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Finding Cheap Lodging
First, decide what area you want to stay in, and what you're willing to pay for it; prices tend to go up the closer you get to Walt Disney World and the centrally located International Drive area, and they tend to be lower in Kissimmee and the main gate area. Where you want to stay will directly affect the ways you can save.
Staying in a Disney hotel is certainly the closest option, and the best way to keep the magic going 24 hours a day. Guests in Disney's hotels also get special privileges like early entry days, package delivery right to your room, and are close enough to everything to get by with using Walt Disney World's internal transportation network. With Disney's Magical Express service from the airport, you won't need to rent a car or pay for other transportation unless you want to step foot outside the Walt Disney World resort.
As you would expect, it's also the most expensive option, with the fewest available discounts. Look for lowest prices in the off seasons (Spring before Memorial Day, and October through just before Thanksgiving).
You can catch some discounts as they happen by registering with DisneyWorld.com and requesting email updates and special offers (Florida Residents should also check the Florida Residents area of their website for locals deals). While you're there, look for current deals and check regular prices so you have a point of comparison. You can also check with your favorite airline or travel website for deals that may save you some cash on an Air/Hotel package.
Going to be visiting several times or making an extended visit? Get an annual pass -- passholders are often offered other discounts, including on lodging (usually in the slower seasons).
There are other resorts on property that offer some of the same perks
of the Disney resorts, but at, sometimes, lower prices: the Swan and Dolphin and the Downtown Disney Area Resort Hotels. They still charge premium prices, but as national chain hotels they also participate in various discount programs and can sometimes be booked at discount prices (see the discount booking sites below).
There are more than 100,000 rooms in the Greater Orlando Metro area, with most major hotel and motel chains represented and a wide range of styles and prices. With all those rooms comparison shopping, and knowing where to look, is the key to finding the best deal.
The Orlando area is also loaded with condominium and vacation home rentals, which can be a good deal if you have a large group. Many of the travel sites listed below also handle condos.
Finding The Best Deal
The Internet is your best friend when it comes to saving money on lodging: in just a few minutes you can compare deals from numerous motels and hotels. Here are some of the best sites to try:
Search for the lowest prices on hotel rooms, condos, etc. by destination.
- Orbitz. Known for its extensive, low airfare listings, Orbitz does hotel rooms, too, displayed with a useful grid showing distance (enter "Walt Disney World" as your location search term), star quality rating, and price.
- Choice Hotels. The Choice Hotels properties (Comfort Inn, Quality, Sleep Inn, Clarion, Mainstay Suites, Comfort Suites, Econo Lodge, Rodeway Inn) offer some of their best rates online if you book direct, and they have many properties in the Orlando/Kissimmee area. Join their Choice Privileges program for frequent guest rewards.
- HotelDiscounts.net. They show you the property's location, distance from Disney World, star rating, maps, and more... plus discounted rates.
- Hotwire. Check into those even lower unpublished rates with Hotwire. They can't tell you the name of the hotel before you book it, but you get to choose by general location, star quality rating, amenities, and price -- but do your research first so you know a good rate when you see it.
The original "Name Your Own Price" site -- pick an area and star quality level and tell them how much you're willing to spend, give them your credit card number and, if they've got it, they'll book it within minutes and tell you the name. Like Hotwire, priceline.com is especially good at getting you a high quality hotel at a mid-range price, allowing you to maximize your dollar. It's only sporadically successful at finding the rock bottom price in the area at the very cheapest places, though, and can't handle special requests.
You might also consider camping as a way to find affordable lodging. Disney's Fort Wilderness Resort offers some of Walt Disney World's lowest priced accomodations and has cabins that can accomodate an entire family. Other Disney area campgrounds or cabins also offer good deals, and can make for a fun vacation, too (and don't forget the campsites and cabins available through some of the
Florida State Parks).
Tip: Join the Good Sam Club for RV Tips, Camping Discounts & More!
More ways to save money on your Walt Disney World vacation...