Ye Olde Debate: WDW Onsite vs. Offsite

10 Nov

MouseFest is coming up, and this girl’s mind turns to thoughts of rental cars and living in the Disney bubble.

And alas, my pocketbook is looking mighty slender in this downsized economy, so it looks like I’ll have to choose. Do I stick with my All Star reservation (at the stellar AAA discount of about $74/night, including tax), or do I book a dirt-cheap room outside the World so I can afford that rental car which I hear is all-important at MouseFest?

I can almost hear the purists already. Given the overall cost of a Disney vacation, isn’t it worth those few extra dollars to stay on-site? Well maybe yes…if I had those few extra dollars to spend. So we’re talking zero-sum game here. It’s either off-site with car, or on-site without.

And I gotta tell you, the downturn in Orlando tourism means there are some pretty cheap deals out there off-site. For less than the price of those 5 nights at an All Star, I could stay at a two-star hotel a mile or two from the Disney border, and have a compact car to get me around. I start to think, hey, wouldn’t it be nice to just jump in the car and drive 10-15 minutes back to my hotel after that YeeHaw Bob meet? Or after the All About the Mouse meet at Jellyrolls? I have not heard particularly promising stories about taking Disney transit between resorts late at night…so without a car, and despite the fact that I’ll surely catch a ride with friends now and then, I’m likely to be cabbing it from time to time (sadly, so far at least the price of a rental car is still higher than the cost of the two or three cabs I’d likely take….but I may still try Priceline right before I leave anyway).

For the moment at least, I’m sticking with on-site. I want a little time in that Disney bubble, even if it means a few long waits at the bus stop, and the other petty inconveniences that come with public transit. Plus, while the All Stars ain’t deluxe, they are a whole lot more pleasant than the TripAdvisor reviews lead me to believe those two-star bargains would be. But of course y’all know I’m pretty fickle, so I might always change my mind, at least up until that 5-day cancellation date for room-only reservations. And given the economy, ya never know what might show up on the opaque sites a week before departure.

6 Responses to “Ye Olde Debate: WDW Onsite vs. Offsite”

  1. micsaund November 10, 2008 at 7:54 pm #

    That is a good question. I love having a car at WDW (assuming you have an AP for free parking) as waiting for the busses (yuck) or monorail can just be painful at certain times of the day. And, if it’s been a long day and your feet are sore, the last thing you want to do it stand in line for a bus for 40 minutes.

    And that doesn’t even count any “issues” with late night service.

    So, myself, I’d probably stay off-site given that cash is an issue for you. Plus, you’ll have the car in case there’s an off-site meet or something.

    If money is no object, I’d take the Contemporary or Polynesian since they’re right on the monorail. Sadly, I’ve never not had money as an issue…


  2. Grumpwurst (aka Ray) November 10, 2008 at 10:22 pm #

    Maybe you can find someone to go halfsies on the cost of the rental

  3. lisa November 11, 2008 at 6:35 pm #

    you know the minion has a car and will be at your beck and call as well thru sunday afternoon! but i can see why you’d be concerned at some of those out of the way places! i seem to recall like a 1 hur long extravaganza getting home to the CBR from yehaa bob’s last year! and then of course, i waddled out into a mudpit, but thats another story……

  4. Mikey November 12, 2008 at 5:49 pm #

    If you plan on doing anything outside of Disney World, a car is pretty much essential. Orlando public transit is pretty much non-existent and everything is so spread out.

  5. Brian Martsolf November 12, 2008 at 10:29 pm #

    We drive, and we’re on a somewhat frugal budget, and what dollars I was able to free up I wanted to spend on some nice meals and souvenirs, so using pricelines “name your own price” service worked well for us.

  6. Jennifer November 13, 2008 at 9:01 am #

    Mikey, I totally agree that you just can’t get by without a car if you want to do anything outside Disney property. After all, it’s not really in Disney’s best interest to make it easy for you to get to other locations for shopping, dining, etc.

    And Brian, yeah, Priceline certainly has had some great deals for me in the past, both on cars and hotels. One of my favorite WDW stays was 3 nights at the Downtown Disney Wyndham for $50/night. I can’t recall the price of the rental car I pricelined for that trip, but it was definitely good.

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