On-site: is it worth it?

First off, this is our first family trip to WDW in 13 years. I now have 3 more children (5 total) than at our last trip and I definitely see the benefits of doing rope drop. We’ve already got an off-site vacation rental and were planning on ubering to CR with a mobile order to rope drop Magic Kingdom since the disadvantage to off-site guests is so significant with the extra transport from the TTC to MK entrance. I’ve been watching the forums for the last month and a half and have heard a few first-hand accounts of people successfully getting into CR with a mobile order but just the last few days I’ve read several first-hand accounts of cars (including Lyft/Uber) being turned away from the CR gate and I’m wondering if it’s worth it to try to rope drop MK by going to the CR.

Our plan is to arrive between 7-7:20am for a 9am opening so we have time to eat breakfast without rushing. If we get turned away, I don’t even know what plan B would be with it being so much earlier than the TTC opens for cars. So, first question, any suggestions for how to handle this if we keep our off-site plans?

Another option I’ve considered is to transfer to on-site partway through our stay. Once I took into account the savings from returning the rental car, the cost of the uber, and parking, it would cost an additional $350 to stay onsite at Pop Century for the last half of our vacation. The cost to staying the entire time at Pop Century was an additional $1500 because it was more expensive on the earlier days & because we would have to eat out a lot more than we planned. We already have some ADRs booked for the second half of our trip so switching at that point is less expensive.

From what I’m seeing the pros are that we could much more easily rope drop MK, we could let my teens have slightly more freedom to stay at the park and I can take my younger kids back midday, and my kids (especially the younger ones) would get to experience the “magic” of staying on site.

The cons are that it would cost us $350 more than we were planning and we would have the hassle of moving halfway through our vacation including returning the rental car. If we made the switch, my husband would just drop us off at the hotel and then return the rental car to the airport and take the Magic Express back to the resort. Is it possible to take the Magic Express after dropping off the rental car or would they require the info of an arriving flight for him to use it?

Thoughts, suggestions? Is it worth the $350 and extra hassle of moving mid-trip with a family of 7 to stay on-site part of our trip?

What month is your trip?

Here’s the thing: you’re doing off site for the first part if your trip. And on site the second.

I’d think of it as an experiment. You’ll either find out it’s worth it or not. For a reasonable amount of money. Maybe about $100 per day?

And you can come back here and let us know. Because I think there’s very few fence sitters here.

I do think, with a large family, covering differing age groups, it’s worth doing the experiment.

Also, I’m always a sucker for plans with more options.


How long is your trip?

We’re actually leaving in a week and a half. The first half is the last week of February and the second half is the first few days of March.

The entire trip is 11 days (10 nights) including two days for travel, seven days in the parks and two days resting. So, if we decide to split our time we will have 6 nights in the vacation rental and 4 nights on site.

Long trip, I would consider it then! Mostly if you just want to experience on site as well. Or if a change of scenery is appealing.

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Ok, search the forum for priceline deals. You could get pop way cheap. Do that!!


I would give it a try

Personally for me there are to major factors for staying on site:

  • location/transport/accessibility (all grouped into one)
  • being in the bubble

The former is obviously a practical thing, which you already brought up with rope dropping. Additionally I want the option to walk to at least one park, but of course, this is an instant cost increase as you have limited options most of which are deluxe resorts. Also, being able to walk or catch a bus or monorail to a park late in the evening is a plus for me.

The latter is hard to put a value on. Personally I’m willing to fork out more per night solely to be within WDW because I love the atmosphere and I like the resorts. It’s a more immersive experience than just “showing up” at the park.

At the same time I completely get the choice of staying offsite, saving money and not really giving up much. It really comes down to a few practical issues and some less-practical, more sentimental issues.

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Have you checked out this thread?

You can probably get Pop cheaper than you think.

I don’t know about the Magical Express thing. It’s worth a call to them. If they won’t do it, then find a flight that lands around the time your husband would be dropping off the car!

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So pre-covid I had a rental car I dropped of and picked up my ME to the resort, but I was meeting my wife and kids who had a flight so I’m not sure that it mattered.

I’m fairly certain that you can schedule ME with a car return reservation. It may not be a policy but call and ask. It’s such an easy accommodation I doubt they give much pushback.

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Thanks! I did call and they said that we would just need to call ME to set up his ride. :slightly_smiling_face:


Thanks for the reminder! I had seen it earlier today and after reading through it just got nervous about how challenging it might be to find the right resort in their system and the fact that its non-refundable. I just wasn’t sure it would be worth trying to get the room through Hotwire. After your comment I went back and re-read the thread again and researched it more. In the end, we decided to go for it and it saved us almost $500! :smiling_face_with_three_hearts:


That’s fantastic! It can be nerve wracking for sure. I booked just one night using those tips in late January at CSR. My heart was pounding but it worked! Glad you saved so much money! I think you’ll enjoy being on site for a few days.

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So Pop was going to cost you a net $350, but you said you saved $500 using Hotwire. Does this mean doing the split stay will actually save you $150?


Yes! After showing this to my DH, it didn’t take much to convince him that staying at Pop Century for these days was a good idea. :smile:

This was also after taking into account the savings from returning the rental car early, not ubering to MK on two days and paying for QS breakfast there, no parking fees for three days, and fewer days in the vacation rental.


Are you getting two rooms on site? I hope so, because staying on site with 7 people at Pop will not be magical at all. I would keep it off site for sure. If, however, you are getting two rooms, it should be okay.


Yes, definitely two rooms. I can’t imagine trying to sneak in and fit 7 people in one of those rooms. :joy:

Okay. That’s good…because I couldn’t imagine it either…but you didn’t explicitly say, so just wanted to make sure! :slight_smile:


I’m absolutely going to have to think about this kind of mixed split stay for our next trip. Whenever that might be. We are also a family of 7 and the cost adds up so quickly on site! But I loved it so much.