Disney Vacation Accommodation Options

I’ve received a lot of questions over the past few months about family vacations to Disney World. Given the popularity of Disney vacations, I thought I’d do an analysis of the accommodation costs for a week at or near “The Happiest Place on Earth.”

From my perspective, there are three options.

1.       Look into renting Disney Vacation Club (DVC) points in order to stay at a Deluxe resort on property without paying rack rates;

2.      Power up your trusty computer, visit www.disneyworld.com, and find a hotel on property that meets both your accommodation needs and your budget; or

3.      Research hotels very close to Disney World, but not located in the park.

We are DVC members and have been for about 5 years now. We basically bought enough points so that we’d have 5 nights at a Deluxe resort every other year. This has worked out very well for us.  We have stayed at the Boardwalk every other year for the cost of the annual maintenance fee, after our original point purchase.

To illustrate the price difference between these 3 alternatives, I’ve decided to look at April vacation and compare the costs for a 7 night stay. April is a timeframe that isn’t peak season at Disney, but isn’t low season either. The costs of the hotels will be lower if you go off season and will be higher if you go during peak season.

1.       Below is the cost for 7 nights using DVC points (note that all DVC hotels fall within the Deluxe category). The cost of booking the same room at www.disneyworld.com are in parentheses next to the DVC price. All prices are inclusive of tax.

Deluxe DVC Studio (sleeps 5):

Old Key West = $1,512    ($2,898)

Animal Kingdom Lodge = $1624   ($3,346.91)

Boardwalk = $2112   ($3,717)

Polynesian = $2704   (not available with cash for those dates, but somewhere around $4,000)

Clearly, you save a bundle by renting DVC points over the price you would pay for the same room when booking at www.disneyworld.com. Most people who aren’t DVC members don’t realize that this is even an option.

2.      Let’s take a look at other cheaper options on property should we decide to stay in a Value or Moderate category room (not Deluxe).

Disney Resorts:

Value (Pop Century) = $1036

Moderate (Port Orleans) = $1649

As you can see here, only Pop Century is cheaper than the DVC options. There is nothing wrong with staying there. We’ve stayed at Pop Century before during free dining.  But as my husband says, “the room is so small, there is no room to even change your mind, let alone your clothes!”

3.      Lastly, let’s take a look at what it would cost to stay off property, but within a stone’s throw of the parks.

Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress:

Room = $1961

Resort Fee = $196

Airport Transportation = $131 town car service (roundtrip) 

TOTAL: $2288

As you can see here, the Boardwalk, Animal Kingdom Lodge, and Old Key West through DVC are all cheaper options.

Hilton Bonnet Creek:

Room = $1624

Resort Fee = $196

Airport Transportation = $131 town car service (roundtrip)

TOTAL: $1951

As you can see here, the Animal Kingdom Lodge and Old Key West through DVC are cheaper options.

Starwood Disney World Dolphin:

Room = $1647

Resort Fee = $161

Airport Transportation = $131 town car service (roundtrip) *note that The Dolphin utilizes Disney transportation to the parks, but there is no transportation offered from/to the airport.

TOTAL: $1939

As you can see here, the Animal Kingdom Lodge and Old Key West through DVC are cheaper options.

In addition to the often cumbersome park transportation options that exist when staying off-site, you also don’t get a variety of benefits offered to those staying on property. DVC guests receive the same benefits offered to all Disney World guests staying onsite at Disney Resorts, including:

-Disney’s Magical Express to and from Orlando International Airport

Transportation to/from all park locations (Disney World’s Dolphin DOES utilize these same buses that are used for all Disney guests)

-The option to add the Disney Dining Plan to your reservation

-The ability to manage your reservation using My Disney Experience and the receipt of MagicBands for everyone on your reservation

-The ability to book Fastpass+ 60 days prior to check in (non-Disney resort guests can book Fastpass+ 30 days in advance)

-The ability to book dining reservations 180+10 days from date of check in (non-Disney resort guests book dining reservations at 180 days from the date of the reservation)

-Access to the parks for Extra Magic Hours

 I know what you’re thinking… “This sounds like a timeshare pitch!”  I am not a fan of timeshares either, but the best part is that you don’t have to commit to buying a timeshare to take advantage of DVC.  Renting DVC points is a great way to stay at a Deluxe resort without the deluxe price!

Navigating the options for renting DVC points can a barrier for entry for many. Where do I start? How do I find points to be rented? How do I know if there is availability for my dates? Are there any other fees?  We’ve been renting points for many years and can help with all of that.  Please feel free to contact me at our Services page to get started.

Disney World is an expensive place, there is no way around it. There is a reason why some families are only able to visit once in their lifetime. But it doesn’t have to be as expensive as Disney would like to make it for you. Hacking accommodation rates through DVC points is just one way to save money on your Disney vacation. I’ll be outlining ways to save on park tickets and airfare in future posts!


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