If off-property is your only option . . . .
While the majority of the board members are seasoned on-property veterans, I thought I would start a thread for those of you who might only be interested in off-property hotels/motels/villas/vacation homes. However, I am going to start this thread talking only about the villa experience, and let other members pick up on the others and/or add to my missive.
If you are looking to rent a villa, be sure to look for the places that participate in the Disney program called "Disney Good Neighbors." These places must meet certain standards to use the logo. For the most part, these places will have accommodations that are comparable to on-property places. They usually can sell you Disney and other theme park tickets. They also all universally have a pitch man or woman who will try to get you to tour a time-share place for a free breakfast/lunch and some cash or Disney Dollars. Beware though that the 1.5 hour presentation will most likely be 2-3 hours and you will be pressured to sign on the dotted line. My DW and I took a tour at Sheraton Vistana on International Drive and got $90 Disney Dollars. No, we did not sign, but bought all our WDW soveneirs with the DDs. It is a beautiful place BTW.
Oops, got OT there. Some villas even offer free bus service to WDW. However, times are limited. You've probably seen these busses in the theme park lots but removed from the Disney busses.
Since we are a capitalistic society, you are going to pay for what you get. The closer to WDW the higher the price, unless a place is just opening and is trying to attract customers. Most of these villas are owned by persons who live oversees, particularly our friends the Brits, who use them when they visit WDW. The vast majority of owners will never visit WDW and only buy the villas for tax purposes and/or added income. These villas have either two or three bedrooms and most come completely furnished, even with washer and dryer. The properties usually have a clubhouse and pool or two and tennis courts and such also.
From what I can tell, these properties are then managed by a company (some of these companies have many different names and websites) that act as brokers for you (some villas can be rented thru the owners). Some of these companies have two, three or more properties within the WDW area, most are just off US 192, both east and west. You must check in and check out at a central location, usually an office in a strip mall, and then drive the few blocks or miles to your villa. Of course, they are going to try to put you in the least desirable place and get as much money out of you as possible. The going rate for a two bedroom seems to be about $99/night. Three bedroom places start about $139/night, but rates are negotiable. Rates are higher during peak times. These places will charge you a cleaning fee at the end of your stay which ranges from $35 and up. Some places also have maid service if you intend to stay a while and don't have time to clean up.
If you are going to be in the WDW area say for a week or so and want to visit other theme parks, this is a good option IMHO. The six of us stayed for 10 days and had a marvelous time. The desk person also told us about the "shortcut" to WDW, which is basically to avoid US 192 at any time of the day. :lol: Another tip if you have the time is to visit the place you are going to be renting before you put down your money. Most of the places will be happy to do that.
All in all, we have a great time at the villa we stayed at and it was only a 10 minute drive to WDW and only a minute or two to fast food and national chain restaurants such as Outback, TGI Fridays, Chilis, etc.