The Harsh Reality of Staying at a Disney World Hotel

Staying at a Disney World hotel is a very special experience for Disney guests.

Grand Floridian Resort

Staying on property keeps you immersed in the magic during your entire vacation, and also brings you special perks that staying off property would not give you. However, while everything seems to be sunshine and roses, there’s a harsh reality to staying at a Disney World Hotel that we need to talk about.

The truth is that even staying at the cheapest Disney World hotels, aka the Value Resorts, can still cost you hundreds of dollars a night. We all know that, yes, but have you ever stopped to think about how you’re paying all that money…to barely spend time in your room?

Contemporary Resort

When most people plan trips to Disney, they plan to stay at the Disney hotels to stay in the Disney bubble their whole trip, and have easier access to the theme parks that they’re planning to spend all day in. 

Disney’s Wilderness Lodge

This is especially true if you’ve splurged on a deluxe resort, and you have the same early entry to the theme parks all Disney hotel guests get, PLUS deluxe-resort specific extended evening hours. You’ll want to spend as much time in the parks as possible to get your money’s worth, and make sure you experience everything you want to.

Art of Animation

However, that means that you’re really in your hotel to shower and sleep, which is maybe around 8 hours each day. Now, some families choose to spend a resort day at their hotel soaking up all the amenities and exploring the hotel, and that’s where you’ll get a little bit more of your money’s worth, but not by much.

Mickey phone at Disney’s Pop Century

Yes, you’re spending $100+ for each of your family members to explore the park each day, BUT you could be spending MULTIPLE $100s of dollars on a room where you just lay your head at night and rest up for the next big day in the parks.

Caribbean Beach pool

So how can you fix this issue? That’s the problem — you can’t. The only thing we can recommend is staying at those value resorts to save some money while still having a safe, comfortable place to shower and sleep, getting some of those Disney hotel perks, and staying in the Disney bubble without feeling like you’re being totally ripped off.

We ranked Disney’s Value Resorts from worst to best so you didn’t have to!

You can also choose to stay at some of Disney’s Good Neighbor Hotels, which have some of the same perks as staying at a Disney hotel, but many are just as expensive. Or, you can choose to book a Vrbo or Airbnb nearby for much cheaper, but you’ll need to have your own transportation to the parks each day.

Check out some of these INSANE Airbnbs near Disney World!

We know, this isn’t ideal, but it’s the price we all need to pay to just stay in the Disney bubble. We’re always here to help you plan your Disney vacations, so stay tuned to AllEars for all the latest tips, tricks, and news!

Should you stay on property, or off-site? We go over all the pros and cons!

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Do you prefer to stay on property, or off-site? Tell us in the comments!

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9 Replies to “The Harsh Reality of Staying at a Disney World Hotel”

  1. It really depends on your needs. Off site if you don’t drive you have to schedule transportation ahead of time at some hotels. Forget that with my family.
    With kids you might want to go early and leave for a few hours to relax in your room especially if it is hot. Go back to the parks at night.
    We have stayed at moderate resorts and that is the best bet for us.
    We tried Pop Century once and would never go back there again.

    To be honest, the bubble is better at the moderate resorts. Deluxe is way out of our reasonable price range.

  2. We only stayed off property once: never again. Although we have stayed many of the hotels from expensive, through moderate to economy, it’s the All Star Movies we return to again and again. We live in the UK and so many people I’ve spoken to have not enjoyed their holiday and it’s always those that stay off property. The ease of jumping on a bus: esp at night when I’m half dead and being taken back to my hotel, with no effort on my part, is pure luxury.

  3. For those who drive, I’d recommend Disney mid-level resorts such a Port Orleans Riverside. We bring our dog too. There is a pet place on property while we are in the parks. It keeps us inside the bubble and we have the option to drive our car to the parks. The hotel offers boat service to Disney Springs. And we are APs that go 5-6 times a year for a week.

  4. This has been my thinking for a long time now. Even though we only go to WDW every 5-7 years, the long flight from the UK justifies a longer stay and YET I still don’t think it’s worth it to splurge on a Disney hotel, seeing as we barely spend any time in it other than sleeping. We say offsite and if we pick strategically, we could stay somewhere that has transport or, even better, use the local Lynx buses to get to the TTC and then Disney transport to get around property. If we really wanted to get there quicker, we use Lyft/Uber and all of that is still cheaper than hiring a car and then paying for Disney parking. Adding that to the savings on the hotel, we have some money left for souvenirs and other splurges!

  5. Or you could stay off property and not get early entry, drive to and from the parks each day, pay to park each day (at the end of the day,when you’re exhausted, no thanks!) gas up your car (not to mention the time, wear and tear on your car, and gas if you drove to Florida),or rent a car if you didn’t drive to Florida. I heartily recommend staying on property!

  6. Disney Vacation Club is the best way to cut the costs of hotel stays, if you return year after year. They also give access to Disny properties around the world, Adventures by Disney, Disney Cruiseline & even trade for non-Disney resorts. I’ve been a Member since 2004. It has paid for itself

  7. In the past we’ve stayed off property and on property. We haven’t stayed off property since 2007 and we go to WDW at least once a year except during Covid. The traffic getting into Disney was bad not to mention the time we lost parking and physically getting into the parks itself. We now stay on property as time is money and it’s just easier to stay onsite. We stay at Yacht & Beach Clubs and appreciate the ease of getting to Epcot and Hollywood Studios