Disney World discounts and promotions are things people always ask about. Everybody wants to get the best deal for their trip.
There are several different types of discounts, and knowing what they are and when you might expect them to be offered can help you plan.
To help you save the most money on your next trip, we have put together a comprehensive guide that covers how the discounts work, what discounts have been offered in the last few years, and how to increase your chances of getting one.
Let’s take a look…
Important: Disney Dining Plan
The Disney Dining Plan is currently suspended at Disney World. Disney has, however, offered “Dining Card” promotions. It is important to note that these are NOT the same as the Disney Dining Plan.
Any mention of the Disney Dining Plan, Free Dining, or respective discounts are not current but to simply show what has been available in the past or could possibly return in the future.
Disney has confirmed Disney Dining Plans will eventually return, but we still don’t know when that will happen.
Disney World discounts: the basics
Some general things to know about Disney World discounts:
- Disney’s “rack rates” (their standard room rates) are released during the summer for the following year and, unlike most hotels, don’t change in price because of occupancy rates once they are published. The prices won’t go up from the day they are published but they also won’t go down – unless a discount is released.
- Discounts aren’t automatically added. Whether you are booking a new trip or you already have a vacation planned, make sure available discounts get applied. Disney isn’t going to automatically add it for you.
- In general, vacation packages (which include a room, tickets, and an optional Disney Dining Plan) don’t save you money but they are convenient. Disney bundles the popular components together to make it easier on you, not to save you some cash.
- Where to find current discounts. Current Disney World offers can be found at a link for special offers.
- You can only use 1 discount at a time. For example, if you get Free Dining, you can’t also get a discount on your hotel room.
- You can book your trip before discounts come out. If a discount is released after your trip is booked, the discount can be applied to your existing reservation. However, for every promotion there are only a certain number of available rooms and room types at each eligible resort that can be booked at the discounted price. Once they have reached that number of bookings, that’s it. That’s why it is important that you either modify your reservation online (preferred method) or call as soon as possible after a discount is released.
- Many discounts are released before the phone lines open. However, most reservations can be modified online as soon as the discount is released so those that choose to do that get a jump on those that wait to call.
- There are blackout dates. For instance, if a fall promotion is announced, Thanksgiving week will often be blacked out. This is true for all major U.S. holidays.
- Deluxe Resorts receive the biggest discounts. When a promotion is announced such as 10-25% off rooms, the lower percentage (10%) usually applies to Value Resorts while the larger percentage (25%) usually applies to Deluxe Resorts.
Types of Disney World discounts and promotions
First, let’s go over some terminology:
- Rack rate – the standard room rate without any discount added
- Room-only reservation – a reservation that is only for your room and includes no tickets or Disney Dining Plan
- Vacation Package – a reservation that includes a room plus tickets OR a room plus tickets and the Disney Dining Plan (when offered)
- Ticketless Package – a reservation that includes a resort room and the Disney Dining Plan (when offered) and no tickets. This type of reservation can only be booked by a travel agent or by phone.
Note: Room-only reservations and vacation packages have different deposit and cancellation polices so be sure to check those out before you book.
Discounts that are available
These are the discounts that are usually available, but not everyone is eligible to utilize all of them.
For example, Annual Passholders can only take advantage of Annual Passholder promos, Florida residents can only use Florida Resident offers, and so on.
- for those who live in Florida
Residents of select states
- for those living in certain states
- room-only discounts available to current Disney World Annual Passholders
U.S. Military Members
- for active or retired U.S. military personnel, including active or retired members of the National Guard, Reservists, the U.S. Coast Guard, the U.S. Space Force, the Commissioned Corps of the Public Health Service (PHS), the Commissioned Corps of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and Military Service Member spouses (if they are able to present valid and active U.S. Military IDs in the absence of active or retired Military Personnel or Commissioned Corps Members)
- best place to find more information as to what is available is at MilitaryDisneyTips.com
Disney Visa cardholders
- for those who have an active Disney Visa
- sometimes will get an earlier booking window
- for those with a current Disney+ subscription
Disney Dining Promo Card
- for anyone (these are typically season, like spring or summer)
- provides a gift card to be used for dining. The initial balance based on the check-in date, the resort category, and the number of nights (per reservation, not per guest).
- for anyone (these are typically season, like for the holidays, summer, spring, winter, fall, etc.)
- most common kind of discounts are promotions that offer a percentage off of a room-only reservation and/or the resort room rate component of a vacation package
- for specific Disney World Resort hotels (in the past we’ve seen newly opened resorts like Riviera and other resorts like Fort Wilderness get their own discounts)
What’s not available at this time
The following promotions were offered (and were also extremely popular) in the past, but have yet to return as available options. We will let you know if or when they do.
Free Dining (last offered in 2020)
Free Dining is probably the most well-known promotion that Disney offers; however, the availability of Free Dining dates dwindled the last couple of years it was offered and made it more difficult to book.
Free Dining provided exactly what its name implied: the Disney Dining Plan for free.
Which plan you received was usually dependent upon which resort category you book, with Value and Moderate resorts receiving the Quick Service plan and Deluxe resorts receiving the Regular Dining Plan.
Bounceback offers (last offered in 2020)
Bounceback offers are promotions that were usually found in folders in Disney World resort rooms.
If you didn’t find one, you could dial x8844 from your room phone to ask what’s available, because anybody staying on property was eligible to book a bounceback reservation.
Bounceback offers were often good deals that you can only take advantage of if you book your next trip while still at Disney World.
Just a deposit was required at the time of booking, so even if you were just considering a trip, it was a good idea to go ahead and book something while still a guest since the discount offered with a bounceback was usually pretty significant.
Each adult on the current reservation could make a new reservation using the bounceback promotion and the same cancellation rules apply, so if something comes up or if your plans change, you can try to move your reservation to other dates that are eligible for that bounceback offer (as room availability allows).
Play Stay Dine (last offered in 2019)
Unlike Free Dining (which only discounts the Dining Plan portion of your package) or a general percentage off discount (which only discounts the resort room potion of your stay, whether it is a room-only reservation or a vacation package), Play Stay Dine provided a discount on all 3 components of your trip.
The total percentage off for each component wasn’t known, but most people found this discount didn’t usually save as much money as Free Dining; however, it can provide a nice savings if you were already planning on purchasing the Disney Dining Plan.
How to get a discount on your Disney World trip
How to find discounts when initially booking your trip
If you aren’t sure what discounts are offered, the easiest way to see what is currently available is to visit the official Disney World website.
You can go right to the Special Offers page itself, which is located under the “Places to Stay” tab at the top of the main home page.
You can also scroll all the way down to the bottom of the main Disney World page to click on the link to “Special Offers” under “Places to Stay.”
If several are offered during your trip make sure you check different scenarios to see what saves you the most money.
How to get a Disney World discount (a step-by-step guide)
Go to the “Places to Stay” category at the top of the main page on the Disney World website and select “View Special Offers.”
You can view all of the current available special offers, deals, and discounts.
To view the offer you want, simply click on it.
Depending on the offer, you may be asked to login to view details. Only those eligible will be able to view specific discounts, like Annual Passholders, Florida residents, or Disney+ subscribers.
After selecting an offer, you can get more details. If you’re interested in using the promo, you’ll have to “check availability” first due to many offers having limited availability.
Next, you can select your check in and check out dates, number of guests, and even pick a specific resort before finding a room.
If the discount is available at a resort, you’ll see the discount price posted next to the standard rate.
Most discounts have limited availability. If the promo is no longer available, not offered at a certain resort, not eligibile with a specific room type, or not available during your date range, you’ll be prompted to check availability for other offers elsewhere.
After selecting a resort with the available discount, you’ll be directed to that specific resort page and see all of the discounts available for your selected dates.
Once you find a room and offer you want, click “select” to book.
You’ll then be direct to select the number of days you want for tickets and choose any add-on options, like the Park Hopper.
After saving these options, you’ll be able to view everything you’ve selected, including confirming if the discount has been applied. You can also add on Memory Maker and Ground Transportation (Alamo car rental) here.
How to modify an existing reservation to add a discount
If a discount you would like to use is released after you have booked a trip, you will need to modify your existing reservation in order to apply it. There are 2 ways to modify an existing reservation:
- online (preferred method)
- by calling Disney at (407) 939-1936
Modifying a reservation online is easy and far quicker than calling so whenever possible, we recommend you use this method.
To modify, first you’ll need to log into your My Disney Experience account and navigate to the “My Plans” section.
You may have to sign into your Disney account.
Once there, select “Change Reservation.”
If a travel agent or someone else in your party made the reservation, you’ll have to contact them to make changes.
After the page opens you should be able to see all the different aspects of your reservation that you can modify, including a section called “Vacation Offers.” Select “Change” in that section to modify your reservation to include available promotions.
How travel agents can help
If the thought of trying to snag discounts as soon as they come out is overwhelming, you might want to consider using a travel agent.
Small World Vacations travel agents are always on top of the latest discounts and will work to secure you the best deal for your money.
We have a spreadsheet that details all the historical discounts that have been offered for the past few years.
This spreadsheet will tell you exactly what discounts were offered when and while things aren’t exactly the same from year-to-year, knowing when discounts for your travel dates have been historically released in the past can help you plan.
Because this spreadsheet is large we recommend you open in it a new tab so that you can see all the columns.
Doing that will allow you to filter by your exact travel dates or discount type.
VIDEO: How to save BIG money on your next Disney World vacation
Increasing your chances of getting a discount
Some tips to better your odds of having a discount during your trip:
- Use a good Disney travel agent. It costs you nothing to use a travel agent, so if you’d like to take the guesswork out of planning your next trip request a quote and let someone experienced help you start the process.
- Get a Disney Visa. People with Disney Visa cards are sometimes able to book some of the promotions a few days before everybody else as well as be eligible for exclusive promotions or dates.
- Sign up for the newsletter. When discounts are announced, we email people on the newsletter list.
- Book dates when discounts are available. Using the spreadsheet above, you should be able to see when discounts are available. To maximize your chances book your vacation for dates/times of the year that typically see discounts.
- Avoid staying at excluded resorts. Art of Animation Little Mermaid rooms, Fort Wilderness campsites, 3-bedroom Villas, and new resorts are often excluded from promotions, so you would want to stay elsewhere to qualify for a discount. If you already have a reservation booked at a resort and a promotion is released that excludes that resort, you can change resorts to get the discount.
- Stay flexible. Sometimes moving resorts or even room categories will open up more options for discounts so the more flexible you are the more likely you’ll be to snag a discount.
Questions or comments about how Disney World discounts work or which ones are available? Ask away in the comments.
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