Staying at Disney on a Budget
I can remember the countless visits to Disney World as a kid and all of the fun I had with my family. But we never stayed within Disney World. My family simply felt like we couldn’t afford it. I might or might not disagree.
As you plan your Disney vacation on a budget, you will find that your level of knowledge is equivalent to how much you can save. That’s why I believe going over the Disney resorts first is important.
We will have two parts of this post.
- How to figure out which resort is for you
- How to stay at Disney on a budget
Offsite or Onsite at Disney?
Often, when it comes to deciding whether to stay on or off site, price is the main factor. However, there is so much more to consider when trying to figure out where to stay at Disney on a budget.
Pros to staying at a Walt Disney World Resort
- Free airport transportation
- Free transportation to the parks
- Never leave the magic
- Extra Magic Hours
- Disney bubble
- Never rent a car
Pros to staying off-site
- Last minute deals
- Biggers options (vacation homes)
- Shuttle to other parks
- Loyalty programs
You have two options for your Disney vacation. An off-site hotel at $50/night or All-Star Music, (Disney Resort), for $99/night. Your vacation is 4 nights so the cost will either be $200 for an off-site hotel or $396 for a Disney resort.
If you do decide to go with the much cheaper off-site hotel, you now have to rent a vehicle to get to and from the airport and parks. (Value: $110)
With a car means you have to pay for parking on each day that you visit the parks, $20/day. (Value: $60)
Don’t forget gas (Value: $25)
Should we put a value on the time and effort spent on driving your family around yourself?
Even if we don’t, you now find yourself staying off-site for a savings of $11.
There are so many factors that go into just the financial portion of choosing an on-site or off-site hotel for your Disney vacation, that it really is a case by case basis.
Which Disney Resort?
Disney is complicated to begin with, right? Get ready for it to get worse. It is important to understand that Disney Resorts come in 4 tiers. Those are:
But what’s the difference between each tier?
The biggest difference is going to be price, with it going up consecutively. Room size and amenities are also going to increase consecutively. I’ve gathered some information from different resources and created a chart, placed at the end, for your convenience.
Art of Animation
Port Orleans Riverside
Port Orleans French Quarter
Fort Wilderness Cabins
Old Key West
Animal Kingdom Lodge
Disney Resort Room Sizes
Value and Moderate Rooms
Sleeps 4 plus a baby under 3
Sleeps 6 plus a baby under 3
Port Orleans Riverside and Caribbean Beach Rooms sleep 5
Sleeps 5 plus a baby under 3
4-8 people plus a baby under 3
Disney Resort Transportation
Each resort offers something different in terms of transportation. For a lot of families, this is the driving factor. Why? A resort’s transportation options can mean the difference between a 40-minute ride to Magic Kingdom and a 7-minute ride.
Old Key West
Disney Resort Room Size
Value Rooms – 260 sq feet
Moderate Rooms – 314 sq feet
Deluxe Rooms – 340-440 sq feet
Disney Resort Themes
Value Resorts have very strong and vibrant themes. Popping colors, large icons, and strongly themed pools. Kids and kids at heart love these themes.
Moderate Resorts still have great themes that are more subtle than value resorts but they’re still great. Personally, I believe these are themed the greatest. The perfect example is Port Orleans Riverside and French Quarter. Whose theme and style reflect the antebellum south along the Mississipi or the architecture of New Orleans respectively.
Ways to Stay at Disney on a Budget
Known by me (and probably only me), as The Seven, the Disney Springs resorts are a middle ground between offsite and onsite Disney hotels. The Seven are on Disney property but not owned or operated by Disney.
They are located on Hotel Plaza Boulevard near Disney Springs.
The Seven fit into our plan of staying at Disney on a budget because you can usually get a great deal on them, especially last minute.
While prices for some of these resorts can get high, you can find a great option for under $100/night.
All resorts have their own transportation to the parks but beyond that, some of them are close enough to Disney Springs so you can head over there and use the Disney transportation.
MouseSavers does a great job of going over The Seven. But I do so as well in the video below.
Disney has special offers that are constantly running. Weirdly enough, if you don’t book through the special offer link, you won’t get the deal.
Make sure to head over to Disney’s special offers page to figure out what your vacation qualifies for.
Free Disney Hotel Stay
There’s nothing better than getting something for free on your vacation. That’s why my Chase Sapphire Preferred is my lifeline. I use my credit card to pay for anything, accrue points, and get at least one part of my biggest trip every year FREE.
With the 50,000 point sign up bonus and up to 3 points per $1 spent, there’s no going wrong.
A Disney vacation becomes a little less intimidating with discounted Disney gift cards and even free gift cards. Learn how to save up to 10% on gift cards here. You can use those gift cards to pay for any Disney resort stay/package.
What are you waiting for?
Have you decided which Disney resort option fits your budget?
We’ve gone over how to choose a resort, what to consider, what you should know, and ways to save.
Where are you going to stay?