The first question when exploring a Walt Disney World vacation is where to stay? Do you stay “on property: Inside the Bubble”, or do you choose to stay “off property: Outside the Bubble”? Here are three things to consider when deciding where to rest your weary feet:
1: Cost per night: When adding up the cost per night, be sure to include all fees and transportation costs, often the on-site hotels are very competitive with the off-site hotels.
Inside the Bubble, there are four categories of rooms. Value, Moderate, Deluxe and Deluxe Villas. Depending on the season, room rates can vary from $125/night for a value resort, up to $2,000+ for Deluxe Villas. There are no additional fees like resort fee or parking fees and included in your cost per night is transportation options directly to the four theme parks, Disney Springs, and the Disney’s Waterparks!
Outside the Bubble you can find unbelievable deals at hotels/condos surrounding Walt Disney World, sometimes as low as $50 per night. But, there may be a catch; for some off-site properties, there are additional fees including parking fees, resort fees, cleaning fees, and even fees to use the shuttle bus (if provided). Adding to the cost may be parking fees at the theme park if you choose to drive yourself.
2: Time: There is a saying that “Time is Money” at Walt Disney World. The perks of staying on-site helps you use your time efficiently by decreasing wait times and getting extra time in the Theme Parks.
Inside the Bubble: Guests of Walt Disney Resorts and other select Good Neighbor resorts receive early theme park entry into all four theme parks 30 minutes prior to park opening. Deluxe and Deluxe Villa resorts also receive extended evening park hours at select theme parks. On-site guests have an advantage when reserving the Individual Lightning Lane selections. For those staying on property, you are able to book your Individual Lightning Lanes at 7:00 am each day. These include popular rides such as Tron, Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind, Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, and Avatar Flight of Passage. One more hidden perk to staying on property is access to the Magic Kingdom. When you stay on-site, your bus will bring you directly to the tap stiles at the entrance of Magic Kingdom instead of dropping off at the Ticket and Transportation Center, saving you more time when entering the Magic Kingdom.
Outside the Bubble: For guests staying off site, the hotel may provide a shuttle to the Walt Disney World theme parks. These shuttles may have a fee and often have a set schedule with pick up and drop off times. Drop off at Magic Kingdom for off-site shuttles is at the Ticket and Transportation Center, from there, theme park goers will take the ferry boat or Monorail to the entrance. Access to Genie+ selections (for those who choose to purchase) is the same for on-site guests beginning at 7:00 am. Access to Individual Lightning Lanes opens for off-site guests at park opening instead of 7:00 am. Be mindful of listed distance from an off-property hotel and travel time. That 10 miles may just be to the edge of Disney property, not to the theme park of choice. Also, be mindful of traffic patterns as certain times of the day which may leave you stuck in traffic costing you valuable time!
3: Magic: When you drive through the entrance of Walt Disney World, the air is cleaner, the sky is bluer, and beautiful melodies will fill the air… Ok, not really, but there is magic when you stay on property.
Inside the Bubble: Magic is created by the exemplary Cast Members. They greet you and treat you like family the second you step into their resort. Walking into the lobby of any Walt Disney World Resort can be a memorable and magical experience. From the sport memorabilia at Disney’s All-Star Sports to the elegant touches of Disney in the reimagined classic artwork at Disney’s Riviera resort, you are surrounded by magic. Being “pixie dusted” really can happen when you stay on property. From the moment you wake up to when your eyes finally close, your days are magical.
Outside the Bubble: Unfortunately, Tinker Bell is not able to leave the Walt Disney property so, your “pixie dust” will have to wait until you get into the theme park. At the end of a magical day, you leave the bubble, get into your scorching hot car, drive through traffic and return back to the real world. Many hotels in the area are beautiful, with state-of-the-art amenities, but, they will not have hidden Mickey’s, scavenger hunts, meals with princesses, or poolside Disney trivia.
Is inside or outside the bubble better? There are pros and cons to each. I lean towards inside the bubble for maximum immersion and convenience! However I love to talk to each of my clients to help decide the best option for your next magical vacation!