Monday, August 16, 2010

A Walt Disney World Myth: Off-site is Always Cheaper

We are living in a day and time where everyone is looking to save as much money as possible in everything that we do. Let’s face it, budgets are tight. Even the magical Walt Disney World has not been immune to the economy’s downturn. A recent report showed that Disney’s park attendance was down as much as 8% compared to the same period a year ago. Because of that, Disney continues to offer discounts and vacation package specials to try to encourage the budget-conscious family to book a Disney getaway, whether on land or at sea.

So with all of these discounts that continue to be offered, I have to ponder why so many potential Disney visitors still think that it is cheaper to plan an “offsite” vacation? I think it is because so many “Disney experts” that permeate blogs and discussion boards have continued to preach, “if you want to save a lot of money, stay offsite.” Well I am here to tell you that this is a myth, plain and simple.

Sure, if you compare a budget motel 30 minutes from the parks to a non-discounted Disney package, you will probably see a “savings” if you choose the “Motel $29.95.” But do not simply assume you will save money by staying offsite until you have done your homework and compared ALL the costs of the trip and other parts of the vacation.

For example...if you choose to stay offsite and Disney is offering a free dining vacation package for its on-site guests, do you know how much money you would save in food if you stayed onsite? Free dining can equate to a $500-600+ savings for a family of 4 during a 6 night stay. Did you sit down and actually establish a realistic budget for what you will be spending in food during your offsite stay? You have to get to that level of detail in your comparison of prices before anyone can claim they are saving “X” amount of dollars by staying offsite.

Another area that many forget to adequately compare is in the area of parking and transportation. If you are driving to the parks and are planning on staying offsite, did you add in the cost of parking at the parks? It costs $14 per day to park at any of the 4 parks at Walt Disney World (Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon being the exception). So your 6 day offsite visit needs to include an extra $84. Did you factor in the extra gas that you will spend by driving yourself to the parks versus staying onsite and being able to take advantage of Disney transportation? You need to before you can claim you saved any money by staying offsite.

If you are flying down to Orlando...does your offsite hotel offer free shuttle from the airport and then a free shuttle to the parks each day? If much more is your rental car going to cost you or the shuttle bus? And if you do happen to choose a hotel with free shuttle, do you know how often it runs between your hotel and the parks? How much is your time worth? If your offsite stay means you will have to spend less time in the parks, is it really a better deal when you factor in that the park tickets make up a large proportion of your overall Disney vacation cost?

I hope this is making you see that staying offsite is not always the best deal. You can’t claim that you have “saved” money if you did not do your homework ahead of time to determine the true costs of staying off Disney property. I hope this helps with your future Walt Disney World vacation planning.

Questions? Comments? I would love to get your feedback.

No comments: