five ways to stay on disney property and not go broke...completely
Visiting Walt Disney World is a dream vacation for many, and for some families, it is a once in a lifetime opportunity. Affordability of resort rooms on Disney property can be a hindrance to many families. In fact, the only reason I considered going to WDW in the first place was because we had become a camping family and we were intrigued by the affordability of camping at Disney’s Fort Wilderness. Ironically, after researching, we found it more economical to stay in a private house off property.
However, after our first trip, I got FOMO: Fear of Missing Out. I began dreaming about staying on property. I wanted to experience the “bubble” as it is affectionately called by the Disney gurus. Here are five ways we stayed on property for a fraction of the cost.
Book A Convention
Staying on property as part of a convention is a great way to stay for a fraction of the published rate. We stayed at The Grand Floridian as our first on property experience. We could never have stayed there for the regular published rates. Fortunately, my husband is required to do continuing education every year. This was a major impetus in our becoming a traveling family.
Convention rates are often 30% to 50% below the published rate on Disney’s website.
For example, the current published rate for a garden or woods view room the first week of November 2017 at Disney’s Yacht club is $488/night. We will be staying in the same room for a convention that week fora little over $200/night. Similar comparisons could be made for our two stays at the Grand Floridian in February of 2016 and December of 2016. Disney also offers a 10% discount on park tickets for convention attendees and their guests with additional savings on tickets valid after 4pm.
What if you don’t have the need for continuing education? The meeting website claims that,
“Walt Disney World Resort boasts six dedicated convention resorts and more than 700,000 square feet of ballroom, meeting and function space.”
Chances are with a little homework and research, you can find a convention that suits your family. There are countless opportunities to attend conventions for professionals, tradesmen, homeschoolers, and especially cheer teams and other school related events. You might just find one that matches your family’s interests.
The only problem with using the conventions was there were other resorts I wanted to visit that weren’t hosting conventions. Let’s be honest, the struggle with “fear of missing out” is real! There just weren’t enough conventions. In order to visit WDW as often as I desired while holding annual passes, I needed to get more creative. Researching other ways to get discounts on hotel rooms at Disney, I found articles about renting points from Disney Vacation Club members.
Initially, I was intimidated, but after reading several success stories, I discovered it is common practice. It is a great way to stay on property at some great Disney resorts for a fraction of the cost.
There are several reputable DVC rental agencies out there. I chose to use David’s DVC Rentals.
The entire process was so easy and the customer service was wonderful. In fact, after finalizing my reservation, I noticed my son’s name was misspelled. I contacted David’s DVC Rentals, and they promptly contacted the owner and had it corrected.
The process is simple. You pay a set amount per point to David’s for enough points to rent the resort at the time specified. They have a handy calculator on their website to assist you. You put in a deposit to secure the reservation. If they are unable to match your request, the deposit is refunded. You can request only one resort but to increase the odds of securing a resort during your selected dates, you can request more than one resort.
Once you have completed the reservation form, David’s will search for your requests. When you are matched, you will get an email confirmation and further directions on completing the reservation. There is something exciting about seeing the subject line in your email box from David’s. It is kind’ve like playing a contest and seeing your name on the winner’s list. David’s will contact the owner to book the room in your name and send you links to everything. When you arrive at Disney, it is as though you booked like any other guest. The whole process is simple and I would do it again without a second thought. We were able to stay at Disney’s Beach Club resort for a fraction of what we would pay through Disney.
Discount Ticket Sites
Another way I have stayed on property and saved a significant amount over the published Disney rate was to search discount sites like Undercover Tourist. In fact, in order to make our September 2016 stay more economical, I did a split stay between a moderate and a deluxe resort. We stayed at Disney’s Caribbean Beach for four nights through Undercover Tourist for a 35% discount over the published rate, then we moved over to the Beach Club Villas utilizing David’s DVC process described above.
It gave us a chance to try out two different resorts and save quite a bit of money. Though I have personally never booked Disney through Orbitz, I have seen discounts there at times. If you have an Ebates account, you can get additional savings by booking Orbitz through your Ebates link.
Book A Split Stay
This is a great way to save money as I already mentioned. If you are like me, FOMO is real! There are apparently thirty four Disney resort properties! I haven’t even scratched the surface, yet! Doing a split stay is a great way to experience a couple resorts at a time and save a few dollars. Perhaps your kids really want to experience the pool and the theming at the Art of Animation, but you want to wake up to a giraffe in the back yard.
Book a discounted room for the Art of Animation through a site like Undercover tourist for two or three nights and then snag a great rate at David’s DVC Rentals at the Animal Kingdom Villas for another two or three nights. It can take a little homework and planning, but it can be done and can add to the excitement of the trip as well!
There is the option of choosing a value resort. However, in many cases, our family size of five necessitated two rooms, so it was more cost effective to stay in a moderate or deluxe resort and utilize points or split stays to defer the expense. If your family size is four or less, it may be worth watching rates on the All Star Resorts or the value room at the Art of Animation as there are times these are below $100/night.
Get An Annual Pass
Now, I know what you are thinking? I thought this article was about not going broke at Disney. Let me explain. While I agree the expense is great and the Platinum Plus pass for 2016 was $750 per person with no discount for younger guests, if you are planning to be at WDW more than once or for more than ten days within a 12 month period you should compare the prices. Also, if you plan to get the Parkhopper, the difference may pay for itself.
In order to compare apples to apples, take into account all the benefits of the annual pass. Here are a few of the benefits you will receive by purchasing an annual pass for at least one member of your party.
- If you plan to park a car in the parks, you will save $20/day in parking.
- Memory Maker, a $150 value, is included
- Discounts on merchandise and food. Currently in celebration of the 45th anniversary of Magic Kingdom, the discount has been increased to 20% at many restaurants.
- Additionally, throughout the year resort discounts can be as much as 30% below regularly published rates.
family of four
|10 Day PH + Memory Maker|
|2 adults 2 children||$1831.24||$2215.20|
|2 adults 2 children with 1 AP holder|
As you can see, there are some cases where purchasing an annual pass for at least one member, may actually be less expensive and yield savings in other areas. One word of warning! Purchasing an annual pass can lead further to FOMO. Once we had them in hand, the fear of missing out became stronger, more trips were planned, and more money was spent. If you have more self control than the VeraVise crew, however, you may benefit from some additional savings on Disney World resorts.
I hope these tips are helpful to you in planning your WDW Resort Vacation. Just don’t forget FOMO is real and if you aren’t careful, you just might go broke after all.