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Practical tips for Walt Disney World travel
|If Your Pillow is Off-Property|
|If you decide to stay off the Disney property,
think about the following points in addition to what we've discussed concerning
WDW resort hotels, such as accommodations, price, pool type, hotel restaurant
type, and health club access.
Beware of Timeshare Sharks
Making that Final Decision
Choose three hotels that meet your needs. List your needs in the order of importance to you. Rate each hotel according to how it meets each your needs. From these ratings a top choice should emerge.
For those of you who are still torn between staying on or off the Disney property, you may want to do what some first-timers try, by dividing your stay in half. The first half of the vacation can be spent at a hotel outside the property, the second half at a WDW resort hotel. That may be the only way to discover what's best for you and your family.
Be warned: Do not reverse this scenario and spend the first half of your vacation on the property. You'll very likely be disappointed with off- property accommodations after experiencing the wonderful theming of the Disney resorts.
Next session: All About WDW Resort Room Rates.
Photos on this page by Brian Bennett unless otherwise noted
From MousePlanet's WDW Trip Planning Guide, here's a page called "The On-Site / Off-Site Debate" that compares the advantages of staying both On- and Off- WDW Property.
Looking for more even more information on offsite accommodations? Mouse- Planet's Offsite Hotels near the Disney Parks - has tons of reviews of off-property hotels submitted by guests.
Here's a list of the trip reports that Mike has written that are part of MousePlanet's archives!
Also, don't miss Lani Teshima's column, The Trip Planner!
Here's a quote from Brian Bennett's October 2000 trip report when he experienced a timeshare tour at Westgate Lakes Resort in Lake Buena Vista:
"Today Barb and I got up early to do the obligatory tour of Westgate. The folks here just had to try to sell us a timeshare, and they didn't pull any punches in the attempt. We got to the welcome center, as instructed, at 7:30am. They took a digital picture of us (that we could pick up later in the day) and then ushered us into a room that had a light breakfast spread. Our sales rep, Ron, left us for a few minutes as we ate, but arrived in time to start the discussion.
"I won't bore you with all of the details, but here's some highlights (I'll compare Westgate to our experience at the Disney Vacation Club's (DVC) Old Key West Resort (OKWR) in the following discussion). Of course, prices weren't discussed until the very end, so I'll not tell you what they are until then either.
"One of the first questions was, "where are you members now?" That was not something we'd discussed with anyone since we'd arrived, so it must have been either a standard question used to direct the rest of the pitch, or else it was noted from a previous phone discussion, or else they got our names from a timeshare listing somehow.
"The flexibility of a point system (such as that used by DVC) was admitted. However, the sales guy tried to explain that x number of points today wouldn't be worth the same value in a trade a few years down the road. He's wrong, and I explained to him that we actually use our points to book a room at our home resort, then trade IT out. The value of the points (at least for a DVC member) maintains it's value.
"The cost of maintenance is less at Westgate, by 40% or so, versus OKWR at Walt Disney World.
"The fact that the DVC is on site is an obvious advantage for us -- due to the WDW transportation, but Westgate really is well located for folks that like Universal, SeaWorld, and other Orlando destinations as well (or better).
"Members staying at Westgate Lakes receive six meals each week for each member of their party. That's an excellent perk!
"The DVC severely restricts member trades through Intervals International to just the top-end resorts. Westgate allows their members to trade throughout the Intervals International network (a big advantage, if you're planning your purchase to trade out frequently).
"Westgate offered a deal that would have cost about $21,000 for a two-bedroom attached to a one-bedroom (equivalent to a two- bedroom and a studio, at OKWR) that you get EVERY OTHER year. You can use either unit one year and use the other unit the next, you can use them both every other year, or you can trade one and use the other. It's a pretty flexible program.
"Today, just today, one time only, we would be eligible for a $2,000 discount.
"Financing was available at 17 3/4% for five years.
"The sales rep made a strong point that the Westgate Timeshare is deeded. The DVC is too, but it's a deeded lease which means that after 50 years from the opening of the resort, the program is done. In contrast, the Westgate Timeshare never runs out.
"When we declined, for financial reasons, a manager was brought in to give us a special deal. The story (I have no reason to believe it's not true) is that a unit had just been acquired by Westgate as a member wanted to upgrade. If we acted today, and were willing to delay our use of the unit until next year, we could do the same thing for $11,000.
"Still, we declined. The last pitch, brought in by someone from the development company (the third person we'd talked to this morning about buying a timeshare) was that we could come back in two years and stay for a full week. If we wanted to do so, we would have to pay $250 down and about $50 per month until the full price of approximately $1,100 was paid. If we did this, and decided upon our return to buy in, the full amount would be applied to our timeshare cost.
"Still we declined. Only then were we shown the door. By the way, as you can see in the picture (on the left), there were a TON of people involved in this tour thing. Ron said that this was a seven-day operation, and this was just for the 7:30 am tour. I'm only conjecturing when I figure those tables are all filled up later in the morning and in the afternoon, but it's not a stretch to think that's the case.
"I had to hand it to these folks, they have a great product (if I had the money, I would seriously have considered a purchase -- but for trading more than personal use), and they're as tenacious as the dickens. It just wasn't the right timing for us. One other thing, the tour was supposed to be a 90- minute tour, but it actually kept us occupied for just short of three hours. "
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