Sunday, October 12, 2014

Staying On-Site or Off-Site, That is the Question...

One of the biggest questions I'm asked about going to Walt Disney World is where do I stay, on or off property.  Well this trip I did both and I thought it would be a perfect time to do the comparison.  I stayed three nights at the Disney Value resort All-Star Movie resort.  The last two nights I stayed at the Gateway Ramada located on 192.
Let's start with location, check out this map.  Note how you can see both hotels in the same shot.  At the bottom left of the picture is the Ramada and it is about 1/4 mile down from the exit onto World drive from 192.  The   All-Star Resort is the hotel at the top right of this picture.  So as the crow fly's very close location wise. If you have a car it's a wash.  If not, then you are kind of limited if your staying off-site.  They do have a shuttle, but it only goes to the Magic Kingdom and Epcot.  The thinking there is that you can take bus to other parks from those two parks.  At the resort you have the buses.  However, at the All-Star movies, you are at the end of the stops for the busses from all parks except for the Magic Kingdom.  So they do get crowded and sometimes take a little while.
Next category is room size and accessories.  I'll let the pictures do the job here.  The first two are, of course the All-Star Movies.  The room was nice and well decorated.  There was a slight smell, but eh. I
did not get a picture of the bathroom, but it is past the TV, through the curtain.  This was my first night so the room is still in good shape.  Fridge is under the TV.  The rooms at the AS Movies are all outside entry.  The food options are pretty large.  From a full service food court that has cooked to packaged food options.  Also a selection of snacks in the gift store.
Before I go any further I have one note to make about the Ramada Gateway hotel.  There are really two hotels in one on this property.  There is the tower and the motel.  The motel itself is a little run down and truly shows the age of the place.  The tower was renovated about 8 years ago and is great.  Where the motel has your door opening to the outside, the tower has hallways.  The room itself is really nice.  Here are a couple pictures.  The TV here had 3 HBO's and Comedy central and of course both had Stacey.  There was also a ton of outlets in the Ramada.  They have a Restaurant in the lobby, a BBQ place.  And they had a snack bar/Ice Cream counter where you could get cereal, chips, and other snacks.  The other big difference was the kitchen area that had a small sink and fridge and a microwave.
There is always something about taking leftovers back to the room but not being able to heat them up.  Very conducive to only taking desserts back and that does not bode well for the diet.  And to keep the comparisons going the towels were much bigger and softer at the Ramada.  The same goes for the soap and shampoo at least in my opinion.  The Front Desk staff is somewhat limited at the Ramada as opposed to the AS Movies, so you need to be a lot more self-sufficient.  There are a lot of fast food and mini super markets right nearby and getting on and off 192 is no issue.  
So I've left the biggest difference for last.  The price per night.  The AS Movie was, for me this trip, due to Jimmy working his magic, $119 a night.  The Ramada was $58 a night.  The determining factor for me is how long will I be in the hotel.  A trip like this one where I was meeting up with different people throughout the trip meant  I would be spending very little time at the hotel.  Although, it made it much easier to coordinate meets we were running by being on site.  So it was worth the extra price.  If I had no events like that I would have stayed the whole time off-site.  True, I do not get to take advantage of EMH, but I can work around that easy enough.
It all comes down to doing your research and reading all the reviews you can about the off-site hotels.  I like the Disboards and forum boards like the most, but Tripadvisor is not bad.

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