Mulling Over Lodging Options for Disney World Trip

My family is planning a one-week trip to Disney World next year. As of next spring it will be 10 years since we’ve done a full dedicated week-long vacation at Disney World. What? Why that long?

Yes, my family loves Disney. But, we actually prefer a cruise on Disney Cruise Line over the parks. Over the past several years, we’ve only visited the parks for 1-2 days before a cruise or before heading to the beach.

However, this time we decided to commit to a full week in the parks. My husband didn’t get to visit Animal Kingdom with me and my kids last year, and he’s never been to the new Avatar section. In my opinion, Flight of Passage is the coolest, most innovative ride in the parks.

In addition, the new Star Wars section of Hollywood Studios opens this year. It looks really awesome, and my boys are dying to see it.

Plus, now that my kids are older, traipsing around the parks is admittedly getting easier. I was shocked at how relatively easy it was for me at Animal Kingdom last year with my three kids.

So, next year my husband and I decided we would suffer through the endless walking, heat, rain and lines to see everything at Disney World. And, we may as well see Universal while we’re in the neighborhood. I’m tired already!

Even though we’re still about a year away from our trip, we need to make a decision on our lodging soon. One of the options we are considering fills up fast at 11 months out!

Should You Use Points on Disney Springs Resort Area Hotels that Offer On-site Disney Perks?

Photo by Jorge Martínez on Unsplash

Option #1: Rental House

How lovely would it be to stay for a week in a 3-4 bedroom house with its own private pool and hot tub? Our days off from the parks would be so relaxing.

Some rental houses have game rooms with ping-pong and pool tables. I would soak my tired feet in the hot tub every single night.

As I wrote last month, I don’t believe that staying at an on-site Disney resort is required to fully enjoy a Disney World vacation. A large, off-site house would be a dream. Last summer, my family felt spoiled by staying in a 1900-square-foot condo on the beach.

Pros: Renting a private house would give us space and a private pool at a reasonable cost (many rentals are in the $100-$200 range per night)

Cons: With staying off-site, we would only have 30-day FastPass+ reservations instead of 60-day. Transportation is trickier. We would have to rent a car and deal with traffic after a long day at the parks. If my family wants to split up and leave the park at different times, we would have to take a Lyft or rent a second car.

Option #2: DVC Rental

I’ve rented DVC points twice in the past with no issues. It was a very convenient way to stay in an on-site deluxe resort and pay less than Disney deluxe prices. Plus, DVC has 2-bedroom condos that provide the extra space we crave.

For a few years now, I’ve had my eye on Disney’s Beach Club resort. We ate at Beaches & Cream during a previous trip, and we all drooled over the pool area. Stormalong Bay (the pool area) is like a mini water park with a small lazy river and sand-bottom pools.

DVC starts taking reservations 11 months in advance, and the most popular resorts (like this one) fill up very quickly. If we’re going to rent DVC points for the Beach Club, we need to decide soon.

Pros: Beach Club Resort is super convenient. It’s not too large to walk around, even after a long day at the parks. It has an awesome pool area and restaurants. A two-bedroom condo would have plenty of room for all of us. We could reserve FastPass+ at 60 days out. Transportation to the parks is convenient and free. Wow, there are a lot of pros for renting DVC points.

Cons: The big one is cost. While renting DVC points is cheaper than paying the Disney price, a two-bedroom condo in the summer is still a big expense. It will run at least twice as much as many off-site rentals would cost. Also, the two-bedroom villa would not have as much space as an off-site house, and we wouldn’t have our own private pool/hot tub.

Mulling Over Lodging Options for Disney World Trip

Photo by Heather Maguire on Unsplash

A Solid Compromise?

My ideal lodging at Disney would be an off-site condo that still has on-site benefits (like the Disney Springs Area Resorts or the two additional Hilton resorts). As far as I can tell, that doesn’t exist. We would have to get two regular hotel rooms, which normally don’t have kitchens or many places to sit.

A compromise might be to stay at a condo resort like Wyndham Bonnet Creek (see Leana’s review) that has larger condos and Disney park bus transportation for a fee. That way, we could still get the extra space we need plus awesome pools and the option to return to the condo at different times. We wouldn’t get the 60-day FastPass+ reservations or a private pool and hot tub though.

Where are you planning to stay on your next trip to Disney World?

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Author: Nancy

Nancy lives near Dallas, Texas, with her husband and three kids. Her favorite vacations include the beach, cruising and everything Disney.

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11 thoughts on “Mulling Over Lodging Options for Disney World Trip

  1. For what it’s worth, if we ever do a dedicated week in Disney (totally possible with new Star Wars land), I would look at 2-bedroom unit at Wyndham Bonnet Creek. I thought it was a great option when we stayed there. My kids loved it, but the resort wasn’t so “tricked out” that I would feel bad leaving it for most of the day. And as you know, the price is great compared to nearby options. Not as great as private houses maybe, but still.

    • Yeah, we would consider it. We wouldn’t have to book it so far in advance either. Funny though, that’s where we stayed on our last full-week Disney trip! I’m also seriously considering a DVC rental for the cheaper nights (Sunday through Thursday). Even though some studios fit 5 people, I wouldn’t want us to all be in one room. But a few of the 1-bedroom villas would work, having our 3 kids sleep in the living room area.

  2. Our next trip we will stay on site, as we have in the past. IMO the benefits outweigh the extra space you get staying off-site. Plus, we’re barely in our room anyway.

    1. Port Orleans Riverside. Rooms with a trundle bed for a family of 5. Will be very tight though.
    2. A suite at Art of Animation. Sleeps 6.
    3. Two rooms at Pop Century.

    I did look at renting points at Beach Club like you mentioned, but that’s also pricey and I don’t like being locked in with no cancellation options.

    If you decide to stay off site, know that the chances of securing fast passes for any of the Star Wars attractions will be zero and standby will have triple digit waits. Probably the same deal for the relatively new Slinky Dog Dash at Hollywood Studios as well. Flight of Passage at AK will have similar availability. But if that’s no biggie to you, then I could see the allure of Bonnet Creek.

    • @projectx I’m not a huge fan of Port Orleans Riverside. We did a suite at Art of Animation for one night. I’d consider staying at Caribbean Beach again, but for the most part I want to stay somewhere new (to us). So far the Star Wars section isn’t doing FastPass+, right? I suppose that could change before I get there next year. I do love staying on-site. So many options to consider!

      • Star Wars isn’t doing FPs for the soft opening early this fall. Then there will be some sort of reservation system in place they haven’t divulged yet. Once it settles in, I cannot imagine them not using the FP system

  3. You should also think about food and transportation options, will you be eating offsite, is DDP an option?? If you stay onsite you have access to all the Disney transportation so maybe you don’t need a car. DVC is way cheaper to rent than booking direct. I would not recommend a studio for you plus 1&2 bedrooms have washer/dryer and kitchen.

  4. I’m a DVC owner and going specifically for Food and Wine Fest this year so staying at my home resort of Boardwalk. Doing a split stay and heading to Daytona Beach. I’m also going back to visit AK the last time I went Pandora wasn’t built. I just hope I have enough time to fully enjoy it!

  5. We are here now staying at the Grand Floridian using our annual pass for the last time. Id look into a “magical deal” with the travel agency that gets special deals for Disney.

  6. I would say beach club for the reason that it is walkable to both Hollywood Studios and Epcot. It makes getting there a lot easier. I know Disney has an extensive transportation network, but you can end up waiting quite a while for buses etc.
    Also, the extra magic hours are an awesome bonus and no one is quite sure how Disney will handle entry into the Star Wars land. People staying onsite will have a jump on others. In Disneyland, you only get 4 hours in the area so it will probably not be situation where you can wander in and out at will.
    Disney has also added a ton of extra magic hours to other parks(some as early as 6am) to handle to influx of crowds. Staying onsite would give you more of a shot at getting in at that time and you will be able to get so much done the earlier you are in.

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