Airbnb Disney vacation

Why I Chose Airbnb for my Disney Vacation

The excitement is still building as we plan for our Disney vacation. Admittedly, it’s all I talk about right now and most of what I spend my free time doing. When I chat with the avid Disney lovers, the first question is almost always…

Where are you staying?

With many beautiful resorts on Disney property, it’s always fun to scroll through and check out their features. On top of that, staying at a Disney resort comes with a lot of excellent perks. The benefits of staying at a Disney Resort include:

  • Access to FastPast+ 60 days early, which includes attractions and entertainment experiences. This can actually make or break your attempts at certain popular attractions because they can fill up, leaving no FastPass+ options and forcing non-resort guests to wait in lines that are hours long. This is an incredible perk!
  • Extra Magic Hours, meaning early or late access to parks. The Extra Magic Hours vary by day but the bottom line is that you get extra time at the parks. Lines will be shorter, crowds will be smaller, and I imagine that the experience will be…well, extra magical!
  • Complimentary MagicBands, which can be used to access your hotel room, enter the parks, charge food, connect to PhotoPass, and for FastPass+ check-in. The MagicBands are such a neat little rite of passage for Disney, I think the moment you receive them it all becomes real! How convenient to be able to use one hands-free device for all of your vacation needs. No need to hold onto your credit cards, room keys, FastPass+ tickets, and PhotoPass info.
  • Complimentary transportation. No need to rent a car when you can get shuttles and rides to the parks and your Disney dining reservations.
  • Free Parking. Parking fees can really add up. Currently, it’s $22 per day for standard parking at Disney World parks.
  • Sometimes up to an additional ten days earlier to book your Disney dining reservation. Dining reservations can be made up to 180 days in advance but some facilities allow for up to ten more days for your reservations, bringing you to 190 days. For the most popular dining reservations, ten days can make the difference between being completely booked!

Potentially the biggest benefit of staying at a Disney Resort Hotel is the magic of the hotel itself. Many of the hotels have their own theme, shows, dining, and so much more. The views of the wildlife from Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge are an experience for a lifetime. I can’t imagine how romantic our nighttime chats would be as we sat out on a balcony staring at free roaming giraffes. The Polynesian Village is said to have some phenomenal food and cultural ambiance. Despite all of these fabulous benefits and more than 25 Disney resorts to choose from, we decided not to stay on Disney property.


I know you’re surprised and maybe even appalled, but hear me out. When we graduated to a family of seven, it became necessary to have tons of beds. To get enough beds and not feel cramped, it definitely makes sense to have more than one room. The Disney resorts have gorgeous villas that are quite sizable but the cost is out of my reasonable range and we still would prefer to have two rooms at least. For barely over the price of one night in a two bedroom villa, there are four bedroom homes available on home rental sites like Airbnb.

While I’ve heard of the classifieds website being popular for rental scams, there are some really great legitimate home rental websites. You can read reviews and verifications to be sure of the validity of your lodging. Your payment information goes through the website, not directly to the homeowner and you usually have the option of putting down a deposit before paying in full right before your vacation. There can be different discounts available also, like a military discount or extended stay special price.

The home that we’re renting is about 20 minutes from Disney, has four bedrooms, two bathrooms, and many beds! The homeowner is a verified member with a VIP badge, and over 100 reviews equating to five stars. It’s all about preference and what matters most to you but here’s what appealed to us about choosing a rental home over a hotel:

  • Space. We’re going to be going, going, going all day. We need to get a nice full rest in a comfortable spot where we’re not cramped, keeping each other awake with our snoring or tossing and turning. It will be a relief not to be bumping elbows in our downtime.
  • Full kitchen. Having a kitchen available to us allows us to do any meal at the house, which means we can use that money toward the special meals like the ones we’ll do with the characters. Going out to eat can cost well over $100 for our family in an area that doesn’t have inflated tourist food prices, so I imagine it will get pretty pricey! I’ll discuss food more in-depth later but we plan to do pancakes and cereal before we leave in the mornings and at least a couple of dinners at “home” to save for the fun reservations. The only way that I was able to make even a value resort stay look close to comparable to our price was to book a stay during the free dining plan. (Which may be something I look into next time!)
  • Price. The biggest perk of all is probably the price. Because we’re not getting the frills of being on property, we’re paying at least five times less than everyone else and that savings works for us to put toward the things we would rather do.

The cons here are that we will not get first dibs on the FastPass+. Realistically, this could exclude us from the more popular rides as FastPass+ are reservations that can book up. You’re still able to wait in line but for popular rides, this can be hours and eat a healthy chunk out of your day. The same goes for the more popular dining reservations.

We won’t get to be first at the park, not only because we don’t get that VIP treatment but also because we have a small drive ahead of us each day. We decided that we’re okay with this because the free time gives the kids a bit more freedom to eat or rest, whatever might help them to keep up with this craziness. As my husband put it, they don’t need to be at the park sun up to sun down because it would be tiring and make for unhappy kids. In exchange for these perks, we’ll be able to spring for some extra magical things that cater to what our kiddies will enjoy.

As a kid, I stayed at one of the All Star resorts and I can honestly say that there wasn’t much that I found memorable about it and my mom agrees. It had a really cute pool that was a novelty for a minute but we didn’t spend much time there. It felt like a luxury our trip could do without, at least this time. We can visit the Disney resorts to experience the magic they offer even if we aren’t staying there and that I fully plan to do, especially for some of the awesome dining I’ve been reading about! We’ll get to that soon so stay tuned!

You can follow our journey on social media at #QuirkyQuestforMickey and here on the blog!


disney airbnb

62 thoughts on “Why I Chose Airbnb for my Disney Vacation

  1. When we went, like 20 yrs ago, we did not stay on property and I regret that. Our trip to was over an hour drive every day, we were at a hotel so the shuttle was once a day and the group had to decide WHEN we were coming home, so we never got to stay for the fireworks (another regret) I would def stay on site if I had the money but now its so expensive to fly etc, I’d never be able to go back unless I totally won a full paid trip.

    1. We’re renting a car for the whole week but I do think that having to go by the schedule of a shuttle would be frustrating, especially if you’re further from your destination! Many seem to love the shuttles back and forth from the resorts but that’s a much shorter trek.

      I’m planning to take at least one day to do fireworks but I’ll have to do either early mornings or late nights, I don’t think my kids can handle both!

      It’s my dream to stay at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge but I think that will be when we have less younger kids to take along. The Airbnb lodging is saving us at least $3,000 (if I compare to a two bedroom), so it grants us a lot more financial freedom! We’ve got other spots we plan to splurge though and I’ll share those too! 😀

      1. When we went I think I might have been 21…very young and no way in hell would I ever have been able to drive there…I’m from SK, where the biggest city at the time was Saskatoon, and maybe it had 150,000 back then…but I had been living in a small town of 1000, so no way would I ever be ready to drive in a massive city without pooping myself !!

        1. Ohh, yeah we’re flying there but then my husband will drive the rental car. He does really well with all of that, we drove around Orlando a couple of years ago when he and I visited Universal together!

  2. I’ve only been to Disney once and as an adolescent; we went for one night while visiting Florida so I don’t have much experience like Disney lovers. I’ve heard many good things about the experience staying there. Your point does sound fair about saving so much money and it almost sounds relaxing to have more peace and quiet from others and each other. Are you doing the park every day of your trip or select days?

  3. You are going to have such a wonderful time! When I was 6, my family went and we brought our camper, we were unfortunately parked on an ant hill and woke up to ants everywhere! It was awful, but we laugh about it all of the time. For how pricey the trip could be I’d probably camp again, it was lots of fun. Being comfortable and having access to a kitchen is going to save you so much money, and you’ll be able to eat quality foods. Have tons of fun!

  4. I think its a genius idea actually – I would imagine some of the accomo within Disney itself wouldn’t feel so spacious with 7 people in them. From the ones I’ve seen online they look gorgeous but if you can save money and increase comfort for your situation then that is way better!

  5. We have a large family as well. It can be so hard to find hotel rooms that hold all of us for a decent price. We are visiting Disney next year, and I’ll definitely be looking into AirBnB’s for sure!

    1. If you e-mail me when you get closer, I’ll link you to the house we’re staying at! I chatted with a lady who stayed there and she said it was fantastic for her trip!

  6. I like the idea of staying a little way from the park as I can imagine that staying in the park can become intense. So even though you have a little drive each day, like you said it works out as a better way of utilizing your Disney location. I would love to go to Disney at some point!

  7. Good for you! Despite the reviews and testimonies of people I know using air Bnb, I am still not comfortable using them. I dunno. I know I gotta spend more in a hotel, but I would rather stay in one than in an Air BNB. But that’s just me.

  8. Wow a family of 7! I understand your choice. In these situations you have to make decisions for your family circumstances and that’s what you do and i’m sure everyone will have a fun, comfortable and memorable time!

  9. I have not been to disney yet , but in my plan I always imagined luxury resort. This post is thought-provoking, I am sure air bnb is a great option and can save some money too .

    1. Oh totally, luxury resorts definitely have their place in vacation! My husband and I stayed at a five-star all-inclusive resort when we went to Mexico last year and we certainly didn’t regret it. It was amazing!

  10. i never had an overnight stay at disneyland, i just came for a day as my parents don’ live far! but if i had stay a night, i would not have gone to a hotel, too expensive! airbnb is a perfect alternative!

  11. I never thought of doing AirBnB for Disney trips! We go to Disneyland every year and since we usually stay with family while we’re in California, we don’t think of this! BUT, thank you for the idea because we’re planning a huge family reunion in December (with Disney on our list of things to do) so we just may check out the properties with AirBnB! Especially since it’ll be so much cheaper divided amongst all of us!

    1. Yes, especially divided amongst a big family!! That’s actually what we did one year when we visited the Poconos!

  12. I have not been to any Disney park vacation yet but planning very soon as my kids are now old enough to enjoy and experience the vacation. Great to know the features and comparison of staying onsite or offsite, would love to check out the airbnb options for sure.

  13. I love airbnb. If you are on budget it’s way better to do so. The price is low and the apt are often very cozy. If you share it with owner you get the advantage of local person to get advise from

  14. I’ve heard good things about airBNB but I’ve never used them as I’m nervous about the risk of cancelling. It’d be awful if they cancelled while I was en route!

    1. There are a few different cancellation policies but ours allows you to cancel up to 5 days before for a full refund and within 5 days you get 50% of all of your trip except the first day. Disney resorts give you 30 days to cancel and beyond that you are charged $200 except one day ahead, which is non-refundable. That’s actually a lot better than I expected for both the Airbnb and the resorts!

  15. It sounds more ideal to use Air BnB for a larger family as the ease of it and everyone having a bed seems a better option, plus it saves a tonne of money. I quite liked queuing for rides at a theme park i think it gives the whole experience a little better and builds the anticipation.

  16. When I take my kids to Disney, I’m definitely going to take the information that you shared to heart. An AirBNB can really make the overall cost more reasonable.

  17. The last time we were at Disney we stayed on property. Pretty expensive, but we went that route because we were there for only two days so we had to maximize the trip. We would take into consideration renting out a house on AirBnB if we get to save enough for another Disney trip. That sounds like a real budget deal.

  18. I can’t imagine how exciting the vacation will get once you pass through the welcoming Disneyland sign. Honestly, Airbnb’s are gems and come in handy. When I did some traveling last year, some small towns that had a few hotels to choose from were are all booked up. I turned to Airbnb, it was a success and I have never had any conflicts with the homeowners, they have always been so hospitable.

  19. I’ve stayed in a few Airbnbs now, and my experience has, on the whole, been good – though my first Airbnb stay in Berlin wasn’t the best. I’d never have considered an Airbnb for a Disney holiday, but it makes sense financially, as Disney parks are super expensive! x

    1. I have a friend who does the youth hostels when he goes to places like Berlin. That seems like a really cool way to get around!

  20. We stayed at our first Airbnb on our last vacation to Disney and I have to say it was a great experience. It was far more affordable than a hotel, we were very comfortable, we liked our hosts very much and we had everything we needed and more. It was a little scary at first since it’s literally staying at a stranger’s home, but we were pleasantly surprised! Sure there are great perks to staying at a Disney resort, but at least for now, we prefer the more affordable option. 🙂

  21. Saving money when traveling is a great idea. I always look for the best bang for my buck because I always travel on a budget. Disney is the place to be when you have kids (or not).

    1. I like how you added “or not”! We have already talked about going without the kids someday too. I want one of those crazy expensive Animal Kingdom rooms that overlook all of the animals at night! What a dream!

  22. I can understand the value of opting for Airbnb vs Disney hotel. Main difference due to price. I personally am not a fan of Airbnb because Housing in metropolitan areas such as New Orleans and others are compromised in the name of making a quick buck. Other than that, I’m glad you had a great time.

  23. We’re big fans of AirBnB for exactly the same reason as you – space, full kitchen and price. The review process with AirBnB makes me much more comfortable than some of the other sites, and so far we haven’t been disappointed.

  24. I’m very envious! I always wondered since childhood on when I can visit Disneyland but still failed even though they have open up in Japan and Hongkong. I love your detailed post, it’s very informative!

  25. These are great tips. I live in Tampa so I never Really have to book hotels for Disney, but I love The idea of this and if I end up doing a long getaway, I’ll definurely keep this in mind!

  26. Our what I hope to be first trip to DW we booked a theme room. We found we spent so much time in the parks that we were only in the room to sleep and clean up. Any room would have done. The shuttle service from the resort was a plus. Accommodations a side it’s all about the Disney experience.

    1. That’s how I felt about it when I went but I think I really want to try Animal Kingdom Lodge during their free dining promotion at some point!

  27. AirBnB is such a great idea! We want to do a family vacation to Disney and there will be at least 9 of us, so it would be great to have a place where all of us can stay and not have to buy 3 separate rooms at a hotel!

  28. Oh my- I love AirBnB! We have used them so often when we travel and we’ve always had a great time. I’ll keep this in mind when we begin planning our upcoming Disney vacation.

  29. Your trip really looks so much fun! I’ve only been to Disney in Hong Kong and I really wish I could visit the other Disney places! Ahhhh such a wonderful experience whenever I remember my last visit.

  30. These day aribnb has became so popular. Recently I went for a short trip for my uncle’s funeral and book airbnb as there are few family members and relatives. It seems like a better deal as compared to hotel.

  31. Great tips which I can relate to all too well as a fellow large family mom as well. Airbnbs have always been a great experience when I’ve used them during vacations.

  32. I will admit I was a bit surprised reading this. We always stay in a Disney resort when we go. It’s part of the whole magical vacation experience. But, Air BnB has wonderful benefits too.

    1. I know, I know! I really tried hard to make the cost comparable but I couldn’t. The free dining plan, however, would probably get them a little more similar so what I’m thinking is that next time we will stay at Animal Kingdom Lodge during free dining! What’s your favorite resort?

    2. I don’t think paying hundreds per night for a loud and crowded resort with zero elbow room is magical. And then another $100 every time you go out to eat with your family. I just can’t enjoy myself when I am paying so much for so little.

      To each his own, but I have stayed both onsite and off, and the airbnbs I got were WAY better and way more affordable. My family saved at least $2,000 to enjoy a better experience with better quality food, a private hot tub, and access to Universal and all of the hidden gems around Orlando.

      1. I absolutely agree even though I’d still love to experience that Magic Kingdom hotel at some point. It was so quaint having a little spot of our own and TONS of room in the house. The kids wanted to live there!

  33. I never really thought about booking on Airbnb for my trip before, it looks helpful though. May need to add it to my want to do list.

  34. These days people use airbnb and have an awesome stay. I think it’s a great way to save money and especially going with a big family, it really helps.

  35. You don’t have to stay in an expensive two-bedroom villa to stay on Disney property with a family of 7. Disney also has suites. Two different value resorts offer suites – Art of Animation and All Star Music. The values also have rooms with connecting doors. Two values would still be less expensive than renting a house or condo unless you plan on being at the rental far more than at the parks.

    Everyone has different tastes, of course, so I guess it all depends on what you’re looking for. I wouldn’t go to Disney without staying on property because I like being picked up at the airport and not having to rent a car. I also like not worrying about parking at the parks (and paying for it!). The Disney buses get us closer to the parks than the parking areas. And we’ve always loved the activities offered by the different resorts for on our non-park days, the majority of which are free. I can’t imagine not being in the Disney bubble. For us, it’s the happiest place on earth to be!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *