The Tightwad’s Guide to Where to Stay at Walt Disney World: 3. Deluxe Resort Hotels at Rock Bottom Prices



By Dave Shute

This page is part of the series The Tightwad’s Guide to Walt Disney World

THE TIGHTWAD’S GUIDE TO GETTING WALT DISNEY WORLD DELUXE RESORT ROOMS AT ROCK BOTTOM PRICES

Uzima Pool at Kidani Village, Disney's Animal Kingdom Villas

I am writing this from a one-bedroom standard view villa at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Kidani Village.

As I write this, it is one of the times of the year that it is value season, the lowest price period at Walt Disney World.

During the value season, this room costs, including tax, $540 a night.

I’m paying $297. That’s 45% off. And—with a little more advance planning—I could have paid about $250. And I might have been able to pull off a trickier way to get it for even less.

Anyone could do this. Here’s how to get Walt Disney World Deluxe resort rooms at rock-bottom prices.

MORE ON GETTING WALT DISNEY WORLD DELUXE RESORT ROOMS AT ROCK BOTTOM PRICES

There’s a couple of different ways to get deluxe resort rooms at Walt Disney World at rock bottom prices.

First—and simplest—is to take advantage of any discounts that might be out there for anyone to use. See this page for more on resort deals and discounts.

(Note that any deals are always related to the price season you are in. See this for more on price seasons at Walt Disney World.)

Second is to buy an Annual Pass, and take advantage of resort discounts that you can get because you have one.

An annual pass gives the passholder admission to any Walt Disney World theme park for 365 days from the date you bought it. Currently, buying one costs (including tax) about $611.

This seems quite expensive, but is only about $245 more than buying the most common Walt Disney World adult theme park ticket recommended in this site’s itineraries—a seven day park hopper ticket.

But for this extra $245, you get access to incredible deals that Walt Disney World makes available from time to time. Deluxe hotel rooms—and Disney Vacation Club studios and villas—are routinely made available for 30-45% off.

That’s how I’m paying $297 rather than $540 a night right now. That’s a difference of $243 a night. Over the eight night itineraries recommended by this site, that would be a savings of almost $2,000. Take out the $245 extra for the annual pass, and you are still almost $1,600 ahead.

Disney's Old Key West Resort, Studio Floorplan

A more fair comparison for many people would be savings you can get on a studio room—a one space, 4 person deluxe room—at a Disney Vacation Club resort.

The cheapest DVC resort is Disney’s Old Key West Resort. The normal rate for a studio there during the fall season is, including tax, $388. Getting 45% off would save you about $175 a night. You’d pay back the extra costs of your annual pass in just two nights. Over an 8 night trip, your net savings (room savings minus extra pass costs) are almost $1,050.

Third is to rent Disney Vacation Club “points.” Disney Vacation Club (“DVC”) members access rooms using points they are allocated each year. Various DVC studios and villas at the various DVC resorts cost a certain number of points during the seasons of the year.

DVC members who can’t use their points during the year rent them to members of the general public. The going rate is about $12 a point. If I had rented points for the room I am staying in now, it would cost me about $250 a night—with no extra Annual Pass cost involved.

You can rent points from Disney Vacation Club members on websites like SellMyTimeshareNOW.com, a sponsor of this site.

Back to the Old Key West Studio example, you can get one from a Sunday through Thursday during the DVC equivalent of the fall season for 10 points at night. That’s $120 at $12 a point. That’s a savings of more than $250 a night off of list…

Because DVC charges more points for weekends than weeknights, the savings aren’t quite as good for the 8 night trips this site recommends. Eight nights including three weekend nights would cost about $1,116 at $12 a point. This same room would cost $1,675 at Passholder savings of 45% (including the extra cost of the pass) so renting points saves you $550 compared to the passholder approach.

To sum up, using the Old Key West studio example, for an eight night visit:

  • List price during the value season would be $2,665
  • Discounts available to the general public might save you 30-45% of this
  • Passholder discounts might save you 30-45%
  • Renting points saves you almost 60%.

MORE WAYS TO GET WALT DISNEY WORLD DELUXE ROOMS AT ROCK BOTTOM PRICES

 

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37 comments

1 Jessica Czajkowski { 06.11.10 at 10:35 am }

My husband and I would like to go to Disney this December with our 1 1/2 year old. But we can we stay with reasonable rates. He needs his own room or he won’t sleep. We can’t afford $6000 for the week! Where do you suggest we stay! Due to his age, we truly would only like to visit Sea World and Animal Kingdom. He is too young to truly enjoy the park yet. Help us please!

2 Dave { 06.11.10 at 11:25 am }

Jessica–see this page on large families looking for value pricing at Walt Disney World, and this on beds and sleeping spaces at Walt Disney World.

Your least expensive options that give you two sleeping spaces are the Family Suites at All-Star Music, and the Cabins at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort.

3 Nancy { 09.04.11 at 12:55 am }

I am contemplating purchasing a theme park annual pass simply to get a discount on accommodations (as you describe above) at Bay Lake Tower – Grand Villa. The benefits listed on the Disney website mention “periodic” discounts on accommodations. I’m a little concerned about spending 519.00 and then never getting a discount. Any insight on how often those discounts are available? We are looking to travel in the late spring/summer of 2012 and am concerned with how early I need to book it and if I will have had an opportunity at a discount by then. Will the discount work if I purchase a child annual pass (at a lesser price) as opposed to the adult one??

4 Dave { 09.04.11 at 7:40 am }

Hi Nancy! I’m sorry to say that the rooms made available for passholder discounts are ones Disney can’t sell, and that hardly ever applies to Grand Villas, which often sell out 7 months in advance…

5 Amy { 03.27.12 at 3:13 pm }

What is the likelihood of getting the passholder discount if I book a 2 bedroom villa at Animal Kingdom during the second week in December? Also, does every guest staying in the room need the anual pass to get the discount off the room or does the person booking the room? I

6 Dave { 03.27.12 at 3:57 pm }

Hi Amy, only one guest needs a pass.

I think that’s a week likely to have annual pass discounts.

However, Disney limits discounted resorts and room types to what it think it can’t sell at regular rates.

You can almost always get a “type”–e.g. a two bedroom villa–if you reserve early in the offer window, but often can’t get rooms at the more popular and/or smaller resorts– and VAKL Jambo fits both those categories. An offer for Old Key West is almost certain, but anything else is a gamble…and for VAKL Jambo, not a good one.

7 Amy { 03.28.12 at 9:21 am }

Very tempting! How far in advance would I buy a season pass and how early does Disney offer the discount to season pass holders? For a December trip, would the discount rate be available 180 prior? I’d be willing to pay just $200 more for a slight chance to save a thousand or two, even if it wasn’t at Animal Kingdom.

8 Dave { 03.28.12 at 10:01 am }

Amy these discounts come out WAY after the 180 day window opens.

The simplest way to do it is to work with a travel agent and tell them your intentions–e.g. to book soon, get your dining reservations, but re-book into an annual pass discount if one opens. They can then steer you to likely dates, likely resorts, and a reservation set up that can be changed without a penalty. See the form on the right side for the travel agents I work with…

9 Amy { 03.28.12 at 1:45 pm }

Thank you again!!! You are a tremendous help!!

10 Dave { 03.28.12 at 2:27 pm }

:) thanks amy

11 Amy B { 06.21.12 at 1:17 am }

Sorry another annual pass question. I would love to stay at the Contemporary in 2 main tower rooms, but would gladly take Old Key West 2 BDRM as well with the annual pass discount. I’m planning on staying 5 days during the first part of the infamous Jersey week. We had to book that date being after our first Disney cruise. Any chance of a discount? Also, I’m guessing my mom who is coming with us would also have to buy an annual pass to book a second room? Thanks!

12 Dave { 06.21.12 at 7:34 am }

Hiya Amy! There’s no guarantee an AP discount will be out for those dates, and if one is out, whether the Contemporary will be in the deal or not–if one doses come out–which may be as lat as Sept/early October–OKW will almost certainly be covered. And yes, you can get only one discount per pass. A two-bedroom at OKW would take only one pass, but two rooms at the Contemporay would take two pass holders.

13 Solomani { 10.08.12 at 9:01 pm }

I was thinking of doing the same with the annual pass. Because we need a kitchen our only options are the cabins or the villas. The villas don’t go on sale usually until 3 or so months before any given date and their rack price is high. And I am not comfortable with using DVP renting since there is no cancellation option.

My plan was to book a cabin, get an annual and hope for a discount at one of the villas (preferably the wilderness lodge but anyway) and eat the cancellation fee if it saves me a bunch. From your experience is this a feasible strategy?

14 Dave { 10.09.12 at 6:51 am }

The first test is why you need a kitchen–if it’s for a special diet, e.g. allergies or kosher, WDW handles both pretty well…The days, annual pass discounts often aren’t much more than general public room rate discount deals–although they do tend to cover more of the year and have fewer unavailable dates.

15 Solomani { 10.09.12 at 8:58 pm }

The need for a kitchen is because two people in my family are gluten intolerant. As a rule of thumb we don’t eat any grain as a family but in reality the key thing to avoid is gluten/wheat which is enough for a holiday.

If we skip on the kitchen we will need to eat out every meal. That’s at least 10×3 or 30 meals. I don’t know how accommodating the Disney Dining Plan is for GF eating. I am also not sure I really want to eat every meal “out”. Sounds time consuming. Could be wrong but my experience is breakfast is usually pretty crowded in hotel buffets/restaurants. May not be an issue during the time we visit (30/11 to 13/12 but 2013 not 2012)

16 Solomani { 10.09.12 at 9:01 pm }

Just to add at the moment my itinerary includes one sit-down meal a day with the other two meals at “home”. Breakfast is always in the hotel while lunch and dinner being a mix of being in or out. About half the meals are character related (so they are close to the 60$ mark than the $30).

17 Solomani { 10.10.12 at 2:00 am }

Actually, I just read your review (and others) of the suites and the AoA resort generally. I was avoiding value resorts but you’ve convinced me otherwise. Wife is happy she doesnt have to cook :)

18 Dave { 10.10.12 at 9:41 am }

Couple of thughts. One is to get this book: PassPorter’s Open Mouse for Walt Disney World and the Disney Cruise Line: Easy Access Vacations for Travelers with Extra Challenges It’ll help you figure out how to navigate gluten free.

Second is to figure to have a minor breakfast in your room–eg fruits etc you grabbed either form your food court or shop and keep in your mini-fridge.

Otherwise, in general it will take you longer to cook than to use WDW dining spots, particularly if you avoid peak dining times…

19 Solomani { 10.10.12 at 9:22 pm }

Dave, noted. Book ordered. Our plan is to have some “paleo” sandwiches ready (bread made from coconut flour which is filling and lasts a while) or grab stuff the night before for next day breakfast. Thanks again for your insight and generosity in sharing the info.

20 Christina Smith { 01.08.13 at 1:02 pm }

I just was wondering if you had any suggestions on what would be best to do if we are planning on going around in 2014.( Most likely doing it during the off season) Would it be cheaper to do a villa or rent two rooms since we are planning on surprising my parents since they have never been. It would be 4 adults and 2 children(6yr,3yr old)
Thank you for your time!

21 Dave { 01.08.13 at 1:51 pm }

Hi Christina, do you mean an on-site villa or something off site? Off site is often cheaper, but there’s some pros and cons, especially if you thus have to rent a car. See this: http://yourfirstvisit.net/2010/01/27/the-tightwads-guide-to-staying-off-site-at-walt-disney-world/

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22 Gwen Johnson { 01.19.13 at 6:22 am }

I am a disabled grandmother who wants to bring my son and his two daughters age 12 and 13 to Disney world. I would like to stay at the resort but I am on a budget.I would love to stay a week because I don’t know that I will ever get there again due to healthreasons. I have stage 2 lung cancer and stage 2 kidney failure. This is one goal I would love to accomplish with and for them. Whatever you can do for me will be greatly appreciated. I would like to come in May this year. I am certain there are lots of neat things for teenagers to do there! This would be a once in a lifetime opportuntity for me and my family. Thank you so much. Gwen Johnson Kannapolis, NC

23 Dave { 01.19.13 at 8:16 am }

Hi Gwen, I don’t know what you are asking for?

24 Kim { 02.20.13 at 10:05 pm }

Planning a trip to Disney World in mid to late November 2013 (before Thanksgiving) for the whole family 5 adults, 3 children under five. Any idea when the discounts will come out for fall/winter? I was hoping for a decent % off the room rate OR free dining. What would be a better value: a couple of value resort rooms or a family suite? Do I still have plenty of time to watch for deals or do I need to book soon?

25 Dave { 02.21.13 at 8:31 am }

Hi Kim! There’s no deals out beyond early June, so I wouldn’t expect any deals for your dates for months. You can book a package now and later convert it to a deal if one comes out.

Two value rooms will be cheaper than one Family Suite–and you can’t book a family suite for more than 6+ 1 more kid under 3… See also this for more large family thoughts: http://yourfirstvisit.net/2010/12/15/lower-priced-options-for-large-families-at-walt-disney-world/

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26 Vicki { 03.12.13 at 2:16 pm }

We are 4 adults and 2 kids looking to go Thanksgiving day for 5 days. Where do you recommend we stay? I am looking at the Treehouses in Saratoga or the Wilderness Lodge Cabins. Do you recommend one over the other?

Also, can you (or anyone) recommend a travel agent in the Boston area, or should we go through AAA?

27 Dave { 03.12.13 at 2:29 pm }

Hi Vicki!

Do you mean arrive Thanksgiving Day? It will be wildly crowded then, Friday and Saturday…and also the 4 days before Thanksgiving…

My recommendations on where to stay, by price class and in order, are here: http://yourfirstvisit.net/planning-your-first-family-trip/where-to-stay/next-best-resort-choices/ You’ll note that the Cabins at Fort Wilderness and the Treehouses are each last on their respective lists…if you let me know why you are targeting them in particular I can help more!

On travel agents, I don’t have any Boston-based ones to recommend…I work with an international firm, Destinations In Florida–you can reach out to them via the from that’s on the right sidebar of every page!

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28 Vicki { 03.12.13 at 3:09 pm }

We would like to see the Christmas decorations without taking our 7 and 10 yr olds out of school, though we would for a day or 2. What do you recommend?

We’re also trying to all stay together without using a fold-out bed. 2 adults and 2 kids in 1 room, and 2 adults in the other, with a kitchenette.

29 Dave { 03.12.13 at 5:38 pm }

Vicki, when does their December break begin?

On your lodging point, the rooms that fit your wishes are the DVC two bedroom villas, whihc have two queens in one bedroom, and a king in another, with a combined full kitchen, living room, and dining room. All other options for 6 involve either two separate rooms (which possibly could be some distance apart), or fold-down beds.

For my highest-ranked DVC option for your family size and structure, see this: http://yourfirstvisit.net/2011/02/07/review-the-villas-at-disneys-wilderness-lodge/ If the prices knock you into considering fold down beds, see this: http://yourfirstvisit.net/2010/12/15/lower-priced-options-for-large-families-at-walt-disney-world/

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30 Wendy { 04.01.13 at 6:51 pm }

Odd question…what would I save being a year-pass holder for a stay Nov 23rd – 29th. We will be booking three rooms – the whole family is going! I have been on your site many time, but I just found this page. I tried to find out the info myself, but without a pass number, I cannot see the savings, it seems. At this point, we are booked at the Wilderness Lodge…3 standard rooms.

Thanks!

31 Dave { 04.02.13 at 7:00 am }

Hi Wendy! The short answer is probably nothing, as passholder deals almost always exclude wildly-crowded times like Thanksgiving week. You won’t know for sure for months, as passholder deals often don’t come out until a month or two before the affected arrival dates.

PS do you really need three rooms? Would a two-bedroom villa work instead?? See http://yourfirstvisit.net/2011/02/07/review-the-villas-at-disneys-wilderness-lodge/

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32 Wendy { 04.02.13 at 10:06 pm }

I thought about that, too, but there are no two-room villas available for the 23rd – 29th of November. I will keep checking, though. Would that save much? I cannot see the rate since they are not available.

From past years, do you think there will be any discount for Thanksgiving? I am not holding my breath!

Thanks again,

Wendy

33 Wendy { 04.02.13 at 10:53 pm }

Sorry – I was typing too quickly – past years…not pass years…

Wendy

34 Dave { 04.03.13 at 8:09 am }

Hi Wendy, no I don’t think there will be any discounts Thanksgiving week.

For room rates, see the links here: http://www.mousesavers.com/2013-walt-disney-world-resort-room-rates-season-dates/

35 Dave { 04.03.13 at 8:10 am }

Fixed!

36 Wendy { 04.03.13 at 8:00 pm }

Thanks – that is what I thought. The rates are high, but it will be so awesome!

37 Dave { 04.04.13 at 8:45 am }

Good luck, Wendy!

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