Hotel with Free Shuttle/Parking/Breakfast

MEC004

Earning My Ears
Joined
Sep 9, 2018
We are fortunate enough to have free tickets to Disney at the end of July. We will only be there 3 nights with 2 days in the park due to budget. I am having trouble finding a hotel that offers free shuttle to the parks, parking, and breakfast. Is this just a unicorn or does it exist? My travel agent can't book a hotel room since I am not getting park tickets. She suggested using a Walt Disney World Resort Hotel. I am looking on Priceline and Orbitz, but they really don't have the free shuttle information. Thank you!
 

writerguyfl

DIS Veteran
Joined
Jul 5, 2015
My travel agent can't book a hotel room since I am not getting park tickets.
If a travel agent tells you she or he can't book a hotel room unless you purchase theme park tickets, I'd get a new travel agent. That's a lie.

Better yet, don't use a travel agent at all. Unless you have a great one (you don't in my opinion), you are only adding complexity to your trip planning that probably isn't necessary.

We are fortunate enough to have free tickets to Disney at the end of July. We will only be there 3 nights with 2 days in the park due to budget. I am having trouble finding a hotel that offers free shuttle to the parks, parking, and breakfast. Is this just a unicorn or does it exist?
Let's tackle this step-by-step.

Parking:
Finding a hotel with free parking is increasingly difficult in the Disney World area. Generally, you'll need to go farther out to find free parking. Father out means a longer commute time to the theme parks.

Unless you're morally opposed to all hotel fees, you're probably better off just factoring in the parking fee into the total cost of the hotel room.

Breakfast:
If you have to have "free" breakfast, you'll probably need to look at limited-service hotels. Places like Hampton Inn, Fairfield Inn, or Baymont by Wyndham. Some mid-tier chains like Embassy Suites will include breakfast, but they will probably be significantly more expensive.

Be sure to consider the fact that the "free" breakfast areas of these hotels are crowded and at time unpleasant because the majority of the hotel will want to eat at the same time in order to get to the theme parks right when they open.

Unless you absolutely have to have a hot breakfast, you may want to consider removing this criteria from your hotel requirements. But, that's just my suggestion.

Shuttles:
Hands down, theme park shuttles are the most confusing part of finding a hotel your Walt Disney World vacation. As you discovered, information about shuttles is often incomplete or missing entirely. There are a couple of basic types of shuttles:
  • Continuous and Direct: The resorts that are on Disney World property offer the best transportation. Buses (and in some cases monorails, boats, soon gondolas) run continuously between each resort and a single theme park. Prices for these resorts are often jaw-dropping.
  • Scheduled throughout the Day and Direct: A few hotels (example: Hilton Bonnet Creek) offer direct transporation to a theme park on a schedule. Typically, these run once per hour throughout the day.
  • Scheduled throughout the Day and but Not Direct: The seven Disney Springs Hotels (https://disneyspringshotels.com/) have a shuttle system that operates every 30 minutes during park hours. While the frequency is great, the downside is that each bus goes to two theme parks. So, you may need to take a detour to a second theme park before arriving at your destination or returning to your hotel. More details can be found on this thread: https://www.disboards.com/threads/disney-springs-hotels-bus-information.3653605
  • Limited Schedule: Most off-site hotels offer a limited schedule that has 1, 2, or 3 morning trips to a theme park and 1, 2, or 3 trips in the evening. Typically, those shuttles will only go to one theme park. (Most use Epcot.) If you're not visiting that theme park, you'll need to transfer to a Disney-operated mode of transporation (bus or monorail) to reach your destination. Anyone can use Disney-operated transportation to get from theme park to theme park. But, doing that can take an extra 40 minutes or longer.

Generally speaking, if a hotel advertises free theme park shuttles but doesn't disclose any details, it's going to be the Limited Schedule variety. And more often than not, the return trip times will be before closing.

I am looking on Priceline and Orbitz, but they really don't have the free shuttle information.
As someone who used to work in hotels, I'd recommend booking direct through the hotel chain website. Websites like Priceline and Orbitz are online travel agencies (OTAs). Almost always, you can get the same price (or even a dollar or two better) by booking direct.

When you book direct, you can contact the chain or hotel for help. If you book through a OTA, you have to contact someone working for that company. That person will contact the chain or hotel for you. In that scenario, you're at the mercy of the skill level of the OTA worker. In my opinion, you're better off being in complete control of your reservation.

OTAs are good for seeing prices of various option. They also can be helpful because they have filters for things like "free breakfast". But always check the chain website before booking. You'll probably get the best deal by booking direct.

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So, that's a wall of information. But, don't get stressed out. People on this forum do like to help. If you can provide some basics about your trip, we can help find some options.
  • What are the dates of your trip?
  • What is your party size? Adults/kids/both?
  • Are you planning on spending all day in the theme parks?
  • Would you be open to not using the shuttle and simply driving (and paying the parking fee) to the theme parks?
  • Is the quality of the hotel pool important?
  • Would you stay in a motel-style hotel (exterior entry guest rooms)?
  • Do you need an on-site hotel restaurant? Nearby restaurants in walking distance? Or do you plan on eating lunch and dinner at the theme parks?
 

MEC004

Earning My Ears
Joined
Sep 9, 2018
  • What are the dates of your trip?
  • What is your party size? Adults/kids/both?
  • Are you planning on spending all day in the theme parks?
  • Would you be open to not using the shuttle and simply driving (and paying the parking fee) to the theme parks?
  • Is the quality of the hotel pool important?
  • Would you stay in a motel-style hotel (exterior entry guest rooms)?
  • Do you need an on-site hotel restaurant? Nearby restaurants in walking distance? Or do you plan on eating lunch and dinner at the theme parks?
This helped so much! We were going to go at the end of July. It was 3 adults (81, 75, and 35) and a 7 year old. With your info we have decided not to go. We were going to do a budget trip since we could get tickets. Disney just shouldn’t be done the way we were trying to do it. Hotel for three nights for less than 300.

I’m going to save, stay on-site, and try to keep it streamlined. We can get the tickets next summer and not be so stressed over free breakfast or shuttle service. We went on a Disney cruise and I have to say that process was a lot simpler. 😆
 
  • halfpintpeggy

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Aug 12, 2015
    Life’s too short, my vote is to go this year! There are plenty of nice offsite options. We’ve found that we actually prefer staying offsite!
     

    HopperFan

    "It's a bug-eat-bug world out there, princess."
    Joined
    Sep 6, 2003
    I’ll add this ... with your two older members I would only drive to parks and pay the parking. That gives you huge flexibility in hotels. Look for something inexpensive and with breakfast. Removing shuttle is game changer. It will get you direct to parks without transfers or schedules AND in summer heat, access to leave if needed.
     

    ScubaCat

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    May 12, 2008
    I'd check www.mousesavers.com (join the monthly email list, too!) and look for a good deal on a Disney Springs hotel. The Doubletree could offer most or all of what you're looking for in terms of shuttle, breakfast, and fees.

     

    Upatnoon

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Oct 4, 2005
    Springhill Suites and Townplace Suites Flamingo Crossings has no parking fees, free breakfast, no resort fees and a shuttle -- for $5 a person RT.

    The resort is quite close to Coronado Springs Resort, so would be a cheap Uber (about $8) from there where you can catch the Disney bus
     
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  • shocker

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Mar 18, 2008
    Disney Springs Area Resorts, there are 7 of them, none have free parking, most are an easy walk to DS, most offer a loyalty program where you could pay for your nights with points (or at least earn some points for the $$ you do spend), some have free breakfast, all offer shuttle service, all currently offer 60 day FP selection, and all offer Extra Magic Hours entry at the parks.

    Otherwise, one of our fav offsites is Staybridge Suites on Suiteside Dr. They offer 2 bedroom/2 bath suites, living area & full size kitchen, free hot breakfast buffet & free parking, no shuttle, 3 nights/wk is a managers reception with dinner.

    ETA: technically Staybridge Suites (& many other off site hotels will offer a "shuttle" but I've never found them worthy of using as the drop-off/pick-up times are terrible. So, I list Staybridge as a 'no' but the Disney Springs resorts as a 'yes' since they have shuttles early enough to get you to RD and late enough to allow you to watch a night show after official closing. So be very careful with an off site offering a 'shuttle' you might want to fully qualify what they mean.
     
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    ClapYourHands

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Mar 2, 2018
    This helped so much! We were going to go at the end of July. It was 3 adults (81, 75, and 35) and a 7 year old. With your info we have decided not to go. We were going to do a budget trip since we could get tickets. Disney just shouldn’t be done the way we were trying to do it. Hotel for three nights for less than 300.

    I’m going to save, stay on-site, and try to keep it streamlined. We can get the tickets next summer and not be so stressed over free breakfast or shuttle service. We went on a Disney cruise and I have to say that process was a lot simpler. 😆
    I’m confident we could find you something that works with your budget. No pressure, if you really don’t want to go, but we are usually good with suggestions.

    Since you are looking for free parking, that means you have a car. So do you really need the shuttle? If we can find a hotel with breakfast for 3 nights for $250, then you could have $50 for Disney parking on your two park days. Would that work?

    And on a side note, I so wish I had your free tickets! I would be there in a heartbeat, if I had your offer, so that probably colors my response in favor of making it work!
     

    MrKnight

    Former WDWCM & Proud DIS Member
    Joined
    Nov 19, 2014
    I’ll add this ... with your two older members I would only drive to parks and pay the parking. That gives you huge flexibility in hotels. Look for something inexpensive and with breakfast. Removing shuttle is game changer. It will get you direct to parks without transfers or schedules AND in summer heat, access to leave if needed.
    The OP is looking for the most cost effective option which would be a hotel that offers free transportation to the parks, driving to the parks is NOT cost effective as it equates to additional expenses including parking fee at the parks, parking fee at the hotel, car rental expense, gas, etc. I would advise against driving to the parks especially if one is trying to save money.
     

    HopperFan

    "It's a bug-eat-bug world out there, princess."
    Joined
    Sep 6, 2003
    The OP is looking for the most cost effective option which would be a hotel that offers free transportation to the parks, driving to the parks is NOT cost effective as it equates to additional expenses including parking fee at the parks, parking fee at the hotel, car rental expense, gas, etc. I would advise against driving to the parks especially if one is trying to save money.
    Completely disagree with you on this.

    OP asked for hotel with Free Parking, which means OP already has a car so no additional expenses with my suggestion other than parking fee at parks.

    OP wants a low cost hotel that includes breakfast and provides a shuttle. Shuttles that operate with any kind of real schedule are only at expensive hotels. Offsite shuttles also usually only go to Epcot a couple times a day and then you have to transfer to get to another park. Some of these don't run late meaning you can miss fireworks or night time entertainment. These hotels are often not the least expensive hotels. OP can pay $150+ for a hotel with minimal shuttles to Epcot or they could look for one in the $100 range and then drive only paying $25 per day.

    OP has an 81 year old, 75 year old in addition to themselves and 7 year old. I wouldn't want to depend on a limited multi transfer bus shuttle with an 81 and 75 year old, especially if they plan to travel in summer months. You literally can spend hours on transportation both ways when you include wait time. That is lost time at the parks.

    I have stayed offsite at many hotels, I know the OP can get a decent hotel for a low price, without fees, with breakfast if they just drive to the parks. This would be the least expensive option in most cases. If I were going to depend on shuttle, I would stay on property, Disney Springs or the Bonnet Creek hotels but I don't think they can save any money.
     
  • ClapYourHands

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Mar 2, 2018
    Completely disagree with you on this.

    OP asked for hotel with Free Parking, which means OP already has a car so no additional expenses with my suggestion other than parking fee at parks.

    OP wants a low cost hotel that includes breakfast and provides a shuttle. Shuttles that operate with any kind of real schedule are only at expensive hotels. Offsite shuttles also usually only go to Epcot a couple times a day and then you have to transfer to get to another park. Some of these don't run late meaning you can miss fireworks or night time entertainment. These hotels are often not the least expensive hotels. OP can pay $150+ for a hotel with minimal shuttles to Epcot or they could look for one in the $100 range and then drive only paying $25 per day.

    OP has an 81 year old, 75 year old in addition to themselves and 7 year old. I wouldn't want to depend on a limited multi transfer bus shuttle with an 81 and 75 year old, especially if they plan to travel in summer months. You literally can spend hours on transportation both ways when you include wait time. That is lost time at the parks.

    I have stayed offsite at many hotels, I know the OP can get a decent hotel for a low price, without fees, with breakfast if they just drive to the parks. This would be the least expensive option in most cases. If I were going to depend on shuttle, I would stay on property, Disney Springs or the Bonnet Creek hotels but I don't think they can save any money.
    Agreed. I recently stayed at Galleria Palms, which has all the things OP wants (free parking, free breakfast, free shuttle) for a two night total of $155. The shuttle was too limited for a party with elderly members, but with a car of one's own, it would be a perfect deal. With parking fees only at Disney, not the hotel, and no rental costs, the extra $50 for two days at the park would not cancel out the savings of staying at a clean budget hotel.
     

    DISNEY1975

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    May 5, 2008
    WOW....your travel agent told you they cant book hotel without tickets!

    That is an absolute lie. I am a TA. While true there is no commission in a short hotel stay without tickets I cant believe they wont even book you! Id do anything for clients whether getting paid or not, knowing they will come back to me for their next vacation, refer me to others or at minimum, get a Thank You! Please dont use that TA again. Just WOW.....
     

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