Where to Stay:
If you are going for that once in a lifetime trip or even just a few times in a lifetime I highly recommend staying on property. The ease of transportation, magic and dining plan make it worth it. We stayed on property at Art of Animation for Em’s 5th birthday. But if you want to stretch your dollars further and visit more often like us then saving money off property is key. Disney’s Polynesian is on my ultimate wish list. Of course extra magic hours, early fast pass bookings are a perk of staying on property but we have not every missed something or lacked fun because we did not get a fast pass or dining reservation we wanted. Keep checking Disney’s reservations like a crazy person and you will prevail. Most recently I landed Ohana reservations on a Saturday night.
My favorite spot to stay of course is close to Disney Springs. That way you can easily stroll right onto Disney Property. Last December we stayed at Wyndham Lake Buena Vista. They have buses to take you to and from the parks and of course magic is within walking distance across the street at Disney Springs. Any of the hotels in this area would have worked. We also walked to Giordano’s and the grocery store.
We have also stayed at the Baymont Inn Celebration twice (once for the National Championship Tampa game and once for a Disney trip). We usually locate deals on Priceline or other such websites. Recently we booked through our credit card rewards and essentially stayed for $45/night. They also have buses to Disney and an Uber is around $11 dollars per trip for three people. You miss out on a little of the Disney experience by staying off property but we would have not been able to go as much as we have if we did not stay off property.
We have only purchased tickets directly from Disney or Ryan’s work website. To me they are too precious and expensive to risk third party discounted tickets.
For those staying on property I feel the dining plan is usually a good deal, especially if you travel in the fall during Disney’s free dining plan promotion. Some variables maybe small children that wont eat much, planning to not eat every meal on property, if your family in general does not eat much. When we traveled there in May 2015 we had four adults in our room (ps we all love to eat). We also ate some expensive meals such as breakfast at Cinderella’s Castle, Dinner at Be our Guest and dinner at Ohana. We also spent our snack credits only on snacks that were over 5 dollars. You can find the menu and prices online for most on site venues. Tally them up and see what works for your family.
The first time we went to Disney we paid for this. Photographs mean the world to me and I am so glad we have them. It is worth it to me. I am going to always make my family stop and take pictures. Photo Pass Photographers will take photographs with your own cameras but the magic shots and extras make it worth it to me. Obviously you can totally do without and have a spectacular time. If you have the money spend go for it. If you don’t save up for experiences and another trip.
The amount of good resources and Disney blogs floating on the web is crazy but here are some of my favorites.
Here is a list of some other good Disney blogs.