Later this month we are going on a long awaited trip to Walt Disney World and beyond with our Under 5’s and their Grandparents. We are staying in a villa off site and this is why!
We (well actually I) spent hours trying to decide where to stay when we went. I was very drawn to staying on site at Disney as I had become a little wrapped up in podcasts, websites and blogs all highlighting the benefits of staying on site – early access to dining and fast pass reservations being a major benefit. As I’m currently booking my fast pass tickets at 30 days out I can certainly see the benefit of being able to do this 60 days out before anyone else; however I digress.
Ultimately I weighed up all the pros and cons of staying on or off site and booked a villa. So what made me decide?
We are travelling as a family of 7. Ideally we need 3 bedrooms at least, 4 is even better so the kids can go to bed at different times. The Disney properties that have 3 bedrooms are few and far between and as a result incredibly pricey: those that have two bedrooms are much easier to find and therefore significantly cheaper than the 3 beds but that would have involved either us or my parents sleeping in the lounge. Not ideal.
With a villa we get to have a large lounge, kitchen dining area and our own outside space. We are planning to have days off from the parks and having this space will give us the opportunity to have some downtime in a relaxing way.
3. Own Pool
A plunge pool maybe, but with three little ones and all the stuff that you need to take to a pool that that entails, having our own pool out the back of the villa makes a dip in the pool a simple affair. We can go early morning, we can go late a night when the kids are in bed. It makes it simple.
4. Self catering
Being in a villa makes self catering easy. We can cook for ourselves, we can make picnics to take with us if we want to, we can get take aways in very simply. Perhaps more importantly we can eat anywhere we would like to and we don’t have to make lots of advanced dining reservations for all the Disney restaurants. The ADR system has its plus points but if like us, you have little ones, and you aren’t sure at what time of the day they will give up, the flexibility of self catering has lots of benefits.
5. Driving to the parks
Whilst one of the benefits of staying on site is the Disney transportation. The upside to driving is that once in the car my kids can collapse. They may even sleep. If they melt down when we get in the car I don’t mind. I won’t feel like I have to ask them to be quiet until we get to the room. It will be their own space and that I think will be welcome.
6. Visiting other parks
We would have wanted to visit Sea World, Legoland, Universal and Kennedy Space Centre anyway which would have meant hiring a car. Staying off site makes hiring a car more sensible and encourages us not to focus solely on Disney. Kissimmee has so much to offer.
7. Resort benefits
I realised we didn’t need to dispense with the resort benefits even if we booked a villa. We could book a villa with a large pool on site and other services too. There are a variety of these to choose from all of different styles and price points.
Ultimately for us it was significantly cheaper to stay off site and all the above benefits made the choice the right one for us.
We can’t wait to stay in a villa when we head to Orlando at the end of this month. Where do you stay when you are visiting Disney? What are your favourite resorts on or off site?
NB: Photos have been provided by Top Villas who have some fabulous villas in Orlando to rent.
Karen Beddow founded Mini Travellers in 2014 while doing what she loves most...going on holiday!
Mini Travellers is for parents looking for holiday ideas, destination reviews, days out and things to do with the kids. We also have family travel tips, activity ideas and all other things family holiday related. Take a look at some of our latest reviews for holidays and day trips in the UK.