Also check Hotelcoupons.com for discounted rates for some of the cheapest motels in town (no promises about quality, and some hotels frequently refuse to honor the coupon rates if they’re at 75%–80% occupancy).
How to Save on Lodging
* Come during low season (when kids are in school). Hotel prices are trimmed then.
* Avoid holidays. If the kids are out of school, you might pay double.
* Make sure the room can fit everyone in your party. Otherwise you’ll have to rent two, doubling costs.
* Always get a quote directly from the hotel. It might be lower.
* See what’s on offer from a packager. They have purchasing power.
* Plug Kissimmee into Web searches. It’s cheaper than Orlando (but be careful—some hotels are dicey).
* Good locations also save on food. Are there affordable restaurants nearby?
* Try discount apps. Hotel Tonight can sometimes yield lower prices for last-minute rooms.
Beautifully landscaped grounds are the rule at properties in WDW, neighboring Lake Buena Vista, Universal Orlando, and on the mid- and southern portions of I-Drive. But the beauty of the area is often offset by the beast of heavier traffic and, at times, higher prices. No matter what your budget or crowd tolerance, there is something for everyone. If you're looking for an inexpensive or moderately priced motel, check out the options in Kissimmee (though that area is no longer limited only to the budget conscious) and, to a lesser degree, on the northern end of International Drive.
Once you've decided on your vacation dates, book your accommodations as soon as possible, especially if you want to stay on Disney or Universal property. Advance reservations are an absolute necessity if you're planning on staying at any of the preferred resorts in town, whether on theme-park property or in Orlando proper.
How to Choose a Hotel & Save Money
You can almost always negotiate a better price by purchasing a package deal, by assuring the reservationist that he or she can do better, or by mentioning that you belong to one of several organizations that receive a discount (such as AARP, AAA, the armed services, or a labor union). Even the type of credit card you use could get you a 5% to 10% discount at some of the larger chains. Any discount you get will help ease the impact of local resort taxes, which aren't included in the quoted rates. These taxes will add as much as 14.5% to your bill, depending on where you're staying.
The average, undiscounted hotel rate for the Orlando area can climb up by 5% to 9% a year.
The lowest rates at WDW are at the Pop Century and the three All-Star resorts, which, depending on the season, still start over $120. They're pricier than comparable rooms in the outside world; though they're small and basic, they're still Disney owned and offer the same on-property advantages as Disney's more expensive resorts.
The lowest hotel rates at Universal are both properties of its Endless Summer Resort. Full one-bedroom suites there are often priced a little cheaper than Disney's bottom rate for a standard room at the All-Stars.
If you're not renting a car or staying at a Walt Disney World or Universal resort, be sure to ask when booking your room if the hotel or motel offers transportation to the theme parks and, if so, whether there's a charge and exactly what it is. Some hotels and motels offer free service with their own shuttles. Others use Mears Transportation. If you stay at a WDW resort or one of Disney's "official" hotels, transportation is complimentary within WDW.
Outside Disney, you'll probably be quoted a rate better than the rack rates contained in the listings, but you should try to bargain even further to ensure you get the best rates possible. If any apply to you, ask about discounts for students, government employees, seniors, military, firefighters, police, AFL-CIO members, corporate clients, and, again, AARP or AAA, holders of the Orlando Magicard, even frequent-traveler programs for hotel chains or airlines. Special Internet-only discounts and packages may also be featured on hotel websites, especially those of the larger chains. No matter where you end up staying, always ask again when you arrive if there are any additional discounts or promotions available. But never come to Orlando without a reservation: Taking chances on your negotiating skills is one thing; taking chances on room availability is quite another. Orlando is a year-round destination, with a heavy convention and business trade, and international vacationers flock here during periods when domestic travelers don't. If you come without a reservation, you may find yourself extremely disappointed -- or completely out of luck.
At hotel concierge levels, guests pay more to enjoy a luxurious private lounge (sometimes with great views), free continental or full breakfast, hot and cold hors d'oeuvres served at cocktail hour, and/or late-night cordials and pastries. Rooms are usually on higher floors, and guests are pampered with additional special services (including private registration and checkout, a personal concierge, and nightly bed turndown) and amenities (such as upgraded toiletries, terry robes, hair dryers, and more). Ask for the specifics when you reserve a room.
You'll also find counselor-supervised child care or activity centers at some hotels. Very popular in Orlando, these can be marvelous, creatively run facilities that might offer movies, video games, arts and crafts, storytelling, puppet shows, indoor and outdoor activities, and more. Some provide meals and/or have beds where a child can sleep while you're out on the town. Check individual hotel listings for these facilities.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.