When staying in Orlando, you really do have a lot of choices … sort of. One of the big decisions that the travel sites and the travel books will alert you to is whether to stay on property or off.
And to be perfectly honest, Disney hospitality can be very nice. We like the hidden Mickeys and the themed swimming pools, but on our last trip to Disney World, my wife and I looked at each other and asked, “We paid $250 a night for that?”
A Little Perspective
Did you know that you can get a room at the The Waldorf-Astoria® for less than $250 a night? It comes with neato robes, too!
The fact of the matter is, you have many choices, and not all of them put you into 250 sq feet or so of living space.
I compiled this chart for a 1st week in March stay for a family of six …
Price/night Sq. feet Sleeps Doubletree $ 168 608 4-6 Holiday Inn $ 190 485 6 Caribe Royale $ 166 500 4-6 Caribe Royale (big suite) $ 316 1,260 8 Sheraton Vistana $ 218 497-910 8 Disney Value Resort $ 218 (2 rooms) 260 8 Disney Moderate $ 338 (2 rooms) 314 8 Disney Deluxe $ 578 (2 rooms) 400 8 Beach Club Villas $ 350 1,080 8 3 BD/2 BA Vacation Home $ 150 1,600 8
When you look at how much you pay, the hotel option leaves you wondering what the differences are.
Hotels – Tried and True
Hotels offer a standard quality of accommodation. They’re centrally located – and this is especially true in Orlando. Disney’s hotels are right on their property, and therefore the closest you can get to the “Magic.” However, they’re small, don’t offer cooking facilities, and it can be difficult to get off of Disney property easily (say, to visit another park).
The Vacation Home Alternative
Orlando boasts an amazing number of vacation homes. These are detached homes that are individually owned. They have full size kitchens, several bedrooms and bathrooms, and many have private pools and/or hot tubs.
You do need to have a rental car. The homes in Orlando are between 10 to 15 minutes away from the parks at Disney World. My vote is that it’s nice to get away in the evening to your own private home and pool, but some people prefer to be surrounded by the theme parks 24/7.
In addition, there is no room service at a vacation home. However, most homes are within several blocks of a grocery store, so stocking up on your favorite foods (both fast and not-so-fast) is easy.
For a family of six, these two differences add up to serious savings, both in terms of time and money. Having a car means we have choices in terms of getting to and leaving the parks. On a busy evening, we may choose to have dinner at one of the resort restaurants and pay for valet parking (or skip dinner and just pay for parking anyway). At the close of day, we can then skip the long monorail/bus/boat lines, and take the much shorter resort monorail.
In the morning, having a ready supply of breakfast foods means the younger members of our family don’t have to wait until everyone is showered and ready to go before being able to eat breakfast.
If you’re looking to take a group or a family larger than five people on a Disney vacation, and if having a rental car and a full size kitchen appeals to you, then you owe it to yourself to try a vacation home.