If you are experiencing some sticker shock while planning your next Walt Disney World vacation, you are certainly not alone, and one area (aside from theme park tickets) that can be quite expensive is booking your accommodations. Staying on Walt Disney World property is certainly appealing, but it does come at a price. But what if there was a way to stay on property for less? Today we’re taking a look at Priceline, Kayak, and Hotwire “secret” or “express” deals for hotel stays at Walt Disney World!
If you have never used one of these deals before, the basic premise is that you will pay a lower rate for a hotel room in a given location and with a set rating, but you will not see which hotel it is until after you’ve booked, and of course, the rate is nonrefundable. This might sound like quite a gamble, and that’s because it is a gamble, there are some ways that you can figure out which hotel and perhaps even which room you might be booking, AND you may even score a room at a Disney resort or at least on Disney property.
Kayak’s “Pricebreaker” deals are the same ones offered through Priceline, so we’ll start there and then we’ll cover Hotwire. All of them run pretty similarly, however, in my experience Priceline tends to give out some additional details making it slightly easier to figure out the hotel before you book.
On Priceline’s site, you’ll want to enter your travel dates and destination as you normally would while searching for a hotel. For a Disney vacation, search “Walt Disney World.” If you search “Lake Buena Vista” or “Orlando,” it will likely still work but it will take you longer to get to the deals that you really want.
At the top of the screen, you’ll see options to filter by Pricebreakers and Express Deals. Select both of those. Now, to get to hotels on Disney property, find “Neighborhoods” on the left side of the page. “Walt Disney World – Bonnet Creek” is what you’ll want to select to find resorts on Disney property, including Disney-owned and operated resorts. The other option to score a stay on Disney property is to select “Walt Disney World – Disney Springs.” This option will give you all of the Disney Springs Area hotels (that while not Disney-owned come with a number of Disney resort Guest benefits and are still on property) as well as both Port Orleans Resorts (when offered.)
I entered a number of dates, and found no hotels under the Bonnet Creek option at this time, which happens. You can’t always guarantee that Disney will have rooms listed under these deals, but that doesn’t mean you should give up. I’ve used this hack plenty of times, and always recommend checking here, especially as your trip gets closer since many deals go up last-minute. Under Disney Springs, however, there are currently some really great deals on Priceline, so let’s take a look at those!
For Pricebreaker deals, we found a number of rates that look similar to this one for a resort stay in Disney Springs:
Pricebreaker deals work like this: If you chose to book, you would be charged the $102 rate for one of the resorts shown in the screenshot above, but you will not find out which resort it is until after you book. Some Guests feel more comfortable with the Pricebreaker deals since it shows you that your room will definitely be at one of those resorts, where the Express deals (below) do not guarantee “1 of these 3” resorts.
The Express Deals are technically more of a risk, but with a little bit of extra time spent doing some research you can often figure out which resort it would be before you book, and if you feel confident enough in this hack, it can be a great way to save some extra money.
Let’s say we selected the 4-Star Hotel Express Deal for $84/night. From there, we see a booking page for the stay that still does not include the resort’s name BUT it does give us a photo of the room and a map. The room photo is your first hint as to which resort it might be:
Having stayed at the B Resort & Spa in Disney Springs, I can confidently say that is the resort shown in the room photo. If I had no experience with this resort, however, one way to figure out which resort the Express Deal is offering would be to run a reverse image search on Google. This is a trickier method for lots of chain hotels where the rooms look similar, but sometimes this will confirm the room for you pretty quickly.
If that doesn’t work, we can scroll down and compare the resort amenities, room types, and ratings with the potential resorts. To make the comparison, open a new tab and confirm your current Express Deal with other rooms in this Neighborhood available to book with their regular rates on Priceline. In the case of this Express Deal, here’s what the comparison will look like:
Above we have our Express Deal. Pay close attention to the amenities, rating, and room types, especially the original rate before the savings. In this case, we’re looking for a room at a 4-star Disney Springs Area Resort that at full Price costs $124/night, and has free Wi-Fi, a Guest rating of 7+, and the additional amenities listed. Now if we compare to the regular booking page for B Resort & Spa…
So far, everything lines up but just to confirm, let’s go through the motions of booking the full-priced room so we can see if the photo matches what the Express Deal says our room would look like:
If you have a keen eye, you may have caught the one discrepancy which is that the Express Deal says this room sleeps up to two while the same room at full price sleeps up to five. I searched for a room based on two adults, and the Express Deal will always just pull what you search, so if that is the only difference but everything else checks out, you have likely figured out the room.
Let’s move on to HotWire! The process runs very similarly– Search “Walt Disney World” with your dates and travel party, then select Hot Rates to see the “secret” deals. HotWire gives you less detail than Priceline, so I recommend going with Priceline first if you would really prefer to figure out the hotel before you book, especially for Walt Disney World where the Disney Springs resorts definitely have your theme park transportation covered in the case that you weren’t driving or renting a car.
On HotWire, I did find some deals under the Bonnet Creek neighborhood, which generally translates to a Disney Resort with only a couple of exceptions for other resorts on Disney property, and the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resorts. Since it doesn’t look like any Disney-owned resorts are up for these savings at the moment, here’s what I found:
$102/night is a great price for any of these resorts, but again, if you do not have a car with you, the Disney Springs deals we found on Priceline where it is easier to guess the hotel might make more sense so you can take advantage of complimentary transportation to and from the theme parks.
Other Hot Rates look more comparable to Priceline’s Express Deals, however, they only show the chain of hotel that it could be, making it a little more difficult to decipher which resort it might be:
Typically if you see Sheraton under the Bonnet Creek option, there is a good chance it is for the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort, so I would recommend starting there with your comparisons. But HotWire is generally a little bit more difficult to figure out!
Now, if this all seems too good to be true, there is a chance it is, so here are a couple more items to note. First, if you see an ad for a hotel (especially a Disney hotel) with an insanely low rate, that rate for that hotel probably does not actually exist. If you click the ad, it will likely bring you to the Express Deals page where you will get some kind of deal, but not something as mindblowing as a Disney resort for less than $50/night. Those ads just exist to entice you to book but are not really indicators of the hotel.
Next, remember that all of these deals are non-refundable, with very, very few exceptions. I have used these deals a lot and I actually do have some experience getting refunds, so if you find yourself stuck it is worth a try, but it will be a much more difficult process than booking directly with the resort, so if a refund is something you might need, these deals are not for you!
In the past, HotWire allowed me to keep a room booked under a Hot Rate for the same price while changing to new travel dates, but the HotWire agent had to check with the specific hotel, so this might not always be the case. With Priceline, I once arrived to an Express Deal to find that the room had bugs. Of course, I switched to a different resort, but the refund process was challenging as I had to go through both the resort (for my incidentals deposit) and through Priceline for the cost of the room. Priceline’s refund process takes some time, so if you can’t have the cost of a resort stay tied up while you pay for another resort, best to book directly just to be safe.
On a more positive note, in the past I have stayed at Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – Riverside using a Priceline Express Deal, and I’ve even managed to score a room at the Grand Floridian and the Waldorf Astoria for friends. Once you get comfortable with the process, you can feel confident in deciphering what the deals might be, and they could end up saving you a lot of money. Just know the risks, and do your research, and you’ll be on your way to a magical, and less expensive Walt Disney World vacation!