped kitchen that allows guests to prepare some, or all of their own meals during their stay. Many guests also appreciate the privacy that a vacation home provides.
Some vacation homes are located in resort communities and offer guests the use of all the resort amenities such as swimming pools, fitness centers, tennis courts, and game rooms. If these amenities are important to you, be sure to confirm that the home you are reserving is located in one of these resort communities. If it is not, you will still have the use of your own private swimming pool but will miss out on the other amenities.