Disney Hotel Vs Villa – Pros & Cons

Welcome back to my Disney series! I hope you’ve been enjoying it so far. Today I am going to be talking to you about the Pros & Cons of booking a Disney hotel Vs an offsite villa, because in the lead up to booking our trip I did a lot of research into each way and I was really torn right the way to the end of the process as to which was the best option for our family, so I hope this helps break down some of the pros & cons of either a Disney hotel or an offsite villa.

Ulitimate guide to booking a Walt Disney World DISNEY HOTEL VS VILLA – PROS & CONS

Firstly, these points are subjective, so a few of the questions you may wish to consider;
How many people in your family? Ands what are their ages/needs
What is your budget?
Are you looking for days away from the parks?
Are you going anywhere besides Disney?
Do you want to cook on vacation?
Will you have a vehicle?

I also want to point out that we were absolutely torn on this and I don’t think there is particularly a “right” answer, certainly not one I can answer for you – it all depends on who is going and what kind of experience you want.

Ulitimate guide to booking a Walt Disney World DISNEY HOTEL VS VILLA – PROS & CONS

Disney Hotel

So, Disney hotels; Disney offer 25 unique types of hotel for varying price points. These range from value resort hotels, Moderate resort hotels, deluxe resort hotels. It’s important to note that Disney also offers self-catering options called ‘Disney Villa’s‘ which sleep up to 8 and are more like apartments, all with access to pools.

Ulitimate guide to booking a Walt Disney World DISNEY HOTEL VS VILLA – PROS & CONS

Here are some pros and cons I have come across when researching this style of accommodation.

PROS

Free spending money with your booking – we got a $100 gift card but it was $200 previously so it does change sometimes depending on the time of year.
14 day ticket for the price of 7 – especially great for a 10 night break!
Free Disney Dining plan! – this was the deciding factor for us as it made staying in a Disney hotel much more affordable. Disney have also now added free alcoholic drinks to the Free Dining Plan!
Complimentary magic bands – See explanation of these on my Ultimate guide to Disney World previous post.
Fast Passes – these can be booked 60 days before if you are staying on Disney property and only 30 days if you’re offsite.
Close & Easy to pop back for a break and escape the heat/crowds/toddler melt downs
Parking free and prioritised should you need it –  no need to worry about parking/queues getting in and out. If offsite the car park is $20 per day, vehicle dependent.
Fun – Children can make friends and play at the pool/kids club
Free buses & other transport around parks
Extra magic hours and time in the park – Extra Magic hours allow guests into the parks when they are least busy! This means as hotel guests you get to enter a nominated park each day earlier than everybody else! This is a fantastic bonus for onsite guests.
Free magic express airport transfers
“Let Disney look after the rest” – After a busy day you can come back to a clean and tidy room and crash out!
Baby Sitting services should you wish to use them.
Bell services and disney springs check in
Disney-Themed Rooms – Keep the magic alive even when you go to bed

Ulitimate guide to booking a Walt Disney World DISNEY HOTEL VS VILLA – PROS & CONS Ultimate guide to booking a Walt Disney World DISNEY HOTEL VS VILLA – PROS & CONS

CONS

You’re all in one room – this could be tricky if you have to consider young children’s sleep or routines.
No space in the evening – I think we will miss having this time in the evenings to be able to relax  – but then I don’t think Disney is that kind of holiday! – unless of course you book a Disney Villa! (best of both!)
Pools have set opening times – you might like the freedom of being able to jump in the pool once you get home
Higher cost – this goes without saying, but I do feel you get so much for your money

No real time for chill out – I mentioned this above, but you do not get any time out when all going back to one room afterwards to sleep – but I figure we will be so exhausted anyway!

Not good for groups – unless you go with a Disney Villa of course

Ulitimate guide to booking a Walt Disney World DISNEY HOTEL VS VILLA – PROS & CONS

Offsite Villa

PROS

Much more space – I love the idea of having more than one bedroom and a separate dining/sitting area
Home from home – I think you can start to miss creature comforts when you’re in a hotel for weeks
Relax in the evening – Think BBQ’s in the balmy evenings and a glass of wine while the children sleep nearby
Good for groups – I would love to rent a large villa with our friends and all the children play together while we enjoy every one’s company!
Keep to more of a routine should you wish – I personally don’t imagine you’ll be keeping much of a routine at Disney, but if you should need to, you could keep naps and bedtimes similar to at home
Private pool – no time limits and you can enjoy privacy if sunbathing
You can do all your laundry – which means you can bring less (more space for bringing everything home!)
Private space – not just at the pool but everywhere is your own at a villa
More space for your money 
You can book better last minute – a lot of the Disney hotels will be taken if you leave it to the last few months, and the rooms will have less choice, more villas are available and stay so nearer the time
Easier access to attractions outside of Disney – If you want to head out to other areas it’s easier to get on the road to do so
You can make a pack lunch to keep costs down – you’re allowed to take snacks and drinks into the park (obvs don’t rock up equipt for a BBQ!!) but this can keep costs down.

Ulitimate guide to booking a Walt Disney World DISNEY HOTEL VS VILLA – PROS & CONS

CONS

Fast passes and meal bookings – these are limited to less time before you go thus selection is less.
You may find yourself doing a lot of the chores you have to do at home – washing up, laundry, making beds – sometimes it’s nice to have everything done for you!
Likewise you may need to cook more in a villa 
You have to pay for parking/don’t get free transport – ($20+ per day) plus I know some people find the car parks a little tricky and very busy (they are run with military precision, however you do still have to drive to them)
Need to get up earlier for rope drop/stay up later – I fully intend to be at the parks most days for rope drop and enjoy the opening parades but you need to factor extra time in if staying off site.

Ok, so there we have my pros and cons for staying in a Disney Hotel Vs Villa – I personally think it’s a really fair split and as I said there is no right answer!! I would absolutely love to go for longer and do half and half to get the full experience – better get saving!! What have you found to be the best way for your situation and have you got any recommendations for places to stay? I’d love to know – leave me a comment!

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Disney Hotel Vs Villa - Pros & Cons

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37 Comments

  1. September 22, 2018 / 12:20 pm

    We have tried both and prefer a villa. Much more space. Can do other things outside the parks & because you are not dining in Disney all the time it is sometimes cheaper to eat out. The Overall Environment and the Ambiance of the villa was so good and refreshing as compared to the Disney hotel. The Villa was so quiet and calm. So we preffered Villa. By the way your blog was amazing. I really loved it. Thank you so much for sharing

  2. Jo
    October 28, 2017 / 9:45 pm

    We have tried both and prefer a villa. Much more space. Can do other things outside the parks & because you are not dining in Disney all the time it is sometimes cheaper to eat out. Take aways are a cheap option if you don’t want to cook. Prices and sizes for villas vary. You can still use Disney transport between the parks if you want to go park hopping. We get one annual pass as we do go twice a year sometimes and this gives you free parking and discount on purchases in Disney stores / restaurants.

  3. October 28, 2017 / 6:48 pm

    We’ve stayed in a villa and also on site (All Star Sports, Caribbean Beach, Animal Kingdom Lodge) and we much prefer being on site. I agree with all the pros and you can also have your purchases from the parks delivered to your hotel so you don’t have to lug them about with you. You can use the restaurants at other Disney hotels and Disney Springs and book in advance so you’re guaranteed a table. Most of the moderate and luxury resorts also have good areas for chilling out so you don’t have to feel cooped up in your room. Saving hard to go back once Star Wars Land is open, can’t wait!

  4. Natalie
    October 28, 2017 / 11:32 am

    We visited last September from the u.k we stayed at a place called Floridays on the edge of international drive. It is a hotel complex but caters for large families. Our room was a 3 bed apartment and was huge! Dining area kitchen and washing machine . The pool stayed open until 11pm so was great to have a evening swim and the kids loved being allowed to swim at that time. They had a cafe on site which did good food and the shopping outlet was a 15 min walk across the road. We had a car but used local buses to the parks which stopped right outside the hotel. Rooms had ensuite bathrooms too so we felt like we were in the best of both worlds ! Check it out and enjoy ps the fast passes and the photo pass were a great thing to hsve also.

  5. October 27, 2017 / 8:48 pm

    We have stayed at Disney All Stars , difference hotels outside Disney, including a suite on International Dive and a Private Villa.
    Next time we are just going back to Disney but a better hotel. Hopefully including the food and drinks. We love Disney more than Universal, so we’d like to spend more time there.
    The villa was great but such a long drive there and back every day, plus none of the extras. When we stayed at Disney even the bus journeys felt part of the fun.

  6. Kim
    October 27, 2017 / 8:25 pm

    We have been twice to Orlando and visited Disney and Universal. We stayed off site in an apartment complex which we loved as it gave us the freedom to explore the area. We have just booked Old Key West for next year and have the free dining plan. I am really looking forward to staying on site. No driving or parking fees and also eating at a variety of restaurants. The only drawback is that my 2 daughters like to go to the malls for shopping. We may hire a car to go out and about for a day.

  7. Nicky
    October 27, 2017 / 7:57 pm

    After a similar evaluation we ended up booking half and half for all the reasons listed above. First 5 days on site and 10 at a villa where we will do universal and more chilled out trips to Disney. Go next may so excited. Plus maximising the Disney dining plan for all character and signature dining we can eat.

  8. Claire
    October 27, 2017 / 2:19 pm

    We always stay in a villa. with pool and have just got back from 3 weeks away. Great value for £1200 and we’ve stayed in the same one for our last 5 Florida holidays.
    I put aside $300 for parking which sounds a lot I know, but we went in the parks possibly 15-16 days so didn’t use it all…when we get back I usually put the same amount away in an envelope for next time if we’ve dollars left over!
    Sometimes it’s nice to escape from Disney as much as we love it! Love the space and not feeling hemmed into a hotel room, but we are jealous of extra magic hours and earlier booking for fast Passes!!
    I appreciate the free dining is a good deal but sometimes it’s lovely to be able to knock up something simple! Love dangling my sore feet in the pool when we get in with a gin I hand!
    I’d love to experience a Disney hotel for a couple of days, but for a Disney holiday I will always go for the villa!

  9. October 27, 2017 / 7:40 am

    We have stayed in multiple Disney hotels & have experienced the budget, moderate & deluxe rooms/resorts as well as Disney villas. We are in our late 30’s & have been with & without our kids. Our 7 year old has been 6 times so we have Experienced taking all the baby extras to them now making their own decision. Staying at Disney is great & we wouldn’t bother with anywhere else. We always book hotel & flight separately & book the hotel when the highest discount & extras are offered (e.g. $200 credit & dining). We always go for dining plan over quick service as character dining with kids is a must & free on the plan. All level of hotel have laundry facilities, I always do 1 wash while having a pool day. The flexibility of the Disney transport allows you to hop from your room to a park & pop back for a rest without feeling you have to stay because of parking fees. We get a hire car during the second week so we can do other parks & shopping. Disney resorts can be great value for money if you book at the right time. Our favourites were Contemporary & Wildreness lodge due to proximity to MK & boat service & monorails made it easy to travel with buggies. We have stayed at all the moderate resorts & they are all good but I would recommend researching the best location to stay as they are very big & you can have a long walk to main pool or wait on the buses while they drive around to pick everyone up. We love a Disney holiday as they cater for all ages & provide lots to do & see.

  10. Olga lycett
    October 26, 2017 / 9:07 pm

    Just got back did a week in animal Kingdom and then 2 weeks in a villa off sight.
    If I could get 2 rooms in the hotel I would have to say the better choice. ..as a mum other than the laundry everything else was done. It was jut having to sleep early with the youngster that made it hard in the hotel
    The food..if u can pay extra for the full dining plan pretty boom a table meal every day in different places he food will get boring otherwise.
    Ensure u book everything immediately when you can. We left the fast passes a week after opening and some had already all gone and didn’t get all the restaurants we wanted…ifbvoously some people are so organised

  11. James
    October 26, 2017 / 8:17 pm

    I would never stay at a resort hotel unless I was only planning to visit that resort, most people go to Orlando not just for Disney parks but the likes of Universal Stidios etc. Being tied to one resort wouldn’t really work for us because we don’t like to be tied to a meal plan when you are at the other resorts having to rush back to use your meal vouchers etc. Staying in a hotel room for two weeks or longer can feel very closed in and when you have been surrounded by busy crowds all day and just want to get away from it all and chill then a resort hotel just doesn’t do that for you.
    Your best bet is to book a Villa in a central area to all parks giving you space and privacy and those home comforts you don’t get in a hotel, eating out is very cheap and you can just please yourself and not be tied down and feel you have to go to a park because you are already there. You will find you probably won’t put on half as much weight staying in a villa and if house keeping is a concern some villa resorts offer that service all in the price. I give this opinion based on my family of four and having done both options but a villa is a no brainer for me especially as you can hand pick the one you want to suit your needs.

    • Keeley
      October 29, 2017 / 1:32 pm

      Agree totally, i have done both n buevesta which was massive that was better than disney hotel but with that you have to still book your resort bus and tied to times ect.,deff villa pre book a mid week clean

  12. Sue
    October 26, 2017 / 8:31 am

    We have stayed in one bed villas at Disney in Old Key West and Saratoga Springs with 2 boys. With the 14 day tickets for the price of 7, advance bookings, Disney dining, free parking or buses, maid service, laundry in room, kitchen etc it was brilliant. Would absolutely recommended. Last time we did 3 days at Universal at the end in a hotel there to get fast passes, best of both worlds.

  13. October 26, 2017 / 7:58 am

    hi we have done both andvprefer disney hotel . we get around on the lynx buses to shopping and universal no problem and we love it

  14. Nicola
    October 26, 2017 / 12:15 am

    Hi we are going next year as my daughters dance school is performing there, I am going alone with two children we chose the free dining as felt it would be less hassle when we get there but we are wanting to go out to universal but feel we will still get good uses of the free dining and I have been told you can role it over to the next day if you don’t use it.
    Did anyone do universal to has anyone any tips of where to get the tickets from when you are from the uk, and how long did it take to get there traveling from Disney (Disney springs).

    • Karen
      October 26, 2017 / 5:14 pm

      we used uber taxi to get from our Disney hotel ti Universal and it was brilliant , much cheaper than ordinary taxis and less hassle than public transport.

    • Antonio
      October 26, 2017 / 5:26 pm

      Buy the tickets before you leave the UK most travel agents sell them. Only takes around 15-20 minutes drive to universal. The dinning plan is good if you don’t use it for a day they roll over and we wasn’t told until near the end of our holiday but if they are adding up you can use 1 meal for 3 snacks which include sweets which is what we did on own last day for snacking on the way home

    • J
      October 26, 2017 / 9:44 pm

      Hi
      We have just returned and stayed at Disney’s Port Orleans. We got a taxi to Universal a few times. It’s was $40 inc tip each way and took around 20mins. The Disney dining is great, we ended up with lots of meals and snacks left at the end of our holiday and you can spend them all in the shop on sweets and snacks before you leave! We got our Unicersal tickets from attraction tickets direct.
      Hope this helps
      J x

    • October 28, 2017 / 5:56 pm

      Have a look at the ticket section of thedibb.co.uk, whole site is great infact, but will be good ticket info.

    • Lynne
      October 28, 2017 / 9:25 pm

      We bought our universal tickets on the British airways website, we found they were cheaper than anywhere else but I think prices vary according to the exchange rate. We took a cab fro disney springs area to universal which was approx $30 dollars each way

  15. Chris
    October 26, 2017 / 12:02 am

    We stayed offsite on international drive and it wasn’t too far to drive but eating out for 2 every night does add up so if you have kids disney may work out cheaper overall

  16. Michelle Cook
    October 25, 2017 / 10:24 pm

    Thank you again for another brilliant blog. It confirmed that we’ve done the right thing in staying in a Disney hotel when we go next year.

  17. Liz
    October 25, 2017 / 10:06 pm

    We are just back stayed at Disney animal kingdom. It was lovely. Rooms were great. Fast pass is amazing. We hardly queued and got on all the big rides.

    Downside for me was the bus. Don’t use airport bus. Took nearly 2 hours from initially lining up. Got a taxi back in 25 mind. The internal transport bus was ok but again took 1/2 hour for most trips except animal kingdom. Will be so glad to not get a bus again!!

    Good luck choosing

  18. October 25, 2017 / 9:46 pm

    I know the moderate hotels (Caribbean beach and port Orleans) have launderettes on site for washing/drying your clothes and you can buy washing powder for a dolled and stuff. Not 100% sure on the others but would imagine they would potentially be the same. We washed our clothes a few times on our last trip so we didn’t need to take as much.

    • Tina
      October 26, 2017 / 9:45 am

      Most hotels have a line in the bathroom you can wash through and hang usually dry in a day with the heat

  19. Hornet1976
    October 25, 2017 / 9:27 pm

    We’ve never done a Disney hotel and the main reason is I don’t like the idea of feeling “tied” to the area. Often we also go to Universal as well so no real advantage for those days. One of the draws of Orlando is the varied restaurants and value of them, whilst the dining plan takes care of the value side, you’re only really getting this as you are paying well over the odds for the accommodation. I do however really wish that we’d stayed onsite the first time we went when our kids were very young and we were doing Disney parks only. With really young kids I’d say saying at a Disney hotel is a massive advantage! Hope this helps anyone that is having trouble deciding.

  20. October 25, 2017 / 8:06 pm

    A great article! And good to see the pros and cons of both! We own vacation rentals in the area, but we also stay at Disney hotels when we want to immerse in the magic. We also have guests that sometimes split stays to get the best of both worlds.
    Just as a side note, many villas can offer daily housekeeping, split between families the fee isn’t too bad. Private chefs are available too.

  21. Maxine
    October 25, 2017 / 8:00 pm

    We just got back and stayed onsite at Disney Caribbean beach with free dining. Loved it so much we are now members of the Disney Vacation Club ?

  22. Julia Poole
    October 25, 2017 / 7:29 pm

    We have stayed onsite both times we have been. Once in Saratoga springs and once at animal kingdom lodge. Both were brilliant for different reasons. We have had Disney dining plan on both occasions for free at time of booking. We have been as a couple with no kids and also as a family of 4 with 2 young children. On both occasions we loves staying onsite and found the dining plan gave us freedom to experience amazing restaurants without worrying about the bill at the end. We plan to go back again in a couple of years, definitely staying onsite and perhaps try out a different hotel. Staying onsite gives you the full Disney experience and the customer service is like nothing else in the world!

  23. October 25, 2017 / 7:05 pm

    We stayed on Disney old key west, our villa slept up to 9 people, I agree with all the pros listed above. The cons however were not correct for old key west we had 2 bedrooms a large dinning area and a balcony, so you can put young children to bed for naps. Although the main pool shuts at 10, there were smaller pools open 24 hours. There were also barbecue facilities for you to cook your own barbecue round the pool areas. Disney films are also played on a big screen round the pool of an evening. The Disney dinning plan provided us with a counter meal and sit down meal and 2 snacks every day. We used these for character breakfasts and lunch at the beast and Cinderella castle. Being able to book fast tracks 60 days in advance enabled us to ensure our children got on new rides such as avatar where the queue time was up to 3 hours.

  24. Naomi
    October 9, 2017 / 5:18 pm

    I am absolutely no closer to deciding the best option! What swayed your choice, was it the food? I’ve heard such mixed reviews about it onsite, that i’m scared of wasting money!

    • October 25, 2017 / 5:53 pm

      Done both options and the food does vary but being able to choose all the Disney hotels to vary food option is great. We used the Disney transport to go to a few after the parks for tea. Loved the villas off site when we went with my sister’s family but when we went on our own did Disney and loved it.

      • Jackie
        October 26, 2017 / 4:04 pm

        Food in Disney is amazing – some of the best I have ever eaten as you have over 100 choices of places to eat. You can use double dining credits to do special character experiences and redeem any leftover snack credits for candy to take home. We will be staying at Disney with free dining plan next year. Magic hours are great too plus all your ride and park photos included.

    • October 25, 2017 / 9:55 pm

      We stayed onsite this September at port orleans riverside, it’s a lovely hotel which we had pool view ( literally Outside the door) and laundry we did whilst we swam. We did stay in the pool until 11pm nobody comes to tell you to get out. This was a quiet pool not the main pool. We enjoyed the meals but it got a bit boring so went to French quarter, which I have to say the food was so much better, I had vegetables which I craved after the first week. Well worth the stay and the Caribbean beach and Coronado springs have massive building work going on. So if you want a moderate one port orleans is the one you want. Enjoy.

  25. Naomi
    October 9, 2017 / 5:16 pm

    I’m absolutely no closer to deciding the best option!!!
    All your pros and cons are exactly what i have thought, what swayed it? Was it the food? Because i’ve heard such mixed reviews!!

  26. Michael
    October 7, 2017 / 9:13 pm

    Where are you staying?

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