It just got a lot easier to redeem points on your Disney World vacation and still get coveted “Disney only” perks.
A few years ago, Disney World launched the digital version of their popular cut-the-line program, FastPass. Parkgoers could reserve up to 3 rides ahead of time. This guaranteed the ability to ride a few of the most popular rides without facing a 2-hour wait in line.
Folks who stayed at one of the official Disney World hotels received a few extra benefits. They already had access to “Extra Magic Hours”, the ability to get extra time in the parks not available to the general public. Additionally, onsite Disney World Resort guests would be eligible to book FastPass rides up to 60 days prior to arrival. If you weren’t staying onsite, you only received a 30-day advance booking window. Essentially, Disney was saying if you gave them money to stay at one of their hotels, they’d take good care of you.
For a number of years, there was only one loophole. If you stayed at either the Walt Disney Swan or Dolphin, you could redeem Starpoints from the SPG program for a free award stay. Those two hotels were considered part of the FastPass system.
Now, Disney World is adding a number of hotels on the fringe of Disney World property to the FastPass and Extra Magic system. These are all located in the Disney Springs area, including the following hotels:
- B Resort & Spa
- Best Western Lake Buena Vista
- Hilton Orlando Buena Vista Palace
- Hilton Orlando Lake Buena Vista
- Holiday Inn Orlando
- Wyndham Garden Lake Buena Vista
All of these hotels appear to be on Disney World property. These additions surprise me a bit since Disney World hasn’t made any major access changes to the FastPass program since rolling out the digital side. I’m guessing these hotels had to pay to upgrade their internal reservations systems to talk to Disney in the right fashion. I have no idea if they’re paying other fees to be a part of the program. I don’t believe all of these hotels are owned by Disney World.
ETA: Thanks to AJ and Doug in the comments section. I did some research to confirm. To take advantage of Extra Magic Hours and FP it seems that you have to book a package through Disney World that includes one of these hotels as opposed to redeeming points.
I do wonder if you could book a refundable package or a package for a shorter portion of your stay to get 60-day FP selections and then redeem points for some or all of your trip.
The Final Two Pennies
Disney World is an expensive place to plan a family vacation. Being able to use hotel points to defray expenses is a huge benefit for families. In the past, that generally involved compromising on FastPass and Extra Magic Hours. Now, you’ll have options with 4 additional hotel chains along with Starwood Preferred Guest. That’s good news for a lot of folks who collect hotel points.
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