Mom and daughter on Expedition Everest
  • On Feb 26, 2010
    Laxman Asked Note: This answer was provided prior to the change to planDisney and may still contain references to Disney Parks Moms Panel.

    Do I need to stay at a resort? We're tight on money.

    Hi!

    You do not have to stay at the Walt Disney World Resort.  You can stay off site and just visit a theme park for the day.  So for example, you could drive to the Magic Kingdom in the morning and then return to your hotel that night; the next day you could drive to Epcot, etc.

    If you are trying to save money, you should compare the off-site hotel to the price of a Disney Value Resort:  one of the All-Star resorts or Pop Century.  Be sure to also include the cost of parking at a theme park, which is free for guests staying in a Walt Disney World Resort hotel.  You should also factor in the cost of getting from the airport to your off site hotel or the cost of a rental car.  If you are relying on a hotel shuttle to get you to the parks, be sure to ask how often it runs, etc.  Disney buses run every 15 to 20 minutes but they only service Walt Disney World Resort hotels and the Swan and Dolphin, which are independent hotels on property.

    I also suggest thinking about where you will be eating, especially dinner.  Generally speaking, I think it is less expensive to eat outside of Walt Disney World.  That works well if you will be leaving the parks around dinner time to eat and then return to your hotel.  It doesn't work so well, in my opinion, if you are leaving just for a meal outside and then returning to the parks, because of the time it takes to do that.  If you are going to eat dinner inside Walt Disney World then you should consider the Disney Dining Plan when evaluating the cost benefit of staying off property.  The Disney Dining Plan is only available to guests staying in a Walt Disney World hotel, and if used properly it can save a lot of money.

    I have stayed on and off property many times over the years.  It's never an easy decision.  Good luck and write back if you have any more questions!
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Meet the Panelist: Bernie, Maryland

I am an engineer with NASA with prior Air Force service. My wife and I have two boys, ages 13 and 8. At home, I'm known as the "Disney Guy" and I've enjoyed helping guests plan their Walt Disney World, Disney Cruise Line, and Disneyland vacations. Learn More About Bernie

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