ON or OFF? (Property, that is)

Hello, readers!  I am glad to announce a brand new series to Shiawase Life

Krissy’s Kues on Disney!

From the fundamentals of planning your first trip, to fun highlights about tours and other magical things all around the world – this is YOUR forum for all things Disney.

If you have any specific questions or suggestions for Disney-related topics, please send them to khiguchi AT gmail DOT com and I’d be happy to address them in future posts!

Now without further ado…here’s TAKE ONE: Planning a Disney Vacation, Pt 1: Staying ON vs OFF Property.

When planning a trip to Walt Disney World (WDW) there are many variables to consider, notably:

  1. What will be your mode of transportation?
  2. How long are you staying?
  3. Have you been before/are you planning to visit again?
Notice that in these major three questions, COST is not initially mentioned.  Why?  Well, as a self-professed Disney lover and a former Cast Member, I can truthfully confess that a Disney vacation CAN be done on anything from a shoestring budget, to an epic 6-digit expenditure – it’s all about what YOU want to get out of it!  I’ve gone through the basics here and inserted my own .02 about what I would pick personally, but I would love to hear any of your comments and questions too, so please leave a comment if you have something you would like to add!
…and with that said, let’s get to it…HERE…WE…GO!
You can fly! (but then what will you do when you arrive?)
What will be your mode of transportation?

Ahh yes – logistics.  I am aware that when planning a vacation, thinking about getting there definitely takes precedence over HOW you’re gonna get there sometimes.  I get it.  However, this is a major consideration in picking out where you’re gonna stay!  And why?  Well…

Disney's Magical Express.


When you stay on WDW property, you get certain perks – including, but not limited to: themed resorts, Extra Magic Hours and free transportation.  This transportation includes usage of all busses, monorails, boats and the like, but also includes airport transportation in the form of Disney’s Magical Express.  So, along with the obvious cost saving (no cab rides or rental car necessary) you don’t have to worry about getting lost on the roads anytime during your Disney vacation.  With this said, if you were planning on adventuring BEYOND Mickey’s 47 square-mile kingdom – to say, perhaps that other place down I-4, you will probably want to rent a car.  Public transportation is a joke in Orlando.

If you would rather stay off property, you WILL need a car.  Nothing is walkable in/around the two counties (Orange and Osceola) that make up WDW.  You might find a good deal nearby, but keep in mind that you’ll have to pay to park each day ($14)* and before you book a non-WDW resort hotel, be sure to check its location on Google maps (or your map site of choice) to see where it ACTUALLY is.  Since WDW is SOO big, a hotel might say it’s 1.5 miles from WDW – but that could mean a 20+ minute drive to say, the Magic Kingdom.  So, just keep that in mind 🙂

Offsite hotel to MK.
Bottom line when it comes to transportation, what’s more important?  TIME or MONEY?
Krissy’s Kue: I personally really dislike driving, so Walt Disney Resorts are a good match for me…plus, I’d rather be crowded into a bus at the end of a long park day then battling it out myself against other lost drivers 🙂
How long are you staying?
…and are you going to Walt Disney World everyday?
Me and hubs - as you can tell, hubs would go to the parks EVERYDAY! 😉
From a ticketing standpoint, the catchy phrase that’s been in use for gosh knows how long stands true: The More You Play, The Less You Pay!  This pricing structure works hand-in-hand with staying at a Walt Disney World resort because with the convenience of being close to the parks, the opportunity for you to take advantage of the ticket add-ons like Park Hopping and Water Park Fun and More are definitely higher.
However, if you were planning on visiting Florida’s sunny beaches, other area attractions (i.e. LegolandWet ‘n Wild, Sea World, Busch Gardens) and WDW was just a day trip on your planning radar, it could be more cost-effective and convenient to stay off-property.
Krissy’s Kue: I call this a tie; if it’s a DISNEY vacation, stay AT Disney.  If it’s a FLORIDA vacation, it could be worth a look around!
Have you been before/are you planning to visit again?
This is probably the MOST important aspect, which is why I saved it for last!
...probably a ONCE IN A LIFETIME thing...
WDW fans come in all shapes and sizes, which is probably the biggest reason I always had so much fun working there – the people watching is excellent!  Along with seeing people from all over the country AND the world, there were certain…ahem…markings that set guests apart:
Yes, I made hubs wear one...
See, if it’s your first visit, you want to make it count!  If you think that your days will be filled with park hopping and Disneymania, by all means, STAY ON PROPERTY!  There is no better way to be surrounded in the magic of Disney than being able to start your day with a character breakfast (that you didn’t have to drive to) and cap it off with fireworks at night.  Seriously.
On the other hand…
Have you been a million times?  Are there things that you know you want to do, but you’re not frantic about planning out each minute of each day?  Do you know you’re gonna come back again in a few months or years anyway, so you’re not stressed about each detail and don’t mind taking a few extra minutes to get where you need to go?
And on yet another hand…
Are you going to celebrate a special event (wedding/anniversary/ family reunion/ bar mitzvah/ prom** …) and someone is TELLING you where you are to stay (like a hotel block, etc)  If so, I am not sure why you are reading this, but still…point being, is this something momentous?  How do YOU want to remember it?  (Hint: there is no correct answer)
Krissy’s Kue: I am SO biased on this section because well, we joined Disney Vacation Club (DVC) so we could stay on Disney property for every visit forever. (Okay, until like 2050, but I digress)  
So as you can see, there are tons of things to consider when deciding if you’re gonna stay on or off property on your visit to WDW!  As per my personal experiences, I’d recommend on property for MOST people, but not ALL!  Each situation is different 🙂
Okay, so now you’ve made that first choice: ON or OFF property…but that’s just the beginning…check back for MY recommendations of resorts in PART TWO of this magical series!
*WDW Resort guests can park free with their own/rented vehicles should they prefer to drive instead of take Disney transportation.
** Yes!  Some local high schools do have their proms at the park/resorts!  Those were fun nights to work and critique outfits 😉
Disclaimer: I am not employed by the Walt Disney Company; all opinions are my own 🙂
And for yet another opinion (and free, helpful advice) check with Megan!


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