A few weeks ago, I wrote about how I’m using my husband’s Hilton points to stay at a Disney Springs area hotel in order to get some on-site Disney World benefits. This is a new benefit that is being tested in 2018.
The main benefit I’m seeking is the ability to book FastPass+ at 60 days out instead of 30 days prior like most off-site hotels. And of course, my goal is to save some cash by using Hilton Honors points.
My FastPass+ booking window arrived last week, and I’m happy to report that I was able to reserve our rides on MyDisneyExperience at 60+ days with just a few hiccups.
Adding Hilton Reservation to MyDisneyExperience
A few days before my FastPass+ window opened, I entered my Hilton reservation number into MyDisneyExperience (I went online, but could have used the app). The process to enter it was the exact same as the process for on-site resorts:
The system recognized the reservation and the 60+ day window. The screen prompted me to choose the exact identities of the three kids listed on my reservation. That was when I noticed that the adult was listed as my husband. This was a problem because without my name on the reservation in Disney’s system, I would not be able to reserve FastPass+ rides for me.
When I made the reservation with my husband’s Hilton Honors points, I listed my name as the second adult on the reservation, not thinking this would be a problem with integration in MyDisneyExperience. My husband called Hilton and got his name off the reservation so that my name was the primary adult.
However, that still didn’t change things in MyDisneyExperience. I called Disney and explained the problem, and the cast member told me that changes in off-site hotels take 72 hours to update in MyDisneyExperience. What?! I would miss the first day of my FastPass+ booking window.
Sensing my desperation, the cast member forwarded my issue to another team and said they would email me. I wasn’t very hopeful about getting my name fixed in time. But much to my surprise, Disney did email me back later that day and my name was correct in the system as of the day before my booking window. Woohoo!
So my advice is if you’re staying at one of the Disney Springs hotels in order to book FastPass+ at 60 days out, put your reservation in MyDisneyExperience well in advance of you booking window to iron out any potential name issues.
Booking FastPass+ at 60 days Out
I woke up at 5:45 a.m. CST to prepare for picking ride times at 6 a.m.. When you stay on-site, you can actually book FastPass+ times for the duration of your trip. Since we are staying two nights before our park day, I was able to book FastPass+ at 63 days prior.
Most rides are still available on FastPass+ at 30 days prior, a few days prior or even the same day you enter the park. There are a few exceptions, and I was most concerned about getting a FastPass+ for the new Avatar ride, Flight of Passage. Standby lines are regularly 2-3 hours long. I can’t imagine waiting in that!
Disney experts recommend going to Animal Kingdom toward the end of your stay so that you have a better chance to score the coveted FastPass+ for the Avatar Flight of Passage ride. We don’t’ have a long stay at Disney, but since we would be booking at 63 days prior, I thought my chances of getting a FastPass+ for that ride were pretty good.
I was wrong! I signed in to MyDisneyExperience at 6 a.m. on the nose, and all of the passes for Flight of Passage were already gone. Say what?!?
I didn’t give up. I’m stubborn and persistent. I refreshed my screen for over 5 minutes, per online recommendations. Nothing. I tried intermittently over the next 2 hours, no availability.
Then a few hours later, I happened to refresh my screen and lo and behold, there was one time available for the Flight of Passage ride. I snatched it up! Now I just need to remember to take Dramamine before getting on the ride.
Using Points for Disney Springs Hotels
The following Disney Springs hotels offer Disney World on-site benefits (like EMH and FastPass+ 60 days prior) in 2018:
- B Resort & Spa
- Best Western Lake Buena Vista Resort
- DoubleTree Guest Suites by Hilton Orlando
- Hilton Orlando Lake Buena Vista Palace
- Hilton Orlando Resort Lake Buena Vista
- Holiday Inn Orlando
- Wyndham Garden Lake Buena Vista
The easiest way to accumulate points for free nights in these hotels is to get an Amex Hilton card. See this post for more information about the Amex Hilton Ascend and Aspire cards. It’s easy to get 100k bonus points from one credit card, worth at least two free nights even during peak season. From time to time, the Wyndham Rewards Visa card has a 45,000 sign-up bonus, which would give you three free nights (the bonus is currently lower). If your spouse or partner also gets a card, that’s double the free nights.
I’m actually surprised there hasn’t been much buzz in the miles and points world about using Hilton Honors points for free nights with Disney on-site resort benefits. Hilton points are much easier to accumulate than SPG points needed for the Swan and Dolphin on-site resorts.
Are you planning to stay at one of these Disney Springs hotels to take advantage of the new on-site benefits?
Nancy lives near Dallas, Texas, with her husband and three kids. Her favorite vacations include the beach, cruising and everything Disney.