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
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
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.