How to Stay at Disney World Using Miles and Points

Staying on property at Walt Disney World offers a host of benefits—extra hours in the park, free shuttle service to and from the airport and free transportation between theme parks. The only downside is that Disney-owned resorts don’t belong to any hotel loyalty programs, so frequent travelers lose out on both redeeming and earning points during a WDW vacation. The workaround: a few chain hotels are actually located on property, within walking distance to the parks and Disney Springs (formerly Downtown Disney). Here are your options.  

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    A swimming pool at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin
    ••• Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin

    Starwood Preferred Guest Points: 10,000 (Dolphin) and 12,000 (Swan) per night

    Location is key at these sister Sheraton hotels: Epcot is a 15-minute walk away, Hollywood Studios is 20 minutes by foot, and the hotels are next to Disney’s Boardwalk, a shopping and restaurant district that offers quiet (read: grown-up) retreats for dinner or drinks after long days in the parks. The hotel itself has a business vibe (it’s a popular spot for conferences), but five pools, character breakfasts, and an on-site spa make up for any stuffiness. Guests enjoy all the benefits of staying on Disney property—extra magic hours, theme park transportation via boat and bus, and early FastPass bookings—except for the Magical Express airport shuttle. 

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    Wyndham Rewards: 15,000 points per night

    Walk over a short bridge into the refurbished Disney Springs (formerly Downtown Disney) from this pair of well-priced hotels. Your best value is the Wyndham Lake Buena Vista, which is slightly more upscale than its sister property. Need an extra dose of magic? On Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays the Lakeview Restaurant in Wyndham Lake Buena Vista hosts a big character breakfast buffet, where Donald and Pluto make appearances. You’ll receive transportation between parks, and a Disney gift shop is available on-site—key for buying theme park tickets or picking up any last-minute souvenirs. 

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    Waldorf Astoria Orlando
    ••• Waldorf Astoria Orlando

    Hilton Honors Points: 80,000 per night

    Balance out all that Disney magic with a dash of sophistication at the Waldorf Astoria. The swish property offers all the usual perks of a top-tier resort—12 on-site restaurants, a calming spa, an 18-hole Rees Jones-designed golf course—plus thoughtful amenities for families visiting the parks (an on-site kids’ club, fireside s’mores kits, poolside games for kids). The pool’s three-acre lazy river, water slide, and private cabanas might tempt you to skip the parks for a day, but you don’t really have to choose. The Waldorf makes it easy to get to the parks via its own private, luxury shuttle service; buses run between the hotel, four theme parks, and Disney Springs daily—a luxurious change of pace from the shared, official Disney shuttles.  

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    Best Western Rewards: 12,000 to 16,000 per night

    Watch the nightly Disney Springs fireworks from your balcony at this Best Western, located within walking distance to Disney’s shopping and entertainment district. Like other hotels in the area, this budget property offers transportation between the theme parks and an on-site gift shop with official Mickey merchandise. Chill out poolside post-theme parks, then grab a drink and apps at the Flamingo Cove at the during the daily happy hour.  

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    DoubleTree Suites Lake Buena Vista
    ••• DoubleTree Suites Lake Buena Vista

    Hilton Honors Points: 30,000 to 50,000 points per night

    Families can spread out and relax at this all-suites hotel, located within walking distance to Disney Springs. Each room is essentially a one-bedroom apartment, with a separate living room, a queen-sized sofa bed, a micro-kitchen, and (in some rooms) private patios. The set up makes it easy to stock up on groceries for breakfast or lunch, plus provides grown-ups some much-needed breathing room after a busy day in the parks. You’ll receive some, but not all, of the benefits of staying on Disney property: Transportation between all Disney theme parks and water parks is included, you can buy theme park tickets at the lobby store and you can book theme park restaurant reservations in advance. Keep in mind that airport transportation and Extra Magic Hours in the park are not included.