Home » 6 Ways it Pays to LEAVE Walt Disney World or Universal Orlando Resort During Your Next Vacation

    6 Ways it Pays to LEAVE Walt Disney World or Universal Orlando Resort During Your Next Vacation

    There is no denying that both Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando are complete destination experiences. You need never go off property to have a highly immersive vacation. Some know this as the “Disney bubble” or the “Universal bubble,” reflecting the fact that this sort of trip means leaving the real world entirely behind. However, those who never leave their chosen property are missing out on the rich diversity of experiences that Orlando has to offer, most at significantly lower prices. Venturing off property can save you a great deal of money while further expanding your vacation horizons. Here are 6 great reasons to head out.

    1. Cheaper groceries

    Even if you want to remain within the bubble, it is worth leaving property to buy groceries. The supermarket at Crossroads, across 535 from Downtown Disney, is frightfully expensive. However, there are three Publix grocery stores within a few minutes’ drive of Walt Disney World that primarily serve locals and charge reasonable prices. Wal-Mart and other chains are also conveniently located throughout the area. Similar chains are also scattered around the Universal Orlando area, including a Whole Foods on Turkey Lake Road.

    If you are staying at Walt Disney World without a car, it is an easy walk to the Hess gas station across Buena Vista Drive from Downtown Disney. Although the prices are higher than supermarkets charge, they are significantly lower than those found at the Walt Disney World resort shops. Even if you only pick up sodas, water, and snacks, you will save a bundle.

    2. Less expensive dining

    The Columbia Restaurant in Celebration

    Both Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando provide a plethora of dining options, many of which are extremely good. However, you will pay a premium for the theme park experience. If you have a car, virtually any chain restaurant you can imagine is located within a 10-15 minute drive of either complex. The area also features quality dinner shows, locally owned favorites, fast food, and other options, all at a fraction of the prices charged on property.

    3. More lodging options

    Condos allow you to spread out and relax

    The main reason that people pay a premium to stay on property at either Walt Disney World or Universal Orlando is to remain in the bubble. If you back away from the emotionality of the situation, however, you will realize exactly how high that premium really is. Within a few minutes in any direction from either property, you will find incredible deals on every level of accommodations.

    In addition, most on property rooms are designed for a family of four, while some sleep five uncomfortably. Those with larger families often end up paying even more for DVC rentals, Fort Wilderness cabins, suites, or even two rooms. For a significantly lower price, you can rent an entire vacation home with plenty of bedrooms and perhaps a private pool.

    If no one in your group has an annual pass, be sure to factor the daily parking fee at the theme parks into your calculations. You will also need a rental car unless you drive down or stay in a hotel with a theme park shuttle. In almost all cases, however, the off property deal ends up being much less expensive, especially if you have a kitchen to prepare some of your meals.

    4. I-Drive

    World of Chocolate

    Popularly known as I-Drive, International Drive is a tourist strip packed with relatively inexpensive, yet surprisingly good, smaller attractions. Immerse yourself in a doomed ocean liner’s final hours at Titanic: The Experience. Learn about the world’s oddities and curiosities at Wonderworks and Ripley’s Believe It Or Not! Take a walk through the history of chocolate and eat your fill of gourmet samples at the World of Chocolate. The I-Ride Trolley provides a cheap and easy way to get around, including stops near Universal Orlando and SeaWorld. Consider taking a day to explore this area, even if you stay on property.

    5. Old Town Kissimmee

     A Haunting at Old Town

    Designed to resemble an old-fashioned town square, Old Town offers something for the entire family. Get spooked year-round at the Legends: A Haunting at Old Town permanent haunted house, challenge each other to games at the arcade, go back to the 1950s at the A&W, or take in a live act while sampling some of the 200 international beers at the Brewery Barrel. Weekly classic car parades and live music are all part of the Old Town experience. There is no overall admission charge, although individual venues are free to set their own prices. Still, the costs are generally lower than they would be at similar theme park venues, and you can enjoy the classic cars, performers on the outdoor stage, and a variety of shopping choices without paying a penny.

    6. Outlet malls

    Image: Orlando Premium Outlets

    The theme park area is home to the Orlando Premium Outlets, with one location on Vineland Road near Walt Disney World and another near Universal Orlando on International Drive. Both offer fabulous deals on everything from character merchandise to high-end designer clothes. Conveniently, both locations are served by the I-Ride Trolley. Be sure to check them out before paying full retail price for any major purchases.

    While it is tempting to stay within the bubble, those who venture off property are rewarded with lower prices and more selection. On your next trip, consider heading out for at least a day to discover everything else that the tourist section of Orlando has to offer.