Anyone planning a trip a Disney vacation has to decide the age old question: to stay on property or not.
I have made seven trips to Disney property; four of those were day trips while visiting relatives in Southern California and three have been multiple day visits that included lodging. I have only stayed on property once.
If you are planning a trip to a Disney Park please read the lessons I learned about staying on property.
1. Effortless Transportation
From the moment your plane lands in Orlando, Disney provides transportation to Disney World via the Magical Express. We checked our bags in when we left Kansas City and they magically appeared in our hotel room. The effortless transportation continues through your entire stay at Disney World. Multiple sources of transportation are available each day to take you and your family from your hotel to one of Disney's theme parks, or to Downtown Disney, or any other Disney property. Bus, boat, or monorail either way you chose it is quick and effortless that got us .
Another quick tip: Disney places transportation host outside each hotel during peak times to track the buses that typically run every 15-20 minutes. We were able to check with the host to see when the last bus was there and estimate how long our wait would be.
2. Extended Park Hours
Disney has extended park hours at a different park each day that is available to guest staying on a Disney property. The extended hours give you an extra hour either before the park normally opens or extra time after the park closes. This is prime time to explore rides and attractions that usually have longer waits.
It also allows you to get to the park early and enjoy the Welcoming Parade. This visit was the first time we experienced the parade and I just have to say it was a fun way to start our Disney experience off!
3. Disney Customer Service
Despite the amount of pressure that we parents self impose to make our child's first, second, fifth, or tenth trip to Disney perfect, sometimes things go wrong. Disney's Customer Service will try their best to make your experience a happy one despite the imperfection you experienced. During our last trip some of our photos from the Photo Pass got lost and Disney apologized and gave me the rest of my photos for free. This visit, there was some mix up with our Magic Band and The My Disney Experience site preventing us and delaying our entry into the park. Disney Cast Members sorted it all out for us, fixed the problem and then compensated us with extra Fast Passes.
From the janitorial staff to transportation drivers, to the wait staff at the restaurants to the security staff searching your bag. From the photographer taking your photo in front of the castle to the dancer in the parade. Every single Cast Member has the same goal; they want you to have a the most amazing visit to Disney World.
4. Disney Dining Plan
Guest staying on Disney property are eligible to purchase the Disney Dining Plan. Our dining plan provided us with one quick service meal, one sit down meal, and one snack per day as well as a refillable Disney mug. We had more than enough food. We had great meals. Since we stayed off property the last trip I can tell you it is expensive to eat at Disney! But with the Dining Plan we did not worry about the expense of the meal. If The Boy wanted a $40 steak, he had one. If I wanted Lobster for breakfast, I ordered it!
5. Daytime Rest Breaks
If no one has ever told you I will share a little secret known to those of us who love it there: Disney involves a large amount of walking. So much walking that my Fitbit committed suicide while were there the last time. Of course that was after it logged 3 plus days of my walking 10 plus miles each day. Being able to leave the park during the day and taking a short trip back to the hotel to rest for a few hours was invaluable. There is no way The Short Chic could have stayed up past midnight to enjoy Mickey's Not So Spooky Halloween party without a nap.
In summary, we have stayed both on property and off. If you are planning an Orlando visit, then I would recommend staying off property. If you are spending multiple days at Disney World I would recommend staying on property. I know the next time we go we will be staying on property again.
My question of the day: What is your favorite thing about staying on property?