It’s looking as though Walt Disney World is not quite out of the economic downturn, or perhaps WDW just enjoys the extra business when they offer multiple discounts during less busy times of the year.
WDW is now offering a trio of special discounts, and all three have been extended into 2011.
If you’re looking at booking a stay at Walt Disney World later in 2010 or in 2011, here’s a look at each of the three discounts available to you, and the pros and cons of each.
1. Free Dining Discount
The free dining discount is an especially popular discount first offered through Oct. 2 2010, but was later extended. It’s so popular that some extra restaurant locations will pop up in WDW in September.
Eligible check-in dates for the free dining promotion in 2010 are Oct 1-7, Oct 22–28, Nov 12-18, Nov 27-Dec 2 and Dec 10– 21. For 2011, eligible check-in dates are Jan 1–5, Jan 9–13, Jan 21– Feb 3, Feb 11–17, Feb 25–Mar 3, May 27–Jun 2, and Aug 19–Sept 29.
The free dining promotion is the best bang for your buck discount. It’s a savings of $599 for a family of four staying five nights, or $467 with the quick-service plan. It’s also the plan extended furthest into 2011.
If you’re the type who just doesn’t eat much, or if you plan to eat at a lot of restaurants outside Disney property, this is probably not the plan for you. Also, if you have Annual Passes for Disney World and don’t need the tickets that come along with this package, that could cut into your potential profit.
Keep in mind that advanced dining reservations can now be made 180 days in advance, so those booking this promotion through March are now able to make their ADRs. If you haven’t already booked a trip and were planning on going before March 2011, reservation windows at some restaurants may already be diminished.
2. Room Rate Discount
This discount is available for check-in dates of Oct. 3-Nov. 23, Nov. 27-Dec. 25 2010 and Jan. 1-Feb 16, 2011.
With this discount, save 25% at Disney Value Resorts and Animal Kingdom Lodge, save 30% at Disney Moderate Resorts and Grand Floridian Resort, and save 40% at the remaining Disney Deluxe Resorts and Disney Deluxe Villa Resorts.
This is an especially good discount for Deluxe Resorts with a 40% discount such as Wilderness Lodge, Polynesian Resort, Boardwalk Inn and the Deluxe Villa Resorts. This is also a great deal for those with Disney World Annual Passes.
But a 25% discount at a value resort is no more than roughly $25 per night, making the free dining promotion a better savings overall. But if you’re just not interested in a Disney Dining Plan, this may be a good discount for you.
Keep in mind that this discount is currently offered through only Feb. 16 in 2011, though its possible that more dates could be announced.
3. Gift Card Promotion
Another new discount announced is the gift card promotion. In order to be eligible, you must book at least a 5-night stay and check in Oct. 3–Nov. 23, Nov. 27–Dec. 25 and Jan. 1–Feb. 16, 2011 – the same dates as the room rate discount promotion.
For this promotion, book at a Value resort and receive a $200 Disney gift card, book at a Moderate resort and receive a $300 Disney gift card, or book at a Deluxe/Deluxe Villa resort and receive a $500 Disney gift card. This is a good opportunity for those who spend a big part of their budget on souvenirs, or for those who want the flexibility of a Disney gift card, which you can use to purchase your meals.
To figure out whether the gift card promotion or the room rate discount promotion is a better deal, you’ll need to do some math. This is done by comparing your total potential room rate promotion savings vs. the value of the gift card you would receive with this promotion.
For instance, staying 5 nights at Pop Century would be a room rate discount savings of about $125, which is less than the value of the $200 gift card received when staying at a Value Resort. If you think you will spend the gift card on meals and shopping during your stay, the Gift Card Promotion might be a better choice for you.