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Given the price of Disney World tickets, our family tries to get the most out of our days in the parks. If you have the stamina for it, Extra Magic Hours are a way to sneak in some more rides with your little ones. Getting your FastPass+ reservations at 60 days out from your first hotel date is perhaps even more crucial to avoid waiting hours for some top rides. You can access Extra Magic Hours and the 60-day window for FastPass+ by staying at a Disney Resort. Unfortunately, using hotel points for an on-site Disney World hotel reservation limits your options a bit.
For the longest time, the Swan and Dolphin were really the only choice for folks looking to redeem hotel points and stay on Disney property. With new changes to the Marriott Rewards program, those properties are getting much, much pricier beginning with stays booked in August 2018 (so lock them in now for the next year or so).
Earlier this year, some properties near Disney Springs that were traditionally not a part of Extra Magic Hours and FastPass+ system came onboard with a new host of Disney benefits. The initial announcement was quite a few months ago, but it had a caveat that seemed to eliminate award rooms from this benefit. Originally, it appeared you could only book a cash rate at these hotels. However, we’re starting to see reports that award bookings are also getting access to Extra Magic Hours and 60-day FastPass+. That’s great news! Here’s a list of the hotels near Disney Springs that are eligible for Extra Magic Hours:
- 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
These hotels are all located near Disney Springs and are not a part of the regular Disney transportation network. However, you can head over to Disney Springs to access the buses and boats from there. Reasonable people can certainly debate the value of using the points from the various hotel chains to stay at these properties. Some of these properties are cheaper than the others when it comes to how many points it will cost for a room, and as always you should compare paid rates vs. award rates.
While I’ve read varying reports about the quality of the rooms at some of these hotels, at least there are more options when it comes to places you can use points and take advantage of Disney Extra Magic Hours and 60-day FastPass+ reservations. The good news for families who are getting priced out of the Swan and Dolphin is that you you should now be able to redeem Best Western, Hilton Honors, IHG and Wyndham Rewards points and get extra Disney World benefits. Disney World initially has thus far announced this as a benefit for 2018, so be cautious with reservations in 2019. I’d be a little surprised if this goes away at this point for stays in 2019, but you never know.
With some great bonus categories, the American Express Gold Card has a lot going for it. The card offers 4x points at US restaurants, at US supermarkets (up to $25,000; then 1x), and 3x points on flights booked directly with airlines or through amextravel.com. It is currently offering a welcome bonus of 35,000 bonus points after you spend $2,000 in the first three months.
- Earn 35,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $2,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 3 months.
- Earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. restaurants. Earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per year in purchases, then 1X).
- Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
- Earn up to $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with The Gold Card at Grubhub, Seamless, The Cheesecake Factory, Shake Shack, and Ruth's Chris Steak House. This is an annual savings of up to $120. Enrollment required.
- $100 Airline Fee Credit: up to $100 in statement credits per calendar year for incidental fees at one selected qualifying airline.
- Choose to carry a balance with interest on eligible charges of $100 or more.
- No Foreign Transaction Fees.
- Annual Fee is $250.
- Terms apply.
- See Rates & Fees