Best Vacation Home Rentals Near Disney World
Vacation home rentals near Walt Disney World have become a popular way to stay in large accommodations near the parks with private pools, game rooms, full kitchens, laundry, and other features. In this post, we share photos from inside luxurious and themed houses, offer thoughts on reputable companies, and thoughts on whether vacation homes are right for your WDW trip.
It’s increasingly obvious that guests are looking elsewhere to get better value for money. This much became clear to us in reading the hundreds of comments in response to our “Is Walt Disney World’s On-Site Advantage Disappearing?” Keep in mind, that was published at a time when transportation, Extra Magic Hours, and FastPass+ benefits still existed.
In addition to that, some of Walt Disney World’s on-site perks are still temporarily suspended, including the Disney Dining Plan and other reasons guests typically cite for staying on-site. At this point, the primary benefits to staying on-site are plus proximity to the parks and transportation. The actual benefits of those perks are debatable, especially if you’re renting a car or are venturing beyond Disney during your Florida vacation…
Many Walt Disney World fans have already have made the move off-site, whether it’s to hotels at Disney Springs, options at Universal that offer perks at those parks, or other nearby hotels. Another option growing in popularity is vacation home rentals, whether that be via large booking engines like Airbnb or via specialized Disney sites.
We first learned about the option to rent a house near Walt Disney World while listening to the (now defunct) WDW Today Podcast and hearing ad pitches for (the also now defunct) All Star Vacation Homes. It all sounded a little too good to be true: arcades, home theaters, private pools, countless bedrooms, and so on. But it was true. The homes were really as-advertised, with reasonable prices that were a fraction of comparable on-site hotel prices.
Since then we’ve used Airbnb extensively with great results around the world, including months at a time. That’s pretty much been our go-to, but usually for smaller flats or apartments. Rentals near Walt Disney World are a totally different ball game, as most are newly-built houses (the term mansion is apt for many of them) for the express purpose of rentals. (Airbnb is actually not the best option near Walt Disney World, for reasons we discuss below.)
In other words, when you rent one of these, you’re not staying in someone else’s personal home some random week they are out of town. These houses exist solely for the purpose of being rented, and are operated much like a hotel.
With most of our Walt Disney World trips being just the two of us, we haven’t had the need for a vacation home rental in years, and hadn’t really kept apprised of this burgeoning market. However, I’m really curious about homes in Central Florida and I find the explosion in large and expensive properties endlessly fascinating.
So, I decided to do some research, visiting the resort areas like Windsor Hills, Champions Gate, and Reunion. This gave us an excuse to tour some of those homes.
Beyond the size and themed areas of the flagship houses available for booking, the biggest surprise for me was the size and scale of the businesses. They have curated a sizable home inventory of Disney-centric homes, and are partnered with management companies that offer a dedicated team and 24 hour customer service.
I was also surprised by the variety of accommodations offered. In addition to the lavish and spacious multi-bedroom homes with every amenity you can imagine, there are also smaller homes. More interesting to smaller parties looking for a quasi-hotel experience, they have 2-bedroom, 2-bath condo units in the Reunion Grande Luxury Hotel Tower. These units actually offer views of Walt Disney World, and the fireworks at night!
To my surprise, this is not atypical for the big players in the Orlando-area vacation rental space. Doing further research about vacation homes around Walt Disney World was a bit daunting. The various rental outfits seem to be in a race to the bottom to create the least coherent descriptions, stringing together a slew of spam-like keywords they believe will please the almighty Google gods.
Once you cut past the messy search results and begin delving into the pages of the respectable rental companies (including reviews from actual guests), there’s a lot to like. I found 6 different companies in the Walt Disney World area that I would consider to be reputable.
That’s just in doing research for this article; there very well could be other exemplary under-the-radar businesses that I’m missing. In combing the reviews, guest experiences are generally very positive–on par with crowd-sourced reviews for Deluxe Resorts at Walt Disney World.
The main players in the Orlando vacation home rental market scene all seem legit. Although we haven’t used or dealt with them all, ones that appear reputable include Orlando Vacation, Windsor Hills Orlando Condos, and Magical Vacation Homes.
There are a handful of other agencies, including Go Disney Vacations and Emerald Island Rentals Orlando that have good ratings, and I wouldn’t hesitate to rent from any of them if we were in need of such a property. In addition to all of these being legit and trustworthy, they are also in places where such rentals are legal, which is very important. Developments including Reunion were created with such rentals and mixed-use in mind. This is not true of places where many other rental options are located.
Accordingly, I would exercise extreme caution in using other options, especially newly-established ones. Along with the explosion in Central Florida’s real estate market has come a lot of questionable investors and attempts to make a quick buck. Many HOAs are now banning short-term rentals and cities are attempting to discourage Airbnb and other fly-by-night rental companies.
There are horror stories of Airbnb guests near Walt Disney World getting kicked out of their accommodations halfway through their trip because their rentals were illegal. As for renting from the credible and legal vacation home rental companies, we personally have zero hesitations whatsoever.
The point is that these Walt Disney World-centric vacation home rental companies are even safer, as they have direct control of and access to the properties, real-time support, and physical storefronts/offices in the area. They are basically like a hotel, but instead of their inventory consisting of individual rooms, it consists of entire houses.
Like hotels, they also have reputations that are inextricably intertwined with the properties, whereas Airbnb is decentralized and is only a booking service/engine; it doesn’t take a reputation hit when an individual property receives a poor review, nor does it have the means of offering a real-time solution, beyond a refund.
As for the pros and cons of vacation homes, we cover the basics in our Off-Site v. On-Site at Walt Disney World article. Beyond that, the biggest strength of vacation homes is in the size of the accommodations. If you’re looking at price per square foot, nothing any hotel of comparable quality offers at or near Walt Disney World can touch vacation homes.
Other upsides include free parking, having a full kitchen, laundry, game rooms, private pools, and whatever other features the specific home you book has. Many of the aforementioned communities where the homes are located are gated, ensuring safety, and have shared common areas, like pools and water play areas on par with those at some Walt Disney World resorts.
The biggest real downside is being off-site and having to drive or use Uber/Lyft.
However, you figure that adds $25/day to your Walt Disney World vacation budget, and gets you private transportation from your door-front to the parks in about the same time (if not less) commuting from the All Star Resorts via Disney transportation–at a per square foot price that’s lower than even the All Stars.
Nevertheless, it should also be noted that vacation home rentals are not for everyone. As much as I enjoy having a good freakout a la Kevin McAllister in Home Alone and running all over a mansion, one of these houses would be total overkill for just Sarah and me. We like our space, but don’t need that much.
Even if we did need more space, we like the hotel experience–and are particularly suckers for staying on-site at Walt Disney World. As we noted in the above-mentioned ‘Disappearing On-Site Advantage’ article, the nostalgia and emotional pull of staying on-site is incredibly powerful for us.
However, your mileage may vary on that, both in terms of your party size and how much emotional or nostalgic weight there is in staying on-site. If you have a party of 4 or more and want nice and spacious accommodations, vacation home rental near Walt Disney World might be perfect for you.
This post basically serves a primer to the ever-growing rental market in Orlando, cuts through the fluff, and provides insight into what to expect from these homes. Basically, if you’re in the market for the best vacation home rental near Walt Disney World, use one of the other handful of companies discussed in this post, and avoid the rest.
Planning a Walt Disney World trip? Learn about hotels on our Walt Disney World Hotels Reviews page. For where to eat, read our Walt Disney World Restaurant Reviews. To save money on tickets or determine which type to buy, read our Tips for Saving Money on Walt Disney World Tickets post. Our What to Pack for Disney Trips post takes a unique look at clever items to take. For what to do and when to do it, our Walt Disney World Ride Guides will help. For comprehensive advice, the best place to start is our Walt Disney World Trip Planning Guide for everything you need to know!
Have you ever rented a vacation home near Walt Disney World? Which company did you use? What did you think of the experience? Would you recommend it to someone else? What do you perceive as the pros & cons of renting a vacation home as opposed to staying in a Walt Disney World resort? Do you agree or disagree with our thoughts? Any questions we can help you answer? Hearing your feedback–even when you disagree with us–is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!
We’ve used VRBO for years. We’ve never had a problem and think the value over staying in the park can’t be beat. This is especially true near Disneyland, a private hot tub, fireworks, a ride to the park is $10, it’s a no-brainer.
@D. Downer, I completely agree on VRBO. I’ve used it numerous times for international vacations, as well as domestic Disney and non-Disney trips. I’ve always had good experiences, perhaps because I pay a lot of attention to guest reviews. Staying off-site during my last WDW trip showed me how much more convenient driving is over relying on Disney buses, (except to the MK), and I feel like I’ll never do Disney World without a car again, whether or not I’m on-site.
We used HomeAway in July 2016 for our 2 week stay and we rented a house in the Four Corners area. It was a very easy process and the communication with the homeowners was great. We’ve stayed on Disney property, in hotels, and rented condos in other resort areas but by far, renting a house was our favourite way to experience Disney and the other parks. It may be a little less convenient in terms of location and losing perks but the fact that you have tons of space and your own private pool make up for it!
We returned a couple of weeks ago from a trip to Disney World where we stayed off-site at the Emerald Isle Resort. We had a fantastic time both at WDW and at our vacation home. It could sleep up to 10 people (we were a group of 9) with it’s own private swimming pool, hot tub, game room, 3 bathrooms, etc. I could go on and on. This particular villa was not super luxurious but it was very comfortable and well taken care of. And super close to the parks. 8 min. to AK and about 16 minutes to TTC. We were lucky to know the owners of our particular Villa, so we were there at no cost to us, but even for the price offered ($125 a night via VRBO for the dates we were there in May) it would have been amazing.
A few years ago we stayed at Art of Animation and we loved it. We were a group of 6 so it fit us just right. But the cost of that room at the time was over $300 a night. So the money we saved on hotels this trip we put back in on nicer restaurants and experiences to make up for the lack of Disney perks. As a lifelong fan of both Disney and the parks, I really have a hard time swallowing the costs of Disney rooms even though I love the place. This past trip showed me that there is another way that can make sense for lots of people. I think more coverage would be helpful to folks. You guys are great at this so I hope you do it.
Our large party stayed in a few villas at an off site resort during our last trip. It was… different. The villas were nice and spacious, and it was a huge bonus to have a living room, but we never took advantage of the kitchen. We saved a lot of money and driving to the parks was quick and easy. The downsides to this were big for me, though. When you fly to Orlando with several little kids that ALL need car seats, the amount of luggage we schlepped through the airport doubled. It was a gigantic pain and something I will NEVER DO AGAIN. Magical express is invaluable to us for this reason (no need for car seats!!). If we were driving our own vehicle and bypassing the airport, we would maybe go the off site route again, but with little kids, ease of transportation is everything. We couldn’t ever Uber because of the car seat issue, too. We will be staying on a monorail resort next time, and I’m interested to see how it will compare.
I got married in Orlando earlier this month–destination wedding, so everyone was from out of the area. My mom rented a huge house from Sweet Home Vacations for her side of the family and it was great! Beautiful patio, plentiful bathrooms. Great kitchen and dining space. It was nowhere near as beautiful as the amazing pictures you’ve shared though! It was $299/night Thursday-Sunday in early May.
I usually travel with just my husband or my best friend, so a home doesn’t make sense for what I perceive my future travel plans to be, but I’d definitely seriously consider it should the option for a large group stay come up.
My bachelorette party was at Disney a few days before the wedding and as a treat to my girls, I booked a studio and 2-bedroom villa at BLT. That was um…slightly pricier than $299 a night. But it was hard to beat the excitement on the Disney virgins’ faces when we hopped on the monorail!
My first ever visit to Disney was Sept of 2018, followed up by a Feb. visit and will be there again in August. I bought an annual pass to use for all three visits. I don’t mind spending the money of the value is there, but Disney Resorts is in my mind no value at all. I stayed first at the Wyndham Bonnet Creek in a two bedroom, then stayed in a four bedroom home in Feb, then my upcoming visit is a three bedroom apartment at the Wyndsor estates just south of Animal Kingdom. The three visits were cheaper per night than anything higher than a value resort on-property which is a themed hotel room. I also save on parking at the apartment/homes and free parking at the parks along with unlimited access to the parks. I love Disney, but I can’t spend all that extra money in access to buses that depending on how busy I may miss. Food is cheaper making my own lunches and dinner.
I did stay at Port Orleans Riverside for two nights at the end of my first visit after checking out of Bonnet Creek resort. I got the passholder discount of about $175 per night and the total bill was about $450. That’s over four nights at my upcoming rental. I tried taking the bus to a park rather than the car I drove from Houston, TX to Orlando, but I found that even getting to the bus stop early so many people were there that I was going to miss the bus and decided to drive myself. I beat that bus there and parking didn’t cost me anything.
We recently stayed in a tiny house community off property for a week and absolutely loved it. We could get there from some of the parks faster than to some WDW hotels and definitely faster than using WDW transportation. Since we had annual passes we didn’t have to pay parking fees at the parks. The house was perfect for the two of us, the price was great and the hosts were wonderful! (We booked through Airbnb.). Although we enjoy staying on property, we’ll go this route again.
I’ve been using VBRO for a decade, to book Jersey Shore and international properties. I’ve never had a problem. I used it again to book my family’s first off-site stay (after 30+ years of “bubble” stays), at a Windsor Hill townhouse last August. We were pleasantly surprised with the resort, the space, the themed rooms. We were only 8-minutes from the AK parking lot and less than 20-minutes fri DHS & Epcot. Only the MK was less convenient, because of the TTC. One hack that mitigates the downsides of staying offsite was that I bought myself an AP and kept the rest of my party on standard tickets. Between the included parking, memory maker and dining discounts, the pass paid for itself in 5-6 days, and it felt like we still belonged to the bubble magic. As someone who has always relied on WDW buses, I cannot stress enough what a revelation driving was. We saved HOURS by not having to take multiple buses to our resort meals, and Disney Springs felt way more accessible. I love the on-site resorts, but I will struggle to pay those mark-ups again, now that i know how pleasant the off-site experience can be.
We love Encantada resort, which is 4 miles from Disney property. You can hear the MK fireworks from the house! There is an owner that has two homes, they each have a private pool and also resort pools! My kids love the Disney bedrooms!
We used to stay on Disney property, but we can’t justify spending twice the cost for a hotel bedroom. A rental home costs much less and you have a TON of space! I do not miss waiting in line for the buses or the cramped bus ride back. Rental homes all the way!! The owners website is http://www.loveourfloridahome.com if anyone is interested. She books up quick, just FYI.
This sounds wonderful! What was your experience with driving and parking at the parks? It seems like it would be overwhelming but the more I am reading I am starting to think maybe we should give it a try!
We love to stay on site but have recently moved away from it. With 3 kids (8,6, and 2) we have found that the space is worth it for us. Some day I’d love for us to be able to stay on site again but last year by staying off site we were able to afford annual passes, which meant 2 trips for the price of 1 for us! I love the Disney bubble but it’s just climbing out of our price range. We also never have any trouble getting back and forth between parks and wherever we are staying. Magic kingdom is really the only park that I hate driving too, but even that isn’t horrible.
The WDW Today podcast is alive and well! (https://www.facebook.com/wdwtoday/) AND one of the hosts (Logan Sekulow) has his own off-property rental that falls exactly in the wheelhouse of this article, at earbnb.com.
Thanks for the amazing articles!
Count me as one of the people looking forward to your off-site coverage! When we eventually make it to WDW (from New Zealand) we won’t be staying onsite. As a foreign tourist I do not care about the bubble – the theme parks will be bubble enough. From what I can see it’s significantly cheaper to stay offsite even when I include car rental and daily parking at the parks. The ultimate dream is Savannah View at AK, but the only way I’d drop that sort of money is if I won Lotto.
For what it’s worth, Kaitia – read tom’s article on renting DVC points. Last year we stayed at AKL for a few nights in a non-savannah-view room that still had a view of the savannah for ~$225/night. Not chump change for sure, but in a world where Pop Century goes for $140-150/night it was reasonable (and my favorite hotel experience ever).
Hi Kevin. I’ve actually looked at renting points and even priced out an AKL stay (within my budget with the points), but I hate the prospect of not being in charge of my booking – this is same reason I always book direct and not third party. I know it’s worst case scenario, but what’s to stop the owner of the points cancelling and leaving me high and dry? Maybe it’s foolish of me, but it’s too big of a risk considering the distance and expense it takes me just to get to the US. I’ve had a “what are the odds?” scenario happen to me before – on my honeymoon! – so I’m extra cautious now when it comes to international travel.
I would definitely like you to do some further posts on this subject. Depending on who all decides to go, the next time we go to Disney we could be a party of as few as 5, up to as much as a party of 12! All adults, so we need space! I had never considered this before as I didnt know where to go or who to trust so I would love some good info!
The last thing keeping me on property was the theme of the resorts. We’re a family of 7 and we drive to Disney. Renting some of these options for a week is comparable cost wise to just ok on property options but sleep for 14-16 so they’d be cheaper per person if we bring some grandparents. The themes of the kids rooms are much more detailed than even Disney story rooms and these all have theaters. The Fast pass window would be a downside except that I’m disabled and my stamina is decreasing. The DAS accommodations are more flexible than FP+. Even if I book a ride with FP+ it doesn’t mean I won’t have to cancel it or miss the window when it’s time to ride and the rides that book 60 days out aren’t usually available to re-book on short notice. If I’m already going to be spending a lot of time resting outside the parks I might rather do it in one of these vacation homes than at a Disney resort.
We had our first exposure to an off-site property when we stayed with friends who were owners at Windsor Hills Resort (WH). WH is a gated resort community that has 999 properties, the vast majority of which are rentals. Only a few owners actually live there year round. The properties include 4-6 bedroom homes, with splash pools and hot tubs, 3-4 bedroom townhomes (with private splash pools) and 2-3 bedroom condos. We stayed in their 1400 square foot 3 bedroom/2 bath condo. It rents out for $90/night in low season ($135 in high). There are no other costs other than tax and a cleaning fee ($65) which owners sometimes pick up themselves if you stay 7 nights or longer. The condo was large, stunningly decorated, updated full kitchen and bathrooms (with granite), full-sized washer and dryer and a lovely screened in Lanai. It easily accommodated our friends, ourselves and her daughter (room for 6). It was an easy walk to the double Olympic-sized lagoon style pool and brand new waterpark. There is also free access to all the other amenities such as a games room, movie theatre, tennis/pickle ball courts, sand volleyball, basketball courts. Located just a few miles to Disney, it’s a quick drive to the parks. I’d definitely recommend a car if you’re staying at WH. There are shuttles and taxis but there can be long waits to get through the entrance gates that are secure and manned 24/7. Full disclosure, we were so impressed with the resort we ended up buying a place for ourselves. They are not time shares. Each property is owned by an individual, typically just regular families like ours. We have a local property management company that manages bookings, cleanings, repairs, etc. They are available 24/7 to guests. For instance yesterday one of the tv’s stopped working. The management company had a brand new smart tv installed by the time they got back from the parks that day. I hope this is helpful info. As you can tell, we are big fans of this rental model as an economical alternative to staying onsite.
999 properties? Like 999 ghosts in the haunted mansion? Anyway, yes, this we very helpful! Thank you! How does one go about renting a property there?
999 properties? Like 999 ghosts in the haunted mansion? Anyway, yes, this was very helpful! Thank you! How does one go about renting a property there? When I googled Windsor Hills resort, several websites came up and I dont know which one is correct and dont want to get scammed! Magicalvacationhomes.com, windsorhillsofficialrentals.com, windsorhillsprivaterentals.com, and 5 other websites all came up claiming to rent the homes there!
Hi Diana. Your best bet is to go to Windsor Hills Private Rentals. This is THE official site for WH properties. Owners like ourselves list our properties on a variety of different places like Airbnb and VRBO. But WHPR allows you to interact directly with owners and therefore get the best prices. Let me know if you have any other questions. I’m always happy to talk about WH
We’ve stayed at Windsor Hills, and it’s great!!!
How can I contact you about your home? I potentially need one for a large family group. Thank you!
Hi Robin. Our condo only has space for 6 people. If you need more than 3 bedrooms you’ll need a townhome or villa. You can browse options at the Windsor Hills Private Rentals website.
You’ll be amazed by the wonderful choices (and prices) at Windsor Hills.
Do the rental companies pay licensing fees for the use of the Disney characters and themes on which the business is based and promoted? How does that work with this type of enterprise?
these look amazing! but the biggest downside is not scoring fastpasses for the most popular rides.
Agree. Fast passes a big plus for on site accommodations. Plus easier to take a break mid day and return to park later. No parking hassles.
Hi! You don’t have to stay on-site to get access to fast passes. The on-site advantage is that you can book your fast passes 60 days out (rather than 30 days out for off-site guests).
This is certainly intriguing. I just can’t get past the time it would take to get back and forth. Also, I wonder what,if anything Disney will do as these rise in popularity.
We found that driving back and forth to Windsor Hills was actually 9 times out of 10 faster than taking the bus to AKL. We took many midday breaks and the travel time really was not noticeably different at all. Plus it was in our own air-conditioned car with seats for everyone.
Vacation rental homes have been hugely popular in the Disney area for years. We purchased our first vacation rental here in 2005 and the rental market had been booming for several years even back then.
Disney know they can’t accommodate all 70+ million annual visitors to the area and are well aware of the tens of thousand vacation rentals around them.
With regards to distance, Disney is huge anyway, so wherever you stay you’ll have to commute to the different parks. But to give you an idea, we are located just over 4 miles from Animal Kingdom. If the two sets of traffic signals between are green, you can be door to door in the Animal Kindom parking lot in less than 10 minutes!
Some homes can be as far as 40 minutes commute though, so you do need to be aware of location if an easy commute is important to your stay.
Thanks Tom for highlighting our awesome industry as such as great alternative 🙂
Hi, I live here in Central Florida and you forgot to mention many of the home rental companies listed are also timeshare home sales companies. Normally they will pressure you to buy while there. So be careful because a vacation with relentless timeshare sales pitches will not be fun.
Of the companies named here, which ones do that?
I saw that mentioned in reviews of a couple of the businesses with less-positive reviews, but I didn’t list them for that reason.
Windsor Hills is definitely not a timeshare. I’m not certain about the others.
We haven’t stayed in one of the rental homes, but have certainly contemplated the idea. We are a family of 5, with growing teenage boys and hotel rooms are becoming a bit tighter. I know I would love to see reviews from homes that you or even some of your readers have stayed in so we can all get great insight as to which ones work for different families.
I just left the website of our favorite place. We love it, highly recommend!
Hi Penny. You can check out Windsor Hills properties here:
You’ll find photos, rates, availability and reviews. This will give you a good idea of what WH can offer to you and your family.
We have stayed in three different villas through VRBO. They all were fantastic with a screened in private pool and hot tub. The best part was that our son and daughter had their own rooms and their own bathrooms. A major plus with teenagers! I hope you look into staying off-site. Large spaces, great prices, and quick and easy drives to the parks.
We have a special needs daughter with cognitive disabilities that make hotel stays nearly impossible. We decided to rent, through airbnb, a rental home a few years ago for our first Disney trip with all our kids. My parents came with us as well and we split the roughly $100/night cost for the 4 bed home with private pool. The ability to replicate our daughters bedroom experience from home was invaluable. That experience has helped us see that vacations as a family are not only possible, but exceptionally affordable. BTW, she loved Disney; that first hug by Pooh at Crystal Palace will never be forgotten.