This is only a listing of available hotels within Walt Disney World. For all of Frommer's hotel recommendations in the Orlando area, click here.
There seemed to be no end to Orlando's hotel boom just a few years back. Almost 4,000 new rooms were added every year through the year 2000 -- but the economic upheaval in the years that followed took its toll, and construction began to slow dramatically. It wasn't until 2007, when tourism once again began to thrive, that the city's vast and varied inventory of accommodations experienced an increase not seen in nearly a decade, with roughly 5,000 rooms added in 2008 alone. The year 2009 brought with it an additional 2,558 rooms; however, just over 1,000 rooms were added in 2010, new construction all but coming to a halt -- a reflection of the most recent economic downturn. In 2011, not a single room was added, though extensive renovations, refits, and refurbishments continued to ensure that visitors could lay their head in comfortable and constantly updated surroundings. The area's budget hotels, theme-park resorts, and high-end luxury resorts all kicked it up a notch or two in an effort to vie for business (trendy decor, high-tech gadgets, soothing spas, and extensive pool and play areas were among the most common additions). New construction once again picked up in 2012 -- an additional 2,884 rooms are projected to open by the end of the year (some with pirate, princess, character, or even lifestyle themes). All in all, Orlando will boast roughly 119,000 rooms varying in both size and style, and ranging from basic lodging (including only the essentials) to luxurious accommodations (bursting with lavish amenities and over-the-top extravagances), including scores of places located in or near the major-league tourist draws: Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando, SeaWorld, and the rest of International Drive. Disney alone claims 36 resorts (including the resort scheduled to open later this year), timeshares, and "official" hotels.
What You'll Really Pay
The prices quoted here are for hotels' rack rate, the maximum that it charges; it is, however, seriously unlikely that you'll end up paying that rate in Orlando unless you arrive around Christmas or Easter. You can typically find discounts of up to 20% when booking through websites such as Hotels.com or Expedia. During slow times, it's not impossible to obtain a room at an expensive property for the same rate as a more moderate one. Rack rates at the Orlando Marriott World Center start at $349, but in December 2011, just a cursory search of the usual discount sites revealed that the going rate was actually closer to $160.
If you're the gambling type, you can bid for a room on Priceline. In July, a room at the deluxe Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress (rack rates start at $179) was snagged on Priceline for $80. Sometimes all you have to do is contact the hotel directly and negotiate. For example, in October, the Comfort Inn Lake Buena Vista was advertising a weekday rate of $59 on its own website, but a spot check of the major discounters (Priceline, Hotels.com, Expedia, Travelocity) yielded a price of $45. When I told the hotel what I'd been quoted online, I was offered the same rate on the spot.
As you might expect, many of the inexpensive properties are the farthest from the action and/or have the most spartan, unimaginative accommodations.
Keep in mind, however, that this isn't one of the world's best bargain destinations. Unlike other Florida tourist areas, there are few under-$60 motels that meet the standards demanded for listing in this guide. That's why I've raised the price bar. The listings in the inexpensive category charge an average of less than $100 per night for a double room. Those offering rooms for $100 to $200 make up the moderate category, rooms for $200 to $300 are listed as expensive, and anything more than $300 is listed as very expensive. Any included extras (such as breakfast) are listed for each property. Note: Quoted discount rates almost never include breakfast, hotel tax, or any applicable resort fees.
Orlando's peak and low seasons are often complicated, as the peak times are sporadically disbursed throughout the calendar. Even remote events such as the International Sweet Potato Growers convention in Orlando can raise off-season prices. These events especially impact moderately priced properties outside WDW.
Keep in mind that rates are per night double unless otherwise noted, and they don't include hotel taxes of up to 14.5%. Also, most Orlando hotels and motels let kids younger than 12 (and usually younger than 17) stay free with a parent or guardian, if you don't exceed maximum room occupancy. But to be safe, ask for details when booking your room.
In the Lineup at Priceline -- For years Disney declined to peddle its unclaimed resort rooms alongside Priceline's lengthy list of participating hotels and resorts -- but this is about to change. Beginning in November 2011, Disney will in fact list its hotel rooms on Priceline. Be aware, Disney is only taking baby steps -- listing its rooms via the site's conventional booking engine rather than the "Name Your Own Price" service. Disney also lists rooms on Travelocity and Orbitz. Note: Disney involvement with Priceline does not extend to its European booking site (Booking.com).
Credit or Debit? -- If you use your debit card (instead of a credit card) as collateral against any purchases you may make during your stay, your card may be charged anywhere from $50 to $250 (or more) per day, whether you actually charge anything to your room or not. This policy can seriously deplete your checking account, leaving you with far fewer funds than you might realize -- and you won't see a credit back to your account until up to 10 days after you have checked out of your resort. Though WDW does not (at least for now) follow this practice, and no charges are applied to your account until you check out, other resorts in the area do. Be sure to ask exactly what your hotel's policy is regarding debit and credit charges the minute you check in (or before you arrive).
Excess Charges -- Several of the properties in this guide add daily resort fees to their room rates. Though it's essentially a legal version of price gouging, charging for services that used to be included in the rates -- such as use of the pool, admission to the health club, Internet access, self-parking, or in-room coffee or phones -- has become a growing trend. Be sure to ask when you reserve to see if your hotel charges such a fee and, if so, exactly what's included (some may even be optional) so you're not blindsided at checkout.
On Request -- Most hotels offer minifridges, microwaves, cribs, rollaways (or cots), and other similar items upon request -- if they're not already located in your room, that is. Although some hotels offer these items at no additional charge, others may charge a nightly fee that can run anywhere from just a few dollars to a whopping $25 -- or more -- per night, depending on the item and the resort. Be sure to ask which amenities are included in your room and which are not, as well as what the charges will be should you require such an item during your stay.
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.