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How is it to stay onsite disney?

abdibile

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I am reading all the time that it is so great to stay onsite the Disney property in DVC resorts to have the park experience.

I can not imagine how that really works as I have never stayed onsite a Disney park.

Are the hotels really within the gates of the Disney park or only adjanct?

Do you need Disney tickets for the whole week or is park admissions included in an II exchange to DVC resorts or how does that work?

Can you walk the park at night or is the resort fenced from the park and you have to go back to your hotel when the park closes?

Can you easily leave and reenter the resort by car for day trips or do you have to wait for some checks to get to your resort like you wait in line at the entrance when entering the park for a day?

Is DVC also a good choice if you only want to be in the park for half the week and do external daytrips for 3-4 days?


Sorry for the obviously stupid questions, but perhaps anybody who has experienced all this could give me some more insight.

Thanks!
 

Big Matt

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Go review the Disney World Site and look at the maps. Also go the allearsnet and other Disney oriented sites to get some detailed information. I've tried to answer your questions below in bold.

See below:

I am reading all the time that it is so great to stay onsite the Disney property in DVC resorts to have the park experience.

I can not imagine how that really works as I have never stayed onsite a Disney park.

Are the hotels really within the gates of the Disney park or only adjanct? Think of Disney World as a 54 square mile complex of roads, parks, hotels, golf courses, lakes, and other things that are all Disney related. There are no hotels within any of the four theme parks, however, several are right outside the gates and you can walk from your room.

Do you need Disney tickets for the whole week or is park admissions included in an II exchange to DVC resorts or how does that work? Neither. You can stay in a Disney resort and never go to a park or you can buy whatever number of park days you wan. It is not included in your exchange with Intervial.

Can you walk the park at night or is the resort fenced from the park and you have to go back to your hotel when the park closes? You can't walk through the parks when they are closed, however each park has early and late entry/exit times where only those guests staying in Disney resorts can enter before/after the general public.

Can you easily leave and reenter the resort by car for day trips or do you have to wait for some checks to get to your resort like you wait in line at the entrance when entering the park for a day? You get a parking pass when you first arrive and you can come and go as you please after that. You just show your pass when you reenter the Disney resort.

Is DVC also a good choice if you only want to be in the park for half the week and do external daytrips for 3-4 days? Sure. The timeshares are right up there with some of the nicest ones in Orlando. No reason why you wouldn't want to stay there and go elsewhere unless the other places are pretty far away.


Sorry for the obviously stupid questions, but perhaps anybody who has experienced all this could give me some more insight.

Thanks!
 

bnoble

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A handful of resorts are walking distance to a handful of parks. Within DVC, only Beach Club and Boardwalk are within walking distance to Epcot, and (arguably) Studios. When the new Bay Lake Tower comes online, that will be walking distance to Magic Kingdom. The others are not within walking distance to anything. None of them are inside theme park gates.

There are two things to consider. One is the "magic" you get by staying inside the Disney cocoon in a seamless experience. You'll get widely varying opinions on the value of this. Until you try it for yourself, you won't know whether it matters to you.

The second is a set of rather nice perks. The most valuable of them are bus transportation from/to the airport; reasonably convenient transportation internal to the resort; and access to extra time in the theme parks (with valid admission). There are others, but they are what I'd describe as "minor conveniences."

Service at a DVC resort is well above what you'd find at most timeshare resorts, but not equal to what you would expect at better hotels. People like to wax rhapsodic about "Disney Service", but if you've stayed at a really top-shelf facility (e.g. a Four Seasons or Ritz Carlton), you'll discover that Disney is not in that league. It's comparable to a nice Hilton, or perhaps a Sheraton (but not quite a Westin).

You need to purchase admission separately. A car is very convenient, and necessary if you plan to do non-Disney things.
 

Lisa P

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"Within the gates of Disney" is a description that causes much confusion.

First, there are the giant, purple, overhead, archway signs that you drive under when entering Disney-owned property or land from a couple directions. People refer to these arches/signs as "gates" because there's a "maingate" entrance. Offsite area hotels have referred to their locations as "maingate east" or "maingate west." These purple arches are not really gates. However, people still talk about staying within the gates of Disney, when staying somewhere that requires you to pass under them, "Welcome to Walt Disney World." There's plenty of selection for accommodations on the "inside" of these "gates," from Disney hotels and timeshares and campground, to hotels leased from Disney by chain hotels, to a Wyndham timeshare, which actually is located offsite, but next door to a Disney hotel and so you never see a sign/arch/gate indicating you're leaving Disney property. All very confusing to most people.

Then, each theme park has an actual gate or turnstile, where you must use an admission ticket or pass to enter the theme park. These are the true gates of Disney. There is NO lodging within these gates, though a handful of the Disney resorts are close enough to walk to one or two of the parks.

As for DVC (Disney Vacation Club) resorts being a good choice as an exchange when you'd only spend half the week there and half the week visiting offsite places, I think the answer is mixed.

On one hand, with only a couple of days at the Disney parks, you could maximize your visits to the parks by taking advantage of the Extra hours afforded to onsite Disney guests. This is only an advantage if you'd use them, of course, and stay at the parks for very long days (or early and late hours, at least). Magical Express airport shuttles (free bus) is an onsite guest benefit but if you'd have a vehicle (recommended) to reach offsite attractions, then this would not benefit you.

OTOH, the Disney resorts are not particularly convenient to Universal parks or Sea World. If you plan to visit those, you may find the S. Int'l Drive area and Sea World area to be more centrally located for visiting a variety of theme parks... maybe one of the lovely HGVCs or Marriotts or the Sheraton Villages??? I-4 is the usual route, when traveling to offsite attractions from Disney and it's terribly busy with crazy rush hour traffic. Folks staying in S. Int'l Dr area may avoid I-4 and easily use alternate routes to Univeral and Sea World. And DVC is the only timeshare company in the area that will charge you an extra "Resort Fee" ($95) at check-in, as an II exchanger. If you would not be using the airport shuttle or most of the extra hours and if you'd be spending more on gas to get around in the long run by staying at Disney, it may not be worth it to you to go through the extra wait to trade into Disney. Although, onsite guests are spared the daily ($12) parking fee at the Disney parks.

Anyway, I guess it just depends on what you want from your vacation. HTH.
 
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lprstn

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I don't own at DVC but I've stayed on Disney property (@ Fort Wilderness which is a 1 bedroom cabin that sleeps 6 and Port Orleans). I'd say I liked it for some reasons and didn't like it for others.

What I liked
- There are a limited number of free activities for resort member like the Chip & Dale Campfire songs
- The onsite transportation
- The Magic Hours (extra hours of the park opened to guest staying on site)
- The themed designs of all the resorts
- The staff is very hospitable
- They leave little towel animals on your bed
- You can have Mickey call you
- You can have a carraige ride (not free but offered)
- Onsite daycare center so you and your spouse can go out to eat (not free but offered)
- Onsite character play programs (not free but offered)

What I didn't like
- Depending on where you stay on resort your pool and amenities are far away from you.
- Other resorts have more free/diverse activities than staying on Disney (We stayed at Orange Lake and had a blast when not at the Parks) and DH doesn't want continuous Disney or Disney TV
- Small accomadations compared to some other resort dwellings I compared it to...although Fort Wilderness was a treat.

Lastly, its something you want to try at least once...if its your first time there and you may never go again...than definately stay on property if possible.
 

rsnash

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Extra Hours Q?

If you are already in a park and it is an extra magic hours night... How do they prevent non-Disney resident guests from using those extra hours?
 

veenstra56

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There are thousands of variables that can affect your level of enjoyment when it comes to a Disneyworld vacation. When it comes to accomodations, many people swear by the Disney resorts, but others think that they are overpriced and no better than a dozen or more off-site properties. I happen to believe that a Disney resort stay absolutely makes for a more pleasant experience.

If I had relatives abroad and was asked to help make their first ever Disney trip a more "magical" one, I would definitely suggest that they stay on site, at least during the Disney portion of their vacation. The resorts I would recommend for first timers would be based on proximity to Disney parks and reputations for general quality and service. My picks are (in no particular order):

Boardwalk Inn and Villas (hotel/DVC)
Beach Club (hotel/DVC)
Wilderness Lodge (hotel/DVC)
Polynesian (hotel)
Port Orleans Riverside (hotel)

With Boardwalk and Beach Club, it is an easy walk to Epcot. Disney Studios is also within walking distance, though a bit further. Water taxis are also available and drop guests off at the doorsteps of Epcot and D.S.

Wilderness Lodge is close to the Magic Kingdom, and watercraft is available to the M.K.

The Polynesian is on the monorail line and will also brings guests right to the M.K.

I included Port Orleans Riverside because it is widely considered the best of the moderately-priced Disney hotels. It is not especially close to any park, but Disney does provide busses to and from all the parks.

Seven different people are likely to give seven different opinions when it comes to the perfect Disney experience. My opinion is based on about a dozen Disney trips over the last eight years, staying both offsite and onsite, at DVC resorts, offsite condos, and about everything else.

Good luck with your decision.
 

cindi

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If you are already in a park and it is an extra magic hours night... How do they prevent non-Disney resident guests from using those extra hours?
When the parks close, they usher everyone out. To get the after hours, you stand in lines that are set up at the various exit points, show the cast member your disney room key and they give you a wrist band. If you don't have a wrist bad, they will require you to exit the park.
 

kapish

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It is definitely worth staying at a DVC property at least once. The free transportation (within Disney) and some of the perks are worth it. Since we wanted to explore areas outside of WDW we rented a car. Simple. Here are some pictures and discussions related to our trip to WDW in February 2007.



Disney's Magical Express at the Old Key West
 
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capjak

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There is no comparison. Staying at DVC resorts makes the trip.

When we go to BCV and stay we always do other Parks (universal/seaworld/aquatica/island of adventure/Discovery Cove/Coco Beach/Kenedy Space center etc....)

BCV and BWV are walking distance to Disney studios and epcot, you have a entrance directly into Epcot. You can also take a boat or bus to the parks.
 

littlestar

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I'm a Disney Vacation Club owner and a Marriott owner. I like Disney and Marriott's resorts in Orlando for different reasons. Disney Vacation Club resorts are "themed" and great for the convenience of using their transportation to do the Disney parks.

When we want to "relax" or do things in the Seaworld area and shop the outlets, I like staying at Marriott's Cypress Harbour or Marriott Horizons (Marriott Horizons has pirate themed pools with slides if you have younger kids). Both of these resorts are very close to Seaworld. As a matter a fact, the last two times we have stayed at Marriott Cypress Harbour, we could see Seaworld's fireworks from our front living room window. :D

The only Disney DVC resorts that allow you to "walk" to a park are Boardwalk Villas or Beach Club Villas (Epcot resorts). There's a back entrance to Epcot at the International Gateway from those two DVC resorts. You can take a looong walk to Disney Studios (MGM), too, or a boat ride.

We're excited to be staying at Sheraton Vistana after we check out of our Disney Old Key West unit when we head down to Orlando in a few weeks (I got a fantastic deal on an RCI "Last Call" for $243 in a one bedroom!!!) I really like trying out different resorts in Orlando, as there are so many terrific ones depending on what kind of trip you have planned - :)
 
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Sea Six

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One thing my wife likes about staying on-site is that they will send your packages to the gift shop in your resort lobby, so you don't have to drag all those bags around all day. I don't like it so much because she spends 5 times as much because she doesn't have to drag all the bags around with her all day. :(
 

icydog

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We own DVC and Marriott and a few other ts as well. The experience on site is so much better than when we stay in off site timeshares. One of the reasons is the ability to take a bus or walk into the parks. It enables you to leave when you want and not feel you have to stuff too much into your day. At night you can easily return to the parks when you are all refreshed.

Also the pools and the resorts are top notch. Some of the nicest in the world. We love DVC for Walt Disney World. We love our Marriotts for non Disney vacations. So far this has worked for us. We have been members for 17 years now and don't regret a minute or the money we have spent there.
 

Darlene

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There are hotels that are extremely convenient to the parks. Our first stay was at the Polynesean which was great with small kids. We could be back to our room in 15 minutes since it is on the monorail line adjacent to Magic Kingdom. We have also stayed at Old Key West (DVC) which was nice, a little harder to get around with because it is on the bus line. Disney Boardwalk (DVC) is great because it is at the back of Epcot.
Does anyone know how Cinderella's Castle works? I know they only have a few rooms, that would be so wierd to be in the park at night.
 

bnoble

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One of the reasons is the ability to take a bus or walk into the parks. It enables you to leave when you want and not feel you have to stuff too much into your day.
BT (Before Timeshare) I used to rent at Windsor Hills, a development of whole-ownership condos, townhomes, and detatched homes w/private pools that are zoned for short-term rental. The door-to-turnstile time for most parks (other than MK) was shorter than the average time taking the bus from Old Key West.

The Castle has precisely one suite. It is not for rent (yet). Nightly stays have been used as prizes in the current Year of a Million Dreams promoption. That promotion ends this month; I have not heard what they'll do with it next.
 

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Staying at Disney vs. Offsite

As a veteran visitor to Disney - at least once or twice a year for the last thirty or so years - I have to say I love staying on-site. There is just something magical when you drive through those heavily landscaped gates and Mickey welcomes you with big white gloves to your new home away from home. You just know you are going to get that Tink dust sprinkled on you as soon as you get in line to pick up that thick registration packet. And the perks are good - park your car and let the bus take you there, come back mid-day to change your shoes and head out again, early entry when only you (and a few thousand others) get in before those non-onsite-ers usually avoiding lines to some of the better rides, getting to spend $12 for a cup so you get "free coffee" every morning. Oh it is special. Really most of the moderates and above resorts are great fun and very nicely landscaped. We like to walk around the grounds and admire what they have done. My husband would rather hang out at the resort that do the parks. Stay on site at least once. It is so worth it.
I will admit the units are not particularly roomy but they are cute and the washcloth animals are great. And I have been very happy with this until a few years ago, we stayed at HGVC and had a big kitchen, a w/d, two porches and all that room and a little of the dust blew away. But we will be at the BC in November and I am counting the days.
 

rickandcindy23

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Tell me more about the coffee mug for $12.00? I have stayed at Disney resorts about 10 times and had no idea! Can you get cocoa, tea, soda? :) Where can you refill it?
 

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I hope I'm not a naysayer, but I enjoy visiting Disney and then going to stay at my offsite timeshare. I stayed onsite once and felt kind of trapped - and I LOVE Disneyworld. That's the beauty of it I guess. To each his own:)

Have fun not matter what!!

Cindy,

We have been able to get a refillable mug at the giftshop or outdoor bar at Saratoga Springs and Coronado Springs. Good Deal for a week!
 

Lisa P

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Is DVC also a good choice if you only want to be in the park for half the week and do external daytrips for 3-4 days?
There have been many posts regarding preference for staying onsite/offsite for a Disney vacation but what do you all think about this? What about for the person who will spend just as much time offsite as at Disney?
 

EAM

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There have been many posts regarding preference for staying onsite/offsite for a Disney vacation but what do you all think about this? What about for the person who will spend just as much time offsite as at Disney?
Even if you did not go to a single theme park, you'd still get the benefit of the free transportation from the airport and delivery of your luggage to your room. Since you are not going to a theme park, you'd need a car. You could take Disney transportation to a couple of sites where you could rent one. When leaving, you could check in your luggage (for transfer to most major airlines) at your resort and take the Magical Express back to the airport.

The Disney timeshares are very nice. Maybe not top of the line, but close enough for me. "Mousekeeping" will provide small appliances such as blender upon request.

There are also activities at the resorts, pools, etc. There are lots of things you can do without buying a theme park ticket. You can explore the other resorts via Disney transportation and see the electric parade on the lake from the beach at Wilderness Lodge.

Most of the resorts have nice restaurants on site.

From OKW, you can take a free boat ride to Downtown Disney and back.

I've stayed at two Wyndhams near Disney World as well as OLCC, and I've also stayed on site. For the theme parks, I'd rather stay onsite. If I wasn't going to the theme parks, I'd be happy at either location, but being able to avoid the luggage hassles makes staying on-site preferable then, too.
 

Twinkstarr

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I am reading all the time that it is so great to stay onsite the Disney property in DVC resorts to have the park experience.

I can not imagine how that really works as I have never stayed onsite a Disney park.

Are the hotels really within the gates of the Disney park or only adjanct?

Do you need Disney tickets for the whole week or is park admissions included in an II exchange to DVC resorts or how does that work?

Can you walk the park at night or is the resort fenced from the park and you have to go back to your hotel when the park closes?

Can you easily leave and reenter the resort by car for day trips or do you have to wait for some checks to get to your resort like you wait in line at the entrance when entering the park for a day?

Is DVC also a good choice if you only want to be in the park for half the week and do external daytrips for 3-4 days?


Sorry for the obviously stupid questions, but perhaps anybody who has experienced all this could give me some more insight.

Thanks!
Our Thanksgiving trip will be our first with a car. We're staying at Saratoga Springs(the only resort that all 4 of us can agree on). I've never noticed a line coming into the resort(they give you a card to put in the window).

I'll let you know how this all works out!
 

islandog

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Coffee Mugs

You get the coffee mugs at the resort's food court or internal store. Each resort has its own design and you are supposed to use it only at that resort for the length of the visit. I got two at the Caribbean Resort about 8 years ago and at that time they said you could use them forever. Anyhow now the signs say just for that visit. But I have seen old ones and new ones being used and heard no rebuffs. I have also seen mugs from other resorts being used. You get all the coffee, tea, cocoa and I believe soft drinks you want from the time the food court opens until it closes and we take advantage of it. Last November when we stayed at Port Orleans, we would drink about a gallon of coffee and hot cocoa while sitting on the benches by the river. Just some more of that Disney magic.
 

littlestar

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Marriott's Cypress Harbour and Grande Vista have the refillable mug program like the Disney resorts. Starbucks coffee at the Marriotts - :D I wish Marriott Horizons had a general store with the refillable mug program, too, but they don't (or at least they didn't the last time I stayed there).
 

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You didn't say if you were traveling with children, so it was a little harder to be to-the-point on this post. You've had numerous responses, but here is our experience having traveled to Orlando about 8 times in the past 14 years with children:

Our first time in Orlando, when our oldest was 2 1/2 and we were extending a business trip for a little fun in Orlando, we stayed at the Marriott World Center, which is a huge convention hotel, but it was fun and had great pools and catered to adults a bit more than kids I'd say.

If your vacation will focus on Disney World, and if you have young children, staying at Disney is great. Everything at Disney is catered to kids (except for one restaurant at the Grand Floridian), and the resort feels like another world. We've stayed at the Grand Floridian (lovely!), the Contemporary, Dolphin, Old Key West and the Boardwalk and Beach Club Villas. OKW has the largest rooms and we were next to a nice satellite pool, so it was good, but the Boardwalk is by far the most fun for kids (with the Beach Club a 5 minute walk or quick boat ride across a small lake) for kids. Many restaurants and activities right on site and an easy walk to Epcot, our favorite park. If I had toddlers/early elementary school age, knowing what I know now I'd probably pick Wilderness Lodge, but my kids were 8 and 12 at the Boardwalk and it was a near perfect experience. The extra access to the park, generally an hour earlier each morning to at least 1 theme park, makes alot of sense to maximize theme park time on that first visit. We also really appreciated the on-site stores sending purchases to our room! We always bring a car as the resort is huge and we have limited patience for the buses, but the boat to and from Old Key West to Downtown Disney is fun.

We did use OKW, Boardwalk and Beach Villas as a base for seeing Sea World and Discovery Cove for a couple of trips, and it was fine.

On our last few trips we've stayed outside the park at Grand Vista and Sheraton properties and Cypress Pointe. I think those resorts are great when you do not plan to spend every day at Disney. We are to the point where we'll spend 1 full day/night at Epcot and buy the evening ticket for the Magic Kingdom and that is enough of the park for us, spending the other time at Orlando's other great sites and kicking back at the pool.

So all of that was a long way to say if your vacation will focus at least half of your time at Walt Disney World, I'd recommend staying on property for at least that time period (my personal choices are Boardwalk Villas if you are bringing children and The Beach Club Villas without), and you will not go wrong if you spend all of you vacation based there.

Hope you have a great trip!
 

pianodinosaur

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We stayed at the Grosevenor in 2000 and signed up for a discounted weekend in 2001 at the DoubleTree. Both are on Disney grounds. It turned out that the discounted weekend at the DoubleTree required came with a visit to HGVC Seaworld. That is how we got into timesharing. We didn't know about TUG until this year.

The transportation on Disney grounds was very convenient then and I am sure it still is today.
 
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