You can successfully “guess” which on-site Walt Disney World resorts are discounted via Priceline Express Deals 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 January 30, 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…
January 30, 2020 Inventory Update
Unsurprisingly, there are a good number of deals for Walt Disney World’s winter off-season, including early to mid-February. This includes all tiers of on-site hotels, plus several Disney Springs and Bonnet Creek hotels that are eligible for Extra Magic Hours. Note that most deals dry up for the week of Presidents’ Day and beyond. We’ve yet to see anything for March 2020.
Now through the first two weeks of February 2020, there are a number of great deals with the highlight being the All Star Resorts for $46 per night. Coronado Springs Resort is also appearing sporadically with prices starting as low as $82 per night. The lower end of that spectrum is a great rate for Coronado Springs, especially if you get lucky and upgraded to Gran Destino Tower.
Both Port Orleans Riverside and Caribbean Beach Resorts also have a scattering of dates in early to mid-February 2020, but those are all over the place. Nothing under $150 per night, and nothing for consecutive nights. Some dates surge to over $200 and are on par with Walt Disney World direct pricing. (Royal Rooms are also available for similar prices.)
In terms of the Disney-owned resorts, that’s about all we’re seeing that’s noteworthy. 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, Swan & Dolphin is the major one–and is available on select dates for $150 to $180 per night. Even after adding on the resort fee, we consider that a very good rate on this Crescent Lake resort within walking distance of both Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios. It’s perfect for doing Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance!
There are also a number of options at both Bonnet Creek and Disney Springs. These include the B Resort & Spa, DoubleTree Suites by Hilton Orlando, Best Western 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 Bonnet Creek Resorts are eligible for Extra Magic Hours. 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 in March 2020! 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. 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. These were the decisive ‘clue’ in determining which hotel you were booking. With the description, accuracy was 100%. The Hotel Canary extension also 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.
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!