Disney World. My most favorite destination in the world. Definitely a super-fun place to go, but holy crap is it stressful to plan. Seriously, I do not look forward to planning a WDW vacation. There I said it. I love going, but I hate everything involved in getting there. Alas, we’re currently planning our yearly trip for January (to celebrate out 4th anniversary), and we’ve begun the ever-so-infamous debate: Disney World offsite or onsite?
A Constant Hotel To Return To
So obviously, we are thinking of where to stay. This will mark my 20th trip to “the World,” and I’ve stayed both on and off site a number of times. Other than the Marriott World Center Resort (and some of it’s surrounding villa properties), there’s not a hotel we’ve loved enough to go back to again and again. The Marriott World Center seems to be the only place we’ll ever constantly return to, because it’s simply wonderful. I guess it’s because there are so many memories here, and that’s without even bringing up the fact that it’s where we got married – the icing on the cake.
We actually haven’t been back since tying the knot, and I don’t even have a legit reason as to why. I suppose it’s that I have such high expectations because of our wedding, so for some reason, I’m scared to go back. Ridiculous, I know. I mean, I’m pretty sure I’d spend all my time going up to every hotel employee (and guest) to let them know, “this is where I got married!”
Plus, the last time we were here, it was with our friends and family. I mean, it was our wedding. Amazing, right? I fear our next stay won’t live up. I won’t run into people I know, and I won’t have this spectacular event. Nothing will look, be, or feel the same. Old memories will be too overwhelming and we won’t make new ones, because we’ll be too busy reminiscing about the past. I think I have to at least wait to go back during a family Disney trip, and not when it’s just the two of us. You know, ease our way back with a group lol.
Anyway, despite the fact the reason for our trip is to celebrate our fourth wedding anniversary (!!), we won’t be going back to our destination wedding venue. That’s a decision made, and, because of the reasons listed above, I’m fine with it.
But still, Onsite or Offsite?
So last month, Josh and I entered into “that” debate – onsite vs. offsite. It happens whenever we go, because to be honest, for us, one doesn’t “outshine” the other, and let me tell you – it stresses me out. Almost to the point where I don’t want to go and am ready to book somewhere else completely. Then I think of that magical castle and my heart melts again. Yeah, it’s worth it.
I hear a lot of people say, “I only use the hotel as a place to sleep.” That’s so far from the truth for us. We enjoy the amenities. It’s much more than a place to rest at night. I need a heavenly bed, great service, and some fab bath products don’t hurt either.
And then we got looking
First, we looked at our onsite options. Disney’s prices for next year (our anniversary is in January, so we’re looking at 2014), completely skyrocketed compared to our last onsite stay. Truth be told, we stay onsite for convenience (we hate renting a car), and for the dining plan. However, the value in the dining plan just isn’t there anymore. It works out cheaper for us to pay out of pocket for our meals. I seriously refuse to pay an extra hundred dollars for “the ease of the dining plan,” which is funny because, “back in the day” the dining plan was advertised as a savings. Now, there’s no mention of it. As far as extra magic hours, we don’t base our stay on an extra hour or two here or there. That’s definitely not a deciding factor for us. However, it’s a small perk we certainly don’t mind.
Truth be told, I don’t see the point to staying onsite UNLESS you’re staying at one of the Disney hotels that offers a theme park within boat, walk, or monorail ride. The Disney buses, while okay, aren’t worth it, because you can get better amenities offsite within pretty much the same distance.
So offsite works well too. There are certainly more luxurious accommodations outside of the Walt Disney World Resort, not to mention, most are a much better value than staying onsite. Luxury + a better price = a win win. Truthfully, staying offsite is a no brainer, but I don’t know what it is about renting a car. I hate it. Almost as much as I dislike taking a bus. I guess it’s the extra hassle and logistics that don’t allow for me to feel like I’m on vacation. I don’t mind renting a car when we’re with a group, but when it’s just the two of us, I cringe at the idea. There’s also the “other” Orlando. Universal, Islands of Adventure, Sea World, etc. If I’m doing any of those things, offsite is once again an obvious choice. However, this time, we’re just doing Disney, so where does that leave us?
The deciding factor?
It really came down to the damn rental car. Given our hatred for renting one (and the fact that we are already renting one for our upcoming trip to Denver next month), we ultimately decided to stay onsite. Plus, since we ruled out our wedding venue, I think I would feel sad staying offsite and not there.
But Where To Stay On Property?
It’s like the game that doesn’t end. After every decision made comes an even more difficult one. Disney offers a million different hotel options. Okay, so maybe not that many, but the options are endless.
I think it would be unfair of me to say I hate the value resorts, given I’ve never stayed at one. But, well, I hate the value resorts. Especially as two adults with no kids, we would never consider staying at one. And if I’m being honest with myself, even when we do eventually have kids, I don’t think you’ll ever find me at one then either. Like I’ve said, there’s no point to staying on property except for the proximity, non-bus hotel factor.
With that said, we’ve stayed at a number of Disney moderate and deluxe hotels that we thought were good. There were definitely ones we preferred over others, but none that screamed, “I must always stay here again and again.”
Nothing pulls to us in Orlando like our Marriott does.
Except…. well, the Marriott, although very close to being onsite, isn’t. If I’m going to stay onsite, I’m going to bring out my inner princess, who obviously makes herself known on a daily basis. Princess Lauren in Disney World equals the Grand Floridian.
I honestly think my obsession with the Grand Floridian stems from nothing else but Full House. I grew up with Disney and that show, so this obviously all comes from some crazy childhood moments that have been clearly intertwined. Ugh. Let this be a lesson to parents, things your children watch on TV do affect them into adulthood.
Heck, I’m just excited the new Be Our Guest restaurant is open, so I can finally meet the Beast like they did on Boy Meets World.
See, more late 80’s/90’s childhood problems.
Anyway, back to the Grand Floridian. The thing is, I have a problem paying Four Seasons prices and only getting 1/4 of the service, which is exactly what staying at the Grand Floridian is like, and where the below revelation comes in.
Disney Vacation Club Is The Secret To Staying On Disney Property For Half The Price
The above statement is SO true. While hotel shopping, we stumbled upon the Villas at Disney’s Grand Flordian. It’s a brand new, all-villa building set to open on the grounds of the Grand Floridian this fall.
Enter the idea of renting some else’s DVC points. Although, we hate the idea of not having daily housekeeping. I guess that comes with the territory when you rent someone else’s timeshare points. But, it’s hardly fair to complain when you’re saving so much money. Side note: you can still add in daily housekeeping for a nominal fee each day.
At the end of the day, we recognize the value (just to clarify, I’m talking about the value in renting someone else’s DVC points, not in purchasing DVC).
Since finding out about the Villas at Grand Floridian, I immediately developed the mentality that if we can’t stay here, we’re not going. I guess it’s the princess in me, and the fact that we can take the monorail to the Magic Kingdom AND Epcot. The Grand Floridian Villas look super luxurious, which is so not what I’m used to saying about any Disney property. Consider me smitten.
Is it possible Disney hotel rooms are becoming more up to date? Color me shocked. Not only did I read about a rain shower, but there’s a TV in the bathroom mirror. Score.
The villas don’t open ’til October, and we’ll be staying in January. Imagine my surprise when we were actually able to secure our stay here! Me = Thrilled. Princess Lauren can now reign her happiness onto her royal subjects, which I guess in this household, are the dogs. But hey, they get excited when I walk through the door, so it totally doesn’t help tame the princess inside.
Numbers Don’t Lie
Best of all is the savings. Booking though WDW.com would have cost us $624.37 per night.
Instead, we rented someone else’s DVC points for $299 per night. Massive savings. Massive.
Unfortunately, we were only able to get three nights at this superb locale, which is understandable, since it’s so new. However, we already purchased our airline tickets for a longer stay (are you impressed that we already got our plane tickets, because I sure am?!).
So the debate above? Enter that again. Where to book an additional two nights? Gah!
Josh actually made it pretty easy. He really likes Disney’s Boardwalk, and while we’ve visited many times, we’ve never stayed. It’s also walking distance to Epcot and a boat ride from Hollywood Studios. Therefore, the ONLY Disney bus we’ll have to take is to Animal Kingdom. Perfect!
Josh has always talked about how cool it would be to have one of those rooms that actually overlooks the Boardwalk. We ran with it, and at this point are just hoping all goes well with changing hotels during our vacation. Apparently, this is known as a “split stay,” which is new to us. I guess we’ll see how we like it.
A “regular room” at Disney’s Boardwalk Resort will set you back just over $400 per night. For a room at a four star hotel. This is absolutely insane to me. I don’t have a problem with paying these prices, but I need to get something good in return. Josh didn’t want a regular room either. He says the point of staying at Disney’s Boardwalk is to stay on Disney’s Boardwalk. Otherwise, it defeats the purpose, and I couldn’t help but agree. So, to stay in a room with this preferred view, be prepared to drop $528.75 per night. Seriously, no thanks. I mean, this place still has bedspreads! BEDSPREADS! Gross! Oh, and note the Pepto pink walls. Vomit, seriously.
There’s no way I’m paying over $500 a night, especially for anything remotely similar to the above picture. I actually don’t think it’s even worth a cheap $99 per night rate, but whatever.
We once again looked into renting DVC points. I actually still don’t think what we’re paying is worth it, but rather than shelling out over $500 a night so Josh can finally stay “on Disney’s Boardwalk,” we’re paying $180 per night. Much better.
So I guess at the end of the day, the princess gets what she wants and the prince? (lol) does too. But really, I’m pretty impressed with the savings if I do say so myself. It just goes to show that a little legwork goes a long way. Now onto planning our meals and actual anniversary celebration. I guess the Disney planning headache isn’t over just yet!