Booking Disney World hotels is a very different process than what most of us are used to. The best way to book Disney World hotels is not the same as the best way to book almost any other hotel you book. For a long time I’ve recommended Orbitz or another third party site as the best way to save on Disney Resorts. However over the past few months Disney removed their resorts from third party sites.
I’m happy to report they’re back!
Just yesterday I successfully booked a room at a Disney Resort on Orbitz using a fifteen percent coupon. I also entered through Ebates, earning two percent back, and earned Orbucks to use on my next reservation. The price was identical to Disney before the coupon so I saved over $30 on a $200 booking.
Why Shouldn’t You Book Directly with Disney?
- Prices at 3rd party sites and Disney are usually identical, even with Disney promotions. Disney shares promotions with the big sites the same way they share them with travel agents. For straight room bookings the prices on 3rd party sites are competitive- and in some cases less than Disney’s site.
- 3rd party sites offer coupons and loyalty programs that Disney doesn’t. Orbitz has both the Orbitz Rewards program which earns 2-5% back for future bookings and frequent coupon codes for 10-20% off. Hotels.com offers both coupons and a rewards program that offers a free night after 10 at any hotel. You can also use any rewards already earned towards your Disney purchase.
- 3rd party sites offer cash back and miles portals for double dipping. Disney doesn’t show up on Ebates or other portals, but most 3rd party sites do.
- 3rd party sites offer best rate guarantees. Disney doesn’t.
A real life example on how to save on Disney Resorts
I’m visiting Disney World for Traveling Mom and then for FT4RL 6 in May. Here’s what Coronado Springs Resort, one of the Disney Resorts I recommend, looks like for 5/3/17 including tax in a standard room with free cancellation:
- Disney.com: $223.88. No promos available.
- Hotels.com: $207.97 using 8% off coupon, earning 1/10 free room in rewards and $6.35 on Ebates, net $201.62 ($25.00 cancellation)
- Orbitz: $194.04 using 15% off promo code, earning $5.82 Orbucks and $3.88 on Ebates, net $184.34
How to connect a 3rd party reservation to your Disney account
Booking a Disney World hotel is more like booking an airline ticket. You can book a Disney hotel at any site and just input your reservation number into their system to get the benefits. Disney treats 3rd party booking sites like any other travel agent. You’ll still get extra magic hours, still get to use the magical express, still get the magic band with your room key and tickets attached. You’ll also still get extra 30 days with to book your fastpass- which can be the difference between walking onto Frozen or waiting two hours in line.
You connect your Disney reservation just like you would an airline booking. The 3rd party site will send you a six digit “hotel confirmation number” that looks like a PNR record locator from an airline. To link it to Disney you just create a My Disney Experience account. You’ll see a “link your reservation” option where you input your confirmation number. Once it’s in you can buy and link tickets, make dining reservations, and complete your trip just as if you’d reserved it through Disney’s own site.
It’s still best to check with Disney first
If you’re a Florida resident, member of the military, or annual pass holder/DVC owner you’re going to get special rates that may beat the 3rd party sites. You might also get lucky and get the mother of all targeted email codes. Once you’re a Disney hotel alumnus you’ll get special offers emailed to you at least quarterly. DON’T DELETE THEM until you’ve compared the rates as occasionally Disney REALLY wants you back and will throw out a crazy low price. Another option is to stock up on discount Disney gift cards. They can be used to pay for the room if you book through Disney. Most times, however, you’re going to do better with a 3rd party site.
I’d be remiss not to remind you to check out resident Disney expert Haley’s presentation on Disney World hacks. I’m also purposely leaving out renting DVC points . While it’s a useful option, you can’t cancel once you’ve bought the point. That’s a risky strategy unless your plans are set in stone.
Do you book Disney World hotel rooms through 3rd party sites? Please share your thoughts in the comments.
Looking for more Disney World tips and tricks? Check out my Amazon bestselling book, Disney World Hacks!