With our tips, tricks, and a browser extension hack, it’s possible to “guess” which on-site Walt Disney World resorts are discounted via Priceline Express Deals. In this guide, we’ll cover how to save a ton of money with blind booking on Orlando, Florida hotels in and around WDW. (Updated September 28, 2019.)
For those unfamiliar with Priceline Express Deals, it’s similar to the popular “Name Your Own Price” feature or bidding on hotels based upon amenities and a general area. With Priceline Express Deals or Hotwire Hot Rate deals, 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. These are deep discounts of up to 60% off, not just a “deal” of 10-15% off a room-only rate. We’re talking $60/night for Values, ~$100/night for Moderates, and under $200/night for some Deluxe Resorts. Let’s start by taking a look at the current Priceline Express Deals for Walt Disney World…
September 27, 2019 Update: To our surprise, deals were pretty scarce in September. Last year, this was arguably the best month of the year, with everything from the All Stars well under $100 to Crescent Lake and Magic Kingdom Deluxe Resorts for only a few hundred dollars.
September has been far from busy in the parks, so the only explanation we can offer for the dearth of deals is that Walt Disney World did a better job of discounting rooms to the general public in order to keep occupancy high. Offering three waves of Free Dining will do that!
Moving on to October, things are starting to improve but still are far from as good as the gold rush of last summer and fall. We’re now seeing deals for select dates at Art of Animation on Little Mermaid rooms (we’ve heard of some people actually receiving suites upon check-in, but don’t expect that), at or under $84 per night.
We’re also seeing Coronado Springs Resort for $121-136/night, which is not a good but great rate for that hotel. However, there’s the possibility of this being in the still new Gran Destino Tower, which would dramatically improve that deal. Caribbean Beach Resort also has a scattering of dates at the end of this month and beginning of September for about the same prices.
In terms of the Disney-owned resorts, that’s about all we’re seeing. One trend we’ve noticed is that the deals are becoming more and more last-minute, with some loading as little as a week in advance. If you’re willing to roll the dice with Priceline Express Deals, you might want to have an alternative hotel booked with a lax last-minute cancellation policy.
Outside of the Disney-owned hotels, things do get markedly better. While we don’t see any availability for Swan & Dolphin, there are a number of options at both Bonnet Creek and Disney Springs. These include the Waldorf Astoria Orlando, Wyndham Lake Buena Vista, Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek Resort, and Hilton Orlando Lake Buena Vista.
As a reminder, all of the third party Disney Springs Resort Area Hotels as well as the Hilton and Waldorf Astoria at Bonnet Creek are eligible for Extra Magic Hours–which includes the Extra, Extra Magic Hours that we’ve been imploring readers to take advantage of. We love the Waldorf Astoria Orlando and 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. Despite the lack of deals for the early fall, we’re optimistic that more availability will open up for the holidays, especially dates that were blocked out for Free Dining.
It’s counterintuitive, but it’s possible that this year, the more popular travel dates are also more likely to have availability. No guarantees on that, but 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…
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. This means you’re pretty much guaranteed no Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Avatar Flight of Passage, Slinky Dog Dash, or Frozen Ever After FastPass+ availability (of course, day-of refreshing can work magic there).
Finally and along those lines, Priceline Express Deals are offered to fill unsold rooms. If you’re trying to book a Christmas stay or a full week during mid-October, 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. This isn’t just a disappointment because I spent a ton of time researching and typing out these descriptions for every resort, but more so because these were the decisive ‘clue’ in determining which hotel you were booking. With the description, accuracy was 100%.
Now, the confidence rate is far lower. You’ll either have to be willing to roll the dice, or confer with reviews, rack rates, and other clues beyond just what Hotel Canary provides in conjunction with the amenity set and location. To be sure, accuracy is still pretty accurate, but for several hotels it’s no longer a sure thing.
With this long preface out of the way, let’s start booking…
Note that there are some recent reports of Hotel Canary not working, and this is reflected in recent negative reviews. Hotel Canary does still work–it just works differently than it used to. Rather than revealing hotels with a hover feature earlier in the booking process, you need to click all the way through to the hotel page’s booking screen. At that point, you’ll click the Hotel Canary button and a fly-out will offer hotel(s) predictions.
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 $110/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 for travel dates this fall.
Third, Beach Club is appearing quite frequently via Hotel Canary as a possibility right now. Don’t get too excited about this, especially if you’re seeing ~$100/night prices, as it’s almost certainly not Beach Club. Good rates for the Deluxes via Priceline depend upon the hotel, but I’d say you’re looking at the $225-$275 range for Magic Kingdom or Epcot-area resorts.
Value Resorts also have appeared on Priceline Express Deals with some degree of regularity, but I’m not seeing much on that front right now. That could be because the Values are popular for Christmas travel dates? I’m not really sure. Irrespective of that, the All Stars appear most common, and we’ve seen them for under $60/night.
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.
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!