Article from USA Today - June 8, 2005
Disney World resorts vs. off-site hotels: Which option is better? [Article is edited. Please read for complete version.]

When planning to visit one of the world's most popular destinations, Walt Disney World in Orlando, the first question on many people's minds is where to stay: at an official Disney resort or off site? Cost is an important factor, of course, but so is the quality of your experience. For many families, particularly those from out of state, a Disney trip is a rare treat. Expectations for the experience are high. Balancing those expectations with good hotel value can be tricky, so being informed about your options is vital.

Why stay at a Disney resort?
There are more than 20 official Disney-owned resorts on property, with accommodations ranging from campsites at Disney's Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground to deluxe villas at Disney's Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa. There are many benefits to staying at one of these resorts:
  1. Proximity to the Disney attractions.
  2. Free use of Disney's intra-park transportation, including the monorail, boats and buses.
  3. Free airport transfers and luggage delivery with Disney's Magical Express.
  4. More time in the parks with Extra Magic Hours.
  5. Guaranteed entry into the theme parks, even when parking lots are full.
  6. Use of a Disney concierge.
  7. More Disney "Magic." As with everything else at Disney, resorts are not merely functional, they are an experience unto themselves.

Why stay off site
Disney resorts have many benefits, however, staying off property may be better for your trip.
  1. If money is your biggest concern, you'll generally pay less staying outside of Disney World.
  2. If you want a lot of space and prefer to book a suite, you'll find more options and lower rates outside Disney.
  3. If you plan on visiting other Orlando attractions such as Sea World or the Universal Parks, staying off site may be more convenient, especially if you don't have a car.
  4. If you're looking for an upscale place with amenities for couples or business travelers, there are plenty of properties that offer golf, spa treatments, fine dining and business centers without the kitsch and cost of Disney's more adult-friendly resorts.

Making the choice
Making the best decision means doing your homework. Figure out what's most important to each member of your group. Then, go online or pick up a guidebook and learn about the hotels and resorts that fit your interests and budget. Visit Disney World 's Web site. For off site hotels, start with the Orlando Convention and Visitors Bureau Web site.