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  • The Adventurous Alfords

Making Disney Affordable: Short Term Rentals vs WDW Resorts

The Polynesian resort on property.

I have stayed at almost half of the resorts that Walt Disney World offers and there are A LOT! I have also stayed at numerous short term rentals and off property hotels near the theme parks. I would like to think that I have a very well established opinion on what works best. The short answer is, different families enjoy and prefer different amenities. When there is no budget, Walt Disney World resorts offer some once in a lifetime experiences. But the truth of the matter is, most people and families have strict budgets to work with. So many times, people choose not to go to Disney because they think it is not affordable. But the truth is, there are so many options for so many different budgets. Read on to form an opinion on what may work best for you.

Walt Disney World Resorts

Walt Disney World resorts are all created differently. Just about every one of them offers something unique and special and all of them offer perks! The number one and most appealing perk of staying on property is your "extra magic hours". Your extra magic hours include entering the park before other guests who are staying off property. This is usually only an hour but an hour makes a huge difference when you are trying to hop on a very popular ride and wanting to avoid a long wait. Another perk, would be free transportation. But the different types of transportation vary on the different types of resorts. For example: your deluxe hotels will offer very fast transportation via monorail directly from your resort, like the Contemporary and Polynesian. Some of the value resorts offer transportation only via bus. Though that transportation is a perk that costs nothing extra, you are at the mercy of the bus schedule and must plan accordingly. Some of the deluxe and value hotels offer transportation via Skyliner. This means of transportation is somewhat quick and is like a Disney attraction ride all in it's self. (I highly recommend visiting a skyliner hub just to ride around in, and it is completely free to all!) Parking at the park for off property resort guests can range from $25 to $50 on a general admission day and of course, free for annual pass holders. With all that being said, free and available transportation is definitely seen as the greatest perk for some park goers.

On property perks that used to draw guests in, but are no longer available, were the free magic bands and priority bookings for fast passes. Meaning, as a resort guest, you were able to reserve fast passes before off property guests could. Unfortunately, fast passes are no longer free and magic bands are no longer free either. Resort rates on all of the Walt Disney World resorts have increased significantly over the years. Keep in mind that Walt Disney World Resorts also generally only sleep 4 to 6 people per a room.

Annual passholders still receive an awesome discount on Walt Disney World resorts so this does not apply to them as much. But keep all of this in mind when choosing where to stay.

Let's dive into off property stays!

Though Walt Disney world resorts offer beautifully themed rooms at most of the hotels, there is an ocean of short term rentals that design and theme their homes in an incredible overlay of Disney inspired Magic. There are dozens, if not hundreds, of articles that cover some of the best short term rentals that belong to Disney loving enthusiasts, and I have stayed at several of them. But I want to share with you the one from our most recent stay that I highly recommend to anyone that is traveling with a larger family who wants the biggest bang for their buck!

I mean, amiright? Or amiright? Just so you know, many WDW resorts have very little Disney character theming to their guest rooms... some none at all! So this short term rental located in the Paradise Palms community is absolutely darling! *Insert chef's kiss* It has definitely topped my list at best Disney off-property stays, by far!

Enjoy a fully equipped kitchen and a house that sleeps up to 10 guests as well as a small movie/game room that has an actual arcade style game and Playstation console. The utility closet was stocked with things like a carseat, a high chair, a baby gate for the staircase and even a stroller!!! That's less you have to pack for yourself and wonderful for guests who arrived via airlines. And though you have your very own private pool and hot tub, you will also have outstanding amenities offered in and around the community clubhouse. Scroll through the photos below for a glance!

Our family spent one entire day at the club house swimming, ordering food and drinks from the grill, playing games, and enjoying ourselves immensely. We had so much fun hanging out with our large family at the rental as well. Nothing beats waking up in the morning to coffee with extended family while the kids take an early swim just out the back door. I felt as though this rental, along with its included amenities, with maybe a full day at Disney Springs as well, would have given us all the fun that we could have needed. If WDW is currently out of the budget, consider that a fun, affordable alternative with your family and friends in the future.

The house itself is less than 6 miles from Walt Disney World, but 6 miles in the Lake Buena Vista and Kissimmee area can run you about 20 minutes in driving time. Though this seems like a haul, some resorts on property with bus transportation can take that long as well, if not longer.

I also need to add that short term rentals usually require AC thermostats to not be set below 72 degrees. If you are hot-natured and like to sleep with really cold air, then consider bringing a personal bedside fan, though there are already ceiling fans in just about every room. This goes for all Airbnb's and VRBO's as well. Most of us slept comfortably with the AC set to 72, while others thought it was a little warm at times. My husband and I slept in the upstairs king suite and the bed was very comfortable as was the room temperature.

It must also be noted that this is a gated AND guarded community 24/7. That was such a nice bonus that gave us a sense of security. CLICK HERE to price your stay. Keep in mind that prices will vary based on the time of year you enter for your trip so if your dates are flexible, try entering different ones for the lowest rate.

So what do you think? Are you ready to book your trip? Have I broadened your choices on where to stay and how to save? Sound off in the comments below. And start planning that next Florida vacation!


The Adventurous Alfords

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