While the 36 Disney-owned hotels at Walt Disney World Resort undoubtedly enhance your Magical Kingdom experience, they’re not the only way to go. On the resort are also other major hotel brands that have partnered with Disney to bring you official benefits and complimentary transportation to the key attractions. But prices are dramatically less expensive, so you can stay kind to the budget as you stick close to the magic. (Plus, for the points fanatics among us, you’ll be able to rack up or cash in those loyalty rewards.) Here are five such hotels, comparable to Disney’s “moderate” range, that present better deals than Disney’s own starting rates of $170 this month and next:
Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Hotels
Located within walking distance of Epcot, these two sister properties are the only ones to carry a Disney name yet not be owned fully by the Walt Disney Company. Operated by Starwood, the Michael Graves-designed resorts offer guests Disney benefits including MyMagic+, Extra Magic Hours, daily character dining, and complimentary parking at the theme parks. The 2,267 rooms and suites feature Westin Heavenly Beds, with some boasting great views of Epcot’s nightly fireworks show. From $149 in August & September.
B Resort & Spa
Recently opened in June 2014, the 394 guestrooms and suites have a fresh, playful vibe complete with modern amenities, such as loaner iPads, free Wi-Fi, and in-room beverage coolers. Poolside family suites with patios that act as private cabanas challenge parents to get the kids out of the pool and into the theme parks. Enjoy great views overlooking Downtown Disney, just a 5-minute walk away. From $99 in August & September.
Hilton Orlando Lake Buena Vista
The only other non-Disney owned hotel that offers its guests the Disney’s Extra Magic Hours benefit, a stay at this property means you score an extra one to two hours in the theme parks with shorter lines, maximizing your time and money. Located directly across from Downtown Disney, it’s an easy walk to shopping and dining. The 814 rooms and suites have access to two heated swimming pools and an arcade, with a Sunday Disney Character Breakfast. From $79 in August and $89 in September.
Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek
Situated near Disney’s Hollywood Studios, the Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek is adjacent to the Waldorf-Astoria Orlando. Both properties share a tropical pool area that becomes a highlight of many trips, thanks to the waterslide, lazy river, and pool-side activities overlooking the golf course. Here, feel like you’re staying in the lap of luxury with access to the Waldorf Astoria — but savor the reduced prices of the Hilton! From $79 in August and $89 in September.
Bonus: Gaylord Palms
The 63-acre resort with 1,406 rooms and suites operated by Marriott is a destination unto itself, yet it’s located just outside of Disney’s main gate. With a lush, glass-enclosed atrium celebrating three unique Florida environments (the Everglades, Key West, and St. Augustine), watch alligators being fed, walk among waterfalls and sit beneath massive palm trees, all the while never stepping outdoors. You’ll want to head outside, though, for the Cypress Springs Family Fun water park or the South Beach adult pool, two new additions catering to everyone in your family. From $140 in August and $131 in September.