Taking your family to Disney World can be one of the most memorable vacations you can plan. It’s no wonder why millions of people flock to Orlando every year to visit these theme parks. However, anyone who has ever looked into going here knows it can be extremely expensive. Fortunately, there are some great hotels around Disney World where you can use your points to save a lot of money on your vacation.
Over the years we have taken our 5 kids to Disney World a couple of times. As you can imagine, it can get real pricey, real quick for a family of 7. However, each time we went, we used a stash of our points to make it affordable (pronounced possible). With a little planning, it can be pretty easy to offset a lot of the expense with a couple credit card sign up bonuses.
First, we used points to cover our flights. With so many flights to Orlando, it’s pretty easy to find availability throughout the year. If you need recommendations, here are some of my favorite credit cards for flights. Be sure to check cash fares too. On one trip we used points to fly us there but then found $69 return fares on a different airline so we just paid cash and saved our points for another time.
Each time we’ve visited, we have stayed at one of Disney’s hotels. The problem is, just like at Disneyland, you can’t book most Walt Disney World hotels with points. We just love the ambiance and some of the benefits of staying on property so we chose to go that route.
Official Disney World Hotels
I’ve always been impressed with everything Disney does. From their hotels, to their shops, they always seem to deliver an incredible experience. If you want to stay at a Disney hotel, there is one way to do it using your points. While not the most valuable way use your points, it’s still possible.
Don’t get me wrong, I love squeezing a lot of value out of my points. Even though this option doesn’t provide the best monetary value, sometimes the best value is being able to have an unforgettable experience. If you want to enjoy a Disney hotel experience using points, you’ll need to get the Capital One Venture Rewards Card. This card has a “purchase eraser” feature that allows you to use your points on any travel purchase. That’s right, you can use these points to offset the cost of ANY Disney hotel.
Simply pay for your Disney World hotel with your card, then you can redeem your points for a statement credit to offset the purchase. When you redeem your points this way, they are worth 1 cent per point. Right now, new venture rewards card members can earn a 60,000 point welcome bonus!
The welcome bonus is earned by simply spending at least $3,000 within the first 3 months of opening your account. This bonus is worth $600 when redeemed using the purchase eraser. You can read about the other great benefits of this card in my full review of the Capital One Venture card.
Disney Hotel Benefits
Staying at one of the Walt Disney World hotels has some really great benefits. Here are a few of my favorites:
FastPass+ – You have the ability to reserve a select number of fast passes up to 60 days before you arrive. This can be vital to save you from waiting hours on some of the most popular rides. (I’m looking at you Avatar – my favorite ride at any of the parks!)
Free Airport Transportation – Disney’s Magic Express will take you from the airport to your hotel and back for FREE! This can save you a lot of money on Ubers, parking and rental cars.
Magic Hours – When you stay at a Disney hotel you get access to extended hours at a different park each day. If you weren’t able to snag a fast pass for your favorite ride, this can be a big help.
Complimentary Magic Bands – These typically cost $15 but when you stay at a Disney hotel, they’re free. Not only do they make things more convenient but they’re great souvenirs! My younger kids wore these for weeks after our trip.
Free Transfers Between Hotels – If you want to splurge on a night or two and one of the higher end hotels and then move to a more budget friendly option, they’ll transfer your luggage for free! On one trip, we wanted to try 2 different hotels. You simply talk to the front desk and they’ll arrange everything. Just leave your bags outside of your room when you head to the park and they’ll be waiting for you at your next hotel when you get back.
Other Disney World Hotel Options
Walt Disney Dolphin Resort – This hotel is located on the Disney property and is a Marriott hotel. From everything I read, award availability can be hard to come by. If you’re able to find space, you can redeem your Marriott points here. An average night here will cost you 50K Marriott points. Keep in mind, they charge a resort fee that’s over $30/night plus parking if you have a car.
Walt Disney Swan Resort – While the amenities are a little different the cost structure is similar to the Dolphin Resort. You’ll pay an average of 50k Marriott points and similar parking and resort fees. If you’re dying to stay at one of these hotels but are short on points, you might consider the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card. New card holders will get 3 free nights (up to 50k points per night) after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months of your account being opened.
Disney Springs Hotel Options
If you aren’t staying at a Disney World hotel, the next best location to use your points is at one of the 7 hotels at Disney Springs. Disney Springs is a fun dining and entertainment district close to Disney World. Here you’ll find properties from larger hotel chains where you can redeem your points.
Previously, these hotels had arraignments with Disney World that provided guests with some of the perks of staying at a Disney hotel; like the FastPass+ reservations. Keep an eye out to see if these perks return because they’ll be super valuable if they do. Here are a couple of the great options to choose from where you can redeem your points.
I’ve only highlighted the two Hilton options for one of two reasons. 1) The other hotels in Disney Springs don’t have a point currency that I would recommend accumulating or 2) The hotel reviews weren’t very good.
Hilton Orlando Lake Buena Vista
This is a great option that can give you a lot of value. A standard night here will run between 35k-50k points per night depending on the time of year. Hilton doesn’t charge resort fees on award stays, so that will save you $35/night. Plus, if you have Hilton elite status, you’ll get your 5th free on award stays.
If you don’t have status, consider looking into the Hilton Honors American Express or Hilton Honors American Express Surpass cards. Both cards come with complimentary status levels at Hilton that will allow you to get your 5th night free. The Hilton Honors has no annual fee (see rates and fees) and new card members get 75,000 points after spending $1,000 within 3 months. The Hilton Honors Surpass card charges a $95 annual fee (see rates and fees) and new card holders will earn 125,000 points after spending $2,000 within 3 months.
Hilton Orlando Buena Vista Palace
Hilton has another great option to choose from in Disney Springs. Nights at the Buena Vista Palace also start at 50k points per night for a standard room. They have a beautiful pool with a lazy river that are perfect for a day of relaxation when you’re not at the park. There is also no resort fees when you pay with points and you get your 5th night free when you have status. If you need more points, take a look at the same card recommendations above.
Other Hotel Options
If you go outside of Disney Springs you’ll find more hotels from other large hotel chains. These are great Disney World hotel options whose points are easy to come by. Here are a few of my favorites.
Embassy Suites Lake Buena Vista
The Embassy Suites is located really close to Disney World and has some wonderful amenities. Not only are the rooms larger than most hotels but they have a fun splash pad area if you’re traveling with your kids. Here you will also enjoy a free daily breakfast and you don’t have to pay for parking. Plus, they have a free shuttle to the Disney theme parks. If you’re looking for the most bang for your buck, this is my top recommendation. You really can’t beat the value this hotel provides.
Here you can redeem your Hilton points at an average rate of 40k points per night. Just like the Hilton hotels at Disney Springs above, you don’t pay a resort fee when you use your points to stay here. And with Honors status, you can get your 5th night free. If you need a few more points for your Disney vacation, or need status, take a look a the card recommendations above.
Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress – Located just a few miles down the road from Disney World, the Hyatt Regency is a great option. Standard rooms here are a reasonable 12k points per night. Hyatt also doesn’t charge a resort fee when you pay with points so that will save you some extra money. They do charge a parking fee but they provide a free shuttle to the theme parks.
Hyatt Place Orlando/Convention Center – This hotel is even further away but provides a great value. Here you won’t have to pay for parking and Hyatt members get free breakfast. Rooms here will only cost you an average of 8k points per night which can really help you stretch your points.
If You Need More Points – Hyatt is the one hotel transfer partner of the Chase Ultimate Rewards program that I would recommend using. Depending on the cash rate, you can get some great value by transferring your points. As long as you have a Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, Chase Sapphire Reserve® or an Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card, you can transfer your points to Hyatt. You can also get The World of Hyatt Credit Card that comes with a welcome bonus of 30k bonus points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening. Plus, you can earn up to 30k more bonus points by earning 2 bonus points total per $1 spent in the first 6 months from account opening on purchases that normally earn 1 Bonus Point, on up to $15,000 spent. Just remember all of these cards are issued by Chase and subject to their 5/24 restriction.
Residence Inn Orlando Convention Center
This one is also located a little further away but is another economical choice. Standard rooms start at only 25k Bonvoy points per night. Plus, all Bonvoy members will get their 5th night free when booking their stay with points. Plus, you’ll enjoy a free breakfast when you stay here. If you’re a little short on points, you might want to look at the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card. New card holders will get 3 free nights (valued up to 50k points per night) after spending $5,000 in the first 3 months of your card being opened.
Going on a Disney vacation can be expensive but it’s an experience that will last a lifetime. As you can see though, there are several Disney World hotel options where you can use your points to bring the cost down. If you’ve been dreaming of taking your family here but haven’t been able to make it work financially, hopefully this has given you some new ideas on how to make it work. What other money saving tips do you have for Disney vacations? Leave a comment below and let us know!