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This post covers how to stay at a Disney resort while spending the least amount possible. For the most part, this post isn't about picking the cheapest hotel or best hotel for the price, it's about helping you find the best rate for the hotel once you've picked it.
Before You Start Searching For Disney World Hotel Deals
To get the best Disney World hotel deal, you'll need to do a little bit of prep work.
Plan to Track Your Disney World Hotel Deals
To really get the best rate, you'll need to compare a number of options. We prefer Google Sheets, but Microsoft Excel, Apple Numbers, or any other similar system will work. A simple word processor will work for the most part, but because some packages include tickets, you may need something to do some quick math for you.
(Sidenote: You might think you can just open these options on different tabs of your browser and compare. Just trust us that will get unwieldy as sessions start timing out and cookies start confusing your browser.)
See What Disney Is Charging
You'll need a baseline in conducting your search, and Disney itself is the place to start. Visit the Walt Disney World website and see how much Disney is charging for your selected dates. Remember, Disney hotel rates vary by date and change as availability comes and goes, so your specific dates are important.
Disney doesn't tell you the total with tax until you actually add the stay to your cart. Add to you cart, and then select "No Ticket" at the add-on screen. That amount is the actual total for your stay, with tax.
Scope Disney World Hotel Deals Available to The Public
There are a wide range of deals available to the general public. Most readers are probably going to book one of these deals, so we'll start with them.
Check For Official Disney World Hotel Deals
If any deals are available, note them. They'll show up when you search for a specific date range. Or you can just view all available offers on the Walt Disney World offers page (but remember they may be out of availability on your dates, though).
Remember that something like "free dining" is only a deal if you'll actually get use out of it and if you can't find a good enough rate using one of our other options. If there are package discounts, you'll need to compare the package price against other hotel booking options combined with discounted Disney World park ticket prices.
Look Into Future Disney World Hotel Deals
The past is not always a good predictor of the future, but Disney does tend to recycle the same deals at about the same times each year. Check the MouseSavers table of historical deals for an idea of what might be coming up.
Save 8%+ When Purchasing With Discount Disney Gift Cards
If Disney is offering a competitive rate, remember that by using discount Disney gift cards you can usually save about 8 to 10%. We think you can usually beat this (or at least come close) using some other methods, but you'll want to keep it in mind.
Try the Usual Suspect Hotel Sites
Whenever we start planning to book a Walt Disney World trip (or any trip, really) we search all the following sites for the best rates:
Disney Hotel Deals Available Only To Members of Certain Programs
There are a wide range of programs/clubs (Disney and non-Disney) that have access to special Disney World Hotel deals. If you are already associated with one of these, or if you can sign up, you'll get better deals.
Disney World Annual Passholders Access Exclusive Deals
Annual passholders are frequently given access to exclusive deals. These are some of the better deals the Disney offers, actually, with 25% to 35% discounts being common. If you're looking at a stay for dates they have or usually have a deal, it can make financial sense to get an annual pass to save on tickets and hotels just for a single stay.
Catch a Deal With Your Disney Visa Card
As with annual passholders, Disney occasionally makes exclusive offers to Disney Rewards Chase Visa cardholders. These aren't often exceptional, they're usually just extensions in dates of publicly available offers (see the Mousesavers table for details). Nonetheless, if you want the full range of offers, you'll want to consider carrying this card.
Try The Chase Travel Portal
This option is only for holders of certain Chase cards (not the Chase Disney Visa, by the way). It's rare, but we've seen the cash rates in the Chase Travel Portal be lower than the rates Disney is offering. It's worth a look. Plus, you'll want to consider booking your Disney stay with points if you have the right Chase cards.
Use The Citi Prestige 4th Night Free For Unlimited Deals
This is the credit card perk we've gotten the most value out of the past two years, and most of it was at Disney. The Citi Prestige 4th Night Free perk takes 25% off the cost of your first four nights at any hotel, including Disney hotels.
The rates available in the Citi Thank You portal will vary, and sometimes you won't be able to beat Disney's rates even with the 25% discount.
Other More Difficult Membership Deals (AAA, Military, Florida Residents)
AAA local offices occasionally have Disney hotel deals, but this is rare these days. There are also deals available for Florida residents and those associated with the US Military.
Get Disney Hotel Deals Through Less Conventional Means
These last two options will only work for certain people in certain situations, but they're ways to get huge savings so we just had to include them.
Rent Disney Vacation Club Points
Undoubtedly the best way to do a villa stay for a discounted amount is to rent Disney Vacation Club points or book a fixed Disney Vacation Club reservation. These options require the most flexibility or, in the case of high demand rentals, really far advance planning.
It's worth learning more if you haven't looking into renting vacation club points yet.
Book Using Credit Card Points
Booking a Disney World stay with points is easiest for individuals looking to book the Swan & Dolphin, but many Disney properties can be booked with Chase Ultimate Reward points.
All Your Other Disney World Planning Questions Answered
Don't be overwhelmed by Disney World planning! Take a second to check out our most important content and you'll not only be an expert, but you'll save big $$$ along the way. If you're still picking dates, we've got everything you need to know about Disney crowd calendars. For picking your hotel, check out our Walt Disney World hotels guide.
Don't forget to master your Disney World Fastpass+ strategy a few months in advance. We'll keep you out of long lines so you can maximize the magical time in the parks!
Finally, before you head out, be sure to check out our to-the-point packing list, 10 essentials you forget to pack for every Disney trip. And if you're interested in saving, there's no better list than our 53 Ways to Save on your Disney trip from start to finish.