Hotel Reviews

Where to Stay at Walt Disney World

Planning a trip to Walt Disney World is complicated. From where to buy tickets, where to eat and where to stay, there are plenty of options to work through. Starting with the latter makes sense, as once lodging is squared away then everything else can fall into place. In this post, we’ll take a basic look at four different possibilities of where to stay when taking a trip to Walt Disney World.

AKL lobby night

Obviously, there are more than four places to stay at WDW. There are 20+ Disney owned hotels alone. Instead, I’m dividing all of the different options (hundreds of them!) into four different categories – on-site hotels, off-site hotels near Disney World, rental houses and elsewhere in Orlando. We do have more in-depth posts about some in these categories, specifically on-site hotels as well as pros and cons within the blurb for each category. Think of this as a jumping off point, a quick entry into the array of Disney World lodging options!

If you have questions about specific places or what I’d recommend then please let me know in the comments. I do think all of these options fit into a certain vacation and I’ll briefly touch on that in each section. Let’s get to it!

On-Site Walt Disney World Hotels

Here’s the option we’ve used the most and something that makes a ton of sense if your trip to Orlando is mostly focused around Walt Disney World. Depending on how you decide to divvy up the resorts, there are anywhere between 20 and 26 official Disney Resorts to choose from. We’ve rated all of the ones that we’ve stayed at here. Some of these hotels are very elaborate, beautiful and well themed. They’re worthy of exploration even if you aren’t staying at them.

Tangled mural night Riviera

There are plenty of upsides to staying on-site, the most valuable of which is extra time in the four theme parks during the morning. If you’re staying in one of the deluxe resorts then there will also be extra evening hours on select dates. The other benefit of staying on-site is that there’s complimentary transportation to and from the hotels to every theme park, water park and Disney Springs. The majority of that transportation is buses, but there’s also boats, monorails and the Skyliner! All of this means that if you find a way to get to your resort from the airport, then there’s no need for a rental car.

So, what’s the downside? Price. Yes, you’ll run into a few outdated rooms or less themed resorts than others but really the biggest deterrent is that the value here is much worse than other spots on the list. That’s especially true for large rooms that are hosting more than 5 people. Outside of that, on-site Disney World hotels feel like an integral part of a Disney World vacation.

Off-Site Hotels Near Walt Disney World

How do you offset the price? Staying at a non-Disney hotel that’s near the four theme parks. By and large, these are name brands and many do offer their own transportation to the parks, albeit less efficient and convenient. Prices can be significantly cheaper at these places while offering pretty nice rooms, in some cases.

Swan pool

The majority of the hotels that fit into this category are in the Disney Springs area, within walking distance to the shopping and entertainment district. There are others, including the Swan & Dolphin which I’d highly recommend because of the wonderful location. Other high end brand hotels like Four Seasons and Waldorf Astoria are in the Walt Disney World area, as well.

While you won’t get the immersive experience, theme or some of the perks (a few do offer extra time in the parks in the morning), the trade off is a more palatable price. Maybe there’s a chance to use some hotel reward points if you’re into that sort of thing! There’s a wealth of options and if the on-site prices aren’t to your liking then this might be a better choice.

Rental Houses

Along the lines of off-site hotels are rental houses, many of which are near Disney World. While thinking of WDW as being secluded, there are a number of neighborhoods that are really close to the parks and that’s where we find quite a few rental homes. If you’re visiting the area with a group over 5 people, this is a really enticing option thanks to the roomier accommodations.

With that, some of the houses listed are absolutely wild! You can find a house with an over the top and extravagant theme, a really luxurious home or just your standard nice house to rent. Some of the options listed by our friends at Top Villas are really fun and worth checking out. Who doesn’t want to go to WDW with a big group of friends and have a wonderful week in a huge house!

Downsides are similar to the off-site hotels – less convenient transportation and less perks inside of the theme parks. That said, renting a house near Walt Disney World definitely fills a void for a group too big for hotel rooms.

Elsewhere in Orlando

Finally, there’s this option for those that are just doing a day or two at Walt Disney World but are staying longer in Orlando. Maybe that’s a trip to Universal with a few Disney days thrown in. Whatever it looks like, there are so many options of places to stay in Orlando proper.

Hogwarts IoA

From a theme park perspective Sea World is really close to WDW and there are plenty of hotels and time shares around that area. Universal has a few beautiful hotels that would make for a good stay if you’re splitting time between the two theme park giants.

This option will give you more price variance, with options all over the literal map. The downsides are fairly obvious and I’d caution against staying a distance away for WDW if you’re planning to spend multiple days in a row there. Theme park days can make people tired and grouchy. If some in your group want to leave at 8 while the others want to leave at 11 then that’s fine to navigate for a day. When that happens for the third day in a row then the trip becomes much harder.

Diagon Alley US

Those are the options for where to stay at Walt Disney World! It’s not as cut and dry as simply finding the right spot for you and yours in a Disney owned hotel and, chances are, there is an option for all sorts of budgets and group sizes.

Where do you like to stay at Walt Disney World? Let us know, along with any questions you might have, in the comments below. Interested in a trip to Walt Disney World? Check out our Planning Guide to help you along the way! If you enjoy what you are reading here on Wandering in Disney please share this post with your friends, as well as like our social media pages. You can also subscribe to the blog via WordPress or email. All of those links are on the right side of this page. Thank you for reading, we really appreciate it!

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