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Off Site Villa v On Site Resort at Walt Disney World

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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?

1. Bedrooms
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.

Reunion Resort Olando Florida

2. Space
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.

Reunion Resort Orlando Florida

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.

Reunion Resort 106
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.

Reunion Resort Orlando Florida

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.

Legoland

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.

Reunion Resort 599 pool

8. Cost
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.

Passes (2)

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10 Comments

  • Reply
    Emma
    28th March 2016 at 8:49 am

    We’ve always stayed in a villa, mainly for the space as with young children we wanted to be able to put them down for a nap and not have to creep around in the evenings! The villas offer so much more space than a hotel, the children love having their own pool and, for us, it was good to be able to have some non-Disney downtime. We have though been to some of the resort hotels to check them out and had dinner at the Polynesian which had a great view of the fireworks and breakfast with Mickey and the gang at another (I forget which one now!)

    Have an amazing time! X

    • Reply
      Mini Travellers
      28th March 2016 at 1:23 pm

      thanks Emma, we can’t wait!

  • Reply
    barjerow
    28th March 2016 at 10:05 am

    These seem very sensible reasons to choose a villa. I can’t wait until we our trip!

  • Reply
    Lisa (Travel Loving Family)
    28th March 2016 at 7:44 pm

    Great post Karen. I definitely think you have made the right decision. I worked at Westgate Vacation Villas in Kissimmee for a year whilst at university. The families I met whilst working all loved the extra space and amenities the villas provided. It is hard work staying in a hotel room with little ones unless you have a huge family suite with space to relax in the evenings when the children are asleep. Old Town in Kissimmee is fab too; plus you will need a car to go shopping at the tanger outlets! We are planning a trip to Orlando next year and we will definitely stay in a villa for all the reasons you have highlighted above. Have a fab time:)

    • Reply
      Mini Travellers
      29th March 2016 at 8:23 am

      thanks Lisa, I’m so excited

  • Reply
    Mummy ms memories
    28th March 2016 at 10:35 pm

    We LOVED our villas when we went to Orlando. there is such a thing as too much Disney, and sometimes a little down time is needed!

    You will have an amazing time! We loved Seaworld when we went too as it was so quiet, and a day trip to the beach on the west coast too!

    • Reply
      Mini Travellers
      29th March 2016 at 8:22 am

      eeek I am so excited!

  • Reply
    Lauracymft
    12th April 2016 at 6:15 pm

    As it was our first visit as a family and we were doing majority Disney, we opted for onsite. There are definitely pros and cons to staying onsite. When we go back we are going to do a week onsite and then 2 weeks in a villa so we can do the other parks.

  • Reply
    Lara Jarvis
    4th June 2017 at 7:05 pm

    Great round up – I’m currently doing my own research and definitely leaning towards a villa. Will be checking the site for the post holiday photos, can’t wait to see what your visit was like x

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