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Walt Disney World Packages Vs. Do-It-Yourself Vacations

Vacation package deals are almost always about saving money.

Travelers with unlimited funds may purchase a package out of convenience, but most folks are looking for a great deal. When looking at a Disney World vacation, the official Magic Your Way vacation packages are generally a good bargain. However, sometimes it makes more sense to create your own vacation package out of Disney special offers, non-Disney bargains in the Orlando area, or a combination of both.

Finding Other Deals Through Disney

Magic Your Way vacation packages are available throughout the year, but Disney also posts special offers periodically with discounts ranging from small to irresistible. If you are willing to be patient with your vacation planning, you may be able to secure steeper discounts on Disney resort hotels, free Disney dining plans, or other deals that give better value for the pieces of your “package” even when you book them separately.

Both Disney vacation packages and special offers will give you the best possible value for onsite Disney World accommodations, dining, and Disney World tickets. If spending your entire vacation onsite at the Disney World resort is a priority, these are the places to look in order to keep to a tight budget.

Looking Elsewhere for Packages and Discounts

If you do not insist on staying at a Disney World resort hotel during your vacation, the search field for deals and discounts becomes much wider. Disney World is the single largest tourist attraction in Orlando, and many hotels and other tourist resources in the area rely on Disney World visitors nearly as much as the official onsite resort hotels do.

Non-Disney hotels by the hundreds can be found in the Downtown Disney resort area, in the miles between Walt Disney World and the center of Orlando, and throughout the rest of the city’s metropolitan area. With competition for tourist dollars so fierce, discounts are easy to find all over the Orlando area. Disney hotels are very popular, so Disney has much less incentive to offer bargain basement specials to draw crowds their way. In contrast, offsite hotels, rental car companies, and restaurants all have a lot of players in their league and constantly seek ways to distance themselves from the competition.

Booking everything through Disney is convenient and sometimes offers the best deal.  But if price is paramount, be sure to do your homework.

Booking everything through Disney is convenient and sometimes offers the best deal.  But if price is paramount, be sure to do your homework.

It’s difficult to beat the convenience of a Disney World resort hotel, but offsite locations do their best to bridge the gap. Most offer free transportation from the airport, just as the Disney World Magical Express buses do. Many also provide complimentary shuttles to the Disney World resort theme parks, although the ride is usually somewhat longer than it would be if you were traveling from an onsite resort.

Third Party Booking


Non-Disney hotels in the Orlando area frequently engage in third-party booking. Discount websites and online travel agencies typically book reservations for a large number of hotels, and are able to offer a reduced rate for rooms that they reserve in bulk. They may also have last minute deals in an effort to fill each and every room that they reserved. In contrast, guests may only book Disney World resort hotels through Disney itself, and these third party bulk-rate discounts do not come into play.

Combining Flights and Hotels

Another limitation of official Disney World packages is that they only include Disney World resort offerings: resort hotels, parks, restaurants, etc. For many guests, that leaves out one or two major expenses of their Disney World vacation, especially flights and rental cars.

In addition to competitive deals on individual vacation items, third-party booking agents also entice business their way by offering extra discounts for booking flights and hotels at the same time. Depending on your point of departure, this could mean combining the two most expensive components of a Disney World vacation into the best deal possible.

For guests on the west coast of the United States, for example, a flight to Orlando will likely cost more than a three or four day Magic Your Way ticket to the Disney World theme parks. Guests traveling from even farther away may even find that the cost of their flight out prices even their hotel room. For these folks, finding the best price for a flight and hotel combination may be the number one priority.

Check out packages that combine travel options like hotel and flight.

Check out packages that combine travel options like hotel and flight.

On the other hand, guests who live close enough to take advantage of super cheap flights – or even drive – are probably less concerned about getting the best deal available on travel and accommodations. They may find it more cost effective to save on a Disney World resort hotel and theme park ticket package, especially during a time of year when Disney advertizes free dining plans with the purchase of any Magic Your Way vacation package.

Do You Need a Rental Car?

If you do fly to Orlando for your Disney World vacation, you need to decide whether or not to add a rental car to your expenses. If you are extremely budget conscious, it is certainly cheaper to rely on a shuttle service, or on complimentary shuttle services if your hotel provides them. Fortunately, many offsite hotels can get you to and from the airport, and to and from the Disney World theme parks, at no cost whatsoever.

However, relying on complimentary shuttles does limit your ability to experience everything that Disney World has to offer. While hotel shuttles can take you to and from the theme park of your choice, they do not provide transportation within the resort. For this you will need to rely on Disney transportation or a taxi.

A rental car provides guests with the most convenient transportation available around Disney World – even more so than the complimentary bus service for resort guests, since these buses to not travel directly between different resorts. And, you normally have to wait a bit for each bus, boat, or monorail connection – meaning you will spend some valuable vacation time waiting to begin your journey from one part of the Disney resort to another.  Fortunately, rental cars are frequently included in package deals on travel websites along with flights and hotels.

About the author

Herb is the founder, author, webmaster, chief executive, and chief bottle washer for World Of Walt – and he is the Disney enthusiast who put this site together. Ever since his parents took him to the Magic Kingdom on a family vacation as a youngster, he has had an interest in the magic that Disney creates for families.

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