This post contains affiliate links. If you click through & make a purchase, we will earn a commission at no additional cost to you. Read our Affiliate Disclaimer for more info.
Happy Thursday, everyone! I hope your week is going well so far. My family recently returned from an amazing vacation at Disney World! This trip was a bit different as we did not stay at a Disney World Resort Hotel. In our last post, we talked about the benefits to staying off-property. Today, we continue with the challenges you may face when staying off-property at Disney World.
I’ll be discussing our non-Disney accommodations in a future post. However, in short, we rented a 4-bedroom, 3-bathroom townhome in the Storey Lake Resort in Kissimmee, FL. This is an up-and-coming vacation resort that is a quick, 15 minute drive to the Disney World property. Storey Lake is a community of vacation homes with accommodations ranging from condos to single houses. You can rent directly through Storey Lake or book from individual property owners on sites like Airbnb.
Let’s now talk about those challenges to staying off-property at Disney World!
#1 Transportation Required
You will need a car to travel to and from the Disney World Resort hotels and theme parks! This isn’t an issue for us as we actually opt to drive to Disney World! Thus, we have our car ready to go whenever we need to travel to the parks. If you fly, then you’ll likely need to rent a car at the Orlando International Airport. You may also opt to use a ride share service. Either way, you’ll need some way to travel from your off-property accommodations to wherever you are headed at Disney World!
#2 Tricky Mid-Afternoon Breaks
If you need to go back to take a mid-afternoon break, it can be challenging to do so and may require a bit more time management. I use the words “can” and “may” because the travel time will be the same staying off-property compared to some of the Disney World Resort hotels! If you’re not within walking distance of the parks and need to rely on Disney transportation (such as those notorious buses), it will likely take just as long to commute back to your Disney World hotel!
Our complete work around to this potential issue is to have our son take his mid-afternoon break in his stroller using the handy, dandy stroller SnoozeShade! Thus, we didn’t leave the parks to take a break! While our son relaxed/napped, we enjoyed a drink at a bar or just a nice shady spot to relax.
#3 Less Disney Magic
Another one of the challenges to staying off-property at Disney World is experiencing less Disney magic. When you leave the Disney World Resort campus, you are no longer in that “Disney bubble”. I did miss seeing Stacey give the must do’s on the TV and easily tuning into the theme park schedule. However, being out of this bubble did have its benefits!
#4 Can’t Charge to Your MagicBand
Only guests staying at a Disney World Resort hotel can use their MagicBands to charge purchases directly to their rooms. Guests staying off-site don’t have this luxury and it is a bit of a pain to get our your wallet each time! However, I found we were more aware of the money we spend since it wasn’t as convenient to use our wallets.
Additionally, off-site guests will not receive a complimentary MagicBand!
#5 Later FastPass+ Window
Off-property guests are allowed to book FastPass+ reservations 30 days in advance as opposed to 60 days for on-site guests. Additionally, guests off-property can only book FastPasses one day at a time whereas Disney World Resort hotel guests can book passes for their entire trip at once! This later FastPass+ booking window for off-property guests may make securing FastPasses for very popular rides challenging.
From my own experience, It was a bit of a nuisance waking up at 7:00 EST every morning 30 days before our trip to schedule those FastPasses! I didn’t face any other issues and we were able to experience every attraction we wanted for our trip. I’d say just be flexible so you won’t be disappointed!
BONUS: Ineligible for Disney Dining Plan
If you have your heart set on purchasing the Disney Dining Plan, then definitely don’t stay off-property! Guests not staying at a Disney World Resort hotel are ineligible for the Dining Plan. The Disney Dining Plan just isn’t worth it to my family and I, so we never purchase it anyway!
I hope this gives you some food for thought when considering if staying off-property at Disney World is right for you!
Be sure to tune in next Thursday for an all new post!
Until then… Cheers!!