• Disney World: Staying Off Property

Disney World: Staying Off Property

Luiz Alberto H.

Created: Feb 12, 2024

Last Updated: Apr 25, 2024

Disney World: Staying Off Property

Hello and welcome to Famvia’s guide where we give you a few tips and strategies for those that prefer to rent a house or stay in a hotel that is not part of Walt Disney World.

There are multiple reasons for you to choose to stay off property, like:

  • Big parties of 6-10 people, which are perfect for rented houses.
  • If you prefer a little bit more privacy.
  • If you have a car and prefer more freedom to move around, do groceries, etc.
  • Save some money by sharing expenses if you are staying with friends in a rented house; or staying in a standard hotel, which can be cheaper than staying inside the “Disney Bubble”.
  • Disney isn’t a big part of your itinerary and you plan to visit a lot of different places around Orlando.

Let’s check some of your options.    

Standard Hotels

Recommended for:

  • Small parties up to five people
  • Guests that want to save a bit of money
  • You are not that much interested in perks like Early Entry
  • People that are more interested than just going to Walt Disney World (like visiting Legoland, Universal, Sea World, Busch Gardens, etc)

A good hotel takes time and patience to find. Way too many options and prices, even if you are just browsing Booking.com. Speaking of prices, they will vary A LOT depending on availability and time of year.

When browsing hotels, it’s important to check a few things. First, see if the hotel is closer to Disney or Universal, and the time it takes to get to either park. Second, check if the hotel offers free breakfast. This can be a really good way to save money and postpone your lunch to a later hour, when lines are shorter at your favorite restaurants inside Walt Disney World.

Oh, it’s also a good idea to see if the hotel offers free parking, otherwise expect to pay around $20 per night if you need a parking lot. It's also recommended to have a car if you are staying in a standard hotel, since you won't have access to the Disney buses to move from your hotel to the theme parks.

A good, cheap option for a quick vacation is the Quality Inn hotel. Don’t expect anything similar to the Cinderella Castle, but it gets the job done. There is nothing special about it, but I never had a problem with it either. You get a small room, twin beds, a microwave, a bathroom and that’s it. Perfect for college students or just someone that wants to save precious money. Their hotel chain almost always offers free breakfast (I love the waffles) and also free parking, all for around $120 a night. Not bad at all, and great for college students and people that want to save a lot during their trip.

Orlando hotel Drury.webp
Drury Plaza Hotel©

A better, more expensive option is the Drury Plaza Hotel. You are looking at around $300 per night, but the accommodations are great, you get an amazing free breakfast and you’re basically right next to Disney World. The downside is that parking costs $25+ taxes per night.

Rented Property

Recommended for:

  • Big parties of 5+ people.
  • If you have rented a car and enjoy moving around.
  • People that want a bit more privacy.
  • If you prefer to do your own groceries, groceries, cook your own meals, etc.

Rented houses are the perfect option for big groups, guests that want a little bit more privacy or if you are planning on staying in Florida for more than ten days. As it happens with hotels, prices do vary a lot, but you are looking at something around $300 per night. 

I said that rented houses might be a good choice if you plan to stay for more than a week since a few owners might give you a discount if you plan on staying for several days in a row. It’s also a good choice for large groups of friends traveling together if they want to share the expenses.

Townhouses in particular are a big deal now in Florida and a good option for a party of 5-10 guests. Don’t know what a townhouse is? It’s fine, I learned about them not that long ago too. Townhouses are basically part of a gated community, sharing common amenities like a swimming pool, a bar or a restaurant. The apartments are narrow and usually made of two to three floors, offering a good number of bedrooms for up to three families. They are pretty clean and come with a washing machine, a stove and anything else to make it feel like you are in your own home away from home.

The Magic Village Yards in Kissimmee is a good example of a gated community made of townhouses. I stayed there in March 2023 and had a good experience overall. Bonus points since the Magic Village is relatively new, so the houses aren’t even five years old and you get the feeling that everything is fresh and clean. 

Orlando townhouse 1.webp
Magic Village Yards©

Gated communities are usually not that expensive when you look at them and prices per night, but you need to pay attention to all the additional fees they have. Let’s see the Magic Village Yards. A single night will cost you around $290, which is a pretty good price, even more so if you plan on sharing this with. However, you have to add the Sales tax of 7.5%, a Tourism Tax of 6%, a Resort Fee of $10+tax and they also have a fixed hotel cleaning fee of $240. So, a single day in a rented house would actually be around $570 instead of just $290!

For a single day in a townhouse like that, you are paying $289 in fees and taxes.

For ten days in a townhouse like that, you are paying $697 in fees and taxes.

Again, it’s a good idea to stay in a rented house only if you plan to stay for a week or more. Taxes and fees are usually not worth it if you are only staying for a few days. In the Magic Village Yards case, for example, you have to pay the fixed hotel cleaning fee of $240 per stay, which is way too much if you are only planning on renting a place for three or four days. 

Orlando townhouse 2.webp
Magic Village Yards©

There are a few things you should know when staying in a rented property:

  • You should have a car to move around. Rented houses usually have no parking fees and you can just park in front of your garage. You need something like a car to get to the theme parks, visit Walmart or Publix to do groceries and just get whenever you want.
  • You will have access to two codes in a gated community: one is for the main gate that lets you inside, which you should write down. The other code is for your house that will let you unlock the front door. Make sure to remember them.
  • Always lock your valuables inside your luggage and keep them out of view. I’ve heard of stories of people breaking into houses while guests are outside enjoying their favorite theme parks. This has never happened to me, but it’s always better to be safe than sorry. This is also not something common at all near Orlando, but it's good to be cautious.
  • Taking into consideration the point above, try to stay in a house that’s not located on the edge of your gated community. Houses on the edge are usually located near public streets and places without a lot of movement. You want to stay - if possible - in a house located near the main gate and in the center of everything. During check-in, ask if any house like that is available for you.

Here is a step-by-step process of what you are going to do if you plan of renting a townhouse:

  1. Book online and pay for your stay. 
  2. You will receive the code for the main gate a few weeks or days before your visit, or right when you make the first payment.
  3. Once you are there, head to the clubhouse (or the main building in your gated community) to do your check-in. See if you can get a house located in the center of the complex and far away from the edges. 
  4. You will receive the code to enter your house, a small pamphlet to put on your car’s dashboard (to prove you can park there), and you will be informed of the garbage collecting days. Make sure to put the garbage out the night before, since the trash truck comes super early in the morning. Oh, also ask if there is free Wi-Fi available and the password for it.

That’s it! Pretty easy, huh? We hope we were able to help you a little by answering a few questions about staying in standard hotels or if you wish to stay in a rented house. For any further questions, you can always send us a message and we will reply as soon as possible. 

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