By Gwen Leron, Contributing Blogger
To stay onsite or not to stay onsite, that is the question…
OK, perhaps it’s not quite Shakespearean in nature, but once you make the decision to take your family to Walt Disney World, one of the first big questions is whether or not to stay at an onsite resort. For each family the choice is a personal one, but as with any big decision, there are a few factors to consider and the pros and cons of each must be weighed.
Our family visited Disney in August 2012 and our decision was to stay on site. Walt Disney World currently offers 18 onsite resorts to choose from, in three different categories: Value, Moderate, and Deluxe. Of course, each category has a different price point, so if your goal is to stay at a Disney resort, hopefully there will be one to fit your budget.
Here are some of the things that we considered before deciding to stay onsite:
Disney Packages – Disney offers several different vacation packages that contain things that guests cannot participate in unless they are staying onsite. Many of these amenities – such as the dining plan, transportation (see below) and special activities – were important to us.
Transportation – If you stay at an onsite resort, your transportation to and from the Orlando airport is provided by the Magical Express. The Magical Express will also care of your luggage. We checked our suitcases in at the Ottawa airport and did not see them again until they reappeared in our room the afternoon we arrived. Since we were travelling with two young kids, it was a major bonus to not have to wait at the carousel for our suitcases upon arrival in Florida. You are also entitled to use the Disney Transportation System that will take you to and from your resort and the parks each day.
Proximity to the Parks – Since all of the Disney resorts are on Disney property, travel time between destinations is minimal. Buses come frequently, so there is never a long wait. If you’ve ever had to wait for an indefinite period of time with two restless kids, you can appreciate the value this offers to parents! We visited in an off-peak season, so this may differ at other times of the year.
Car rental – Since all transportation is provided, there is no need to rent a car.
Convenience –At the end of a busy day at the parks, everyone is tired and just wants to get back to the resort to relax. Being onsite allowed us to do this; no need to get in the car, get into traffic and commute back to an offsite resort or hotel.
In the end, staying onsite is not for everyone. It is a personal choice based on your preferences and your budget. Frankly, it does cost more than if you were to stay offsite. For our family, however, convenience is so important when we travel. So naturally, choosing an onsite Disney resort was the answer.
Have you visited Disney and decided to stay onsite? Or did you stay offsite? What led you to your decision? I’d love to hear about your experience.