I come from a family of Disney fanatics, so when we started acquiring vacation rental homes, Orlando was at the top of our list. We acquired a couple of rentals over the years and found that there was a slightly higher return on investment for properties that were situated closer to Disney.
Orlando is a sprawling city, covering more than 110 square miles. A whopping 40 square miles are owned by Walt Disney World, which acquired the property decades ago when Central Florida was virtually undeveloped. In fact, to provide a bit of perspective, Disney's property is the same size as the entire city of San Francisco!
Disney's theme parks and Disney resorts occupy a large swath of land, and the areas surrounding the theme parks remain fairly undeveloped, which does place vacation rental owners at a disadvantage. Even if your neighborhood borders Disney-owned land, it can still take upwards of an hour to reach the theme park gates. Conversely, Disney resorts have a significant advantage since guests can literally be at one of several theme parks in a matter of minutes.
That said, the closer your vacation home is to Disney, the better! Let's look at how to evaluate potential rental properties in this regard and how to decide which home and neighborhood are best if you're seeking out an Orlando vacation home.
Which Neighborhoods Are Closest to Disney World?
Disney's property is situated in the southwest portion of Orlando. Portions of Disney property are bordered by other cities, such as Kissimmee. East of Disney is Orlando International Airport, while the land that's situated off to the west is largely undeveloped.
While there are some beautiful properties to the north of Disney, such as the famed Windermere area (which is home to many celebrities), these homes tend to fall into the most exclusive luxury home category. With home prices in the millions and many highly restrictive rules and regulations in place, these areas may not be top picks for anyone seeking to acquire a profitable vacation rental home.
Go further north and east and you end up in more urban neighborhoods, which are less attractive due to the distance from Disney and the amount of time it would take to drive to the theme parks.
There are a few neighborhoods situated just south of Disney World, and while property values (and real estate prices) in these neighborhoods tend to be a bit higher than average, most homeowners find that the higher volume of bookings and the ability to charge higher fees offsets those higher real estate costs.
Some of the closest neighborhoods to Disney include:
- Windsor Hills
- Formosa Gardens
- Indian Creek
- Hunter's Creek
Some of the closest and nicest neighborhoods, such as Celebration, are actually outside of Orlando. Celebration is technically in Kissimmee, but it's closer to the attractions than many Orlando neighborhoods. The same is true for Four Corners, Florida, which is home to the Windsor Hills neighborhood. Windsor Hills is an unincorporated area.
So all in all, you should not limit your search to Orlando city limits, but rather, the Orlando metro area.
What Other Factors Should I Consider When Acquiring a Disney World Vacation Home?
Your home's location relative to the airport is a big factor to consider. The aforementioned neighborhoods are primarily south or southeast of Disney, which is ideal because they're also fairly close to Orlando International Airport. This is a huge draw among tourists, a majority of whom will be arriving by airplane. Some of the aforementioned neighborhoods are just five to six miles away from the airport, which can help you improve your ROI.
In fact, many of the aforementioned neighborhoods are closer to the airport and to certain Disney attractions than some of the actual Disney resorts! So when you have a few properties under consideration, map out their distance to various theme parks and other key landmarks like the airport. If you're closer to these landmarks than the Disney resorts, be sure to mention this in your marketing materials.
You should also consider whether you're near one of the main roadways leading into Disney's property. Look for homes that have easy access to:
- Osceola Parkway and W. Osceola Parkway
- World Drive
- Epcot Center Drive (a.k.a. Highway 536)
- W. Irio Bronson Memorial Highway (a.k.a. Highway 192)
- International Drive
- N. Old Lake Wilson Road
- Funie Steed Road
Disney's property is fairly close to Route 4, so a home situated north of Disney but close to Route 4 would have fairly easy access to the theme parks. These homes tend to have a higher ROI than what you would see with a home located further from the highway because they're more desirable among Disney-bound tourists who are seeking convenience.
Ideally, you want your guests to have an easy ride to Disney. The fewer turns and the simpler the directions, the better.
You'll also want to consider not only the number of bedrooms but the number of people you can sleep. In an area with some of the world's best resorts, vacation rentals tend to be most popular among larger families and larger groups that would have to reserve multiple hotel rooms (a pricey proposition when visiting Disney resorts). So choose a property that gives you lots of flexibility in this regard.
When furnishing your vacation home, opt for bunk beds or trundle beds instead of twin beds. Choose a couch with a fold-out bed. If you have a room that you'd like to furnish as an office, arrange it so you can accommodate a futon or a portable cot that you can stow in a closet. The more you can sleep, the better! This will increase your ROI significantly, as you can accommodate a broader range of potential guests.
A property manager can be essential for helping you maximize your Orlando vacation home's ROI. So if you're ready to take your new home to the next level in terms of ROI, turn to Rented.com. We connect Orlando vacation rental owners with the top local Airbnb property managers. Sign up is free, and you can start receiving offers to manage your vacation home in a matter of minutes. Get started today on Rented.com to find the perfect property manager.
Lead image: Pixabay user rgrivas10