Tips & Tricks For Staying Outside of the Walt Disney World Resort

Orlando is such a popular vacation destination for Guests from all over the world, that it’s no surprise that there are a huge variety of accommodations available to choose from. With the decrease in benefits available to Walt Disney World Resort Hotel Guests over the last couple of years, it is no surprise that some Guests choose to stay elsewhere, despite having previously stayed on Disney property.

If you have previously been a Disney Resort Guest, but are now choosing to stay in alternative accommodation, you may be feeling a little unsure as to how your vacation in Lake Buena Vista will be. Don’t worry, you aren’t the only one to be feeling this way. Having recently taken a Walt Disney World vacation but stayed in a villa for the first time, we also questioned if our Disney experience would be as magical as it was when staying in a Walt Disney World hotel. 


Credit: V Mills

Well, good news! Having stayed in a villa rather than within the Walt Disney World Resort, we were more than pleasantly surprised by our experience, and would actually seriously consider staying in a villa whilst taking future Disney vacations rather than being a Disney Resort Guest.

Here are the tips and tricks you need to know that will help to make your Disney vacation just as magical as it was before, whilst staying outside of the Walt Disney World Resort.

Rent a car

We definitely believe that if you choose to rent a villa whilst visiting Orlando, then renting a car is a must. It makes getting to and from the Disney Parks easy, whilst also providing ease of access to shops, restaurants and other theme parks around Orlando too. Traveling to and from the airport will also be made easier by renting a car.

Rental Car Orlando International Airport

Credit: Orlando International Airport

If you are staying in a Resort hotel in Orlando, find out about the transport options available to you. Some hotels have their own shuttles to the Orlando theme parks, including Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando. If your hotel doesn’t offer this service, then renting a car will be really useful

Disney Parking

Whilst you’ll need to pay for parking at the Disney Parks when using a rental car, you’ll only need to pay once per day. Currently, the cost to park at any of the Disney theme parks is $25 per car, and between $45 and $50 for preferred parking. Whilst this may seem steep, it allows you to park for the entire day, even if you choose to Park hop and use the car to travel between each Disney Park. Just make sure you keep hold of your receipt as you will be required to present it to a parking attendant Cast Member as you enter each parking lot.

Remember though that parking is free at Disney Springs, so you can shop and dine without needing to pay to park your car!


Credit: Disney

Use Disney Transport

Remember that Disney transportation is available to be used by all Guests of the Walt Disney World Resort. This will make it easy for you to visit a Disney Resort hotel after visiting a Disney Park, especially if you are visiting during peak season; parking at the Disney hotels is limited to Resort Guests and Guests with advance dining reservations at this time.

Of course, if you don’t wish to move your car when Park hopping (as long as you have a Park hopper pass), you are able to use the Walt Disney World Transportation System buses to move between Disney Parks. Just remember that you will need to travel back to that Disney Park at the end of the day to collect your car.


Credit: Disney

Rope Dropping

Make sure to plan for travel time if you wish to get to a Disney Park for rope drop. Arriving early to the Disney Parks will also mean that you secure a space in a parking lot that is closest to the theme park entrance, reducing the need for you to use the Walt Disney World Trams. 

If you are visiting Magic Kingdom, remember to factor in that you will need to use the Disney Monorail or Ferry across Seven Seas Lagoon after parking your car. Fortunately, the other Disney theme parks don’t require you to use a mode of transport to get to the main entrance.


Credit: Disney


Whilst it can be tempting to purchase something as soon as you see it in Walt Disney World, it’s best to buy your souvenirs as you are leaving a Disney Park to save you having to carry it around. Alternatively, you may wish to hire a locker from Guest Services to store your goods, if it is important to buy something as you see it. Lockers come in a variety of sizes and are available in the following locations:

  • Kali River Rapids at Disney’s Animal Kingdom
  • Crossroads of the World at Disney’s Hollywood Studios
  • International Gateway and near the Camera Center at EPCOT
  • to the right of the entrance at Magic Kingdom Park

Free Iced Water

Take advantage of free iced water that is available in the Disney theme Parks and around the Walt Disney World Resort, including in each Disney hotel. Make sure to stop by any quick-service location that offers fountain soft drinks. Visit the order collection points and ask a Cast Member for iced water. 


Credit: V Mills

Advance Dining Reservations

Securing these can help to ensure that you can park at Disney Resort hotels if you are dining in one of the Resort’s restaurants. Make sure to take photo ID as you may be asked to present this at security.

Make sure to give yourself plenty of time to get to dining reservations if you are staying outside of the Walt Disney World Resort. Check for traffic that may alter your journey time, particularly if you are traveling during the evening. It’s best to plan to arrive early, as you can always spend some time browsing the Disney Resort before checking into the restaurant for your advance dining reservation.

Now all that’s left to do is secure your Park Reservations and advance dining reservations! Before you know it, you’ll be back in Orlando, enjoying every moment in the most magical place on earth!

About Victoria Mills

Victoria is a Disney-loving, tea-drinking, Math teacher from Liverpool, England. Her motto is 'work hard, Disney harder'! Having taken part in the Disney College Program back in 2010, Victoria's love and appreciation for Walt Disney World only grew, and it's the place where she feels most herself - it's home!