You can successfully “guess” which on-site Walt Disney World resorts are discounted via Priceline Express Deals and Hotwire Hot Rates with these tips & tricks. We’ll cover how to save a ton of money on Orlando, Florida hotels with blind booking thanks to some hacks and matching tips. (Updated September 28, 2020.)
Priceline Express Deals and Hotwire Hot Rates are similar to the popular “Name Your Own Price” feature or bidding on hotels based upon amenities and a general area. You can score a deep discount on a great hotel (or not-so-great one, if that’s more your style), but the tradeoff is that don’t know the name of the hotel until you pay. In other words, it’s a surprise…but like children snooping under the Christmas tree, there are certain ways to ‘spoil’ that surprise!
Hotel chains, including Walt Disney World, do this to dump unsold inventory at the last minute while concealing to the general public that they’re unloading rooms at such a cheap rate, which might tarnish their brand or irritate guests who paid significantly more. Let’s start by taking a look at the current Priceline Express Deals for Walt Disney World…
Typically, Priceline Express Deals and Hotwire Hot Rates offer deep discounts of up to 60% off, not just a “deal” of 10-15% off a room-only rate. We’re talking $60 per night or less for Values, ~$100/night for Moderates, and ~$200/night for Deluxe Resorts. We primarily focus our searches to Priceline here (which has more and better inventory), but the below deals can often be replicated on Hotwire, too…
Inventory Update: October & November 2020
Nature is healing, Priceline Express Deals for Walt Disney World are returning. For October and November 2020, we have a fresh batch of deals. Slowly but sure, both Disney and third party on-site hotels are starting to unload unsold rooms after reopening and finding that demand is weak. This is a trend we’d expect to accelerate in the coming weeks and months–even for the Christmas season–as occupancy rates remain depressed.
Walt Disney World has started to reintroduce discounts, but those have mostly been targeted. Unfortunately, the only general public deal is the awful ‘Magic is Here’ promo. For select guests, the options are considerably better: the exceptional 40% off “Rediscover the Magic” offer for Annual Passholders and Florida Residents, the awesome ‘Southerner Savings’ room-only discount, and the widely-targeted PIN code.
All good deals, but none as good as the latest batch of Priceline Express Deals and Hotwire Hot Rates…
First off, we have Disney’s Pop Century Resort. This is now available on both sites with nightly rates throughout October 2020 in the $75 to $90 per night range.
In the “How to Book” section below, we cover some of the strategies for ‘reverse-imagineering’ the booking to determine which hotel it is. In this case, there are a number of giveaways: location, airport shuttle, 4.3/5 review score, and health & safety measures. In this case, the bed options listing Murphy beds are the key one (see below).
In other good news, with the NBA about to vacate Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort and that hotel reopening on October 14, 2020, we now are seeing it pop up on both sites as well. It’s currently available from late October (shortly after reopening) all the way through early November 2020. Rates are in the $100 to $120 per night range.
Same idea applies for spotting Coronado Springs. The simplest way is to compare the ‘blind’ listing to the ‘naked’ one on each site. The number and score of reviews should be close to a match, with the amenities further giving it away.
Next, we head over to Crescent Lake. Two options are available there. The first is Disney’s Yacht Club Resort, which has rates in the $250 to $300 per night range for scattered dates. In our spot-checking, we couldn’t find more than 3 consecutive nights here, so probably not a good option for a weeklong trip.
Far and away the best deal right now are the Swan & Dolphin Resorts. One or both of these are available for just about every single night between now and the end of November 2020. Rates start at around $90 per night for closer travel dates, increasing to ~$115 per night for early November before “soaring” to $150+ for Thanksgiving and beyond. Keep in mind that there’s also a mandatory resort fee, so those are not the final prices–but still far cheaper than anything else in the Crescent Lake area.
We consider that an insanely good deal for a few reasons. First, the Swan is within walking distance of both Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios–perfect for rope dropping Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance before going back to the pool for a mid-morning break. Second, transportation woes and health concerns would make us more likely to rent a car regardless of where we stayed.
Finally, there are very few benefits to staying in a Disney-owned resort right now. With the Disney Dining Plan, Extra Magic Hours, and FastPass+ all suspended, there’s little on-site advantage. The major thing is priority in the Disney Park Pass theme park reservation system, which Swan guests also receive.
As usual, there are also scattered options at Bonnet Creek and Disney Springs. We didn’t do extensive research into these, but they’re probably the usual suspects–B Resort & Spa, DoubleTree Suites by Hilton Orlando, Hilton Orlando Lake Buena Vista, etc.
All of the third party Disney Springs Resort Area Hotels as well as the Bonnet Creek Resorts are also eligible to book Disney Park Pass reservations from the on-site ‘bucket’. We have Hotel Rankings for the Disney Springs Resort Area if you need further resources to help you choose one of those properties.
Keep in mind that Priceline Express Deals inventory changes frequently, meaning you might find hotels we didn’t list if you search later today or next week, and you might not see what we’ve found. We’ll keep you posted as we continue to scour Priceline for new Express Deals! For now, here’s everything else you need to know about booking these discounted rooms…
How to Book Priceline Express Deals at WDW
For starters, Priceline Express Deals really can amount to substantial savings at Walt Disney World–that’s not just marketing fluff. Priceline advertises the service as offering savings of “up to 60% off” but we’ve saved more than that on Deluxe Resorts (and, to be fair, significantly less than that on others).
In fact, for a few weeks around our stay at the Poly, during which we received a free upgrade to the King Kamehameha Club Level, the Polynesian was under $300/night via Priceline Express Deals…and the rack rate ‘value’ of our room was over $800/night. Obviously, that’s an extreme example with tremendous luck involved, but even “just” 60% off is not uncommon.
With the reward of substantial savings comes risk. Priceline Express Deals is a “blind” booking site, meaning the hotel name is not revealed before you book and pay for your non-refundable hotel. Even with tools that narrow down or purport to reveal the name of the hotel you’re booking before you commit, there are no guarantees. You’re locked in before knowing the hotel’s name definitively, and there are no refunds or date-changes.
Another drawback is that these deals are mostly last-minute. I’m not entirely sure when Walt Disney World hotels are added to Priceline’s Express Deals, but it’s normally around a month or so prior to travel dates, sometimes a bit longer.
Finally and along those lines, Priceline Express Deals are offered to fill unsold rooms. If you’re trying to book a Christmas stay, you’re unlikely to have success. You’ll have a tough time finding good rates for multi-night stays during peak tourist seasons; the best options tend to be short, weeknight stays in the off-season.
It should also be noted that the ‘hacks’ for revealing hotels are constantly in flux. Internet deal spotters have been great in helping to uncover which hotel corresponds with which amenity sets and descriptions. Unfortunately, Priceline (and other bulk wholesaler sites) are always one step behind, meaning that successful strategy for uncovering a deal might work one day and stop working the next.
As of right now, the best options for narrowing hotel choices yourself is deselecting each “Neighborhood” except “Walt Disney World – Bonnet Creek” and “Walt Disney World – Disney Springs.” Every official Walt Disney World resort is located within those areas on the Priceline map.
Additionally, Walt Disney World hotels will have an amenity set of only Free Internet Access, Restaurant, and Swimming Pool. To my knowledge, this amenity set is a recent change (and inaccurate as compared to what WDW resorts actually offer).
In terms of star rating, Values are 3-star, Moderates are 3.5-star, and Deluxes are usually 4 or 4.5-star.
The big bummer is Priceline’s removal of the one-line descriptions, such as “enjoy jazzy evening entertainment at this well-designed resort” for Port Orleans French Quarter. These were the decisive ‘clue’ in determining which hotel you were booking. With the description, accuracy was 100%. The Hotel Canary extension no longer works, which is another big blow.
Now, you’ll need to do a bit more legwork to match hotels on your own. Consequently, the confidence rate is far lower. You’ll want to match up reviews, rack rates, and other clues in conjunction with the amenity set and location. Basically, this means comparing the normal Priceline listing for a particular hotel with the blind listing. If you aren’t comfortable doing this on your own, resources like BetterBidding.com can help–but even then, know that you’ll be rolling the dice a bit.
Here are some observations I’ve noticed while searching recently. First, all Moderate Resorts are pretty common, but Coronado Springs is the most prevalent, especially now that it’s no longer peak convention season. While prices fluctuate highly based upon season and occupancy rates, I’d say a “good” rate for a Moderate is $130/night or less.
Second, the Deluxe Resort you’ll see most frequently is Animal Kingdom Lodge, with rates in the neighborhood of $165-$225. Other Deluxe Resorts have appeared on Priceline Express Deals. I’ve seen almost every single one, including the Polynesian and Grand Floridian.
Finally, Value Resorts also have appeared on Priceline Express Deals with some degree of regularity, with common options including the Little Mermaid Rooms at Art of Animation and All Star Sports (during their refurbishments, Movies and Music have been less common). Of all resorts, the All Stars appear most commonly, and we’ve seen them for prices as low as the mid-$40 per night range.
Overall, Priceline Express Deals is a great option for saving a lot of money on Walt Disney World hotels, but it’s definitely not for the faint of heart. It’s no longer the ‘sure thing’ that it once was, but with a bit of legwork, you can narrow down the possibilities and still have a high degree of certainty before booking. If you’re willing to gamble and don’t mind the possibility of getting a third party hotel like the Dolphin or Wyndham Bonnet Creek (both great options that are on par with Walt Disney World Deluxes), we’d highly recommend using Priceline Express Deals for savings that are far superior to room-only discounts directly from Disney.
Planning a Walt Disney World trip? Learn about hotels on our Walt Disney World Hotels Reviews page. For where to eat, read our Walt Disney World Restaurant Reviews. To save money on tickets or determine which type to buy, read our Tips for Saving Money on Walt Disney World Tickets post. Our What to Pack for Disney Trips post takes a unique look at clever items to take. For what to do and when to do it, our Walt Disney World Ride Guides will help. For comprehensive advice, the best place to start is our Walt Disney World Trip Planning Guide for everything you need to know!
Have you tried any of these hacks or tools to book blindly on Priceline Express Deals? Any other strategies you use? If you’ve used it, what’s the best rate you’ve scored? Do you agree or disagree with our advice? If you’ve yet to book, any questions we can help you answer? Hearing your feedback—even when you disagree with us—is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!