If you’re visiting Disney World on a budget, there is no need to scrape the bottom of the barrel looking for cheap Disney World accommodations. Fortunately, discounts on Disney World hotels do exist, and when combined with other Disney World resort deals can provide some affordable offerings.
To make the process as quick and simple as possible, we’ve got the skinny on quickly booking a Disney World hotel without parting with more of your savings than is necessary.
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A Quick Primer on Disney World Accommodations
It’s important to understand that there are two ways to stay when visiting the mouse: onsite and offsite.
Onsite resorts are those owned and operated by Disney Parks. They range from value categories up to deluxe vacation villas with prices that rise and fall accordingly. For certain, many offsite properties will be cheaper, but you’ll also sacrifice some of the magic.
The elaborate theming incorporated into most of Disney resorts keeps you sealed in the bubble of contentment for the length of your stay. In addition, your cheaper nightly stay may be offset by other expenses.
For instance, some hotels will charge a daily, per person fee to use their shuttle service to the parks. If you intend to save on the cost of your hotel’s shuttle by driving yourself, be advised that Disney charges parking fees of up to $50 a day.
That high-end price applies for premium spots close to the entrance, but even if you park with the peasants (that means most of us), you’ll be charged a minimum of $25 a day just to leave your car in the lot.
Other offsite hotels may charge resort fees on top of their stated nightly charge. This is common with some of the hotels located in the Disney Springs area, so it’s important to look at the bottom line before committing to a hotel reservation.
The good news is, if you’re looking for cheap Disney World resorts, you won’t necessarily need to stay offsite. Keep reading to learn how to score discounts on Disney World hotels.
Scoring a Discount on Disney World Hotels Tip #1: Pick the Cheapest Time to Go
When you plan your trip plays a big part in getting the cheapest rate. It’s a simple matter of supply and demand. When fewer people want to travel to Disney World, rates are lower.
However, it isn’t always that simple when staying at a Disney World resort. Disney employs various methods in determining rack rates for each of their properties. As yearly park attendance continues to climb, the powers that be are in a constant state of redefining rate “seasons”.
What started as a simple value, moderate and peak scale now employs over 20 different classifications to determine how much you’ll pay for your room, from the “low-cost” summer 2 season to the to-be-avoided-if-at-all-possible holiday (Christmas) season.
To make things more complicated, “seasons” vary by resort and costs can as well. For instance, you’ll find the cheapest rate of the year for Animal Kingdom Lodge (considered a deluxe resort) during Value 2 and Fall 2 seasons, but switch over to Caribbean Beach Resort (a moderate resort), and the least expensive stay falls in value season.
Disney has done their homework and they fully understand when demand for each hotel is highest, and that’s when they charge the most. As demand falls, so do prices. If you want the steepest discounts on Disney World hotels, you’ll need to find the cheapest dates for the resort you plan to call home during your stay.
Finding Discounts on Disney World Hotels: Booking Direct with Disney
Since Disney’s room rate seasons are designed to draw people in during off-peak travel times, booking your stay for the lowest rate might not be feasible for you. Fortunately, it is possible to get discounts on Disney World hotels for onsite room reservations. These have unfortunately fallen steadily over the last ten years from 40% off a deluxe room rate to about 20% today.
The best rates in my memory came shortly after the tragedy of 9-11, when Disney offered their Fairy Tale Vacation package. I was able to book 7 nights for two adults and 4 children at the Polynesian, including the cost of park hopper passes, for the price of 4 days. At the time, you paid roughly the same amount for each day on your park pass, instead of the tiered system used now, making the deal an especially sweet bargain.
Given the ever-expanding list of new attractions coming to the parks, as well as COVID related capacity restrictions, we aren’t likely to see that type of discount again for a long time, if ever, but finding and booking discounted room and package rates has certainly become easier over time.
You may have to do a little digging to find the page, but all specials are listed on the Disney World booking website under “places to stay” and then “View special offers” from the drop down menu ( or you can click here).
When to Book Disney World Travel Discounts
Disney World travel discounts on room accommodations apply to specified timeframes and must be booked by the expiration date associated with the offer. To snag a deal, you’ll need to be vigilant in watching for specials applicable to your vacation dates.
Most discounts are announced several weeks, and sometimes months before the travel season begins. An easy way to keep abreast of any offered discounts is to subscribe to our newsletter or to bookmark our Disney World hotel discounts page and check back frequently. We publish discounts as they are announced.
Be advised, when seeking discounts on Disney World hotels, it is often a case where the early bird gets the worm. In times past, Disney would gladly apply a recently released discount code to an existing reservation, so you could book a room (not a package) months in advance, and then call Disney Travel to later have any announced specials applied to your trip.
As popularity soars, this seems to be more a thing of the past. A few years ago, I had a room only reservation booked at the Polynesian for the last week of October. I had advanced warning that free dining was going to be announced for my dates of stay.
Despite dialing into Disney Travel the moment the reservation lines opened in the morning, I was unable to get through to an agent. By the time I reached someone the next day, all discounted rooms at the Polynesian (and any other resort of interest to my party) were taken, and they were unwilling to apply the discount to my existing reservation.
The more flexible you can be with dates and accommodations, the more easily you’ll score a popular Disney World hotel discount.
What If Disney Isn’t Offering Discounts on Disney World Hotels? Other Ways to Find Cheap Disney World Hotels
Using a discount for your Disney World hotel stay will probably offer you one of the cheapest rates on a Disney World hotel. However, if you’re flexible, there may be ways to save even more if you’re willing to follow some of these tips.
At other times, Disney may not be offering any discounts. In that situation, the methods below could help you find discounted rates on Disney World hotels that are not offered through Disney:
Consider a Split Stay
A split stay makes it possible for you to take advantage of cheap Disney World resorts by booking a reservation at two or more onsite Disney World hotels. This can be advantageous if you really want to experience the magic of a deluxe resort, such as the Grand Floridian, but the $500+ nightly rack rate makes you swoon.
By taking advantage of any available Disney World hotel discounts, you might be able to shave enough off of the price of a lower cost accommodation to spend a night or two in a more lavish hotel.
Split stays can also be advantageous if Disney World hotel discounts are not available at one resort for your entire trip. By splitting your stay between two or more resorts, you are more likely to find discounts on Disney hotels that cover the length of your stay.
If you don’t mind packing up your bags mid trip, Disney will make it easy for you by transporting your luggage to your new hotel, provided it’s one of Disney World’s properties.
For more in-depth information, you can visit our blog on Split Stays.
Disney World Cheap Hotels AND Concierge Service
If searching for discounts sounds like an exhausting way to plan a vacation, there are other options. Book with a Disney travel agent.
Authorized Disney travel agencies, such as Mickey World Travel, will search out the best discount for your vacation site, but throws in complimentary concierge service at now additional charge. In a nutshell, they’ll make your dining reservations for you and more importantly, regularly check for new Disney World hotel discounts.
If they find one for your resort and travel dates, they’ll rebook you, allowing you to save money on your accommodations.
With so much talk about finding discounts on Disney World hotels, we may be overlooking one critical factor. There are certainly affordable hotels on Disney property.
The Disney All-Stars franchise is the cheapest of the Disney resorts and offers value pricing in clean comfortable rooms. For little ones, it’s also hard to beat the larger than life, sports, music or movie theming and for an added bonus, you can book a Saturday to Thursday 5-night stay in May for as little as $774 before taxes.
No matter how you look at it, there are options to help you find cheap hotels at Disney World or slightly beyond.