There’s no question that staying onsite at Disney World is much more expensive than staying at a nearby offsite resort, or renting your own Orlando rental home. However, Disney makes a strong case that the perks you get as a result of staying onsite are well worth the extra cost. Let’s break it down and see if this is true after all.

Getting free Magic Bands

One of the benefits you’ll read about as you compare your options is that those staying onsite get Magic Bands. What do they let you do? They allow you to attach your park tickets, make purchases in the parks that are charged directly to your room, they’re used to use FastPass+ reservations, and they act as your room key.

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These may sound like great benefits, but there are a few things to consider. First of all, anyone can purchase a Magic Band for around $10 and attach their park tickets. These purchased Magic Bands can also be used for FastPass+ reservations. While it may seem convenient to charge directly to your room so you can leave your credit cards and cash in your resort, keep in mind that the system goes down from time to time. As a result, even if you stayed onsite you’d still need to bring a backup payment method.

Extra Magic Hours

orlandovacation_extra-magic-hoursThose who stay onsite have access to what Disney calls Extra Magic Hours. Each day one of the parks is open either one hour early or two hours late. This seems like a great perk, right? Well, it can be – but often isn’t. The reality is that so many people stay onsite, and go to these Extra Magic Hours, that the park offering them is typically much busier than the others. Your options are to get an hour or two extra at a very busy park, or spend the entire day at a park with lower crowds and lower lines. For many people, the latter is the best choice.

Free transportation to and from the parks

First of all, it’s important to think about what “free” really means. Though that’s the word Disney uses, the reality is that it isn’t free at all – it’s simply included in the inflated price you’ll pay to stay onsite. Second of all, there are plenty of other hotel resorts and even Orlando vacation homes that provide shuttles to and from the parks.

Some families like staying offsite because the huge savings allows them to get a rental car, pay for parking at Disney, and still come out ahead! They get the flexibility of coming and going as they’d like, are able to check out other Orlando attractions, and get great savings you’ll only find if you stay offsite.