I have a lot of people asking about budget saving options for family vacations to Disney. Last week I talked about saving money on food, and next week I’ll discuss why the value resorts are a great budget-friendly option.
Today I want to talk about the controversial topic about whether or not you should stay on Disney property. There are a ton of great articles that will give you great information about either side of the issue. For our last trip, we debated heavily on staying off property to save money and have some other amenities (like a kitchen and laundry). It is true that you can find great options off property for less money. However, after weighing our pros and cons, here are the reasons we chose to stay on property.
- Magical Express – The Magical Express is a Disney service that provides transportation from Orlando airport to your Disney resort. If you are flying to Florida and don’t need a car for other purposes, this is a great service. You’ll want to call ahead of time and give them your flight number. They will send you luggage tags for any checked baggage you plan to bring along. When you get off the plane, you get to head straight to the Magical Express bus, which is a very comfortable, air-conditioned bus. You’ll be transported to your resort and your luggage will arrive to your room within a couple of hours. On your departure day, the “Tragic” Express (because who wants to go home, right) will pick you up at your resort about three hours prior to your flight and drop you off at the airport.
- Transportation – If you are going to Disney and don’t need transportation off property, this is a huge perk! And, really, even if you need to get off property a time or two, Uber is a good alternative. I love that we don’t have to worry about driving or parking at all while at Disney. There are buses to get you anywhere you need to go on property, as well as the Monorail and ferry transportation. You will need to plan a little extra travel time, but it’s well worth it in my opinion. I typically don’t mind driving, but I love that I don’t have to do it at all while on our vacation.
- Fast Pass Early Access – Fast passes are a huge time saver while at the parks. They allow you to jump into a quicker line for selected rides and attractions. I’ll talk about how this works in future weeks. For now, let’s just talk about what you get when you stay on property with Fast Passes. Typically, people with park tickets can reserve their fast passes 30 days prior to your arrival. If you have a Disney resort reservation, you can secure those 60 days prior to your day of arrival. This is really helpful if you are trying to get a fast pass for a coveted ride or attraction, like Frozen Ever After.
- Extra Magic Hours – If you are staying on property, you get to take advantage of extra magic hours either at the start of the day or the end of the day at a different park each day. You can find those on the Disney website.
- Complimentary Magic Bands – Magic Bands are sent to your home prior to your arrival. You can use your Magic Bands to board the Magical Express, enter your resort room, use your fast passes, check in to your dining reservations and much more! We LOVED getting our Magic Bands in the mail a few weeks before we left on our trip! It’s such an exciting package to receive! If you want to choose the color of your band and have your name printed inside, make sure to set that up on your My Disney Experience account at least 6 weeks before your trip.
- The Full Disney Experience – When you stay on property, you get the full Disney experience the entire stay. While this reason alone may not have swayed us enough to stay on property, it is fun to be immersed in the full experience of Disney. When we went last fall, we had two days that we didn’t go to the parks. One of those days was Halloween. It was fun to be at our resort that day to participate in a fun little poolside party and visit other resorts as well. We all still felt like we were having a Disney day without spending money on park tickets that day.
I hope this is helpful in your decision to stay on property or not. There are plenty of reasons to stay off property, but these are the things that helped us make the decision to stay at Disney.
*Another factor is that when we went, our girls were performing with Indiana Youth Ballet. So, it was really nice to stay with the group and that definitely was a factor in our decision. I didn’t list it though, because this won’t be the case for most of you.
Check out all of my Magical Mondays posts here.