On or Off Property with Toddlers

Whether to stay on Disney property or off property when planning our Disney vacation came up more than once.  There are pros and cons to each, and again, another decision that each family has to make that will fit their situation best.  We stayed off property for our son’s first Disney vacation and overall, it was a good experience.  We really appreciated having the extra room, as we were in a 2 bedroom condo and had a full kitchen, living room, dining room, 2 bathrooms and a very large balcony.  It was so nice to be able to come back to the room at night and tuck him in his own room and for us to relax and wind down in the living room, his sleep undisturbed.  Another nice plus was having a washer and dryer in the unit.  It cut down on the amount of laundry that had to be washed when we got home.  Lastly, it was nice to be able to stop at Publix to pick up some breakfast, snack food and a case of water for the room.  We did save some money this way.

Some of the cons, to me, of staying offsite, were that we had to bring a car seat for my son for the ride from the airport to the hotel. We had intended to just use a CARES harness for the plane, but needed the car seat to make sure that he was safe on the ride from the airport to the hotel.  I’m sure you can imagine the picture we made in the airport with a stroller, a carry on and a car seat hanging off of the stroller.  I happen to love the bus transportation that Disney provides to the parks. Although it can be slow at time, it has the transportation that we used beat, hands down.  It felt like a very long walk to the bus stop each night and the bus only came at scheduled times, so it made going back to the room for a mid day break impossible.  If we were to stay off site again, I would definitely rent my own car.


Staying on property, for me, is the better choice with a toddler.  I love the Magical Express, it makes me feel like my Disney vacation starts that much sooner and the fact that I don’t have to worry about my luggage is also a big win for this family.  Being completely immersed in the magic all the time is wonderful to me, as I’m sure like most families, this is the vacation that we’ve saved for and looked forward to all year long.  The buses are also a big plus for us, as they run continually and make going back to the room midday pretty easy.  My son also loves riding on them and looking out the window and spotting the parks as we approach get him excited.  I also love the perks of Extra Magical Hours, since we get up early with him, we can take advantage of the extra hours and get in some of the all time favorites before the park officially opens.  The one con that I do find with staying on site is that there is not as much space for our family to spread out as there is at an off property condo.

This is yet another decision each family has to make, but for our family, staying on site is the way to go.  The convenience of the transportation and the extra perks of staying in a resort hotel really make the extra cost worth it, along with the fact that I love being immersed in all things Disney when I’m on vacation.  With so many hotels to choose from, there is sure to be one that will fit your budget and your needs.

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