With an annual attendance in excess of 58 million people, it’s no surprise that Disney World and its family of parks in Orlando, Florida, is the world’s most visited vacation resort. Such a massive number of visitors comes with a high demand for tickets.

In fact, tickets for certain dates and high-profile events can sell out months in advance. It’s not just tickets for the parks and events that get completely booked — hotels sell out, too. So picking your hotel early is an important part of planning your Disney vacation.

Below, we’ll discuss the various options for booking a Disney World vacation, how packaging your hotels and park tickets can save you money, and why choosing a Disney vacation planner is a great idea.

Booking Options

There are several ways to book a hotel for your stay at Disney World:

1. Using a Disney Travel Agent

One of the most streamlined and hassle-free ways to book your Disney vacation is to work with a travel agent that specializes in Walt Disney World vacations. Among the many reasons to use a Disney Travel Agent is the fact that they’ve been trained by Disney and keep up with all the latest theme park news and policy changes. So, unlike giant national travel agencies whose agents my might each only book one or two Disney trips a year, these Disney specialty agents typically book hundreds or thousands of vacations each year!

Surprisingly, using a Disney Travel agent is usually completely free! Most of these agencies do not charge travelers any extra itinerary planning fees because the agency is earning a commission that’s paid directly by Disney. So your trip won’t cost you anything extra — it might even cost less because they know all the latest discounts and special promotions. Sometimes they can even add new discounts to your trip after it’s booked!

So if you want free help planning your Disney vacation, you should definitely consider using an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner — and be sure to look for that exact term to make sure you’re finding agencies who specialize in Disney trips!

Our Recommendation: The Vacationeer

Working with a vacation planner can really help to take the headache and confusion out of the booking process, and our official travel partner is The Vacationeer. These helpful experts know every Disney Resort inside and out – this depth of knowledge allows them to choose the ideal hotel or resort for your group.

They’ll take the time to learn about your family and what you’re looking for, then recommend hotels that give you the best balance of amenities and price; they’ll also help you book your theme park tickets and handle any special occasion requests you may have for events like honeymoons, anniversaries, or birthdays.

And, as an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner at the Earmarked Diamond level, The Vacationeer books thousands upon thousands of vacations for families just like yours each year — true experts!

You’re never under any obligation to book, and their planning services are provided completely free of charge.

2. The Disney World Website

If you don’t mind handling all the planning logistics yourself, then the Disney World website is a good place to start looking for a hotel. You’ll be presented with dozens of options to fit various budgets — everything from the wallet-friendly standard rooms at Disney All-Star Movies Resort to the luxurious three-bedroom Disney Deluxe Villas at Disney’s Riviera Resort.

While the Disney World website can certainly show you what’s available, it can lack detailed information such as which resorts are best for your type of group. For example, a group of adults celebrating an alumni gathering may want to book a group of rooms together, and it may not be entirely clear which hotels offer this as an option.

3. Third-Party Booking Sites

Sites such as Booking.com can be helpful for last-minute deals and great discounts; these steep discounts can come at a cost, though. Anyone who has ever booked an airline, hotel, or event ticket through a third-party website and had to make changes to their plans knows that these trips can be costly or impossible to adjust and sometimes completely non-refundable. Furthermore, because hotels have to pay commissions to these third-party sites, they often offer the least desirable rooms in an attempt to get the hotel fully booked on any given day.

It can also be a bit difficult to determine if the hotel you’re looking at on these sites is actually located at Disney World; they often mix in off-site properties in the results. Some sites don’t even show you the name and address of the hotel until after you’ve paid in full (non-refundable!) for your stay. That’s not to say that this isn’t a viable option for your trip — just make sure you know exactly what you’re getting (and giving up).

Bundling to Save Money

Did you know you can save some serious cash by bundling your hotel and theme park tickets together? Now that the Disney Dining Plan is starting to become available again, you might be able to save even more by bundling your dining into a sort of all-inclusive vacation package. When bundled and booked together, especially across multiple days and parks, the discounts can become quite substantial.

Lastly, you might be wondering about Disney travel insurance. Buying trip insurance with your vacation package is a fantastic way to protect yourself and your family from financial loss. In the event you have to cancel your plans due to a medical emergency or require medical or financial assistance during your trip, having insurance can definitely save your bank account.