Your Quick Guide to General Walt Disney World Discounts

Written by Jessica Ma'ilo. Posted in Disney, Disney Parks, Park Wise, Walt Disney World

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Published on May 08, 2014 at 3:00 am with 9 Comments

One of the ways to save the most money when traveling to Walt Disney World is to be on the lookout for promotions and discounts during your travel dates.  Here’s a quick rundown on all things “Disney Discount.”

Choose Your Dates Wisely

I always tell friends and prospective guests “Never travel without a discount!”  Walt Disney World has been running promotions for most of the calendar year for the last several years.  If you can avoid travel during major and federal holidays, chances are you’ll be able to take advantage of a discounted room or package.  Blackout dates for promos tend to fall on holidays due to already high bookings during those times of year.

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Plan in Advance

General public discounts are usually released about three months prior to the start of included travel dates and tend to be bookable until the month those travel dates begin.  For example, the free Disney Dining Plan promotion released yesterday for August 2014 through December 2014 (select dates) can be booked until August 8, 2014.  However, there are a limited number of rooms available for each offer.  While I’ve not personally seen a promotion completely sell out in my time as a Disney traveler or travel agent, I have seen popular resorts lose availability very quickly.  If you want your top choice of resorts for your discounted stay, book as early as possible.

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Keep Your Eyes and Ears Open

If you’re here, chances are you have your ear to the ground when it comes to Disney travel, but it always pays to, well, pay attention.  The messageboards and blogs tend to start buzzing about a week before deals are released.  Be aware that nothing is official until Disney releases the promotion, but you may be able to get a general idea of the possible details.

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Get Park Wise: If you’re a Disney Visa Cardholder, keep an eye on your email!  One of your perks as a cardholder is advance booking opportunities for promotions.  Bear in mind that you must book your vacation with your Disney Visa, and the cardholder’s name must be on the reservation.

Pay Attention to the Details

The fine print is very important when it comes to promotions.  Blackout dates, excluded resorts and other restrictions are noted for each discount, and there are typically no exceptions to the rules.  If you have a question about a restriction, exclusion or inclusion that may not be clear in the official release, you can always call and have the cast member double check.  Occasionally I’ll have more than one cast member double check just to make sure everything is the same.  Additionally, although Disney may release the similar discounts annually, details may change from year to year, so be sure to check the details before you book.

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Little Mermaid rooms at Art of Animation tend to be excluded from promotions.

Run the Numbers

Disney often releases two promotions at the same time: one for packages and one for room-only discounts.  Take some time to run the numbers and see what comes out better for your travel crew.  Perhaps you save more money taking a room rate cut and paying for your dining out of pocket than getting the Disney Dining Plan for free.  Maybe as an AP holder or military member you automatically go toward the room-only rates, but take a minute to price out the package discounts, too.  I had a guest save a small amount of money by switching to a package discount (about $15).  Although that’s a drop in the bucket when looking at a Disney vacation, she and her family members now have two-day tickets they can use in the future at no extra cost over her original total.

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Book It!

If you’ve found a price you’re comfortable with at a resort you like, put down that deposit!  If you’re not totally ready to take the plunge, at least place your courtesy hold while you think about it.  Like I mentioned earlier, these rooms can go fast, so having one reserved while you mull over the details is invaluable.  Better to have the room and not need it (as long as you decide you don’t need it prior to cancellation fees!) than to wish you had it and not be able to get it.

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What’s your favorite Disney World promotion?  Any tips for keeping on top of the news?

About Jessica Ma'ilo

Jessica is a special education teacher by day and blogger and Fairy Godmother Travel agent by evening. When not supervising play dates or sleepovers, she can be found creating, sewing or singing. She loves hitting the Disney Parks, and she and her family escape to the World and Land as often as they can. She can be contacted at [email protected], and you can also check out her family blog, Magic, Memories, Mayhem.

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  • Klutch

    Very nice article. Thank you.

    Several years ago, Mrs. Klutch and I took advantage of a Deluxe Resort discount. We had booked Port Orleans, French Quarter. But with the discount, we booked Animal Kingdom Lodge for only a few more dollars per day. And when we checked in, we received a free upgrade to a savanna view room!

    This was during the week after Thanksgiving weekend. So, yeah. It really helps to visit WDW during off-peak times. And at WDW, the week after Thanksgiving is a great time to visit.

    • We love that time period, too! Great weather, lower crowds and lower prices!

  • amyuilani

    I am someone who prefers to book a la carte in order to score deals. For my trip to Disneyland this coming 4th of July, I booked my flight to CA on Southwest and my flight home on JetBlue because I could afford the time flexibility and the prices were cheaper. I booked my hotel on Travelocity as early as possible so I could avoid the rate hike for the holiday bookings. I told friends and family that any plans they wanted to make with me outside of Disneyland had to be somewhere transportation-friendly because I was not planning to rent a car. I just knew where my money needed to go for sure and where deals could be found in other places.

    • Most people I know choose to book flights separate, as well. Easy way to save a few hundred on a vacation!

  • This is why Fishy and I always book through Fairy Godmother Travel instead of trying to stay on top of all the discounts ourselves. If a deal is available, she automatically applies it. If a better deal comes along, she adjusts the reservation or gives us a call to tell us our options.

    • It can definitely work to your advantage to use a TA who stalks the Disney grapevine…uh, I mean know the deals and details!

  • jcruise86

    Thanks, Jessica! That was helpful.

    It seems like discounted rooms for the summer (up to 35% off) were advertised around April for reservations in August.

    • June through early August discounts came out in March, about three months before the start of the discount period. That tends to be the pattern, so always look for discounts at least three months prior to travel (sometime further in advance since you may fall into the latter half of the promo period).

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