Staying in a vacation rental ‘off-site’ vs. staying ‘on-site’ at a Disney World Resort: Part 1 – What happens to the ‘magic’?
I received the following question from a prospective guest a few weeks ago. It covers a lot of ground and turns over a lot of worms! Her question:
“I’m curious about one thing, most families go and stay on property with Disney (we did our first time too) and claim that there is something “magical” about it. While we did feel very well taken care I’m not sure that it was exactly “magical”. I feel that your vacation rental property will be great for my husband who dread crowds, busy restaurants, and sub-par yet-expensive dining, but I wonder if we are taking the magic away from the kids… When you go to your properties in Florida and you go to Disney do your kids get the same experience as kids on property would receive?”
(Note: Most families DON’T stay on Disney property because most can’t afford it! There are far more places in Orlando to stay outside of Disney World than in it! The idea that a trip to Disney World means staying at an on-site resort is an oft-quoted and repeated myth perpetuated by Disney’s marketing machine and the travel agents who make money off of it! So let’s kill that idea right off the bat! Okay… taking a breath… I’m calming down now…)
This is a good question! And there are lots of things to consider in answering it, so bear with me. I want to cover it completely and be totally fair about it, so this topic will cover a few posts. In Part 1, we focus on the question of Disney “magic” at the resorts.
There are some benefits to staying onsite at a Disney World Resort, along with some negatives, but even these aren’t clearly defined – each has its good and bad, and a lot of how you evaluate these things depends on how important they are to you. In part 2, we’ll look at these on a point by point basis.
In my opinion, the Disney “magic” at the hotels is mostly a sales pitch (sorry Walt!) to justify charging two to three times the cost of a comparable room anywhere else. Mostly, the “magic” is simply Disney theming, which means mostly decorating… and like all styles, it can easily get to be too much.
(See a direct comparison between a Disney Value Resort Hotel Room (sleeps 4), and Breezy Oak Villa (sleeps 8), which cost almost exactly the same per night! Ah… that’s not even close to true anymore. The Disney Value resort rooms are much higher!)
So as far as taking something away by not staying at an on-site resort; let me ask you a question… what is your favorite treat in the whole world? Your absolute ‘weakness’… Let’s say, for the sake of this example, it’s ice cream. Now imagine that you get to have the run of a great, well-stocked ice cream shop! You can have anything you want, all day, every day! Well, it would be great for about the first four hours, and two or three huge sundaes, but after that you would start to get sick of ice cream!
The same thing can easily happen with Disney, so staying off property actual helps keep the Disney “magic” more magical!
The thing is, Disney IS wonderful, and no one is a bigger fan than I am, but at the same time, it is a ruthless, cold-hearted money making machine! Someone once described Disney World as a people-trap built by a mouse! It is designed to entice you in, and keep you there, spending your money the whole time.
If you haven’t visited our website, you may be unaware that our son worked at Disney World as a cast member for 18 months. We have been visiting since 1997, and we know the resort very well, inside and out, having taken behind the scenes tours, and visited so many times I have lost count. I love Disney! I am a crazed rabid fan! I can tell you so much trivia about Walt Disney and Disney World that I’ll bore myself in the process! But it is absolutely wonderful to leave the craziness behind, escape to somewhere outside the tourist zone, and really rest up before tackling it again.
You see, a ‘vacation’ to Walt Disney World is an amazing experience. It is exciting, exhilarating, educational, fun, entertaining challenging, and motivating! But it is hardly restful. If you don’t feel like you need a vacation after visiting Disney World, you haven’t done it right! So in order to experience all of the real magic that is Disney World; meaning the theme parks, water parks, and recreational, shopping and dining attractions, it is great to be able to get away from it and get well rested in between your attacks on this mecca of fun and entertainment.
But as you experience the marvel that is Disney World, if you are like me at all, you can’t also help marvel at the skill with which the place is designed to suck up money off you every second.
Now don’t let that scare you away. While expensive, compared to just about any other form of entertainment on the planet, Disney World actually does offer tremendous value – so set aside the funds to do it right, and do it without guilt – BUT, your husband will love being able to escape the resort and not feel like his wallet is being drained every second! Trust me on that one.
One of our first guests described Breezy Oak Villa as the most relaxing place he had ever been on a vacation, and it truly is! There is an absolute joy that permeates the place. And it is just what you need to not feel ‘trapped by the mouse!’
Important tip: Here is a great idea! In the midst of a hectic, exciting and fun trip to Disney World, plan to spend a day in the middle of your trip, doing nothing but relaxing at the villa and enjoying the pool. If your kids are anything like ours, years from now it will be a special memory for them that they will cherish, just like all of their time at the theme parks! With time, those park memories will all meld together and become harder to pick out as time marches on. But your day at the villa will be a cherished family memory that everyone will remember all on its own. That’s magic! A quiet day, just enjoying the pool and relaxing, refreshes everyone, eases tensions (every family has them) and renews everyone for the rest of their holiday.
Of course, having separate bedrooms at the villa gives everyone a place to relax and be on their own when needed. That is a different kind of vacation ‘magic’, but is something you have to experience to understand. And you can’t get it at a hotel, even a Disney hotel!
So when staying at one of our villas, you don’t give up any magic, you just get to experience an additional, different kind of holiday magic, that helps make the first kind even better!
This may all sound too good to be true, but trust me on this. Once you experience it, you’ll understand what I’m talking about. And the only way to know it, is to experience it.
Note: The second part of this series has not been posted yet. But feel free to fire away with any questions you may have! I’ll reply promptly by email.