There are a few fairly obvious ways to book a room at a Walt Disney World resort. Their official website, their telephone reservation number, or your local travel agent are three of the more common ones. Another option that you may not have experience with is third-party hotel booking websites. Third-party websites are those that offer a list of hotels available for booking without dealing directly with the hotel chain’s own websites or reservation lines. These include “name your own price” services like Hotwire and Priceline as well as the more simple and transparent sites like Hotels.com, Orbitz, Expedia, and a host of others. You may have used one of these sites to book hotel rooms in the past but never realized that they also offer Walt Disney World Resort hotel booking.
What value does booking through a third-party website hold? For one thing, many discounts are automatically applied on these sites’ listings. There is no need to utilize any special “codes,” for instance. Also, in the case of most room-only discounts at Walt Disney World, a select number of rooms in each resort are allotted to the third-party sites alone. So when a popular resort like Port Orleans French Quarter is sold out of discounted rooms through Disney, some rooms may be available on a third-party site. It is always worth checking around if many of your more-desirable resorts are sold out directly through Disney during a discount period–you might find that perfect room on the third-party site. Lastly, you may even be able to get extra bang for your buck as website-specific sales, specials, and loyalty programs can sometimes be added ON TOP OF Walt Disney World’s already discounted rates. (Or just used on their own if Disney doesn’t have a discount available for your travel dates.)
So what is the catch? Mainly that third-party websites are only going to be useful for booking room-only reservations. That means no package deals like “free dining” or, for that matter, any Disney Dining Plan whatsoever, and no adding on length-of-stay park tickets directly. Also the discounts offered through these sites are usually going to be less than those offered with pin codes or for annual passholders, Disney Visa cardholders, and so on. As mentioned above as well, Disney only allots so many rooms to these websites, so not every resort is going to always be available. If your child must stay in a princess room at Port Orleans Riverside or your husband must have a room within walking distance of Trader Sam’s, this may force you to book through Disney.
If you do decide to book your resort hotel room through a third-party site, there is one final important thing to know. You will need to manually link your reservation to your MyDisneyExperience account after booking. Once you do this, you will be able to have all of the perks of being a resort guest, including being able to book FastPass+ reservations at the 60-day window, reserving a spot on Magical Express, customizing MagicBands, and utilizing online check-in. To do this, you may need to do a bit of detective work.
Disney provides a confirmation number to each booking and this number will be DIFFERENT from the confirmation number you are given through the third-party site. Some sites might bury the Disney confirmation number in the fine print of your confirmation e-mail, and others will require you to call them directly to get it. Disney confirmation numbers are twelve digits long and are entered by navigating to the MyDisneyExperience section of DisneyWorld.com, choosing “My Reservations and Tickets”, and scrolling down to “Link Resort Reservation.”
So the next time you are looking to make a room-only Walt Disney World Resort reservation, make sure to check out some of the options besides the usual Disney-provided channels. You may find a discount you didn’t know you could get before.