Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Using VRBO for your Disney Vacation

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Have you heard of VRBO
"Powered by HomeAway, The world leader in vacation rentals"

VRBO is a site that allows individuals list their properties as vacation rentals. 
You can find vacation rentals all over the world through VRBO.  These rentals range from small condos to large homes and sometimes even whole apartment complexes. 

Rather than get into all the nitty gritty of VRBO itself, 
I want to share what I have learned through researching for our Disneyland vacation.

VRBO for Disneyland
*Hundreds of locations- some even right across from Disneyland
*Something to accommodate and party size
*Family friendly. Many of the rentals have strollers, high chairs, beach toys and more
(no need to pack bulky strollers in the car!)
*Options: swimming pool, bbq's, theater rooms, decked out in Disney decor- you can find it
*Lower than Hotel Prices: Price per person is usually(not always) lower than a hotel
*Full sized kitchens and fridges- save on $$- prepare meals to take to the park
*Washers and dryers at most rentals
*Living space- it really is more like home
*Split the cost with multiple families
*Free Parking: Some provide parking passes for Disneyland if they aren't close enough to walk, might as well ask about it.

*Cleaning Fees
 I've seen them from $70-200 depending on the rental. This is decided individually- you may be able to work with the renters on the cleaning fee but usually it's pretty set in stone. 
*Damage Deposits
Usually $300-400 to protect the owners against any damage done. Most of them say fully refundable. Definitely ask each owner specifically about that. Some are partially refundable while some are fully refundable. Be sure to ask the likelihood of getting all of that back. I was told several times that it is refunded 10-14 days following our stay.
*Damage Insurance
NON-refundable fee usually $70-80 This is actual insurance so it is not refundable. I didn't see more than a handful that required this but it IS there. You can click the 'Rates' tab on any VRBO rental or the 'detailed price' link below the 'quote' button will also show any extra fees.
*Pool/Spa heating fees
Not all have them but if you have a place with a pool or spa, make sure to double check or ask the owner about it. I've seen them be $10-20 a day! That adds up.
*Additional Persons Fee
This one is ridiculous IMO. And it comes up more often than the Damage insurance so triple check on this one. A rental may say it sleeps 12 then say additional $5-10 pppn (per person per night) 
above six. That adds up really quick if you are planning to max out at 12 people. 
*Verify that the property is vacant.
VRBO is a site that allows individuals list their properties as vacation rentals. Let me clarify, these are usually people who own several properties with the intent to rent them out, however, I did run across a couple 'rentals' which were part of a persons home, meaning you would be staying in the same home as the owners. Possibly their basement, casita, or even a 4th floor "apartment" on their home. While some may be ok with staying with total strangers, I think the majority isn't... which does have a bonus to it, the prices are usually less for these kind of rentals. Not enough incentive for me to stay there but maybe for someone else.

Additional Tips:

*Prices vary by location, size, and number of persons staying
*Discounted rates will pop up if you are planning last minute or off season trips
*Weekly Discounted Rates:If you plan to stay for an entire week, many will usually give you a good discount.
*Distance Saves. If you don't mind being a little farther from the park, go just outside of the Anaheim area and avoid the new 15% TAX RATE that applies to all Anaheim rentals. This went into effect over the summer of 2015.
*Multiple families going? Find a large home and split the costs. Usually ends up costing less than a hotel room and you have more amenities.
*NEVER EVER pay through a wire transfer, Money Gram, or Western Union, even Paypal. 
I trust Paypal but in this case, it may be used as a way to avoid VRBO requirements and safe guards.The best option is to pay through VRBO to ensure your transaction is verifiable. I did read that you can pay in cash in person but every renter I talked with requires payment before your trip, just like if you booked a flight or hotel, it's only guaranteed once its paid for.
*One last tip, check the reviews but don't solely rely on them. I've read that negative reviews are not posted. Kind of ruins the idea of even having reviews available. But take note to the percentage of renters who actually left a review. If 200 people stayed there and only a handful left a review, I'd make sure to talk with the owner in depth before agreeing to rent from them.

There is a lot to take in when searching for a vacation rental on VRBO but overall, I think it can be worth it. 

As I was researching for our stay, we ended up finding other sources inadvertently through VRBO properties and planned to work with them seperately. Here are some sites we found.

This is who we are working with. They have been very accommodating and friendly. All the homes listed are very nice luxury homes. We are excited to work with them for our stay. 
I'll let you know what we think about it after our stay. 

(Castle #14)

These are decked out in Disney decor and have a special theme to each home. However, I didn't like that prices are only available by phone requests. This site is similar to VRBO in the fact that each of the homes are owned by different people so your contact info changes from house to house. They do have great reviews as far as I can tell. 

What options have you looked into for your 
Disneyland vacations?
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