While people contact me with all sorts of travel questions regularly, getting to Disney World cheaply is one travel goal that appears to be on most parent’s minds.
Sadly, Disney World can be a tough nut to crack. Even if you can drive down and eat ham sandwiches out of a cooler in your car, the cost of the tickets to the park can be especially prohibitive. And what about the hotel stay? The meal plans? The princess dresses for your kids and the dinner in Cinderella’s castle?
While you may want to splurge on some of those “extras,” it’s smart to look for any way to save money on the big components of your trip, you know – your airfare and hotel stay. If you can save on those, you’ll be in decent shape to afford everything else that Mickey throws your way.
This post is going to focus specifically on your hotel stay near Disney. Believe it or not, several Disney World hotels (and hotels nearby) will let you stay absolutely free. The best part is, they aren’t dumps, either. We’ll get to more of those details here in a minute. Let’s dig in.
How to Score Free Hotel Stays at Disney World
First of all, there are several rewards cards that can help you stay on or near the Disney World property. For the sake of my sanity (and yours), I’m just going to suggest my favorite option here.
Here’s how this works: Rewards credit cards generally offer a signup bonus or welcome offer if you can spend X number of dollars per month on your card within a certain length of time. This can be anything from $1,000 to $3,000 in 90 days. To actually get “free stuff” out of the deal, you need to use your card for everyday expenses like groceries, gas, bills, and even your mortgage. Then pay it off in full at the end of the month. Always remember, you should never pay credit card interest in the pursuit of rewards!
Here’s the card I would personally get to stay at Disney for free, plus the details you should know before you sign up.
The Starwood Preferred Guest®Credit Card from American Express
Right now, the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express is giving away a welcome offer worth 25,000 points after you spend just $3,000 on the card over the first 3 months. That may not sound like a lot of points, but please trust me that it is! The other cool thing about this card is the fact that the annual fee is waived the first year, meaning you can try the card for 12 months without a commitment. After that, the fee is $95. But if you don’t want to keep it, you don’t have to.
Another thing: Starwood offers your 5th night free when you book 4 consecutive nights with points, plus they let spouses combine. In other words, if both spouses were able to sign up and earn the welcome offer, you would have a lot more free nights in the end. That’s huge!
3 Disney Hotels Where You Can Stay Free on Points
With the points you earn, you can stay at these Disney World hotels:
Walt Disney World Dolphin – The Walt Disney World Dolphin sits directly on the Disney property itself. For just 10,000 points per night, you and your family can score a free night. And don’t forget, your 5th night booked with points is free!
Walt Disney World Swan – The Walt Disney World Swan is also on the property, and an epic deal at just 12,000 – 16,000 points per night!
Sheraton Lake Buena Vista – With several kid-friendly pools and a huge expansive property, the Sheraton Lake Buena Vista Resort is an awesome place for families! Better yet, it’s only 7,000 points per night! Isn’t that cray? The only downside is that this property is about 6 miles from the Magic Kingdom. However, they offer shuttles back and forth for guests – and all for free!
The Bottom Line
So, there it is! You’ve not got a free hotel room at Disney – or nine free nights if you choose the Sheraton Lake Buena Vista Resort. I haven’t stayed at that property, but it is definitely where I will stay if we ever make it down to Central Florida for a while. At just 3,000 points per night, it’s too good of a deal to pass up!