I’m a big fan of using Airbnb when we travel. I’m also lucky to live near Disney would so I’ve never had to ask the question of where to stay. However, since I have family visiting Orlando soon, I’ve had to ask the big question: Should you stay at a hotel or an Airbnb at Disney World?
It’s a difficult question and not one that’s always easy to decide on if you’re trying to save money at Disney World.
There are a lot of perks to staying on property, but there are also some unique perks to staying off property at an Airbnb. In the Disney community, there’s always such a black and white push towards staying on property all of the time, I think we miss out on a lot of other opportunities.
This guide will address the pros and cons of staying at a hotel or an Airbnb at Disney World so you can make the best decision for your family.
Heads up before we get started: this post uses affiliate links. That means I might get a small percentage of any sales made through this post at no additional cost to you. Don’t worry, I never talk about any products or services I don’t use and support myself.
Staying at a Hotel at Disney World
Okay, first let’s talk about the perks of hotels. I’ll be talking about both on property and off property hotels, though there’s definitely a difference.
Pros of staying at a Disney hotel:
- Free Transportation – Disney provides free transportation to all of the parks and also to and from the airport.
- Disney Theming – Of course, all of the resorts offer that special Disney magic so you never have to leave the Disney bubble.
- Options – From value to deluxe resorts, you have a lot to choose from. There are different pricing ranges as well.
- Discounts – Occassionally during off season at Disney World, there are special resort discounts offered that might make it even more affordable to stay on property.
Cons of staying at a Disney hotel:
- Costly – Unless you find a good deal or discount, most Moderate and Deluxe Disney World resorts are pricy per night.
- Parking – Recently, Disney has required overnight guests to pay for parking. This can be anywhere from $13 – $24 a night, and some hotels charge additional fees that aren’t included in the nightly rate.
- Disney Bubble – While this is a perk for some, an escape from the Disney crowds isn’t always unpleasant at night if you want a break.
As you can see, it’s not all perfect on property at Disney World. There are some stunning resorts and there’s a lot of fun to be had, but they’re not always budget friendly. Plus, if you’re visiting with a large family and need additional accommodations like a kitchen, you might be better off at your own apartment or home.
Now, let’s talk about the difference between on property and off property hotels. An off property hotel is any Orlando or Kissimmee area hotel that isn’t part of Disney’s transportation network but is still centrally located.
Pros of staying at an off property Disney hotel:
- More Price Options – There are a lot of hotels VERY close to Disney World that are at all price ranges. They also might be hotels you’re familiar with or that you’re a member of a loyalty club for.
- Free Parking – Unless you’re physically on Disney property like at the Disney Spring area resorts, you probably won’t need to pay a nightly fee to park your car. This can add up to big savings.
- Location – While Disney World is definitely a great location, there are so many other great things to do in Orlando. If you’re planning on visiting another theme park, downtown Orlando, or a nearby beach, you might prefer staying off property.
Staying at an Airbnb at Disney World
Airbnb is a rental service where you can stay in other homes while you travel at a fraction of the cost of a hotel room. Plus, if you sign up with this link you get a FREE $40 credit towards any stay over $75. Woohoo! Who doesn’t like free money?
If you’ve never tried Airbnb before, it’s a great service. Like other apps like Uber, you can see the reviews and ratings of your homeowners. Scroll through prices, pictures, and location to find the right fit for your family.
You have the option to choose a full house/apartment or to rent a single room. This is completely up to you, but either way, make sure you read the reviews. If you’re traveling as a single person or couple, a single room is a great way to save cash.
In Orlando, many of the vacation rentals are managed by professional companies so you can feel confident you’re getting quality service and that there’s someone available to help whenever you need it during your stay. You’ll also find a LOT of Airbnb properties that are located really close to the parks, so you don’t have to compromise.
Pros of staying in an Airbnb at Disney World:
- Price – Like I said, you can really get a great deal when you choose an Airbnb rather than a hotel. This is especially true if you’re traveling with a large group of people.
- Home Convenience – One of the biggest perks is having access to all the conveniences of home. Need a washer and dryer? You got it. Need multiple bathrooms? Done. The same goes with the full kitchen and other things you miss at a hotel.
- Space – Most hotel rooms are lacking in the space department. Having an entire home or apartment to yourself means more room for everyone to spread out and have privacy.
- Luxury – Many of the Disney Airbnb locations are based in rental communities that come with luxury accommodations. Things like full-service gyms, spas, and resort pools are not uncommon. Plus, you can get all of these things at a fraction of the cost.
Cons of staying in an Airbnb at Disney World
- Location – Again, you won’t be on Disney property. This can be a perk if you have plans to visit other locations, but it also means more time spent in Orlando traffic.
- Car – You’ll need a car unless you plan to Uber the whole time. A rental can be affordable if you consider the price savings from an Airbnb compared to a hotel.
Should You Stay at a Hotel or an Airbnb?
Alright, now that we’ve established the benefits and challenges of each, let’s talk about when you should stay at a hotel or an Airbnb. Much of this will depend on your budget and the size of your family, but also what you expect from your vacation.
Best Fit for Hotel Stay:
- Short Trips – If you’re only staying a night or two, you want to be as close to the parks as possible to save on travel time.
- Small Families or Couples – There’s less of a need for small families to have a lot of space when they travel so a hotel room might be enough.
- Flexible Budget – If money is no problem, staying at one of the luxurious on property hotels is a great experience.
Best Fit for Airbnb Stay:
- Tight Budget – If you want to save money, staying in an Airbnb is undoubtedly the way to go. Your money will go much farther!
- Large Families – Traveling with a larger family or multiple couples means needing more space, privacy, and bathrooms! An Airbnb allows for more space for everyone.
- Home Cooks – Many people prefer to cook their own meals while staying at Disney, at least part of the time. This is a major money saver, and it’s super convenient when you have your own home.
- Local Explorers – Want to explore the world outside of the World? If you’re planning to visit Orlando, other parks, or the nearby area, staying in an Airbnb is a great way to choose a central location.
- Extended Stays – Finally, those who are staying for more than a few days can benefit from having a place of their own away from the parks. We all need a bit of a break!
Disney World Expert Planning Tips
There you have it, folks! I hope this sheds some light on how to save money while visiting Disney World and get some much-needed space. There is so much to love about staying on property, but don’t make the mistake of thinking it’s the best option for everyone.
Staying in an Airbnb at Disney World is a great way to save money and make room for the whole family. Why give up all your favorite luxuries of home when you’re away?
What’s your favorite way to stay at Disney World?