Man, this trip to Disney keeps getting better every day. The last time we went to Disney, my parents were nice enough to let us stay at their timeshare about 20 minutes outside of Disney. This time, we wanted to try staying on property. I researched MouseSavers to find out which hotels were the best in each of the category types. I was fairly certain we were going to stay at Coronado Springs or Fort Wilderness Lodge. But I have a hard time paying full price (or in this case AAA prices) for a hotel. I was talking with a friend of ours about where were planning on staying. During the course of the conversation, he mentioned Disney Swan and Dolphin Resort. I can’t remember why he mentioned them, but it got me thinking.
Later that night, I was searching around to see if I could find a deal for for the resort. And low and behold, the Disney Swan and Dolphin Resort is a Westin hotel and part of Starwood Hotels! That means I could use points! I was hoping that the cash and points option would be available, but unfortunately it’s not right now. The hotel is listed as a category 4 hotel, so it is 10,000 points per night. And they give you the 5th night free when you use points for the first 4. Now I am always very reluctant to use Starwood Hotel points because they are so valuable. But the hotel is more than $200/night. We’re staying for 5 nights and using 40,000 points. When you can transfer 40,000 Starwood Hotel points to an airline, Starwood gives you an extra 10,000 points in the transfer (so you get 50,000 airline miles). I value airline miles at 2 cents per mile. So for it to be worth it to me, I need to get at least $1,000 worth of value from 50,000. And I would in this case, so it’s worth it to me. You have to love not having to pay for an on-property Disney resort!
What’s great about the Disney Swan and Dolphin Resort is it’s right on Disney property (near Epcot and Hollywood Studios). And you get Extra Magic Hours with this hotel. The only hotels, outside of Disney owned hotels, that offer Extra Magic Hours are Disney Swan and Dolphin Resort, Hilton Orlando Buena Vista (located across the street from Downtown Disney), and Shades of Green (a resort for U.S. military and Department of Defense personnel).
There are also hotels located on Disney property that are not run by Disney. These hotels are usually less expensive than the Disney hotels. And you can use the Disney transportation buses to get to the resort (so you don’t have to get a rental car). The hotels are:
- Disney Swan and Dolphin Resort (Westin) – includes Extra Magic Hours, located walking distance to Epcot and Hollywood Studios (right near Disney Yacht Resort)
- Hilton Orlando Buena Vista – includes Extra Magic Hours, across the street from Downtown Disney
- Shades of Green – includes extra hours, only for military (both active and retired) and Department of Defense personnel, located near Magic Kingdom
- Best Western Lake Buena Vista – located near Downtown Disney
- Doubletree Guest Suites – located near Downtown Disney
- Royal Plaza – located near Downtown Disney
- Buena Vista Palace (formerly Wyndham Palace Resort and Spa) – located near Downtown Disney
- Holiday Inn - located near Downtown Disney
- Wyndham Lake Buena Vista (formerly Regal Sun Resort/Grosvenor Resort) – located near Downtown Disney
Check out this map I created to see where these hotels are located in comparison to the Disney Parks.
View Non-Disney Owned Hotels on Disney Property in a larger map
I’m going to continue to check hotel deals as we get closer to our travel dates, but as it stands today, we’re staying at the Disney Swan Resort.