Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Disney Days - Where to stay - Off Property?

We go to Disney - a lot. We like Walt Disney World - a lot. We get asked about Walt Disney World - a lot. (And we love it, so don't stop asking! Ha!) But I thought I would type out some basic info that I would have love to have known before I went to WDW for the first time and post them here on the blog so that I can (hopefully remember where they are and) refer people to them when they tell me they are headed out on a WDW vacation!

So, without further ado - here are my Walt Disney World Vacation tips:

First things first: Where are you going to stay?

Offsite: Here's the thing, I recommend that you stay onsite, if at all possible. (Reasons for staying on site to come.) But there are some Uh-mazing places at some Uh-mazing prices to stay offsite, so if offsite works best for your family or your budget - GO FOR IT!
They have everything offsite. From 6 bedroom homes with pools and game rooms, to 1, 2, or 3 bedroom condos, to regular old hotel rooms. I've had several friends who have rented houses, but I can't remember what rental companies they used right now. As they remind me of the rental company names, I'll come back here and list them, so that you'll have a starting place as far as house rentals go.
The condo options are endless - seriously. Be cautious about a 'too good to be true' deal though - as most condo places are time shares and sometimes they will offer unbelievable deals, but in the fine print you'll have to agree to a 2+ hour presentation about why you should buy into their time share. Yuck - not the way you want to spend your vacation time that's for sure! Again, I'll come in and add condo suggestions as people I know and trust recommend them to me.
The hotel rooms are endless as well! We have stayed at 2 La Quinta's in the Orlando area. Once was on our way to see a shuttle launch (so we didn't pick it based on convenience to WDW - keep that in mind!) - La Quinta Inn & Suites Convention Center. It was nice enough - not 5 star, so if you're looking for luxury go elsewhere! It is also closer to SeaWorld than WDW, so may be an option if you are looking into doing both SeaWorld and WDW and staying offsite.

(A super fuzzy iPhone pic of our room at the La Quinta Convention Center - I know you're loving it right? :-) We only stayed one night - I think for free with points, so I don't have any other pictures of the hotel. I don't even think we stayed for breakfast as we had to be in Cape Canaveral at 7 am or something crazy like that! I do remember this was the night before the "Royal Wedding" in England. Everyone was complaining about having to get up so early and we were up anyway, watching it while we got ready.

We've also stayed at another La Quinta for one night- this one was super convenient to WDW even though it was a few miles away from any park. Keep that in mind - when a hotel advertises they are " ONLY 3 miles from WDW property," they don't mean you are only 3 miles from the parks! They mean they are only 3 miles away from the edge of the property WDW owns. Once you get on WDW property you may have to drive another 3 to 10 miles to get to a park.

The best thing about this La Quinta though was there was no stop and go traffic to get through. You just got on the road and were on WDW property in no time. (Typically, once you get on WDW property, there is not a ton of traffic. Some stop and go, but we've never been in an actual bumper to bumper traffic situation on WDW property.) Some of the hotels on International Drive will take you 15 to 30 minutes just to get to WDW property. This is because of all of the stoplights and the massive amounts of traffic in that part of Orlando. I-4 gets backed up often too. Traffic is the last thing I'd want to deal with on vacation (which is one of the reasons I recommend staying on property :-) so be sure to chose your hotel location wisely.

That's all I've got for off property! Up next: On property. Lots of pictures for this one!