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Staying At A Disney Resort: Deal Or No Deal?

Mar 8, 2008
The first big decision in planning a Disney holiday is - 'where will you stay?' Understanding the options goes a long way toward making a wise choice.

Disney owns 44 square miles in Central Florida near Orlando that's incorporated as the Reedy Creek Improvement District. It includes the cities of Bay Lake and Lake Buena Vista. These cities are home to all 4 Disney theme parks, dozens of Disney resorts and hotels, 2 water parks, downtown Disney entertainment/shopping area, several golf courses and a massive free transit system that connects it all.

So booking and staying at a Disney resort can make your vacation easy. You won't need a car and Disney travel agents will be happy to make all the arrangements for you including hotel, meal plan, air travel and ground transportation from Orlando International Airport. They'll even throw in perks like Extra Magic Hours.

But convenience has a price tag - and a few drawbacks.
Staying "on-property" (at a Disney resort) is a great option for people with more money than time. Disney will take care of everything and you're pretty much guaranteed a great vacation. One call is probably all it takes.

Families with young children will find Disney's transportation system convenient and close proximity to the parks facilitates a flexible schedule. Toddlers can even return "home" for naptime.

First time visitors will also enjoy the Disney experience and find that there's plenty to do to fill a week.

Teens, adults and repeat visitors, however, might prefer a little variety - and that means venturing off-property. Sure - you can stay at a Disney resort and still rent a car to explore Orlando and the surrounding areas but if you're going off-property anyway there are better deals to be had in Orlando and Kissimmee.

Universal Studios & Islands of Adventure are loaded with the thrill rides that most teens love. The themes are a little more mature (Mickey - forgive me for saying so) like comic book heroes, Spiderman and the Hulk. There are also thrilling adventures like Jurassic Park and Shrek 4-D. (And Universal is just one of the many theme parks and attractions you can visit in the area!)

Shopping is more fun off-property too. After all, you can only have so many Disney souvenirs (and even they are less expensive outside of the parks.) There are 2 discount malls and hundreds of souvenir shops in the area. Some resorts even provide special transport to the theme parks and the shopping malls.

Large groups often fare better off-property too since Disney restricts the number of people who can stay in most rooms to a maximum of four. If you're looking at 2 or more rooms for your party, you could be better off renting a condo or even a house - and there are some great bargains to be had with rentals.

People with dietary restrictions - or who just want to save some money on their food budgets - might also consider off-property accommodations. Some facilities provide full or partial kitchens. Others offer "Kids Eat Free" plans. This can save a lot when eating 3 meals a day at Disney World can easily cost a family of four $1000 a week or more.
About the Author
Anne Marie Hayes is the author of "Disney World Deals." She loves visiting Orlando, exploring the theme parks and discovering Disney (and other) secrets with her husband Al, daughter Emily and nephew Robbie. Her mission is to help families realize their Disney Dreams. Visit her at
http://dw-deals.com
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