Choosing a Disney World resort hotel to fit your budget can be a challenge, because Disney makes it tricky to comparison shop prices. In this article, we’ll summarize the 2023 rack rates for every resort hotel and highlight the most and least expensive weeks. Whether you’re looking for the right time to go or the right hotel for the time you have available, we’ve got your numbers.
The Excel spreadsheet that I started out with has 85,000 rows in it, and I’m sure you don’t want to see all that. The challenge here is how to refine all that data into something that can quickly give you a useful answer to questions like:
- If I want to visit Disney World in early August, how much would different hotels cost?
- If I want to stay at Pop Century, which times of year will be more expensive than others?
Here’s how I’m going to do that. First, I’m only going to talk about the data based on week-long stays, beginning on Sundays. Of course not everyone stays for a week, but the point is to help you get a rough idea of price and timing, not give you a down-to-the-dollar answer. You’ll still have to go to Disney’s site or connect with a Travel Agent to get that.
Next, I’m going to focus on percentiles — and let me stop right here and give you an example to show how that’s going to help. In 2023, the price of a week in an All Star Movies standard room ranges from $1031 to $2012. That’s a $1K range, and the most expensive week is almost double the price of the cheapest. But if I take off the 5 least expensive weeks (below the 10th percentile) and the 5 most expensive weeks (above the 90% percentile), then it’s $1139 – $1574, only a $435 window. That’s “plus or minus $220” on your estimate, which is a lot more useful than “plus or minus $500”. By focusing on the prices you’re most likely to pay, the range shrinks to something that’s more helpful for comparisons and ballparking. In the chart on the right, the lower range in the label under the bars shows the 10-90th percentile range, covering about 40 weeks, and the upper range shows the 20-80th percentiles, covering a little more than half the total weeks.
Adding in a few other numbers and a list of what those 5 cheapest and 5 most expensive weeks actually are can give us a pretty good picture of pricing at a resort over the whole year. The chart below shows the rank of each week’s price (the most expensive week is ranked #52) for different resorts. As with most charts that have lots of dots, you’re not meant to pore over this one. It’s just to get an idea of which weeks are always cheaper (January), which weeks are always expensive (Easter, Christmas), and which weeks are kind of all over the place (October and November). Going back to that “plus or minus $220” estimate, this chart helps you to understand whether you should expect to be on the high side or the low side.
There aren’t really a lot of surprises here. The most expensive weeks of the year, the ones in the top 10%, are the first couple of weeks in April (Easter), November 19th (Thanksgiving), and the last three weeks in December (Christmas). February and March are also more expensive.
On the other end, the cheapest weeks (in the bottom 10%) are Jan 8 through Feb 5, followed closely by the 2nd half of August. Mid-April, early May, and September are also on the lower end of the price range.
When clicking through the range charts in the gallery above, you can see that across all three resorts there’s a continuum of prices. The regular rooms have a very tight mid-range, with more than half the weeks separated by less than about $200-250. That increases to $450-$500 when you include a few more weeks on either side to cover all rooms between the 10-90th percentiles. The fact that the ranges are so consistent means that we can easily line them up based on the medians and order them from least to most expensive.
Looking at the price distribution over time, there are a lot of similarities to the Value Resorts. Christmas, Easter, and Thanksgiving are still the most expensive, and January is still the cheapest. Two things stand out. The first is that October and November are more consistently priced on the expensive side among the Moderates than they were for the Values. The other thing, which you wouldn’t see on the chart as presented, has to do with those dark brown dots on the very bottom in August. Those are the Campsites at Fort Wilderness, which break from the pattern of the other resorts and have moderate prices in January but absolute rock bottom prices in August and September. Apparently, camping is not as popular in Florida when it’s 95 degrees with 95 % humidity and it thunderstorms just about every day. I can definitely understand that.
The distribution of prices in the Moderates is different in some very interesting ways. Let’s start by looking at the rooms. When we looked at the Values, we saw the prices ascend steadily as we went from resort to resort. Here, we again see similar distributions, with our familiar $250 and $500 windows covering the middle 60% and the middle 80% of the distribution. But unlike the Values, the median prices at each resort go from about $2200 to $3000 per week. In the Values your budget might dictate your choice of resort. Once you pay $300 to “graduate” from the AoA Little Mermaid room into the Moderates, you can choose your resort and then find the room that meets your budget. Speaking about that “graduation”, remember that these are averages. The summer tends to be mid-range or high for the Value resorts, but low to mid-range for the Moderates. If you usually stay at a Value, especially the Little Mermaid Rooms, June and July are where you’ll find the gap to the Moderates to be at its most narrow.
The second thing that stands out is that the Campsites are really unlike any of the rooms we’ve looked at so far. We’ve consistently seen a relatively narrow price range over most of the year. It’s really striking how that highest decile in dark orange encompasses only 5 weeks, but accounts for 35-50% of the overall price range. Looking at the campsites, we don’t see that. Instead we see the variability distributed (for the most part) in the middle of the range.
There are almost as many Deluxe Resorts at Disney World as Moderates and Values combined. Let’s take a look a the prices and ranges for Animal Kingdom Lodge, Beach Club, Boardwalk Inn, the Contemporary, The Grand Floridian, the Polynesian, Wilderness Lodge, and the Yacht Club.
As we saw with the Values, the variation over the whole year has a similar shape at each resort. There’s some flip-flopping as late summer and January compete to be the absolute rock bottom, but the last 3 weeks of December and the early April weeks of Easter are always among the most expensive. October and November are more consistently mid-high like we saw with the Moderates rather than variable like the Values. One of the biggest differences between the Deluxe and Value resort classes is that the Values were more expensive in the summer and cheaper in the spring, whereas the Deluxes seem to have noticeably reversed this pattern.
Browsing through the visuals above, once again we see the huge block of orange at the top – excluding just 5 weeks can cut the price range of a room at these resorts in half. The window covered by the middle 60% or middle 80% is quite a bit wider than we’ve routinely seen so far, about $1,000 instead of the $250 or so that we saw for less expensive rooms. You might be tempted to immediately think that it’s the result of the prices being so much higher, just a change that scales – but the window between the 20 and 80th percentiles of a Value room was about 10% of the median price; for the Deluxe resorts it’s more like 25% of the median.
Comparing prices between the resorts, Animal Kingdom and Wilderness Lodge appear to have similar pricing, ranging from $3,600 per week for the cheapest rooms to around $5,500 for the most expensive. Median prices for the Crescent Lake Resorts, in addition to the Contemporary, consistently range from $4,500 to $6,100. The Grand Floridian and Polynesian stand out with their higher price ranges, starting at $5.6K for a week at the Poly and $6.3K at the Grand Flo.
What To Take Away
- If you want to visit at Christmas or Easter and stay in a Disney Resort hotel, you’ll pay dearly for the privilege compared to choosing a different time. January and late August, on the other hand, are routinely among the cheapest weeks.
- Looking at the price range of a Disney hotel room doesn’t really tell you what you’re most likely to pay if you’re just making a regular visit at a non-peak time. Excluding just 5 peak weeks from the set of prices usually reduces the range by 30-50%, giving you a much better estimate of what the price will be for your week.
- Value resorts (excluding the Family Suites) have median prices ranging from $1.4 – 2K per week. These prices rise steadily between resorts, so your hotel could be dictated by your price range here.
- Moderate resorts (excluding the Ft. Wilderness Campsites and Cabins) generally range from $2.2 – 3K per week. Among the Moderates, the entire range is represented by different room types at each resort. Choose the resort you prefer and then adjust your room type based on your budget.
- Deluxe Resorts have median prices spanning a wide range from $3.5 – 8K per week, with resorts falling into distinct price groups: the Lodges, the Crescent Lake Resorts + the Contemporary, and then each of the Grand Floridian and the Poly in its own class.
- More expensive resorts tend to have higher prices in the spring and fall, with lower prices (comparatively) in the summer. Value resorts tend to be less expensive in the spring and sometimes the fall, with their summer prices being higher than average; the gap between the Values and the Moderates tends to be narrower in the summer than other times of the year.
How does price affect your decision where to stay at Disney World? Are you surprised that Christmas and Easter are so much higher than the average at every resort? Let us know in the comments!