Orlando Vacation Homes vs. Disney World Hotels?

Are you trying to decide between booking a hotel or a rental home at Walt Disney World in Florida? When planning a Disney trip, it’s easy to go overboard. But you won’t have a good time if you break the bank or have an uncomfortable stay. Answer our questionnaire and read about the pros and cons of Orlando vacation homes vs. Disney World Hotels so you can make the right choice for your family!

Magic Village Vacation Homes in Kissimmee, FL
Magic Village Vacation Homes in Kissimmee (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

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1. Theming and Entertainment

Disney goes over the top with theming, both at its amusement parks and its hotels. For non-stop Disney action, an on-site resort is where to stay. From the African savannah with roaming giraffes at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge to the playfulness of Disney*Pixar cartoons at the Art of Animation Resort, there’s a theme to suit everyone.

Giraffes wandering the grounds at Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge
Giraffes wandering the grounds at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge (Photo credit: Preston Mack, Disney)

Some vacationers, though, like a reprieve from Mickey and friends. Escaping the Disney bubble by spending the night away from the hubbub of the parks may be a more relaxing option for these families. Additionally, many vacation rental properties in Orlando and Kissimmee offer themed kids’ rooms with Mickey Mouse, Disney Princesses, Star Wars, or Harry Potter touches. Plus, some vacation rental properties offer fun extras like game rooms and playgrounds.

Mickey-themed bedroom at a Kissimmee vacation rental home
Mickey-themed bedroom at a Kissimmee vacation rental home (Photo from VRBO.com)

2. Location and Transportation

If being as close to the parks as possible is super important to your family, it may be worth the extra expense and potentially limited space to book a hotel or resort near the theme parks. Additionally, staying on property means free transportation to and from the airport via Disney’s Magical Express buses.

Disney hotel guests also receive complimentary transportation to and from Walt Disney World Theme Parks and Disney Springs via monorail, boat, bus, or Skyliner gondola lift system. Although Disney claims that transportation departs every 20 minutes from the resort hotels to the theme parks, there are often delays, so you should plan for it to take longer.

Disney's Magical Express bus
Disney’s Magical Express bus (Photo credit: Disney)

Many Disney World vacation rental homes and off-site hotels offer complimentary shuttle service to the parks, too. Pick-up and drop-off times, however, will likely be more limited than when staying at a Disney property. Although a theme park shuttle was available at the Magic Village Vacation Homes, where my family recently stayed in Kissimmee, we happily paid for ride shares to Disney World theme parks so we could come and go according to our own schedule.

If renting a car, be sure to budget for daily rental prices and parking fees. You should also consider the time it will take to park your rental car and take Disney transportation from the lot to the attractions. Those staying at a Disney hotel can often get free parking at the theme parks.

Disney Skyliner transportation
Disney Skyliner transports guests at Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Epcot to four resort hotels (Photo credit: David Roark, Disney)

3. Good Night’s Sleep

One of the most important and most overlooked aspects of a successful trip is a good night’s sleep. Sure, it’s not the most exciting thing to plan for, but restful sleep is essential for a happy vacation. A vacation home typically provides the most bedrooms and beds at the best price, which is a great benefit, especially for larger families.

Master bedroom at Magic Village Vacation Homes in Kissimmee
Principle bedroom at Magic Village Vacation Homes in Kissimmee (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

As a light sleeper who sometimes suffers from insomnia, I learned long ago that a hotel suite, connecting rooms, or rental home with multiple bedrooms is necessary for my family. Sometimes, I forget those painfully long vacation days with bleary eyes and cranky kids and opt to book a single hotel room for all of us. Then, I always regret it.

Since we sleep separately at home, we fare better when we stay in separate rooms when traveling, too. However, if your family members co-sleep at home or you are deep sleepers, then a single hotel room may make the most sense for you.

Twin beds at Magic Village Vacation Homes in Kissimmee, FL
My kids appreciated the separate beds in the bedroom they shared at Magic Village Vacation Homes (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

4. Value

On-property hotel room pricing at Disney World comes at a premium, even when choosing one of their Value Resorts. Non-Disney hotels close to the theme parks typically come with a hefty price tag, too. If budget is a big factor for your family, you can get a lot more bang for your buck the further you go from the amusement parks. The nearby city of Kissimmee has tons of hotels and vacation home rentals to choose from, often at affordable prices.

Exterior of the "Finding Nemo" wings at Disney's Art of Animation Resort
Exterior of the “Finding Nemo” wings at Disney’s Art of Animation Resort (Photo credit: Matt Stroshane, Disney)

Typically, you’ll get better value if you forego the hotels and resorts in favor of a vacation rental home, condominium or apartment. Of course, if price is of no concern, you could always spring for a Disney Deluxe Villa — a vacation rental option on property at Disney World.

Magic Village Vacation Rental Home
View from the second floor at our Magic Village vacation rental home (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

5. Space for the Whole Family

When traveling with babies and young children, you probably don’t want to go to bed at the same time as your offspring. That’s when having a separate living area at a vacation rental comes in handy. It’s so nice to have a space away from the kids after bedtime to chat and maybe have a nightcap with your honey. Extra space means room for privacy, as well. After all, what travel is complete without a little vacation romance?!

My husband relaxing on the balcony at our Magic Village vacation home
My husband relaxing on the balcony at our Magic Village vacation home (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

If visiting Disney World with tweens or teens, they will want their privacy, too. When my kids were wee, they were happy to share a pull-out sofa bed. Now that they are older, though, the cramped space is uncomfortable, and they want their own spaces.

Even if you don’t want to book a separate bedroom for each child, many rented private homes offer rooms with twin beds or even bunk beds. (Always a treat for kids!)

Lion King-themed bathroom at Disney's Art of Animation Resort
Lion King-themed bathroom at Disney’s Art of Animation Resort (Photo credit: Kent Phillips, photographer)

6. Extra Bathrooms

Time is valuable, especially while on vacation. If the whole family needs to use one bathroom to get ready in the morning before a big Disney day, it’s going to be harder to get out the door. Two or more bathrooms make morning and evening routines easier for all. This is especially true when traveling with teens who may need more time to primp. Extra bathrooms mean more privacy for every family member, too.

Zero-entry pool at Magic Village Vacation Homes
Zero-entry pool with fountains at Magic Village Vacation Homes (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

7. Swimming Pools

All Disney properties offer swimming pools, and some of them are elaborately themed. Many offer water slides, fountains, or waterfalls. Similarly, lots of vacation rental properties in Kissimmee and the Orlando area offer pools with splash pads, zero-entry, slides, and lazy rivers. Some private homes even come with their own private pool!

Swimming pool with waterslide at Disney's Fort Wilderness Resort
Swimming pool with waterslide at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

8. Dining

A full-size kitchen is one of the best things about booking a vacation home. Having a refrigerator to store breakfast foods, travel snacks, and drinks makes life easier. Most full kitchens in rental houses and condos come with a microwave, stove, oven, dishes, silverware, cookware, dishwasher, and maybe even a barbecue and blender. After a long day at the parks, it’s nice to come back to a peaceful place where you can make simple meals or pop some popcorn and sip a tasty beverage.

Modern kitchen at Magic Village Vacation Homes in Kissimmee, FL
Modern kitchen at our Magic Village vacation rental (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

Dining in for breakfast saves lots of money during vacation and means more time in the parks. Plus, when most kids wake up in the morning, they want to eat NOW. You can pack meals to bring into the parks for even more savings.

Villagio Restaurant at Magic Village Vacation Homes
Villagio Restaurant at Magic Village (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

Some Orlando and Kissimmee vacation rental properties, like Magic Village, offer one or more on-site restaurants. But if you prefer to dine out for every meal during your Disney vacation, there are plenty of dining options in and near the Disney and Universal Theme Parks and at Disney Resort hotels, including room service.

Boma Flavors of Africa buffet at Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge
Boma Flavors of Africa buffet at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

9. Laundry Options

When visiting Disney World for a week or more, you’ll likely need to do vacation laundry at some point. Even during shorter stays, you may want to pop in a load of laundry after a rainy day, messy meal, or wet water ride.

Thankfully, a lot of vacation homes in Kissimmee and Orlando offer the convenience of an in-unit washing machine and dryer. I thought we’d packed enough clothing to avoid doing laundry during our recent Disney World vacation home stay. But I was wrong, and I sure was happy when I could easily throw in a load before heading to the parks and find it nice and clean upon our return.

Full-sized washer and dryer at Magic Village Vacation Homes
Full-sized washer and dryer at Magic Village Vacation Homes (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

Disney offers a variety of laundry options. Most Disney properties have self-service laundry facilities, with some operated by coin and others by credit/debit cards. Meanwhile, Disney Deluxe Villas come equipped with an in-room washer and dryer. All Disney Resort hotels offer dry cleaning and valet laundry service, but this option can be quite expensive.

Family room and living room at Magic Village Vacation Homes in Kissimmee, Florida
Family room and living room at our Magic Village Vacation Home (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

Magic Village Vacation Homes

My family absolutely loved our vacation home at Magic Village in Kissimmee! We had plenty of space to spread out and relax, including an upstairs balcony and a downstairs patio (with a hot tub!). Both of these overlooked a picturesque pond. Making breakfast in the well-equipped, modern kitchen was so much easier, healthier and more affordable than eating out every morning, too. The three-bedroom townhouse was incredibly clean when we arrived, and we chose to pay to have the place cleaned once during our nine-night stay.

We have stayed in multiple vacation homes over the years, and this was definitely one of our favorites. This home was so nice, in fact, I could really envision living there comfortably long-term. Book your stay at Magic Village Vacation Homes or read reviews on Expedia now.

Disney's Contemporary Resort hotel room
A family in a Disney’s Contemporary Resort hotel room (Photo credit: Preston Mack, Disney)

Orlando Vacation Home vs. Disney World Hotel Questionnaire

Answer the questions below and rank each of these nine factors from most to least important for your entire family to determine the best lodging option for your Disney World vacation!

  • Do you want a retreat from the excitement of theme parks, or do you prefer an immersive Disney experience?
  • Do you mind staying off-property, or do you want to be as close to the action as possible?
  • Do you prefer separate sleeping spaces, or does your family not mind sleeping together in one hotel room?
  • Are you looking for ways to cut travel costs, or is money of no concern when it comes to your Disney vacation?
  • Do you want privacy and space at a vacation rental, or do you like family togetherness at a Disney hotel?
  • Do you want extra bathrooms at a vacation home, or do you not mind sharing a bathroom in a hotel?
  • How important is a themed swimming pool in choosing your Orlando/Kissimmee accommodations?
  • Do you want to eat some meals and snacks at a vacation rental home, or do you plan to dine out for every meal?
  • What type of laundry do you prefer: an in-unit washer and dryer, a self-service laundry facility, or valet laundry service?
Teen and mom in horse-drawn carriage at Disney's Fort Wilderness
Riding in a horse-drawn carriage with my teen at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground (Photo credit: Travel Mamas)

Explore More of Florida

If hotels are more your style, take a look at these hotels in Kissimmee and Orlando resorts via Hotels.com.

To make the most of your trip to Florida, be sure to review our essential tips for planning a Disney World vacation.

From alligators to outer space, explore Orlando’s top attractions for families.

Traveling without kids? Read our tips for fun activities in Orlando for adults like themed downtown Orlando bars, water sports, and spa days.

Discover what to do in Fort Lauderdale with kids and teens, from the famous Water Taxi to the pretty Flamingo Gardens.

Walt Disney World Hotels vs. Orlando Vacation Homes?

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Disney World Vacation Home Rentals Vs. Disney Hotels

Which do you think would work best for your family — Orlando vacation homes or Disney World hotels?

Experience Kissimmee and Magic Village Vacation Rental Homes hosted my family during our recent Walt Disney World vacation. I did not receive any monetary compensation from either entity related to this blog post. All opinions are mine, as always.

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  1. So many cool options! We might be heading to Disney World soon. Magic Village look seems awesome. I love the Village Restaurant interior design!

  2. I have stayed on Disney resorts and hotels but not a vacation home. I would love to explore staying on a vacation home property.