Award-winning travel guidebooks
Home Florida - Walt Disney World Caribbean - Disney Cruise Line California - Disneyland Resort New York City, NY Anywhere and Everywhere! Travelers Store Message Boards PassPorter's Club Help!
PassPorter Articles
Disney Dreaming
Finding Answers
Best Disney Trip Advice
Getting Your Disney Fix
How Young Is Too Young?
Top Ten Disney Questions
Tipping (Gratuities)
Timeshare Vacation Offers
Disney World on a Budget
Money-Saving Strategies
Preparing Kids For Disney
Taking Toddlers to Disney
Planning Trips for Others
Convincing Others To Go
Importance of Being Lazy

Preparing For Your Disney Cruise
Ten "Must Pack" Items
Ten Travel Tips
Luggage Tips
Driving to Disney
Driving With Kids
Child Safety Seats
Rental Cars
Airline Security
Flying With Kids
Surviving Long Flights
Surviving Bumpy Flights
Surviving Bad Vacations
Staying Healthy
Solo Travel
Pregnant at Disney
Dress For Travel
Traveling With Pets
International Travel

Orlando Sanford Airport
Choosing a Resort
Disney Resort Primer
Reserving a Room
Key to the World Card
Fun at Resort Hotels
All-Star Movies
All-Star Music
All-Star Sports
All-Star Vacation Homes
Beach Club
BoardWalk Inn & Villas
Contemporary Resort
Ft. Wilderness Camping
Wilderness Lodge
Home Sweet Home
Grand Californian
Grosvenor Resort
Hilton Resort
Orlando Airport Marriott
Radisson Resort Parkway
Shades of Green
Westin Century Plaza
Making The Most of Bell Services at Disney's Deluxe Resorts
New Ships!
Cruise Security
International Port Security
Vow Renewals Onboard
Cruising With Special Diets
Cruising St. Martin
One in a Million Cruise
Zip-A-Dee-Zip-Line: A Canopy Adventure
Laugh Floor Comedy Club
Mickey's PhilharMagic
Fantasyland For Adults
Mission: SPACE
Rock 'n' Roller Coaster
Star Wars Weekends
Animal Kingdom
Expedition EVEREST
Surviving the Parks as First Time Parents
Overcoming Kids Fears
Planning Park Days
Touring with Toddlers
A Kid's Perspective
A Teen's Take
Educational Epcot
Flower & Garden Festival
Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party
Scary Places (Halloween)
Playing "Millionaire"
Winning "Millionaire"
A Day With Allie
Past Attractions at Magic Kingdom
Meeting Mickey
Disneyland at 50
Future of Disneyland
Beyond the Disney Parks
Disney-MGM Studios
Monorail System
A WDW Veteran's First Trip to Disneyland
A Disneyland Veteran's First Trip to Walt Disney World
Disney Dining Plan
More Dining Plan Tips
Dining Plan Revisited
Dining Plan Answers
California Grill Review
Nine Dragons Review
Spoodles Review
Character Dinners
Lunch With A Disney Imagineer
Eating Healthy at Disney
Food Allergies
White Water Snacks
MurderWatch Mystery Theatre
Disneyland Dining: Yamabuki
Making Magic
Romance At Walt Disney World
Discovering the Magic
Magic of Slowing Down
Wishes Fireworks Cruise
Backstage Tours
Epcot's Segway Tour
Taking Great Photos
Taking Great Fireworks Photos
Digital Photo Q & A
Souvenirs on a Budget
Pal Mickey
Birthdays at Disney
Reunions and Gatherings
Disney Intimate Weddings
Disney Vow Renewals
Custom Events
Preserving Memories
Scrapbooking Supplies
Scavenger Hunts
Hidden Mickeys
Hidden Mickeys Book Review
Richard Petty Experience
More Richard Petty Rides
Ft. Wilderness Trail Ride
Disney Podcasts
MouseFest 2006
Making of PassPorter
Rest of the World
United States:
Big Apple Greeter
City Pass Cards
Hilton Head Island
Key Largo & Islamorada
Miami, Florida
Pensacola, Florida
St. Augustine, Florida
Space Coast, Florida
Tampa-St. Petersburg
WonderWorks (Orlando)
Knoebels, Pennsylvania
Las Vegas
Los Angeles
San Diego
San Francisco
Anza-Borrego Desert
The Poconos
New York City
New England
New Orleans
Adventures by Disney: Wyoming
Fort Sumter, South Carolina
Zoos of the World
Universal Studios Orlando
Sanibel & Captiva Islands
Universal: For Non-Thrill Seekers?
International Travel:
London Museums
Kent, England
Great Britain via Harry Potter
Quebec City, Canada
South Africa
Priceline: Is It For You?
by Jennifer Watson, Author of PassPorter Travel Guides

OK, 'fess up!' Have you used Priceline? I'm willing to bet that a good number of you have, but many more are afraid to try it or perhaps aren't even familiar with it. I've used Priceline successfully, most recently for an upcoming trip with my mother. While I'm no expert on Priceline, I'd like to share my research and experiences with you.

First, just what is Priceline? In essence, it's an online consumer clearinghouse of excess travel inventory -- hotel rooms, flights, packages, etc. is located at Big discounts are very possible through Priceline. But there's a catch to those big discounts. Unlike other travel discount programs where you browse through availabilities and pick the one you want, Priceline requires a commitment to a particular category and price before you even know what's available. That's right. With Priceline you pick your category, location, and class of travel, name the price you want to pay, dole out your credit card info, and then commit to irrevocably accepting whatever Priceline finds within your parameters. That's just a tad scary when you aren't sure what you can end up with. But with some knowledge, research, and a bit of confidence, Priceline can do wonders for your vacation budget.

Next week I'm going on a "Mom and me" trip -- we're staying at Walt Disney World and going on a Disney cruise together. Airfares were pricey on the day we wanted to return, so we decided to stay an extra day to get a lower fare. That meant we needed to find a low-priced hotel room in order to make it worth the effort. Yet we wanted to stay on Disney property or nearby, and in a reasonably nice hotel. We called Disney to check on a room at All-Stars -- it would have been over $100/night, even with the Disney Club discount. Ouch. So I suggested we try Priceline for our hotel room. And then the fun began.

Before I rushed over to and bid on a hotel room, I did some research. First I visited ( ) where I'd seen a bunch of great tips on using Priceline for hotels near Walt Disney World. This is required reading for anyone contemplating Priceline for a Disney trip. Then I visited AllEarsNet ( ), which offers an excellent primer on how to bid on Priceline -- even though I'd used Priceline before, it gave me a great refresher on how it works. I also highly recommend this. My next stop was, where I searched the messages for recent experiences with Priceline -- reading other's success (or failure) stories is very helpful. My last stop was ( ), which is an active site devoted to bidding strategies and experiences with Priceline. They have a number of highly useful FAQs and, best of all, a forum dedicated to Orlando/Walt Disney World bidding. Through this forum I learned about recent successful bids and the strategies used to get them.

This column is too short for a thorough examination of the ins and outs of bidding for a hotel room on Priceline, but let me share a few tips:

* has a list of the Orlando hotels that are available of each of Priceline's hotel quality classes -- from 1 star motels to resort hotels. While new hotels may show up on Priceline at any time, this list will give you a great idea of what is possible. If you can accept staying at any of the hotels in the class you're planning to bid for, then you'll be okay. If not, don't do Priceline.

(In our case, we wanted the Resort class, and we were happy staying in any of the hotels available in that class -- Swan, Dolphin, Hilton, Marriot World Center, Gaylord Palms, or Wyndham Palace. Of course, we really wanted the Swan or Dolphin, and the Hilton was our third choice, but all were okay with us.)

* Once you know what hotels are possible within the class of hotel you plan to bid for, do some research on their going rates. Not only do you want to be sure you can't get a better deal on your own, but you need a starting point for your bid. Find out what others have bid in the past by reading and

(We learned that the Swan and Dolphin had been successfully bid at $70-72/night, on average, with the Hilton going a bit lower and the other resorts going higher. Since we had our hopes on the Swan and Dolphin, we decided to start our bid at $71.)

* You're only allowed one bid in a 72-hour period, but you can re-bid if you change at least one parameter, such as your zone or quality level. This is significant when you're bidding at the Resort level for the Orlando/Walt Disney World area because (at the time of writing) all the resorts were located in the Walt Disney World area only. This means you can add in other zones in Orlando on a re-bid without worrying that you'll actually get a hotel outside of the Walt Disney World area.

* Read the Priceline web site thoroughly before you place your bid. Make sure you read the terms and conditions carefully, and get well-acquainted with each of the screens. Double- and triple-check your vacation dates. This saves you from the "oh no, did I forget to check that thing?" feeling you can get right after you put in your bid.

In the end, I took a deep breath and put in a bid for $71/night for a Resort class hotel room in the Walt Disney World category. Then I waited, and waited. I will admit my heart was beating just a tad faster during this pause. And then, at least, a result -- my bid of $71/night had been accepted! Hooray! Alas, no, it wasn't for the Swan or Dolphin -- we got the Hilton. But you know what? We're very happy with it! Not only do we get to stay just across the street from Downtown Disney at a great rate, but I now have the opportunity to review the Hilton for you in our next newsletter. Now is that a deal or what?

Priceline is not for everyone -- you have to relinquish some control and do some research -- but it does work for many. I would use it again and recommend it to anyone willing to put in the research time and accept the outcome.

Good luck, and happy bidding!

Return to | Discuss Priceline on the PassPorter Message Boards

Updated 11/21/03