I am a huge Disney theme parks fanatic, but visiting Walt Disney World can be expensive. One of the easiest ways to save money is on your hotel. There are myriad ways to save. Many Disney fans love the free dining promotion, but I like the Priceline Express Deals even more.
One of the hardest decisions to make while staying at Disney World is whether or not to stay onsite. The onsite hotels include the ones owned by Disney in addition to Shades of Green, the Swan and Dolphin (owned and operated by Marriott) and the Bonnet Creek hotels (Wyndham, Hilton and Waldorf Astoria). This article discusses Priceline Express deals for Disney owned and operated hotels.
I have never stayed offsite due to the convenience that staying onsite provides. Also, I never pay rack rate for my Disney hotels. As a quick aside, one of the factors to consider when staying on or offsite is that most of the hotels around Disney World–including the ones at Disney Springs–tack on pesky resort fees. Disney only adds on a fee for parking. For example, the B Resort and Spa advertises low rates but adds a $30 fee per night, bringing it in line with Disney’s value and moderate resorts.
My Original Hotel Booking
There are plenty of articles about the benefits of staying offsite and the “value” it offers. Personally, I am in the theme parks too much to care about a nice hotel far away. I just need a nice clean hotel room close to the parks. If that sounds like you, then the Disney value and moderate resorts are prefect for you. They are also the resorts that often go on Priceline’s Express Deals, making it even easier to save.
I originally had a reservation for $128/night ($344 total with taxes) at Port Orleans French Quarter, a moderate Disney resort. I was lucky enough to receive a special rate that was then beat by my Priceline Express Deal for Pop Century, a value resort.
What are Priceline Express Deals?
Priceline Express Deals are awesome. If you are okay not knowing the name of the hotel you are booking and are okay with a nonrefundable hotel reservation, you can save a lot of cash.
The good thing is that you can usually figure out what hotel you are staying at before you click the booking button for an Express Deal. My favorite tip is to set the parameters on the regular Priceline site first. For example, the Disney hotels are only within the “Bonnet Creek” and “Disney Springs” areas on Priceline, and they are only three and four stars. You check those boxes and THEN click on Express Deals tab after you have configured what you are looking for. This will open a window with Express Deals just for the parameters you set on the all-hotels tab.
With the new tab open, you can compare the Express Deals in one tab with the “regular” hotels in another tab. Look carefully at the hotel review score (that always matches) and the hotel price (that is usually close ). Use this in conjunction with the Google Chrome Hotel Canary extension.
Additionally, the resort fee is a dead giveaway. Note that Disney resorts do not charge a resort fee, but be careful because not all non-resort fee Express Deal hotels are Disney hotels. If you were to book a hotel with a resort fee, you could always go to the official hotel website suggested by Hotel Canary and make sure the resort fee price matches.
My Express Deal Rate
The Express Deal rate for Pop Century (before I knew the hotel name) was $85/night without tax, for a total of $198.98. Using the Hotel Canary addon that suggested Pop Century and not seeing a resort fee, I assumed that my hotel would be an official Disney hotel (and I was correct). I also used a coupon that was e-mailed to me by signing up for Priceline e-mails on the homepage. If you never received an e-mail before, you will receive an e-mail for 10% off Express Deals within a few minutes.
Overall, I was very pleased with saving $146, even if it meant “downgrading” to a value resort. That was about 42% less than what I was originally paying! The rack rate for Pop Century for my dates was $188 without tax, meaning I saved 45% over the “normal” rate. I was in the parks so much that returning to a hotel themed to 1900s decades versus the New Orleans French Quarter did not matter when I was exhausted at 11:00 pm. It also opened up some more money to book an additional night the same hotel through OpenTable–you can see that post here.
One last note: if you book a Disney hotel through Priceline, wait 48 hours so Priceline and Disney can confirm your reservation, and then call Disney Wholesale at (407) 939-7671 if you need to add more adults or children. They should be able to add more people with no problem, although the first Cast Member I spoke with said they had to get permission from Priceline. This is not true, so I called back and had another Cast Member add an additional adult with no issues. When in doubt, hang up and call back. You can use the hotel confirmation number in the Priceline e-mail confirmation in My Disney Experience.
I hope this was helpful and a good guide to saving with Priceline!