Disney World Hotel Discounts – Non-Disney Hotels
If you are looking for a Disney World hotel discount besides the Disney-owned resorts, there are two other hotel options at Walt Disney World: on-site hotels that are on Disney property, but not owned or operated by Disney; and off-site hotels, which are not located on Disney property. Either option can frequently save you a lot of money compared with the Disney resorts. Most non-Disney-operated hotels and resorts near Walt Disney World offer outstanding discounts in the off-season, and many of these hotels offer some sort of discount year-round.
Downtown Disney Hotels
The seven Downtown Disney hotels are on Disney property but not Disney-owned. They run their own bus transportation and are within walking distance of the Downtown Disney complex. Be sure to read more about the MouseSavers Preferred Hotels in Downtown Disney, where you can get special MouseSavers offers:
- Best Western Lake Buena Vista in the Walt Disney World Resort
- DoubleTree Suites by Hilton in the Walt Disney World Resort
- Hilton in the Walt Disney World Resort
Four Seasons Resort Orlando
The Four Seasons Resort Orlando, opening August 2014, is located in Golden Oaks, an upscale residential community in Walt Disney World. The resort is on Disney property but not Disney-owned. Many rooms offer spectacular views of the Magic Kingdom’s nightly fireworks display from a furnished balcony.
Swan and Dolphin Hotels
The Swan and Dolphin hotels are within walking distance of Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and participate in the Disney transportation system. They are on Disney property but not Disney-owned. The rates at the Swan and Dolphin can be very reasonable when compared with Disney’s Deluxe properties, yet you get many of the same amenities.
Shades of Green
Active duty and retired military, as well as honorably discharged veterans (during limited times of year) can stay at the Shades of Green (SOG) resort. Though not operated by Disney, this is a beautiful deluxe resort on Disney property, right across the street from Disney’s Polynesian Resort.
There are literally hundreds of off-site hotels in the area around Walt Disney World, at every level of price and quality. Since you will usually pay a premium to stay on-property, staying off-site can often be a huge money-saver.
After inspecting many off-site hotels near Walt Disney World, I’ve selected a few as MouseSavers Preferred Hotels, all of which are very close to Walt Disney World:
- Buena Vista Suites
- Caribe Royale Orlando
- Courtyard Orlando Lake Buena Vista in the Marriott Village
- Fairfield Inn & Suites Orlando Lake Buena Vista in the Marriott Village
- Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek
- Holiday Inn Lake Buena Vista
- SpringHill Suites Orlando Lake Buena Vista in the Marriott Village
- Waldorf Astoria Orlando
All of these hotels represent an excellent value and I feel confident they will provide you with quality accommodations. All of them offer special deals for MouseSavers readers.
Looking for more off-site Disney World hotel discounts? Try these links:
- Shop Around Online
- AAA Rates
- AARP Rates
- Government Discounts
- Military Discounts
- Flight + Hotel Package Deals
- One-Night, Last-Minute Getaways
Here are some other sites to try for discounts. When searching these sites, be sure to use Lake Buena Vista, FL if you want to be closest to Disney World. Other relatively close-by hotel areas are Orlando and Kissimmee.
Two good sites to check out for hotel deals are Expedia and Travelocity. These travel agencies are constantly engaged in a battle to control the online travel market, so they are extremely competitive on price. I usually find the best deals overall on Expedia, but it’s worth checking both sites if you have the time.
These sites may charge a service fee on your reservation, and they sometimes require full payment or a substantial deposit in advance. Be sure to read ALL the small print as you make your reservation (which may require you to click on a link that says “terms and conditions” or something similar) so that you are clear on any cancellation and change fees.
Sometimes there are good offers on Walt Disney World area hotels directly through the hotels’ own websites. Look for hotels in Lake Buena Vista or Kissimmee, which will be closest. All of the major hotel chains have websites:
The majority of major hotel chains (and many independently-owned hotels) offer American Automobile Association (AAA) discounts, which can give you significant savings. (Generally the same rates are offered for the Canadian equivalent, CAA.) If you are a member, always look for the AAA rate when checking online, or ask when calling for reservations.
Many hotels offer very attractive discounts to members of AARP (American Association of Retired Persons). You only have to be 50 to join, and you don’t even have to be retired. Membership in AARP is very inexpensive and might pay for itself in one night’s stay!
If you are a government employee (local, county, state or federal), you should always ask if there is a government discount (be sure to carry your ID with you and have it available at check-in). Many contractors to government agencies also qualify. Most of the major hotel chains offer government rates, though you may have to call the hotel directly, since these rates don’t show up on most of the hotel websites. Thanks to ClaymoH for the info!
Government employees (city,county, state or federal) can rent a “space available” condo at timeshare resort locations worldwide for only $369/week ($349 if booked online) through GETO. Because of the huge number of timeshares in Orlando, it’s not unusual to find availability through this organization. Note that your plans will probably have to be flexible since the condos often don’t become available until pretty close to the dates of travel. A MouseSavers.com reader notes, “those eligible should sign up for the site and allow emails long before their first trip to Disney (or anywhere). About six times per year, we get discounts offering either $309 or $299. I’ve never paid more than $309 after using the GETO site on over 20 occasions for various trips (most to Florida).” If you are not a government employee but are a friend or family member of one, the government employee can get you a gift certificate for $399. Thanks to Pat E and Charlie G for info.
If you are active duty or retired military, you should always ask if there is a military discount (be sure to carry your ID with you and have it available at check-in). Often the military discounts are among the best offered by hotels. Most of the major hotel chains offer military rates, though you may have to call the hotel directly, since these rates don’t show up on most of the hotel websites. Thanks to John G for the tip!
Military, retired military and reserves can rent a “space available” condo at timeshare resort locations worldwide for only $369/week ($349 if booked online) through AFV Club. Because of the huge number of timeshares in Orlando, it’s not unusual to find availability through this organization. Note that your plans will probably have to be flexible since the condos often don’t become available until pretty close to the dates of travel. If you are not a member of the military but are a friend or family member of one, the military person can get you a gift certificate for $399. Thanks to Lisa S for info.
Priceline is a service that allows you to bid on hotel rooms, airfares and rental cars. (Note: Priceline is making it harder and harder to find the bidding area of its site: be sure to click on “Name Your Own Price” to get the real deals.) There are some amazing bargains to be had through Priceline and I use it myself to bid on hotels all the time! I always choose hotels in the 3 star or higher category, and I’ve never been disappointed.
If you use Priceline you won’t get to pick the exact hotel, and it’s critical to keep in mind that once you’ve made your bid, there is no going back. If it is accepted, you will be charged for the room immediately and there are no refunds or exchanges allowed. However, you can pick the general location (first choice is “Disney World Vicinity”) and the number of “stars” (ranging from 1-star up to Resort) — meaning the level of service and accommodations the hotel provides.
A reasonable Priceline bid for 2.5-star and 3-star hotels in the Disney World Vicinity seems to be about $35-$50. Hotels in the Disney World Vicinity that have been showing up in this category tend to vary pretty widely in terms of quality. However, all of them are perfectly decent and a very good deal for the money. A few of these hotels do charge “resort fees” (typically $8 or less per night) and/or parking fees.
A reasonable Priceline bid for the luxurious “Resort” category in the Disney World Vicinity seems to be around $60-$95. That’s a phenomenal deal as many of these hotels regularly charge $200 a night or more. However, keep in mind that some of the hotels in the Resort category also charge a “resort fee” (typically $10 or less per night), and they may also charge for parking. One of the hotels in this category reportedly charges for transportation to the theme parks.
Sometimes Priceline will reject a bid, but offer you an instant free rebid and suggest a rebid amount. I have learned that when they come back with a bid suggestion, you can almost always reduce the suggested rebid and still have the bid accepted. For instance, if you bid $60 and they reject it but offer a free rebid at $77, type in an amount that splits the difference (for instance $72) and they’ll almost always take it.
Nervous about trying Priceline and getting stuck with a hotel you don’t like for your whole vacation? Why not use Priceline just for the first night of your stay? This works especially well for those who are flying in from the West coast and arriving late — you won’t be spending much time in your hotel room anyway. (See my notes about staying off-site the first night.) This strategy will allow you to try Priceline out and see if you like it. If you’re like me, you’ll be hooked!
I recommend waiting until close to your travel dates to book rooms through Priceline. It reduces the chance that your travel plans will change (remember, Priceline bids are nonrefundable and nonchangeable); it reduces the length of time Priceline has your money (better to have it in the bank, earning interest!); and it probably increases the likelihood that your bid will be accepted, since hotels with rooms sitting empty should be increasingly desperate for your business.
If your trip is months away, see if you can get a fairly good deal elsewhere, and book a room at the best rate you can find. You can later cancel your reservation (up until the cancellation date) if you get a better deal through Priceline closer to your travel dates.
Hotwire is similar to Priceline in that you don’t get to choose the exact hotel (you choose the rough location and the star rating), and the room is sold on a “no refunds, no exchanges” basis. However, the difference is that Hotwire tells you exactly how much you’ll be paying up front — you don’t bid like you do with Priceline.
Hotwire gives you a list of prices for unnamed hotels in various star categories (i.e. a 5-star hotel will be a luxury resort, while a 1-star will be a low-end motel) and with specific amenities. At that point you can choose to accept or reject the offered price for a hotel that has a rating and amenities you want. Once you have accepted the price, you are charged in full. It is only at that point that you’re told the hotel name. There are no refunds or exchanges.
As with Priceline, I strongly advise you to do your homework using some of the resources above, so that you know what the going rate is. That will help you to evaluate whether the Hotwire price is a good deal.
If you need both airfare and hotel accommodations, there are some good resources for booking a cheap vacation package that includes both. Note that most of them offer the best deals fairly last-minute (typically 2 weeks to 4 months in advance). If you are booking really late (3 weeks or less before your departure date) these are especially worthwhile, because sometimes you can buy an entire package (airfare and hotel) for LESS than it would cost to book a last-minute airfare alone!
- Click here to learn more about the best places to find deals on these packages.
If you have a smartphone or tablet, an app called Hotel Tonight provides VERY last-minute hotel bargains in a number of cities, including Orlando. When I say VERY last-minute, I mean “a few hours before you check in.” Starting at 9:00 am local time, you can book a decent-to-upscale hotel at up to 70% off for that night only (or sometimes up to 5 nights). The reservation is made right on your smartphone, through the app.
Hotel Tonight is ideal for people who live within driving distance, who are willing to just pack up on the spur of the moment and go for a quick overnight in Orlando.
- Click here to get the Hotel Tonight app for iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch.
- Click here to get the Hotel Tonight app for Android.
- Click here to get the Hotel Tonight app for Kindle Fire.
- Once you’ve downloaded the app to your phone (use the links above), enter invite code sstone63 and you’ll get a $25 credit toward your first booking!