Our first family trip to Disney was 10+ years ago, & it started with just one kid (who was 6 the first time we went)
to adding his sister for our second trip and taking 2, to then adding their brother, and taking 3, to getting pregnant and going the final trip (on site) as a family of 5, with one on the way!
Each time we stayed on site at one of the following > > >
– Wildness Lodge
– The Polynesian
& after that last trip, it would take FOUR LONG YEARS before I could bring myself to return, and tbh, staying off site made all the difference !
Don’t get me wrong, the resorts are nice-ish, yet quite EXPENSIVE, & Disney + multiple bloggers ALREADY do a stellar job of detailing which resort you should stay at and why > > >
so fyi, that’s not what this blog post is about > >>
Because it wasn’t until 2022 (and meeting my newest disney BESTIE) that we decided to try staying offsite (airb&b) and not trying to book all of our meals on site. . . & tbh I was MIND BLOWN at HOW MUCH MORE I ENJOYED OUR ENTIRE VACATION in doing so ! ! ! > > >
& I have vowed to share with the world, my top 5 reasons why I’ll never stay onsite (with kids) at Disney, EVER again (UNLESS THEY READ THIS AND DECIDE THEY WANNA COVER OUR TRIP IN FULL)
and even then, I’d really have to think about it > > >
1.) THE MOST OBVIOUS REASON, IT’S SO MUCH CHEAPER ! ! !
THE BELOW PRICING BREAKDOWN IS AN EXAMPLE OF A
7 days / 6 night stay at Disney World using our Florida resident discount as well as NOT needing tickets, since we are PASSHOLDERS
FAMILY OF 6
2 ADULTS + 4 KIDS
The Cheapest option w a Florida discount was the Art of Animation
SLEEPING ARRANGEMENTS 1 Q + 1F + 1 SS
The most Ideal option w Florida discount was Animal Kingdom Lodge
SLEEPING ARRANGEMENTS 1Q + 1Q + 1SS
Of course there are more, but if I had not stayed off site and was booking again, I would most likely choose between the above options. Obviously the price is WAY DIFFERENT but it IS disney after all > > > so GO BIG or GO HOME.
or, maybe GO AIR B&B ! !
Same dates, AIRB&B
Storey Lake Villa (4 miles from Disney)
6 bedrooms, 6 baths, game room + heated private pool + hot tub
SLEEPING ARRANGEMENTS 1K + 1K + 1Q + 1F + 1F+ 1BB + 1BB
There are THOUSANDS of listings on AIRB&B, my suggestion is to make sure you’re less than 30 minutes from Disney
I used KISSIMMEE as my location choice to populate the most options available.
There are some ENTIRE HOMES / CONDOS for less than $99 a night!
But be careful of location! Most of my faves ended up being in Davenport, and in hindsight I think Davenport is too far to have to drive home after a full day at the parks, but if you’re on an even tighter budget or are used to driving more than 30 minutes a day, just plan for a longer drive to and from the parks and lower rates and find a place here!
Obviously, the more you save on your stay, the more you can spend at the parks, of if you’re like us, the more times you can return and use your annual pass! We could go nearly 4 times for the cost it would be to go once and stay at AK. & it isn’t even “quality” over quantity, because when given the choice, I’d choose the airb&b each time!
2.) MORE SPACE
+ + SO MUCH MORE SPACE AKA “ROOM” FOR THE MONEY ! !
The listing above at Art of Animation is one room.|
We did this stay once, with four kids (in a “suite”) and it was absolutely miserable.
It was a last minute trip and we didn’t even have room for our suitcases to sit.
You had to pay to do laundry (of course) and the pools at this resort were packed with children, literal bodies on bodies.
I don’t like feeling claustrophobic on vacation, seeing as our normal home is open concept, so going to a cramped hotel room ANYWHERE with our children doesn’t feel like a vacation at all.
I like being able to have room to unpack, stack things away and not feel overwhelmed before we have even made it to the parks, and booking off site allows me that.
Here are a few peaks at the villa listed above > > >
There is not only more space outside by staying off site, but there is far easier parking , our own private pool & hot tub + a community pool if we get tired of ours, a massive living room, a game room for the kids to escape to. .
and so much more ! ! ! ! !
Far more convenient location wise to Walmart / Target / CVS/ Chickfila
Our last airb&b in Kissimmee was 18 minutes to Disney, but only 5 minutes to Walmart, which came in handy when the puking bug got us. There was also a Starbucks right outside of the Walmart, + dozens of locations that door dashed us a late night dinners or an early am order of donuts, which I assure you the kids found ALMOST as magical as a mickey character breakfast (we wrote notes that said, “Enjoy these Donuts from Disney” and the kids felt ultra special! !
+++ you can take them souvenir shopping at the local Walmart and save $$$$
Don’t get me wrong, not having to find parking by staying on site is SUPER convenient, but TO ME, the gains from being relatively closer to more food options (that weren’t all booked for months out) + drugstores and coffee shops was very much a reprieve from staying inside the gates and an ideal trade off
It’s QUIET & RELAXING
There isn’t much magical about an over crowded pool or food court area at the Disney hotels with most folks children running on little sleep an $7 ice creams.
So waking up to a sprawling back patio to sip a cup of coffee at was my ideal start to 12+ hours in the parks with everyone else and their babes.
A plus, is there also weren’t screaming children (outside of our own) anywhere close and no late night noises in the hallways or lobbies. It also was nice to not wear a bra and grab a late night bottle of water out of the fridge that wasn’t $5
5.) FULL LAUNDRY + FULL KITCHEN
If you have more than 2 kids, you already know how nice it is to be able do laundry while on vacay.
I washed one load each day and had such a peace knowing I wouldn’t be traveling home with 4 suitcases packed full of sweaty / wet clothes to wash and dry like I had years past when staying onsite.
I do know Disney has laundromats , but you have to pay to use them (and also wait) for your clothes to finish so the other thousand moms hoping to get a quick load it can do theirs too.
It was so nice starting a load each morning and moving it that evening (also with a puking bug) but the full kitchen was the nicest feature of all! !
We didn’t cook a single meal (hello it was vacation and I also don’t cook at home) but having a fully stocked fridge full of ice cold waters, gatorades, yogurts, watermelon, and more kept the kids from being starved from the time we arrived at the park to when we got home.
We also brought cereal and milk for (for their first breakfasts of the day) as well as pop tarts, powdered donuts, bagels with cream cheese & other breakfast items that allowed us to fuel up and make it to the park at opening without having to wait in a line for a mickey waffle.
Since I didn’t realize until this year that you could bring actual COOLERS with food into disney, being able to pack food items to snack on from open to close (and not have to wait hours or make reservations) was so nice too.
Some of my favorite memories were finding a shady spot and snacking on fresh (seemingly unlimited) watermelon with the kids, talking about our favorite parts of the day so far > > > and this alone changed my HATRED of Disney, since so many years past I had spent the majority of our “magical” vacation waiting in super long food lines for staving, exhausted children > > >and staying OFF SITE allowed all of us to actually enjoy being in each and every park, actually soaking up the “most magical” place on earth. . . vs resenting it > > >
(and yes, we still bought pretzels and popcorn and icecream and alllll of the yummy things!)
But they were SO MUCH MORE ENJOYABLE when the kids weren’t starving, or just running off a character breakfast at 7AM that we booked 8 months ago and had to wake up and rush to! ! ! ! (Post of our FAVORITE SNACKS IN DISNEY WORLD is coming up next so be on the lookout!))
& while I know it might not be for everyone,
I went to disney multiple times as a super stressed mom of 1, than 2, than 3 and never wanting to go back,
> > > to taking FOUR KIDS in my 30s, and having the absolute BEST TIME EVER > > >
& judging by the looks on so many other moms + dads faces, without coolers, water bottles, and in complete misery > > >
someone clearly needed to tell an alternate truth to “staying on site” to experience the MOST of the magic
> > > like I wish someone had told me ten years and four kids ago ! ! ! ! !
Dare I say, that Staying off site from Disney, makes enjoying the parks, alllll the more magical <3 <3 <3