Friday, 13 November 2015

My Orlando, Florida Travel Tips: Accommodation Pros & Cons

Orlando Florida Accommodation Pros and Cons

In September, for my Travel Tips post dedicated to planning a holiday to Orlando, Florida (or the US more generally) from the very beginning, I said that I would be dedicating an entire blog post to the pros and cons of each type of accommodation widely available to holidaymakers and this is that post.

As always, if you have any questions or queries that you want to send my way please do so as there's nothing I love talking about more than Orlando, Florida. So let's get started!


Walt Disney World Accommodation Pros and Cons


  • Extended theme park hours (aka. Extra Magic Hours)
  • The Disney Dining Plan(s) *I'll be doing a full post on this in the New Year*
  • Complimentary resort transportation and parking
  • Complimentary Magic Bands - Okay, so every time I see one of these it instantly makes me smile for some reason. Your personalised Magic Band, which you can have in a colour of your choice and with your own name on it, allows you to access the theme parks, your hotel room, make payments on Disney property and more. *I might actually do a full post on what makes Disney stand out in terms of complimentary bonuses along with the Disney Dining Plan(s) post. Let me know what you think.*
  • Complimentary Airport Service (aka. Disney's Magical Express) - Normally when we arrive at MCO (Orlando International Airport) after a nine hour flight we then have to wait for our luggage at baggage claim, then head over the road to collect our car rental after what is normally a pretty lengthy queue and after that my dad then has to get to grips with driving on the wrong side of the road and the wrong side of the car before making our way to the villa. Disney's Magical Express removes all of that added time and inconvenience. Your bags are collected from baggage claim on your behalf and meet you at your hotel room and you hop straight onto the Magical Express to get you there.

  • The price - There's no doubt about it, you can get a lot more for your money in terms of space outside Disney as the Disney experience itself definitely comes at a price but for some it will be more than worth the money. It really is dependent on personal preference as to which type of accommodation you choose but hopefully today's post will give some guidance as to what to expect at each kind.
  • The difficulty of travelling offsite - It's basically in Disney's best interest for you to remain onsite and for some there might not be much reason to leave anyway as practically everything that you need (food, entertainment, shopping, the list goes on really) is catered for you there. But for those who want to visit other theme parks, spend a day or a few at the malls or explore Orlando more generally, it can be tricky to get transportation to take you off Disney property. If you don't have a car it can be a bit of waiting game for transportation and if you're planning on leaving Disney property quite frequently it's something worth noting.

Universal Orlando

Universal Orlando Accommodation Pros and Cons


  • Early admission to The Wizarding World Of Harry Potter - If part of the reason that you booked your holiday to Orlando was to visit The Wizarding World Of Harry Potter then you'll be happy to know that a stay on Universal property equates to an hour of early admission each day to this part of the park. This is exclusive to guests staying on Universal Orlando property so it should be considerably less busy and easier for you to take in the magical sights.
  • Universal Express Unlimited Ride Access - Depending on the hotel that you stay at (it is included if you stay at either the Hard Rock Hotel, Loews Portofino Bay Hotel or Loews Royal Pacific Resort) you can skip the regular lines for free. Now that almost sounds too good to be true and could be a real asset to your stay.
  • Complimentary transportation not just confined to within Universal property - An added bonus of staying on Universal property is the fact that not only do you get complimentary transportation to both Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure, as well as CityWalk, you also get complimentary transportation to Wet 'n Wild, SeaWorld and Aquatica.
  • Room only - Now again, depending on what you're wanting from your Orlando, Florida holiday this might be something that's actually a pro for you but for me a hotel being room only isn't ideal. It also makes it that bit more difficult to get away from the crowds and relax as even if you take a day to chill by the pool it will be pretty crowded there too.


Orlando Florida Accommodation Pros and Cons


  • Free shuttles to the theme parks - Most hotels and I'm making a couple of sweeping generalisations when it comes to hotels but most really do operate in the same way in Orlando, offer free shuttles to the main theme parks. This is definitely an added bonus especially for those who aren't renting a car.
  • Proximity to tourist areas - If you want to be right in the heart of the tourist areas I'd certainly recommend booking into a hotel on or in close proximity to International Drive. For a full post dedicated to I-Drive (click here). This means that you're minutes away from, if not within walking distance from, restaurants, shops, entertainment and more.
  • The amenities - Depending on the hotel that you stay at there will obviously be different amenities but here are just a few that exist within the Orlando area; lazy rivers, water park-style slides, a bridge crossing (as pictured) and so much more. 
  • Room only - Again, like most of the resorts as well, room only could be a pro or a con depending on your preference.


Orlando Florida Villa Pros and Cons

  • Space - This is what sells us on a villa every time. The amount of space that you get for your money is unreal! The only negative is that when you get home your house no matter how large it is will basically feel like a shoe box. Hehe.
  • Privacy and Seclusion - Most villas are located around 5-15 minutes from Disney which means that they are in more secluded areas and communities. You can even stay at villas situated in gated communities which gives you that extra level of seclusion and privacy.
  • Extra Amenities - Most villas are part of communities and what I mean by that is the fact that they share communal areas such as tennis, basketball and volleyball courts, large swimming pools, children's play areas and even clubhouses which can often house gyms, games rooms and even restaurants and cafes. Whenever we've stayed we've made good use of these amenities, particularly in the evenings when it's cooled down a little. I do not recommend playing a rigorous game of tennis in the middle of the day in the Floridian heat unless you want to end up ready to pass out! 
  • Your own pool - Most villas come with their own pool and if that's something high up your list of priorities for your Orlando vacation then a villa is your best bet. Most villa owners offer pool heating, for an additional cost and some even have slides, water features and hot tubs. 
  • Value For Money - As I mentioned earlier, staying at a resort or even a hotel can mount up costs pretty quickly. Depending on the number of you staying this can be the most affordable option, even though you might not initially think so. I went into a bit more detail about this in that Planning The Holiday From The Very Beginning post
  • Self Catering: I suppose depending on your own personal preferences this could be a pro or a con (it's definitely a pro for me and my family as I'm a picky eater with IBS and my brother has Crohn's Disease so we really need to watch what we eat) but if you don't want to be cooking on your holiday or finding places to eat on a frequent basis this could be a definite con for you. This also means that you basically have to buy everything that you need whilst you're there which results in quite a few trips to the local supermarkets to buy everything from groceries to toilet paper.
  • A car is a bit of a necessity - If you're not renting a car staying at a villa might not be the smartest move. They are almost always a distance away from tourist areas and getting there from the airport can be a bit of a trip even for experienced Orlando-goers. If you don't have a car you could go down the taxi/Uber route but I can imagine that the money would soon rack up doing it that way.
  • Most villas located a good distance away from the heart of Orlando - Depending on traffic of course, you can often spend about 30 minutes (or even an hour in some cases) driving from your villa to places like International Drive, Universal and several of the malls. It's worth noting if you plan on spending a lot of time in these areas as the time spent sitting in the car might not be worth it if you're planning a lot of days and nights in touristy areas.
So there you have it, my biggest accommodation pros and cons. Next month's Orlando, Florida Travel Tips post will be dedicated to Christmas (a bit like the October post was dedicated to Halloween) and I already can't wait to research what Orlando and some of the theme parks have up their sleeves this festive season.

Have you ever stayed in Orlando? If so, what type of accommodation did you go for? And where would you like to stay in Orlando on your current budget and if money was no option when it comes to the choices above?


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