What is your hotel budget for a Walt Disney World trip?

October 20, 2018, 5:26 PM · Even with Disney's recent price changes, for some visitors, the biggest expense in their Disney World vacations will be the hotel stay. While it's certainly possible to bunk down near Disney for less than the cost of daily tickets to the parks, many fans prefer to stay on-site. And that means paying more.

Disney does offer a wide range of price options for its more than two dozen on-property hotels. It also offers a time share option, the Disney Vacation Club, that can change the math on hotels stays. Each price tier comes with its own benefits and compromises.

Disney's Value Resorts (rooms sizes are approximately 260 square feet, with double beds, and rates typically run $100-200 a night): Disney's Art of Animation Resort (864 rooms /1,120 family suites), Disney's All-Star Sports Resort (1,920 rooms), Disney's All-Star Music Resort (1,704 rooms/215 family suites), Disney's All-Star Movies Resort (1,920 rooms), Disney's Pop Century Resort (2,880 rooms), plus the Fort Wilderness Campgrounds (799 sites).

Disney's Moderate Resorts (approximately 314 square feet, with queen beds, and rates typically $200-300 a night): Disney's Port Orleans Resort-Riverside (2,048 rooms), Disney's Port Orleans Resort-French Quarter (1,008 rooms), Disney's Caribbean Beach Resort (2,112 rooms), Disney's Coronado Springs Resort (1,917 rooms), plus the Fort Wilderness Cabins (409 cabins).

Disney's Deluxe Resorts (between 340-440 square feet, with queen and some additional bunk or day beds, and rates $300 and up): Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge (972 rooms), Disney's Wilderness Lodge (727 rooms), Disney's Contemporary Resort (655 rooms), Disney's Polynesian Village Resort (484 rooms), Disney's Yacht Club Resort (621 rooms), Disney's Beach Club Resort (576 rooms), Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa (867 rooms) and Disney's BoardWalk Inn (372 rooms).

DVC Villas (average sizes between 339-465 square feet, with multiple configurations): Disney's Old Key West Resort (558 units), Disney's BoardWalk Villas (282 units), The Villas at Disney's Wilderness Lodge (114 units), Disney's Beach Club Villas (177 units), Disney's Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa (924 units), The Villas at Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge (449 units), The Villas at Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa (106 units), Bay Lake Tower at Disney's Contemporary Resort (295 units), Disney's Polynesian Villas and Bungalows (20 over-the-water bungalows and 360 deluxe studio villas) and Copper Creek Villas & Cabins at Disney's Wilderness Lodge (26 waterfront cabins and 158 one, two and three-bedroom villas).

With the average daily rate for hotel rooms in the United States running about $127 a night last year, with the average room's size being about 325 square feet, you're definitely paying a premium to stay on site at Disney. For Disney's most loyal fans, though, the benefits of being on site — both tangible and intangible — outweigh the better value in room space for the dollar available by staying off site. But just because you might be willing to pay a premium to be on site doesn't mean you are willing (or able) to pay an additional premium for deluxe rooms, too.

So what have you decided? Where do you choose to stay when you visit Disney?

Please tell us in the comments why you made the choice you do.

Replies (16)

October 20, 2018 at 5:38 PM

Universal deluxe can be cheaper than Disney value. UOR all the way!

October 20, 2018 at 6:24 PM

Off site is the way to do Disney on a budget. This past summer we got a 3 bed, 2 bath condo just 5 miles from the southern boundary of Disney property for $115 a night for a week. It gave us much more room to relax in when we took our midday breaks from the parks and the full kitchen gave us a place to cook quick meals so we didn’t have to eat expensive food on site for every meal. Yes, we needed a car (we drove our own) and had to pay $22 per day for parking, but that still comes in far below what you would pay for a moderate room on site. Yes, we missed out on EMH and 60-day fast passes, but we avoid EMH days because of crowds, and we still got FPs for FoP less than 30 days out and RDed 7DMT with a manageable line.

October 20, 2018 at 9:00 PM

Usually, thanks to special deal with Sheraton, my family usually stays at the Dolphin for WDW visits. We've visited every level of resort from All-Stars to Contemporary so seen the various differences. Dolphin is great for location and facilities and fits our needs pretty well.

October 20, 2018 at 9:19 PM

I stayed at my timeshare. I traded for DVC 1
Bedroom suite at Old Key West once. Almost free.

October 21, 2018 at 2:38 AM

I stay Off site in my own home as we live 45 min from Disney World

October 21, 2018 at 6:27 AM

I have stayed in hotels at every level (except Villas) - and would gladly stay at Deluxe Resort every time. However, due to the overwhelming overall costs of a Disney Vacation, I usually have to defer to a Value room.

I have also stayed off site, which is okay. But for me there's no better way to do Disney than stay on site. The free transport, package delivery, being able to split up the family to go in different directions and always get back to the same place, as well as that cohesive "problem-free" atmosphere, just makes the experience better when you stay on site.

OF course that means Disney meals, Disney drinks, Disney shopping, Disney entertainment, Disney bottles of water, etc; etc; And all those premium "Disney Prices" means that the Value Resorts get my attention most often to defer the overall costs.

And, honestly, what I enjoy most about the higher priced hotels are the grounds and locations more than the rooms and atmosphere. Sure, its great to be able to walk to the rear gate at Epcot, or take a boat thru the rivers to Downtown Disney. But in terms of room comfort, fun pool time, and Disney quality service, the Value Resorts suite me just fine.

October 21, 2018 at 10:26 AM

Interesting breakdown of votes. There seems to be quite a large group of people that Disney is losing to off site.

I have done a little bit of math and believe it or not, the best deal per person occupancy is the two bedroom at Old Key West. You can actually sleep 9 (tight squeeze yes), which comes out to being pretty cheap.

The DVC answer isn't entirely fair in my opinion because that is special arrangement. I have done Moderate and Value in the past and have loved Moderate. That would have been my vote if we didn't have the DVC option. I have stayed at Value resorts before, but they typically have been about the same as any hotel. If I am going to Disney, I would rather have some pizazz

October 21, 2018 at 10:38 AM

I stay just off site at the Wyndham Bonnet Creek resort (another timeshare brand). You can often find rentals from timeshare owners at fantastic prices, and the resort itself is very comparable to the quality and amenities of the DVC timeshare villas. You do not receive the early access hours or other perks like the Disney food program- but the thousands saved on the room itself more than make up for the differences!

October 21, 2018 at 12:15 PM

I haven’t stayed at one but plan to in the next year for two. I would only settle for deluxe or moderate though, as I feel WDW resorts don’t really have a great benefit unlike Universal hotels.

Why spend so much money to still be far from everything? I like the convenience & the short bus/water taxi ride compared to the long time spent on buses (I’ve had to take them although I didn’t stay at a resort). With deluxe being expensive & my family seems to love Epcot, Beach Resort is definately going to be the first stay. It’s actually close to a lot of other attractions like the Boardwalk & a few other resorts. It’s not about money spent it’s about what you get out of it, I just dont see it with a lot of Disney resorts unless you spend a lot.

October 21, 2018 at 1:46 PM

I’ve stayed as close as 1 mile away from the Disney gates and nothing compares to staying on-site.

Walt Disney World is too big and too spread out for even a mile commute to be comfortable.

It’s almost priceless to be able to hop onto a Resort Disney bus/Monorail after a long day at the parks than have to deal with I-4 traffic back to a hotel off property.

October 21, 2018 at 3:22 PM

I fortunately have friends that live in Florida about 20 minutes from Walt Disney World, so it makes more sense for me to just stay with them and save on costs. Even if that wasn't the case, I can't imagine doing a Florida trip without spending some time at destinations other than WDW (especially when IOA is my favorite theme park), so I'm more likely to stay at an off-site location for ease of access to several different tourist activities. Now, in the event I was doing a strictly WDW trip and wanted the full Disney experience, I'd probably opt for moderate...value seems too limited in amenities to be worth the upcharge from an off-site hotel, and if I'm going to be spending all day in the parks the extra cost of a deluxe isn't worth it to me.

October 22, 2018 at 1:26 AM

As we are visiting from Germany and always 14 days+ (to make the most use of jet-lag accommodation and expensive air travel prices) is just not feasible for us to stay on-site. So we always rent a private villa 20mins from Disney for a rate of $85 a night with private pool and other "premium" features. I also found it very problematic to even book an on-site stay for more than 14 days, the hotel finder does not even offer such long time spans. We also buy annual passes to save the parking $$ for more than 14 days.

October 22, 2018 at 7:31 AM

We typically go with whatever provides the best value, but as Disney continues to increase its hotel rates and has added parking to the cost of an on-site stay, we are increasingly finding that off-site provides the best value. In fact, the new Endless Summer Resort may provide the absolute best value in all of Orlando when it opens next year, and might be our preferred option since prices and ammeneties are equivalent to a standard off-site hotel closer to WDW, but would come with the perks of staying at a Universal property.

For us, it used to be a toss up between a moderate and value on-site resort, particularly when Disney would offer the free DDP promotions during our preferred October visits. However, with the free DDP being trimmed to almost nothing and the addition of parking and increased rates at on-site resorts, they can no longer compete with the off-site hotels in terms of value and convenience.

October 22, 2018 at 7:40 AM

Off Site? OK, it may be cheaper, but I would have to rent a car. There went the savings. If I drive to the parks, I'd have to pay for parking. I prefer the value resorts, and I ride the Magical Express (free and no parking fees) and to avoid having to rent a car. How much time do I spend in the hotel? As little as possible. I spend most of my time in the parks. Why spend the extra month for a nicer hotel and not spend any awake time in it?

I have spent the extra money to stay in a variety of other Disney Hotels, and I even stayed off property a couple times.

October 22, 2018 at 8:25 AM

I'm staying in the campground with seven people.

October 22, 2018 at 9:14 AM

A lot of the off-site hotels include free transportation to the parks (and sometimes even free transportation from the airport). Staying off-site doesn't always necessitate a rental car for those arriving by air. We almost always drive to Orlando, so we have our car with us, meaning that we either stay off-site and pay for parking at the theme parks, or stay on-site, which now includes a charge to park our car at the resort. By charging guests to park their cars at the on-site resorts, they have made the decisions between staying on-site and off-site much easier for us - we will likely never stay on-site again because of this new resort parking charge.

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