You've decided to go to Disney World (fun!), but where to stay? The Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando has many hotel options to fit many different families. The greater Orlando area has accommodation choices to fit an even greater budget range and family size. So, what is right for you? You'll want to consider the following
- Is it important to you to be very close to the parks? If so, you'll want to stay on-site and not just on-site, but in one of the hotels close to your favorite park (e.g. Contemporary or Bay Lake Tower if you'd like to walk to the Magic Kingdom)
- Do you want to avoid renting a car? If so, you need to stay on-site and use Disney's Magical Express and on-site transportation. My recommendation, however, is to rent a car (regardless of if you're on-site or off-site). While the Magical Express is great, I'm never satisfied with Disney's park-to-park transport. I feel like you have to wait too long and they pack you in (the buses) too tight. Also, if you want to go off-site for anything, a rental car can be a good value (taxi fares really add up).
- Do you want to fully immerse yourself in all things Disney? If you want to have a thoroughly Disney experience, you need to stay on-site. The Disney resorts provide unique theming and cast members (staff) are consistently helpful and gracious.
- Do you have a large family (7+)? If so, it is a good idea to consider staying off-site. There are some really attractive houses and condos to rent (the Reunion Resort is my favorite). Some of these residences are located in amenity-laden resorts and are quite close to the Walt Disney World Resort.
- Would you prefer to get a break from "the mouse" at the end of the day and/or do you plan to visit multiple parks during your visit to Orlando? If you are looking for a serene, restful atmosphere, it is a good idea to consider some of the nicer off-site hotels. Also, if you are planning on visiting other parks (Universal, Sea World, etc.), you may want a hotel that is centrally located.