AllStar2My family just wrapped up a 9-day stay in the Orlando area for our first family vacation to Florida. When making plans for our accommodations for the trip, we considered several different options – stay at a Disney resort, stay in an off-site hotel or resort, or rent an off-site condo.

Since we’re a family of five, our options tend to be more limited as many places only allow a maximum occupancy of four per room. We thought we were all set with a 3-bedroom, 2-bath condo at an Orlando area resort right near the Disney parks, but at the last minute (36 hours before we were slated to arrive) our accommodations fell through.

After a few panic-stricken moments, I reached out to both the TravelingMom blogger network and the wonderful folks I’d been working with at VisitOrlando. They worked their (Disney?) magic and by the time we arrived in town we were all set up with an option that I’d never even previously considered – a vacation rental home, courtesy of the amazing staff at AllStar Vacation Homes.

AllStar13I’d heard so many good things from Wheeling TravelingMom (@Chaotic_Barb) about her stay at an accessible vacation home through AllStar earlier this year but the quality of what we experienced was beyond anything I’d ever expected. The staff at check-in were not only friendly and courteous, but made us feel very welcome and even had bags and beach balls for each of my girls. All of my interactions with AllStar staff, from that initial check-in to their phone call to see how we were doing, to our check-out the next week, were stellar. Staff is also able to provide anything you need from directions to park tickets. And then there was the house

If I were searching for a place to stay for an extended stay in Orlando again – my first stop would definitely be to look at AllStar Vacation Homes. The house we stayed in was located in a private gated community only a couple of miles from Disney World. Being a detached home, there were no worries about having to keep the kids quiet to not disturb others next to, above or below us. This house was located on a corner lot even, so there were neighbors only on one side. After a week of hotel stays, the girls were so glad to be able to run around, sing, dance and play just like they would at home.

AllStar3This house was definitely more than we needed in terms of space, but it was so awesome to be able to spread out. The house had five bedrooms, including two king master suites, a queen master suite and two upstairs bedrooms for kids, complete with attached bathrooms and themed décor (Mickey Mouse in one room and beach-themed in the other). Being a house, there was a full kitchen of course, with full-sized stove, refrigerator (with in-door water and ice), and a beautiful breakfast nook. There was also a laundry room, so not only was I able to catch up on laundry after being away from home for over a week already, but when we left at the end of our stay, I packed one suitcase full of extra (clean) clothes to take home with us, which will greatly cut down on the laundry I’ll have to do once our vacation is over.

AllStar6There was plenty to do at our vacation rental home, with a private screened-in pool, and a theater/game room complete with upright arcade game, full-sized air hockey table and theater seating for eight in front of a giant flat-screen television and surround sound. Just like a ‘real’ mini theater. We’d scheduled a few ‘down’ days during our vacation time so we wouldn’t burn everyone out on the long days at theme parks, and I was so glad that we’d done so because our girls had a blast swimming and playing. They were fine just staying at the house and in fact, a couple of times while at the theme parks the kids were asking to go ‘home’ to the house and swim.

Although this house was amazing – it definitely was more space than we needed. However, AllStar Vacation Homes has options for all different sizes of homes so it’s easy to pick one that meets your needs. You can browse or search through the different available homes on their website and see photos of the exact house that you are renting as well as what amenities are offered by the house and the community it’s located in. The larger homes such as the one we stayed in would be perfect for a multi-generational vacation where you’ve got grandparents, aunts and uncles and/or cousins all vacationing together. Or possibly for two (or even three) families to rent together to save on costs and share expenses. AllStar runs specials – for example right now if you reserve any of their vacation homes for seven nights or more you’ll receive a free rental car or an Instant Money Rebate.

AllStar1Here are a few reasons why I absolutely recommend the option of a vacation home rental through AllStar – as well as some things to consider when deciding on your own Orlando family vacation accommodations:

1) The privacy is a huge thing, especially if you’ve got kids. They can get rambunctious and blow off steam in the pool or game room and there’s no worries about keeping them quiet. In the house we stayed at, the master suites were all downstairs while the kid rooms were both upstairs, which is a nice option for parents who want some space for relaxing or visiting after the kids are in bed.

2) Being able to cook your own meals provides a great deal of flexibility and cost-savings as well. There’s also no cost for parking since you’ve got an actual driveway right in front of the house – you can head right into the front door. There is no shuttle access to the theme parks however, so you’re on your own for transportation and parking, which is something to consider when thinking over options for where to stay. If you’re planning to be at the parks most of the time and not spend much time where you’re staying, then a vacation rental home may not be the best option for you.

AllStar73) On a similar note, if you won’t have a vehicle available to you so will need to rely on shuttle transportation to and from the various attractions, then a vacation rental home is definitely not the right way to go. Is it worth renting a vehicle for your stay? There are lines to wait in whether you’re parking and entering the parks or taking a shuttle. You do have to pay parking costs at all of the Disney parks (except Downtown Disney) and at most of the other local attractions and theme parks as w
ell. But the convenience of being able to come and go when you want to is a factor to weigh as well.

4) Everything is secure with keyless access via entry code to the front door and locks on all of the other doors and the windows. Nobody enters the house unless you request housekeeping service during your stay – the house comes well stocked with towels and linens and with the laundry room on-site you can wash anything you need to. Houses with private pools also have screened-in lanai areas for safety and security, as well as child-security fences and pool alarms on the door to the back pool area so kids can’t sneak out the door to the pool without an adult knowing.

AllStar95) I asked my husband what the best part of the rental home was, and his answer was ‘comfort’. You have a normal living room with actual furniture to relax in instead of at best one small couch or upholstered chair in a hotel room or suite. You can unpack your suitcases and use the ample dresser and closet space to feel more ‘at home’ during your stay.

In the end, just weigh what’s most important to you when making a decision on where to stay in Orlando. There are certainly many great options to choose from. But AllStar Vacation Homes is where we’ll look the next time we take our family to visit Mickey Mouse and the rest of Orlando’s wonderful attractions. And if you’re planning to be in the area often, AllStar has a realty arm as well – with many properties available to purchase. You can even use AllStar’s property management team to market, manage and take care of your vacation home when renting it out to others to enjoy, as we enjoyed our vacation rental home experience on this trip.

Here’s a video tour of the home we stayed in – this was taken right after we arrived, so you can see and hear how excited the kids were. It’s a somewhat long video (over 6 minutes) but yes, it takes that long to see the whole thing.

Deb is Traveling Mom’s Director of Operations and writes as Technology TravelingMom, as well as at Just a mom’s take on things…. You can also find her on Twitter – she’s @DebMomOf3.

Our stay in this vacation rental home was courtesy of AllStar Vacation Homes as arranged byVisitOrlando. However, all opinions stated here are solely my own or those of my family and I was not influenced in any way to review the home or our experience with AllStar.