Disney World Historical Discounts + Planning a 2015 Disney World Vacation

 

For all of you advanced planners, coupon clippers, and deal watchers, this post is for you! It’s historical Disney World discounts. This post will also tell you how much you can plan to save and coming in a future post, an overview of traveling to Disney each month and what you can expect to pay each month as a family of 4. This will be the ultimate guide planning your Disney World vacation.

To start, let’s talk about “rack rates”.

Rack rates are the non-discounted rates you can book at any time. The last two years, rack rates have been released for the next calendar year the 2nd week in July. In 2013, rates were released in June. I would expect rates to be released again in July of 2014 for 2015 vacations. Disney allows reservations up to 365 days in advance after rates are released. Check out the crowd calendar to see when crowd levels and prices are lowest.

Predicting a discount

Rates are released, now playing with numbers, how do you choose your travel dates? Below are the general public and Disney Visa cardholder discounts that were available in both 2013 and 2014 and the date they became available in each year respectively.

Travel Dates Discount Available Date available
January – Beginning of Spring Break Season 2013 15-35% off room rates-Disney Visa Cardholder-General public 10/3/12

10/10/12

January – Beginning of Spring Break Season 2014 Stay, Play Dine – discounted package-Disney Visa Cardholder-General public 10/3/13

10/7/13

January – week before Easter 2014 5%-35% off room rates-Disney Visa Cardholder-General public 10/3/13

10/7/13

Mid February – early June 2013 (excludes week of Easter) 15-30% off room rates + discounted tickets-Disney Visa Cardholder-General public 12/27/13

1/3/13

Late February – mid June 2014 (excludes week of Easter) 5%-30% off room rates + free day of park tickets-Disney Visa Cardholder-General public 1/2/14

1/6/14

Late April – mid June 2014 10-25% off room + Free Memory Maker-General public 2/6/14
Mid June – mid August  2013 5-30% off room rates + discounted tickets-Disney Visa Cardholder-General public 3/28/13

4/2/13

Mid June – late August 2014 10-35% off room rates-Disney Visa Cardholder-General public 3/13/14

3/17/14

Mid August – September 2014 10-25% off room + Free Memory Maker-General public 2/6/14
Mid August – September 2013 5-30% off room rates-Disney Visa Cardholder-General public 5/6/13

5/9/13

Mid August – early October 2014 20-30% off room rates-Disney Visa Cardholder-General public 5/2/14

5/7/14

September 2013 Free Dining-Disney Visa Cardholder-General public 5/6/13

5/9/13

October – December 2013 Free Dining (ended 12/22)-General public 8/1/13
October – December 2013 15-30% off room rates (ended 12/23)-General public 8/1/13
October – December 2014 Free Dining (blacked out 10/4-10/25; 11/2-11/8; 11/21-12/11)-Disney Visa Cardholder-General public 5/2/14

5/7/14

 

So now you know what discount is available, you can make your decision on what saves you the most. A few important notes:

  • If more than one discount is available, make sure you choose the best one for your family. A great example is free dining and room discount. If you are traveling with less than 2 adults, planning on staying at deluxe resort, and/or have a short stay, the room discount may be greater than dining savings.
  • With ticket discounts or a free day of park tickets, just do a quick check to see how much one more day would cost, sometimes it’s under $10!
  • For free dining discounts, as long as your arrival day is within the travel window, your entire vacation will be covered. If you are booking a room rate discount, your entire vacation will need to be within available travel dates.
  • Be willing to do a split stay if your travel dates are set in stone. This way you can take advantage of some great discounts. Just make sure you book the same room type if you are planning on staying at the same resort.
  • Don’t count on a certain discount even if historical information points towards it. Free dining in 2014 is the perfect example – previous years had very few blacked out dates and 2014 blacked out almost the entire month of October.

When should I book my vacation?

If high demand dining experiences like Be Our Guest, Cinderella’s Table, pre-park opening character meals, evening meals at California Grill, etc. are on your list, I highly recommend booking before your 180 days window opens (this means 180 days prior to your arrival). For those looking to budget for your vacation, book early and start paying things off on a monthly or quarterly basis.

If you are looking for high demand reservations like free dining, it may be in your best interest to book a low cost room only reservation to get your dining choices and then book your free dining reservation online as the deal comes out. 2014 Free dining brought phone wait times of 5-6 hours and phone is the ONLY way to update an existing reservation or to book a Disney Visa cardholder discount. While Disney’s web site is very slow on the first day of a free dining discount, you can at least hold your reservation t no cost if the payment system is causing issues (as it tends to when website volume is extremely high)  Get a sure thing! The best part about room only reservations is that you are required to pay 1 night’s room plus tax (at a value resort this can be about $100). It’s kind of cheating the system, but your room does go back into the pool after you cancel. If you wait at least 2 weeks after a major discount has been released, wait times can be less than 5 minutes to nothing. Your dining reservations are not tied to your reservation number, so you can cancel without losing your other reservations!

Room rate discounts are not as competitive as major discounts like free dining. Wait times are typically less than an hour and most important for locations like Port Orleans Riverside which have rooms that sleep up to 5 guests.

Regardless of your discount and your resort choice, be prepared to be flexible. This may mean upgrading your room view/category to receive the available discount or changing resorts completely (often in the case of free dining). It’s best to have a backup plan and 1st, 2nd, and 3rd choices and if working with a travel professional, be available via email or text message as things are changed.

Saving time AND money

A free gift for Disney vacation! The amazing and exciting Minnie Box! (subject to minimum vacation package)

A free gift for Disney vacation! The amazing and exciting Minnie Box! (subject to minimum vacation package)

Ready to get started planning your 2015 Disney World vacation? Please contact me at any time for a free quote. The benefits to using an authorized Disney vacation planner include saving time before and during your vacation with itinerary planning which can help save you hours of standing in line each day. Plus you won’t have to watch for available discounts, research resorts, wake up early for dining reservations, or stay up late for FastPasses. The best part about using a travel planner instead of planning yourself? It’s totally FREE! Plus I’ll take away some of the stress and confusion of planning a Disney vacation (especially if it’s your first one!)It’s also a worry free cruise opportunity. I’ll walk through through all of the steps to the process with a few little insider tips along the way! If you already have your vacation planned and are interested in transferring your vacation, ask me how!

 

Disney World Free Dining: What’s all the fuss about? (an FAQ)

 

Most people go crazy for anything free, but Disney World giving something away for nothing? It’s true! Free dining is a favorite promotion for many Disney guests, both new and veterans, but what’s the big deal? Well, depending on your family size and length of stay, I’ve seen people save as much as $2100 after I did the math. That’s the big deal.


Frequently asked questions

Q. Who qualifies for free dining?

A. Anyone who is taking a Disney World during the promotional period qualifies for free dining.

Q.  I already have a reservation during that time, will Disney give me free dining?

A. No. You must call Disney to request that free dining be added to your reservation. If this was done through a travel agent (lucky you – you’ll save lots of time on the phone), your travel agent will have to call to make the update. This will require an additional $200 deposit. Be prepared to have a conversation about switching resorts as not all resorts have the free dining promotion available. It’s good to have a first, second, and third choice. Do your research before you pick up the phone.

Q. What resorts do qualify for free dining?

A. I won’t know the answer to this until the promotion is released (which is likely Monday, April 21st). The last several promotions going back to the end of 2013 and early 2014 have excluded all 3-bedroom villas, the Little Mermaid Suites in Art of Animation, the Villas at Grand Floridian, and the campsites at Fort Wilderness. I would expect this promotion to be the same. Each promotion is different, so some of the value or moderate resorts may be included or excluded based on how many rooms are booked at the time the promotion is released.

Q. What dining plan is included with free dining?

A. In previous years the quick service dining plan was included at the value resorts and the full dining plan (plus dining) was included at the moderate and deluxe resorts as well as the deluxe villas. I have no reason to believe that will change.

Q. What is included with each dining plan?

A. See the tips & tricks for Free Dining and Flavorful Friday: Getting the most out of the Disney Dining Plan for complete details

Q. Can I upgrade my dining plan?

A. Absolutely! If you choose to stay at a value resort, you can upgrade to plus dining or at any resort, you can upgrade to deluxe dining. This would be an additional out of pocket cost. You would be paying the difference between the two plans. To upgrade to plus dining from free quick service is usually only $200-$400 depending on the number of guests traveling and their ages (usually on the lower end). If you plan on 1-2 character meals during your time in Disney World, the upgrade is well worth it! If you don’t want any table service meals, then just smile and thank Disney for the free food!

Q. Are there any hidden costs?

A. No hidden costs. You receive the dining plan for free with any full price hotel reservation and a minimum of 2 days of park tickets as part of your package. As a note, the dining plan does not include gratuity for table service restaurants, so plan for 18-20% tips for each table service meal. Other than that, no other fees or hidden costs!

Q. How much Money will I save?

A. Let’s do the math

While you do pay full price for your hotel room stay, free dining saves each adult $64.58 for adults and each child$20.48 per night. The quick service plan (offered free at the value resorts, works out to be $44.72 and $17.07 for kids) . You also have to remember that any child 10 and older is considered a Disney adult and would pay the adult price for dining and park tickets.

 

Meet the Mouse Family

Meet the Mouse Family. Mr. and Mrs. Mouse are 2 adults and they have 2 children, a boy Mickey age 11 and a girl Minnie age 7. They would like to take advantage of free dining in September and stay 7 days and 6 nights at a moderate resort, giving them the plus dining plan (this includes a table service credit, quick service credit, and snack credit per person for each night stayed).  This gives them a total cost savings of $214.22 per night which equals $1285.32 over their length of stay. Many families fall into this category based on the ages of their children. Here’s a handy little chart to see where your family falls in the realm of possibilities:

Cost savings per night using free dining (click to enlarge)

Cost savings per night using free dining (click to enlarge)

To calculate your overall cost savings, multiple the number above with your total number of night’s stayed (NOT days or number of days of park tickets).

Still have questions? Please contact me at any time using the form below! I’d be happy to answer any questions you may have about free dining or any other Disney World promotion!

Ready to get started planning your 2015 Disney World vacation? Please contact me at any time for a free quote. The benefits to using an authorized Disney vacation planner include saving time before and during your vacation with itinerary planning which can help save you hours of standing in line each day. Plus you won’t have to watch for available discounts, research resorts, wake up early for dining reservations, or stay up late for FastPasses. The best part about using a travel planner instead of planning yourself? It’s totally FREE! Plus I’ll take away some of the stress and confusion of planning a Disney vacation (especially if it’s your first one!)It’s also a worry free cruise opportunity. I’ll walk through through all of the steps to the process with a few little insider tips along the way! If you already have your vacation planned and are interested in transferring your vacation, ask me how!

 

Disney World Tips and tricks: More time savers

castlejpg

So you want to take a Disney World vacation in 2014. Now where to stay?

With 29 on property resorts to choose from, how do you decide? It’s the age old discussion of time vs. money. Typically resorts with multiple modes of transportation or those that are very close to the theme parks are more costly. It’s no surprise that the Deluxe resorts are located in close proximity to Magic Kingdom, Epcot, and Hollywood Studios. One of the major questions I ask my clients outside of budget constraints is what’s more important: time or money.

In Disney, you can save time and spend a little more money on your “home” location or you can save a little more money and spend a bit more time in transit. Depending on your resort and location of that resort, you can spend an additional 15-30 minutes either waiting for or riding the buses. Taking your own vehicle could knock off some of the waiting time), however you will still have to walk or wait for parking lot trams to take you to the front entrance of the park.

Melissa’s insider tip: If you have the funds and are willing to spend a little extra money, especially on a first trip or a trip with little ones, I would suggest staying at a resort close to Magic Kingdom or Epcot. This will help save you from additional lines and any travel confusion using your own vehicle.

New Discounts available to general public on Monday

That’s right, a new discount is available to the general public as of Monday, January 6th. A sneak preview was given to all Disney Visa card holders. For the details, check yesterday’s blog post. For those value hunters, a 5-night Disney World vacation for 2 adults and 2 children can be less than $500 per person. This includes 5 full days of park tickets (one free thanks to Disney!) While booking is available via the web, sometimes the system is difficult to navigate and can be confusing. It is sometimes difficult to tell whether you have a discount (or the best discount) applied for your vacation package. Your other options: call Disney or contact a travel agent to do all of your heavy lifting. Obviously I’m a little bias towards option #2!

Disney sent a reminder e-mail to all travel agents reminding them that January and February are the busiest times of year on their phone systems, especially with a new special offer. Those who already have their vacation packages booked must now call and have the offer applied to their account which leads to long wait times and bogged down web servers. It’s not uncommon for Disney’s servers to have intermittent outages which can be extremely frustrating to new and seasoned users alike.

Melissa’s insider tip: Let a travel agent (especially one who works specifically with Disney) help you book your dream vacation. We can often provide insider information and ensure that you are not only getting a discount, but the best discount that Disney has to offer. If additional discounts become available, we will continue to save you money.

When NOT to travel to Disney World

It’s common knowledge that the time between Christmas through New Year’s is a busy time at Disney World. For my knowledge, I commonly review my Disney apps which show current wait times in the Disney parks. On New Year’s Eve it was common to see wait times in both Magic Kingdom and Epcot in the 2-4 hour range. Yes, FOUR hours for Test Track! To me, that doesn’t sound much of a vacation or a fun experience.

Melissa’s insider tip: Be aware of peak travel windows. For the best times to travel, check an earlier blog post. If you have the ability to stay away from peak travel times such as Christmas, New Year’s, Thanksgiving (and the week leading into Thanksgiving), and the majority of the summer months, you will save time AND money! And we all know time is money.


Ready to get started planning your 2015 Disney World vacation? Please contact me at any time for a free quote. The benefits to using an authorized Disney vacation planner include saving time before and during your vacation with itinerary planning which can help save you hours of standing in line each day. Plus you won’t have to watch for available discounts, research resorts, wake up early for dining reservations, or stay up late for FastPasses. The best part about using a travel planner instead of planning yourself? It’s totally FREE! Plus I’ll take away some of the stress and confusion of planning a Disney vacation (especially if it’s your first one!) I’ll walk through through all of the steps to the process with a few little insider tips along the way! If you already have your vacation planned and are interested in transferring your vacation, ask me how!