Going to Disney

Cougar63

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I'm also going 12/23-1/5 with the kids. Staying in suites across three Disney properties (deluxe properties at that). Spending a pretty penny. We're going to be moving and want to do something fun with the kids before everything kicks off.
 

rolfey

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Dec 11, 2001
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We just got back. Didn't want to go in late July/August but due to schedules we had no choice. Man was it hot but the kids had a blast. Wife (no pics) was not happy with the changes from fast pass to genie but she got used to the app quickly and we actually got on more rides than the last time we went. Did a day at Magic Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, Universal and Seaworld.
It was a good time but kids are getting older and it will be the last time we go.
 

Cougar63

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We just got back. Didn't want to go in late July/August but due to schedules we had no choice. Man was it hot but the kids had a blast. Wife (no pics) was not happy with the changes from fast pass to genie but she got used to the app quickly and we actually got on more rides than the last time we went. Did a day at Magic Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, Universal and Seaworld.
It was a good time but kids are getting older and it will be the last time we go.
How old are your kids? I think my fiancee (no pics) and I are lifers. We're already talking about taking a week just the two of us later in the school year.
 

Cougar63

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Both of our kids (from other relationships) are 11 currently. Still planning on going every year at least once as a family, but we've been going to Disney since we were kids. She had annual passes to Disneyland growing up, my grandparents took me to WDW every summer when I was a kid, too. Definitely understand that it can be expensive, and depending on when you go, stressful. I hope you got what you expected out of it.
 

On Iowa

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Get up early and be there when the parks open. You'll be able to get at least 1 ride, your most critical wanted ride for the day, with minimal wait. Then have fun through the morning. After lunch, go back to your hotel, take a nap, hit the pool, whatever you need so the kids aren't burning the candle at both ends, and then go back to the parks after dinner. Once dark hits, they tend to get a LOT less busy, and the lines are a lot shorter. This is even more the case once people start gravitation to the hot spots to watch the evening fireworks and lights shows. At that point, you can almost run around and hit rides as fast as you can get on.
 

Greenway4Prez

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Good on you for going, but it’s going to test your mental fortitude. The last time I went, Iowa was playing in the BTCG (2015), and damn did it ever feel good to get out of there and go watch football.

If your kids muster up a bit of daredevil-hood in their teen years, then go to Universal. You’re right in that it probably is a bit over their heads right now. You’d be spending all your time in Dr. Suess Land, and nobody deserves that.
 

rolfey

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Both of our kids (from other relationships) are 11 currently. Still planning on going every year at least once as a family, but we've been going to Disney since we were kids. She had annual passes to Disneyland growing up, my grandparents took me to WDW every summer when I was a kid, too. Definitely understand that it can be expensive, and depending on when you go, stressful. I hope you got what you expected out of it.
This was our second time to the parks. Everyone enjoyed the vacation. Many other places we want to visit.
 
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I-O-W-A
Taking the kids to Disney towards the end of the year, will be arriving about a week before Christmas on Friday Dec 16 and can start visiting parks on Sat the 17th, will spend that week visiting the parks with some rest days built in and then will drive from there to in-laws (2 hours away) on Christmas Eve to spend a few days with them.

We are staying off property because it's cheaper and you get better lodgings.

Looking at getting the tickets soon, but seems like there is a lot to it. We know we are going to want to get the DAS pass for our kids. Don't think I will need the park hopper add on.

Any other advice on the trip? There is a ton of information out there and the whole thing is a bit overwhelming. (I've never been to Disney FYI not even as a kid.)
If you aren’t staying onsite, the trip won’t be nearly as fun. I say that from experience.

Magic Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, and Epcot are all really fun and you can make a full day out of those parks. Animal Kingdom is cool, but not really an all day type of thing.

Hit up the waterparks if you can. Those are a ton of fun.
 

Herky T Hawk

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You didn't specify in the original post, but I'm guessing you are talking about Disney World in Florida.

My advice for someone that hasn't been there before is to not try to do it on the cheap. Just assume that you will be paying for the genie plus passes for everyone so that you can schedule times to do rides. If your hotel has shuttles to the park, do some investigation of reviews to see if they are good shuttles or if you'll spend too much time waiting on them and should instead drive and pay for parking. There are a few things that you can do to save money though.
1. Don't waste your time with a park hopper. If you have kids you'll end up losing an hour or more going from one park to another.
2. They let you bring in food from the outside. You could consider bringing sandwiches in for lunch if you have picky eaters for kids or want to save about $10/person/day over eating their "fast food" lunch. I'd recommend bringing a small backpack that you can carry the food in if you do that and you can shove sweatshirts/jackets into if the weather isn't good. I bought an Eddie Bauer stowaway backpack that weights almost nothing, collapses down to a very small pouch, and yet had enough space for our four thin sweatshirts when we went to Disneyland this past January.
3. To cut down on the extra spend on souvenirs, set a budget for each kid and buy them a Disney gift card for that amount. Let them know what the amount is and that is all they get, so spend it wisely and not on crap they don't care about.

Other musings. It will be busy. Christmas week is the busiest time of the year for Disney. Reservations for the parks will be hard. Reservations for dining will be even harder. You need to basically stay up to the middle of the night and do those as soon as you are able to if you want to eat at any nice restaurant. Download the phone app and learn how to use it. So much of your trip will be executed from that app. The genie plus reservations, dining reservations, order ahead food, etc. are all done through the app.

Take a look at the maps of the parks, figure out what you want to do as a family, and develop a plan of attack for what rides are must dos and what rides are ones that you can skip. Because it is busy you won't be able to do everything in the Magic Kingdom in one day. Don't criss cross the park for rides. Start on one side, knock out the rides nearby, then migrate to different parts of the park. If you try to criss cross you will waste massive amounts of time.

If you have young kids that are scared of rides, you can show them youtube videos of what the rides area ahead of time. We did that with our kids when going out to Disneyland and it helped a ton with anxiety and allowed them to really enjoy the experience. Plus it was fun to be able to see thing things in real life that they saw in the videos.
 

Cougar63

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This was our second time to the parks. Everyone enjoyed the vacation. Many other places we want to visit.
Right on! We want to do a European vacation, but that will also have a trip to Disneyland Paris in it.

Happy you had fun. What did you enjoy the most, aside from bonding as a family?
 

sober_teacher

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Disney would be a great place to take kids if it wasn't packed full of adults without kids. A few years ago, we were in California for a vacation, so we spent a day at Disneyland. To each their own, but I just couldn't wrap my brain around the number of adults without kids that were there.

I get the few that are there out of nostalgia, like maybe a trip every 10 years or so or a day or two holiday But the hardcore Disney people blows my mind. I’m speaking of the ones with full matching disney clothes and what not. Crazy to me.

Not full core Disney like you’re describing but it was actually fun to go a few years back with just my folks because we got to do the stuff we wanted and not get bogged down in the kiddie rides.

Also, can’t recommend the new Star Wars ride in Hollywood Studios enough. Fantastic.
 

rolfey

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Right on! We want to do a European vacation, but that will also have a trip to Disneyland Paris in it.

Happy you had fun. What did you enjoy the most, aside from bonding as a family?
Enjoyed watching my kids and joy on their faces. That is by far the best part and really the only reason we go to the parks. Next was the two days spent on the beach in Sarasota.
 
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Nole Lou

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Shocking for the chap who is tortured into paralysis by analysis as to whether to get, or not get, a slow and sear, vortex, or griddle for his grill... 😃

Yep, that me. 😄

There were about three times that we sat down to try to figure out a Disney trip and started putting it together.

Twice we said "eff it, instead of spending $9k and a week of vacation days, let's spend $1800 and do Universal on a long weekend."

The other time we decided to go to Yellowstone.

The thing that gets me is not so much the price itself, but it is the sheer magnitude of the experience. So many parks, such large parks, so much planning required...you get into this thing where it just snowballs, because if you're going to do it, you want to do it. If you're going to do "Disney with the kids" because everyone else their age goes, you don't want to have them come back and be like "No, we didn't stay for the fireworks. No we didn't ride on Mickey's Outhouse Adventure because the line was too long. No we didn't go to Animal Kingdom", etc.

But with each thing you accomodate that is "make sure you don't miss ____!", the price goes up, the number of vacation days goes up, the meals in the park go up. It goes from being something you might do again in a couple years, to something maybe you'll go back to again, to a once in the lifetime expense, and that just begets more incentive to make sure you see and do everything. It's a vicious cycle until you're in for 8 days and $15k, or somebody's going to be disappointed.

I think if I lived within a couple hours in Florida, it would have been different. Take a trip in, go to Magic Kingdom. Maybe a couple years later do Animal World and/or the movie one. No pressure to get it all. Or if I would have been just satisfied to take the kids down for one day at Magic Kingdom, see what they see, and check it off the list.

But yeah, that analysis kicks in, and it's just a cycle of "well, if we're already doing/spending X, it almost doesn't make sense not to do/spend Y." Universal is just right sized to do in two days, stay one night on site with included fast pass, and get the eff out without using half your vacations days and five years vacation budget.
 
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Tenacious E

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Yep, that me. 😄

There were about three times that we sat down to try to figure out a Disney trip and started putting it together.

Twice we said "eff it, instead of spending $9k and a week of vacation days, let's spend $1800 and do Universal on a long weekend."

The other time we decided to go to Yellowstone.

The thing that gets me is not so much the price itself, but it is the sheer magnitude of the experience. So many parks, such large parks, so much planning required...you get into this thing where it just snowballs, because if you're going to do it, you want to do it. If you're going to do "Disney with the kids" because everyone else their age goes, you don't want to have them come back and be like "No, we didn't stay for the fireworks. No we didn't ride on Mickey's Outhouse Adventure because the line was too long. No we didn't go to Animal Kingdom", etc.

But with each thing you accomodate that is "make sure you don't miss ____!", the price goes up, the number of vacation days goes up, the meals in the park go up. It goes from being something you might do again in a couple years, to something maybe you'll go back to again, to a once in the lifetime expense, and that just begets more incentive to make sure you see and do everything. It's a vicious cycle until you're in for 8 days and $15k, or somebody's going to be disappointed.

I think if I lived within a couple hours in Florida, it would have been different. Take a trip in, go to Magic Kingdom. Maybe a couple years later do Animal World and/or the movie one. No pressure to get it all. Or if I would have been just satisfied to take the kids down for one day at Magic Kingdom, see what they see, and check it off the list.

But yeah, that analysis kicks in, and it's just a cycle of "well, if we're already doing/spending X, it almost doesn't make sense not to do/spend Y." Universal is just right sized to do in two days, stay one night on site with included fast pass, and get the eff out without using half your vacations days and five years vacation budget.
Luckily, one of my wife's good friends is an anal retentive accountant, as is her husband, and they went the previous year. They did all of the research and analysis, and then my wife just hermit crabbed what they did.
 
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Tom Paris

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Taking the kids to Disney towards the end of the year, will be arriving about a week before Christmas on Friday Dec 16 and can start visiting parks on Sat the 17th, will spend that week visiting the parks with some rest days built in and then will drive from there to in-laws (2 hours away) on Christmas Eve to spend a few days with them.

We are staying off property because it's cheaper and you get better lodgings.

Looking at getting the tickets soon, but seems like there is a lot to it. We know we are going to want to get the DAS pass for our kids. Don't think I will need the park hopper add on.

Any other advice on the trip? There is a ton of information out there and the whole thing is a bit overwhelming. (I've never been to Disney FYI not even as a kid.)
Buy the Unofficial Guide to Disney 2022. These books are awesome at teaching you how to maneuver through the parks. I will say, we stayed on the grounds and it was totally worth it for the extra magic hours. Meaning the park is open for guests only longer. It was awesome, because we didn’t feel rushed the next day since we got half of Magic Kingdom done the first night.
 
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OutbackBowl2017

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Went to WDW on spring break with the kids a few years ago, stayed on sight, did the park hopper, extended hours, food plan, and scheduled meals with the characters. Just went with the flow and had a blast. Ate ice cream for breakfast and just did what we wanted to morning, noon, night, and well past midnight. Good luck to you and do it right the first time so you don’t regret not doing things. I loved Epcot with all the beers available around the world.
 

billanole

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We already got off property hotel and we are driving down there because that's a lot cheaper than airfare for 5.

I think we can do it for about $5,000 total.
My parents took us back in the day when Disney World was the only park in the area and it was a blast.
We took our kids to multiple parks as they were both roller coaster/big ride fanatics.
Y’all will have fun if you : get into the mindset of not sweating nickel dime crap, exercise patience, wear appropriate clothing and footwear, pack plenty of snacks and bring refillable water bottles, and plan your daily targets in advance.
Pore over the park maps and plan your circuit. We often went to the far end of the park first and then worked back against the flow. Look for the must do things and hit them early/first.
Bring lots of pesos.
 
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Nole Lou

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Luckily, one of my wife's good friends is an anal retentive accountant, as is her husband, and they went the previous year. They did all of the research and analysis, and then my wife just hermit crabbed what they did.

Yeah. My sister took her family several times and had a great time and always said they had fun. She had a plan and everything. I certainly know enough people enjoy it and have fun that there's a bias on my part.

I think in retrospect, if we'd wanted to do it, we would have needed to put way less pressure on it as a standalone trip, and been willing to do it 2-3 times.

I will also say, I had my three kids all 3-4 years apart. There were some good things about that, but one of the bad things was that the window was small for really big trips in which the youngest would appreciate/remember it, and the oldest would not be too old for it.

We had a pretty small window of a few years where we did Italy, DC, Yellowstone, and New York when the youngest was old enough to handle it and get something out of it and sort of remember it, and by that time the oldest were still young enough to be around and not jaded older teens.

There was never a time when all three kids were prime Disney age, say 4-10 years old. By the time the youngest was old enough to ride most everything, they oldest were over any special attachment to princesses and Disney stuff. The last trip they specifically preferred the idea of going to Universal with Marvel and Harry Potter and the Simpsons to Disney anyway, they were more interested in the Universal IP.
 
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SolarHawk

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Drink around the world is ok. That’s all I got. Universal is way better, especially if you’re into potter. Me and the wife usually go every year for Hallowscream or whatever they call it. Always fun, especially on shrooms. I mean, that’s what I heard!
 

Cougar63

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If you do go to EPCOT, get an Ottawa Apple from Canada as your first and last drink of the day. Best cocktail I've ever had.
 

artradley

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That book looks like it's about Universal Studios which I've actually been to when my wife and I where dating.



Yeah I don't personally understand that at all. I'm watching videos about it on YouTube and thinking "This is going to suck!" Only thing I'm really all that excited about is the food. I don't understand why adults want to go there so much, it seems like it's a place for kids.

I could name a lot of places I would rather go personally but I'm looking at my kids and thinking they arn't going to be at an age where Disney is still fun for long. My oldest is 9 now.

If your oldest is nine, here is my biggest advice for an Orlando vacation.

First, only do theme parks every other day. On Theme Park day get there an hour before opening, because they usually open earlier than the published time and the those first couple of hours are the best. Leave by mid afternoon, just as things are peak crazy, have a quiet dinner at home/room.

The other days hang out at the pool and relax, then go out for dinner - theme restaurant if you want - but get to bed early.

If you are not rushed, and don’t wear yourselves out, you will enjoy your trip far more.

Also, assuming you are eating lunch at a theme park do it at 11am before it gets crowded. Pick a sit down restaurant and take a nice break. Some of the best ones require a reservation. Pick out your restaurants in advance and reserve as needed.

Do not stand in line to get pics and autographs. If your kids REALLY want that, do a character dinner somewhere.

Finally, Seaworld is better than any Disney property.
 
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The Tradition

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If your oldest is nine, here is my biggest advice for an Orlando vacation.

First, only do theme parks every other day. On Theme Park day get there an hour before opening, because they usually open earlier than the published time and the those first couple of hours are the best. Leave by mid afternoon, just as things are peak crazy, have a quiet dinner at home/room.

The other days hang out at the pool and relax, then go out for dinner - theme restaurant if you want - but get to bed early.

If you are not rushed, and don’t wear yourselves out, you will enjoy your trip far more.

Also, assuming you are eating lunch at a theme park do it at 11am before it gets crowded. Pick a sit down restaurant and take a nice break. Some of the best ones require a reservation. Pick out your restaurants in advance and reserve as needed.

Do not stand in line to get pics and autographs. If your kids REALLY want that, do a character dinner somewhere.

Finally, Seaworld is better than any Disney property.

Sea World is indeed underrated, and the best part is, no PETA people in line with you!
 
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cjnoles9399

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Disney is very good at extracting money from people's wallets.
I’m going to start planning our “one and only” big Disney trip next year for when our daughter is 9. Money is going to be the biggest factor. We went skiing in spring this year and the keys and the Caribbean in summer for still probably short of what Disney will cost for a week.
 

artradley

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Not full core Disney like you’re describing but it was actually fun to go a few years back with just my folks because we got to do the stuff we wanted and not get bogged down in the kiddie rides.

Also, can’t recommend the new Star Wars ride in Hollywood Studios enough. Fantastic.

Disney is ALL kiddy rides.
 

Hoosierhawkeye

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Buy the Unofficial Guide to Disney 2022. These books are awesome at teaching you how to maneuver through the parks. I will say, we stayed on the grounds and it was totally worth it for the extra magic hours. Meaning the park is open for guests only longer. It was awesome, because we didn’t feel rushed the next day since we got half of Magic Kingdom done the first night.

Price is just out of sight. Something to remember is that because we are a family of 5 and not 4 we can't stay in standard hotel rooms.

Other thing is we saw a YouTube video that said the early entry is only like a half hour now.
 

rolfey

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Not full core Disney like you’re describing but it was actually fun to go a few years back with just my folks because we got to do the stuff we wanted and not get bogged down in the kiddie rides.

Also, can’t recommend the new Star Wars ride in Hollywood Studios enough. Fantastic.
Rise of the Resistance .... it is fantastic.
 
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MR BEEBS

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We did Disney/Universal in June. Like others have stated, it will pinch your wallet and test you mentally. We had fast passes/express passes and were totally worth it. My kids (14, 10 and 7) loved the rides but hated waiting in lines for over an hour. Most newer rides, the wait is part of the ride experience. The general consensus was Universal > Disney but that is mostly because the kids love rides. There are great rides at both.

Be sure to plan out your days and get the tickets in advance. We missed Magic Kingdom from flight being cancelled… it happens.

Epcot is more enjoyable for adults than young children. Remy ride and new Guardians coaster are both great.

Animal kingdom is fun. The Avatar ride is fantastic. Lots of animals on the safari.

If you are into coasters, the Velocicoaster at Universal is the best I’ve been on. You think you are going fast, then you go faster. Harry Potter world at both the parks are really cool.

We did a beach day to relax a bit… totally worth it. Kids got to swim in the ocean and I enjoyed a six pack in the sun.

Whatever you think your budget is going to be, have another 2-3k ready at your disposal. The extras add up quickly, and sometimes it is difficult to say no to souvenirs, snacks, drinks etc.
 

TennNole17

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My experience at Disney is unique in that we went on a Make a Wish trip (son is fine)

having been from that unique perspective- there’s no way in hell I’d pay for that experience. Disney fast pass/genie (which is all Make a Wish kids get- minus the reservation part) - nice and all but Magic Kingdom is dated. Animal kingdom was great- they had a nice roller coaster, and the avatar ride was very cool. Otherwise Disney was blah.
We did two days at Universal, where their “version” of fast pass for make a wish was awesome. They grabbed you and took you behind the ride to get on first, and would walk you back around if the kid wanted to go again. Characters would go out of their way to come take pics (minions in particular- from memory). The park itself is much more up to date and entertaining for everyone imo.

again, all that said I’d never pay for that experience.
 

Hoosierhawkeye

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Has anyone ever used the DAS pass at Disney? How did that go.

I know that's something we are going to be getting for our kids.
 

Big Hawk D-Port

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Maybe you should just hire a Disney travel agent. They are free to use and can help you with all of the details. I have friends at “Dreaming About The Mouse” travel agency but there are hundreds of them.

You need to immerse yourself in the details and learn all of the tricks to dining reservations and the Genie program. Buy as much of that stuff as you can.

But the biggest advice I can give you, especially if you’re staying off property, which I think is a mistake, is to get there as early as an hour before park opening. It takes longer than you think to park your car and all that nonsense so if you are intent on staying off property I would take an Uber in every day.

animal kingdom is the easiest park to finish in a day. With the new guardians of the Galaxy and ratatouille ride, Epcot is a packed day, and Hollywood studios and Magic Kingdom have been that way for a while.

honestly dude there’s a lot to tell you. Hire an agent.
 

stout1

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My family has gone to DisneyWorld in 2006, 2010, 2014, 2018 and 2022. We also hit DisneyLand in 2017. On top of that, my oldest son went in 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2021 with a family friend. (They are DVC members so they would take a 2-4 day post school trip)

I echo Big Hawk, work with an agent and stay onsite. We still use an agent every time we go. They understand all of the stuff that will make your trip more enjoyable. Staying onsite also eliminates a huge pile of hassle from your live. When we travelled as a family of 5 we stayed in Art of Animation. Cheaper resort and the 2 room (1 "master" bedroom with adjoining bath and 1 sitting room with convertible couches and adjoining bath) were a godsend.

Also, Disney is like a casino, the house always wins. No matter how many ways you think you have gamed the system by staying offsite, they will still come out on top. The only people I know who "win" that transaction have free housing and are only going to the parks a day or 2.