Planning your first visit to Disney World can seem like a daunting task. I had so many unanswered questions and felt my anxiety at an all time high while planning this trip. This was not just ANY weekend trip, this was a trip to Disney World! Much like everyone else, I wanted it to be perfect. I did not know when we would have the opportunity to visit again, so I had to get it right. So why did we stay off-site at Disney and how did we feel about it?
This post is not sponsored and we paid out of pocket for our entire trip, including lodging and park passes!
I started researching lodging and reading travel blogs for advice. Almost all of the experts recommended staying in one of the Disney Resorts. Another recommendation, booking through a Disney travel agent. While I was thrilled to seek planning advice from a professional, I was blown away at the cost of lodging on-site. Both grandmothers and one uncle were traveling with us. That is 8 total people in our party. When we received the quotes for booking on-site, we needed multiple rooms or two large suites. The cost was way over our budget so we quickly looked for other options and we opted to stay off-site.
Before I go any further, I have never stayed at Disney so it’s hard to compare to an experience staying on-site or off-site. However, I can explain the pros and cons of staying off-site! Also, we drove from Charleston, SC. While I know this is not an option for everyone that will be flying, you can simply rent a car from the airport!
off-site Options in Orlando
There is no shortage of hotels near Disney World. I found that we were running into the same problem with hotels, needing more than one room or multiple suites to comfortably sleep everyone in our party. Scott and I are not very pleasant without sleep, so it was important to find lodging with several rooms. We decided to stay at an Airbnb in Kissimmee, Florida which is a short 5-minute drive to the parks.
Our airbnb was located in a gated community with several amenities. It had a nice heated pool, jacuzzi tub, recreation room, and exercise room. Dogs were allowed so we were able to travel with our pup and avoid boarding or dog sitter fees. Mercy is a rescue pup so we typically take her with us when travel and avoid boarding at all costs.
The price of lodging was amazing. It was $1089 TOTAL for a 4-night stay. A suite on-site would have cost over $1000 per night. There were several retail stores and restaurants located nearby, including Walmart, Target, and Publix. We forgot to request a baby gate, so I made a quick trip to Target to purchase one. While there, I was able to get more sunscreen and other items that I left behind. Finally, it was easy to buy groceries and cook or prepare lunches, so we didn’t rely on dining out the entire trip.
Our airbnb was clean upon arrival. We rented a large villa with 5 bedrooms and 6 bathrooms. Each bedroom housed it’s own bathroom and closet. One of the bedrooms had two twins beds which was perfect for the children. The kitchen was large with seating at the bar and a large dining table. We were able to cook breakfast and dinner, and prep our lunch for the day. Parking was right outside of the front door and there was a large patio out back with seating, a fence, and grill. Overall, it was clean with modern and aesthetically pleasing decor.
Traveling to and From the Parks
Traveling to the parks from our airbnb was simple. We were located approximately 5 minutes away. Each day we arrived at the parks an hour before their official opening. Due to current restrictions, parking was not difficult. We did not have to wait in long lines for parking or entering the parks. I cannot compare parking to normal times, but for now, parking was simple and easy. I went on the trip expecting long wait times for entering the park via car, but it was not bad.
Will we stay off-site again?
Overall, I was happy with our choice to stay off-site. It was nice to run to the grocery store and pick up take out. I do believe the experience would be different staying on-site and having the easy access to the park. The ability to go back to the room and have the kids nap sounds appealing. Returning to the parks later in the day would have been nice also. We discussed future trips and until the kids are all over 3 years old, we will likely continue to stay off-site. Once they’re old enough to sleep in different environments, we will get a smaller room and experience the lodging in one of the Disney Resorts.
I hope this is helpful and cannot wait to return to visit Walt Disney World! I will share more about our trip soon and will include all things Disney and what I learned as a first-time visitor!