One of the biggest questions we get asked is, “How do you afford to travel so much?”. While it would be easy to just say its a lot of careful planning and budgeting(don’t get us wrong- it is), we have also found some tips that work to consistently save us money. Using a third party, such as Expedia or Hotels.com to book our trips to Disney is one of our favorite ways to save money when traveling!
We decided to write this to help you understand how using a third party at Disney works and how to make it benefit you the most.
Before we get into too much detail, let me start by saying we personally have only used hotels.com and expedia(which are actually by owned by the same corporation) so this post will focus mostly on hotels.com, but this information can help you on other third party sites like hotwire and orbitz as well! We love Hotels.com because you can earn FREE nights that can be used at Walt Disney World. Yes. That’s what I said. FREE.
Why would you book your Disney hotel through a third party?
You may be thinking, Why book through a third party? Disney is so great, and you could just wait for special offers, right? Sure! For us, we tend to look for deals. We like cheaper… we also like knowing that we just got a room at the Dolphin for half of what everyone else paid.
- Discounts are already on the third party site, no code needed, no special offer required.
- You can get rooms that may no longer be available on the Disney website. ( This is especially true during Disney discount periods where all the resorts are booked)
- You earn points and rewards on the site you book through.
Do you still get the perks of Disney by booking through a third party?
Yes! Unlike booking some other brands of hotels, you don’t lose any of the benefits booking a Disney hotel through a third party. You still get your 180 day ADRs, 60 day FastPasses and Magical Express. The reservation is super easy to manage and can actually be transferred into your My Disney Experience account.
After booking, you will be given a number to Disney technical support who will transfer your reservation to My Disney Experience and you can manage it from there as you normally would! Even Magic Band color customization is available once your booking is connected. Super easy!
How is it possible to book a Disney hotel on a third party site?
Third party sites basically work like travel agents. They get a commission for each sale of a hotel/resort they sell. In most cases, they are also free to use. Most of the time, you can snag a great deal on a hotel because that hotel needs to sell some rooms, so they offer them through a third party site at a discounted rate.
In the case of Disney, sometimes you can find some very discounted rates when they are below a certain capacity. The rates will sometimes be the same price as Disney though and sometimes even higher than Disney. It’s important to shop around to always get the lowest price.
Where can you book a Disney hotel using a third party site?
You might notice I keep saying Disney and not specifying which Disney. That’s because you get Walt Disney World hotels, Disneyland hotels, Disneyland Paris hotels and even Tokyo Disneyland hotels all on third party sites. And which specific resorts will always depend on availability. Your best bet is figuring out when and where you want to go and doing your research from there.
How much can you save using a third party at Disney?
Honestly, it varies! You can save as much as a hundred dollars, or as little as two or three dollars. Or, sometimes, it’s not cheaper! It really depends when you’re looking to go, when you book and what resort you are trying to book. To be completely transparent here, here are a few examples of savings we’ve gotten using hotels.com:
Animal Kingdom Lodge: $225 per night for a standard view room vs. $296 for the same room category on Walt Disney World’s website
Coronado Springs: $163 per night for standard view room vs. $225 for the same room category on Walt Disney World’s website
Disneyland Hotel: $340 per night vs. $494 for the same room category on Disneyland’s website
Grand Floridian: $540 per night vs. $780 for the same room category on Walt Disney World’s website
As you can see, the prices are all over the place. And these prices change all the time. And again, sometimes the better deal is actually on the Disney website!
On top of booking through a third party, like hotels.com, we also use Ebates! If you’re not using Ebates, you need to seriously ask yourself why. I’ve mentioned Ebates before and this is because I honestly, truly think it is something everyone should be using. I personally have been using it for years and it is my go to rebate site. Ebates allows you to earn money back on purchases you’d already be making. When you book on hotels.com(or other third party websites), by booking through Ebates you can earn anywhere from 2%-10% back on your booking. How can you go wrong with getting money back from booking a Disney hotel?!
How can you earn FREE nights at Disney by booking through a third party?
This is exclusive to hotels.com, which is partly why I chose to focus on this website vs. others. Hotels.com has a rewards program that grants you a free night for every 10 nights you book through them. The value of the free night is determined by your average of nights already stayed so sometimes it wont actually be “free” but rather a large discount that is applied to your booking. These free nights can be redeemed at Walt Disney World hotels! It’s a great program if you travel a lot, and occasionally they will run sales that will allow you to earn free nights faster.
What do you miss out on if you book your Disney room through a third party?
While we do LOVE hotels.com and the fact we save money and earn free nights towards future stays, there are some cons to consider when you go this route. There are a few things you can’t do with a third-party reservation. You can’t add a Dining Package. Or take advantage of Free Dining Offers. These add-ons are reserved for reservations on the Disney website only. You also can’t add on Park Tickets directly or get the multi-day park ticket discounts you would if you booked through Disney’s website alone. And since many of the sites are given only certain rooms to offer at a discount, don’t plan on finding a princess room or pirate room in the room options on these sites. For us, none of this is big enough of an issue to deter us for saving money. So this info is just here for you to be aware of the limitations.
What other questions do you have about booking through a third party? We obviously focused on Hotels.com since it’s what we use the most, but many other third parties offer similar savings. Have you used a third party for a Disney hotel before?