When I use my prized DVC points for a stay at Walt Disney World, I want to be able to make the most of each day at my resort. Sometimes I have to travel later in the day and can’t get to Disney World until dinner time or later, though.
In these situations, I like to save my points and stay somewhere other than a DVC resort the first night. If you are basically just sleeping in the room and don’t mind switching hotels once I suggest crashing elsewhere your first night! Here are accommodation ideas for DVC owners looking to save points on their arrival nights.
An Airport Hotel
If you are coming in on a late flight, your best option might be to stay close to the airport. There are many hotels located a stone’s throw from Orlando International Airport (MCO) that offer free shuttles to/from the airport. You can collect your bags, take a five-minute shuttle ride and be in bed quickly after arriving.
The next morning you can either take Uber or Lyft to your DVC resort to check in or even take the shuttle back to the airport and grab the Magical Express! You can enter any arrival time you want when you schedule the Magical Express, so if you don’t want to miss out on that ride just enter a flight arrival time around when you’d like to take it and you are all set.
One airport hotel I can personally recommend is the DoubleTree by Hilton at Orlando Airport. We stayed there for one night last month before an early morning departure flight and it was perfect. They have a free shuttle to/from the airport that runs every 15 minutes (the hotel is about a mile from the airport).
The DoubleTree does not charge a resort fee but there is a $15/night self-parking fee. Rooms start at $125/night when you book through the Hilton site. And if you happen to have any Hilton Honors points, this place is an absolute steal at only 20,000 points per night. Most Hiltons near Disney World require at least 40,000 points per night.
A Disney Value Resort
We often stay a night or two at a Disney Value resort before checking in to our DVC resort. If we are arriving late the first night and spending all day at the parks the next day, we just need a place to sleep and don’t mind if it doesn’t have all of the comforts of home.
My personal favorite Value resort is Pop Century followed by All-Star Movies. You can read why in my post on the best and worst of Disney’s Value resorts. Art of Animation is great, but it is pricey for just a place to lay your head for a night or two. Rooms at Pop Century and the All-Stars are currently in the midst of a major upgrade, so if you haven’t stayed there in a while check out the new look here.
When you are ready to move over to your DVC home, Disney will transfer your bags for you. You can head to the parks and your bags will often be waiting for you in your DVC villa after you check in there. Check out some helpful tips for split stays in this post.
If you are arriving later in the day and taking the Magical Express, you might want to consider picking up your bags yourself instead of relying on “Mickey” to deliver them to your room.
In my experience, it has lately been taking up to five hours for bags to be delivered. If your flight arrives at 6 pm you could be left without your bags until 11 pm, which is definitely after my bedtime! It might be worth it just to get your bags yourself so you won’t be left without your toothbrush or awakened in the middle of the night when your bags are delivered.
Recommended Off-Property Hotels
On many occasions I have stayed off property on my arrival or departure nights to save points or because there wasn’t availability at Disney resorts. With Uber and Lyft now able to pick up at MCO (get tips on using them here), it is much more affordable to get to a hotel close to Walt Disney World.
There are literally over 4,000 options for hotels in the Orlando area, so sifting through these to find a decent place can be overwhelming, to say the least! Here are places I can personally recommend based on my experience.
Hawthorn Suites Lake Buena Vista
We stayed at the Hawthorn Suites Lake Buena Vista this past December on a quick holiday trip to Walt Disney World. We only paid $75/night plus tax for a one-bedroom suite with two queen beds and thought the room was perfect for our needs (check out my full review of the hotel here).
It is located less than a mile from the Disney Springs entrance to Walt Disney World. I highly suggest it as a budget-friendly option for your arrival night! It does not charge a resort fee or parking fee – a rare find for Orlando hotels – and you’ll get a basic free breakfast. Book directly with the hotel here for the best rates.
We’ve stayed at the SpringHill Suites in Marriott Village and thought it was excellent for arrival night accommodations. The rooms were spacious and lovely. You can often get a room there for less than $100/night on the Marriott website.
There is a $10/night parking fee (but no resort fees) and a free breakfast with Mickey waffles is included. This location is easy to get to from both the airport and about 5 minutes from the entrance to Disney World.
You probably have passed this resort on the Magical Express before! Caribe Royale is a large, all-suite resort located on World Center Drive about a mile from the south entrance to Walt Disney World. All of the rooms have a separate bedroom and sitting area and are well appointed.
Caribe Royale has several on-site restaurants and bars plus a huge waterfall pool. Rooms start at about $120/night but you’ll also have to factor in a $25/night resort fee and $10/night self-parking fee. I suggest booking Caribe Royal on Orbitz since you can use one of their promo codes to save 15% off the cost of the room. These codes don’t work on chain hotels but do work at Caribe Royal since it is independently owned.
Priceline & Hotwire
My last suggestion is for the adventurous! I have on many occasions found excellent arrival night accommodations in the Disney World area through the sites Priceline and Hotwire. You can book regular hotels through their sites, but the best deals are on their “Hot Rate” and “Express Deal” hotels. You can often get four-star hotels close to Disney for under $100/night, but the name of the hotel won’t be revealed until after you check out.
My suggestion for using these sites is to narrow your results to those with at least an 80% recommendation rate. When I have followed this approach I have never been disappointed! I also like how there are no hidden costs with these sites. You are shown at checkout your total costs, including any parking or resort fees.
I hope this post gave you some ideas for arrival night accommodations to help you stretch your points farther on your next trip! Any questions about where to stay around Disney World when you don’t want to use points? Join the discussion at the DVC Chat Facebook Group!