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There are eternal struggles in the world that we are all aware of, and the same is true when planning a Disney trip. One of the most often things is whether you should stay onsite or offsite when taking a trip to the World. I’ve done it both ways, and there’s lots to be said for each.
But for certain kinds of trips, there’s no consideration of onsite or offsite. If you’re like me, sometimes you get an opportunity to take a last minute trip or perhaps a trip that has to be as cheap as possible. Onsite hotels at Disney are not known for last minute flexibility or low prices, so offsite is your only choice. If I may, I’d like to recommend a couple of extra cheap hotels that have been life savers for me in the past.
The first is the Best Western Lakeside, located on 192 West of the main entrance of Walt Disney World. The hotel is located about 2 miles from the main gate, and provides easy in and out access. If you are coming from Disney’s Hollywood Studios or Epcot, it’s about a 10-15 minute drive to the hotel.
The rooms are spacious, as much so as any rooms at Pop Century or the All Star resorts. I’ll be honest, though, location and price are the big winners at this hotel. There are, however, some other fun amenities at the Best Western Lakeside worth mentioning. There are three pools, an onsite restaurant/food court, a Walgreen’s in the parking lot (who else makes a drugstore run every trip?) and a sports bar.
I have stayed there with my family before when we needed to make a quick trip at the last minute. We got a fantastic rate, and from what it seems, the prices have not gone up that far since our last stay there. For example, when looking for rooms over Memorial Day weekend, I found rates ranging from $41 (AAA rate) to $52 a night (no discount). It’s a great rate for a hotel that close, that is clean, and comes with a refrigerator, two double beds and a coffee maker.
The other hotel is not one I necessarily would recommend for families, but only because I have not taken my family there yet. However, each of the last two years, I have stayed at the Howard Johnson Maingate East when on a solo trip, and I cannot recommend it highly enough, especially for the price.
When I have the occasion to take a solo trip, I always look for the lowest price hotel. After all, I plan to spend most of my time in the parks, and will only sleep in the hotel room, and usually don’t do much of that. The Howard Johnson Maingate East is perfect for this. Directly across from the city of Celebration, it’s a hotel for the traveler who doesn’t need a whole lot of amenities.
For the price I paid last time I stayed there ($19 a night!!!) I was shocked to see a refrigerator, coffee maker and a king bed in my room. The bed was extremely comfortable, and being the dead of summer, the room having fabulous air conditioning was also great. I recently stayed in a $300 a night hotel in New York City that didn’t have air conditioning as nice as the Howard Johnson.
The price is again the key feature of this hotel. I have gotten lucky and managed to get this one for $25 or less a night for two years in a row off of Hotwire. However, if you aren’t the type who enjoys bidding for travel, you can find a rate on the hotel’s website for around $39 a night. Trust me, it’s well worth it.
I would not recommend either of these hotels if you plan to be down at Disney for a longer trip. I think 3-4 days is the maximum I would spend at either. However, if you are someone who can take a quick side trip from another destination to spend time at the World or perhaps can make a quick getaway, I would consider either hotel a great choice.