You can successfully “guess” which on-site Walt Disney World resorts are discounted via Priceline Express Deals and Hotwire Hot Rates with these tips to score a great deal. This covers how to save money on Orlando, Florida hotels with hacks & matching tricks. (Updated February 6, 2022.)
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…
At their best, 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 often has more availability), but the below deals can often be replicated on Hotwire with the same strategy…
In any case, the end result has been absolutely nothing in the way of Priceline Express Deals and Hotwire Hot Rates for Disney-owned resorts since last September. This isn’t the first time something like this has happened, but it is the longest Walt Disney World has gone in recent years without dumping any unsold inventory (because there isn’t any!) onto Priceline and Hotwire. Expect that to change later in 2022 as resorts start to fill more of their rooms.
For now, here are the third-party options on-site that you can expect to find on these opaque booking sites…
Far and away the best deal of these right now are the Swan & Dolphin Resorts. One or both of these are available throughout the next month. Keep in mind that there’s also a mandatory resort fee, so what you see is not the final price–but both of these resorts still tend to be far cheaper than anything else in the Crescent Lake area.
We love the Swan & Dolphin for a few reasons. Namely, they’re within walking distance of both Epcot and Hollywood Studios–perfect for rope dropping Slinky Dog Dash before going back to the pool for a mid-morning break. There’s also little benefit to staying in a Disney-owned resort right now. For the most part, Swan & Dolphin guests have similar advantages to guests staying in Disney hotels. They even offer access to Extended Evening Hours, which Moderate and Value Resorts don’t even offer!
We’re also seeing the JW Marriott Orlando Bonnet Creek Resort & Spa under $200 per night for several dates in the next two months. We reviewed this new on-site hotel and gave it generally favorable marks.
The one big thing it lacks as compared to other luxury resorts near Walt Disney World (including other Bonnet Creek properties) is a sprawling pool and lazy river. While the JW Marriott is perfectly family-friendly, it’s not catering to kids like some of the other hotels in the area. Regardless, it’s a great deal at $200 per night!
As usual, there are also scattered options at 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. Additionally, we’re seeing scattered availability for the new JW Marriott Orlando Bonnet Creek Resort & Spa.
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.
We’ve also seen availability at Flamingo Crossing, which is about a 10-minute drive from Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom. These hotels are pretty attractive because they’re all brand-new. Two of them opened at the end of last year and two more open in early 2022.
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 & Hotwire Deals at WDW
For starters, Hotwire and 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 “semi-opaque” booking site, meaning certain details and amenities are revealed in advance, but not the hotel name. Fortunately, those details narrow things down considerably, to the point that internet sleuths have made the process pretty predictable for anyone willing to do their homework.
Of course, there still are no guarantees. You’re locked in to a non-refundable hotel before knowing the exact property for sure. That means there is some risk and uncertainty inherent to the process. It’s certainly not for everyone. Another drawback is that these deals are mostly last-minute. Walt Disney World hotels are typically added to Hotwire or Priceline’s Express Deals around 1-2 months 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 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.
Have you tried any of these hacks or tools to book 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!