I recently decided to plan a trip to Orlando for our family of four. I’ve heard all the reasons why we need to stay in the park and about how awesome the Disney dining plan is. After listening to all the Disney crazed people make their case and doing some research on my own I seriously can’t imagine wanting to stay in the park.
Let’s talk about the Pros and Cons.
Yes, the Disney hotels are close to the parks and offer free transportation to and from the parks. In many of the Disney hotels you will still be on shuttle busses and monorails, so just because you are at a Disney resort doesn’t always mean front door service. The condo that I have rented numerous times in Orlando is 1 mile from Magic Kingdom and is actually quite convenient. I can however see how being in the park might be more convenient for people with small children who still require mid-day naps.
The famed Disney Dining Plan – yes, I know people love it. It’s a great idea if you are planning to stay in the park and money is not of concern. My family is totally fine to eat breakfast at our condo, lunch at the park, and to order a pizza, get carry out, or just eat at the Texas Roadhouse by our condo. We will all be fine without a Disney footprint gracing every single meal. Let’s face it Disney food isn’t the most affordable, especially when you have kids who only really want a bowl of cereal or mac n cheese.
I love the concept of the Magic Bands, they are a definite pro for staying on property but they aren’t a huge deal for me. One of the best things about them is that Disney will deliver your souvenirs to your room for you, it’s a brilliant idea. I just make my kids wait until the end of the day to buy their souvenirs and it’s not that big of a deal.
Disney resorts are first class, there’s no doubt about it. But you need to ask yourself what luxury is to you, as it’s different for each family. Luxury for me is having my own bedroom that I don’t have to share with my kids, having a washer/dryer so that we can pack light, and having a full kitchen. Also my daughter shouldn’t have to sleep with her older brother. Gross! My 2 bedroom, 2 full bath condo has all the amenities of home and SPACE! I would stay on property if my trip was a night or two, but for a full week I need a bedroom door I can lock (wink wink).
Parking and Transportation
The pros and cons here really all depend on your personal plans for the week and how you are getting to Orlando. If you driving in and staying outside the park then you may be paying the $20 to park at Disney, unless the place you are staying offers shuttle service. Here is what you really need to consider: do you plan to go to nonDisney parks like Universal Studios or SeaWorld? If you are staying at a Disney resort, with no car, then plan to spend $100 on uber or taxi service.
Price of a Disney Vacation for a Family of Four
$4475 Staying at the Resort
1 week stay package
4-Day base tickets
Disney Dining Plan
- 1 quick-service meal
- 1 table-service meal
- 1 snack
- 1 refillable mug
$80 Uber to and from two other nonDisney parks
$360 Other meals not covered by the Dining Plan
$1,360 4 day tickets
$80 Parking those 4 days
$650 Private condo with 2 bedrooms and 2 baths, 1 mile from the park
$1100 Food total for week
$240 Car rental if needed
Total savings by not staying on property – $1485
Having my own bedroom and the freedom to go wherever – Priceless