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Deals and Discounts at Walt Disney World Resort

Walt Disney world is one of the most popular vacation destinations on the planet. Whether it’s a couple booking their honeymoon, a family wanting to see Cinderella Castle for the first time, or adult friends getting together annually to keep close, everyone wants to get the most out of their trip and to leave the real world behind. The problem is that it is easy to snap back to reality when you see how much a Walt Disney World vacation can cost. Don’t despair, there are discounts to be found and ways to save money. You’ll find many of them listed here. Not every discount will work for everyone, and there are some that you probably won’t be eligible for. Take the information that will best work for you and see how much you can save on your trip to Central Florida.

When booking your vacation, there is more of a chance to save if you call Walt Disney World instead of making your reservation online. Ask the operator if there are any deals or discounts available for the dates that you have chosen. If possible be flexible. Sometimes moving a vacation back a day will make a huge difference. It is also never a bad idea to book through a travel agent. You won’t pay extra that way, and there might be some bonus incentives that you wouldn’t have found on your own. Make sure that the travel agent that you use specializes in Disney vacations. They will know how to make the most out of every Disney dollar.

The information contained herein is up to date and true to the best of our knowledge. None of it is guaranteed, and Disney can change or end a promotion or discount at any time and without notice. Just because Disney has run a promotion in the past and it is mentioned here does not mean that they will hold it again in the future. While the information herein concerns Walt Disney World, the Walt Disney Company is not responsible for this document.

Here is what you need to know about Walt Disney World discounts.

Dining Discounts

There are over 300 different restaurants and snack stands at Walt Disney World. The prices tend to be on the high side. Saving on dining is not easy, but there are a few discounts available. Dining discounts for Annual Passholders are not included, since those are explained elsewhere.

Tables In Wonderland

One of the best ways to save money at over 100 Walt Disney World restaurants is to use a Tables in Wonderland card. You will save 20% at participating restaurants, and alcohol is included. Unfortunately, there is not one, but two, catches. First, you need to purchase the card, it is not free. It will take several meals to recover the cost of the plan. Second, Tables in Wonderland is not available to everyone. You need to be a Disney Vacation Club Member, Annual Passholder, or Florida Resident in order to be eligible to purchase a TIW membership. After you have a membership, your spouse can purchase a card for a discount. A membership is good for one year.

There are a few other things that you need to know about a Tables in Wonderland card. One card is good for a group of up to ten people, including the cardholder. The member must be there and pay for the meal, it is not transferable. A gratuity of 18% will automatically be added, when applicable. There are also blockout dates. Don’t expect to use your card on any of the major holidays, including Mother’s Day. Some of the most popular restaurants have additional blockout dates during the busiest times of the year. If you’re dining at a Walt Disney World Resort hotel, valet parking is included. You will also receive free theme park parking if you have a dining reservation.

Tables in Wonderland is accepted at many restaurants where you won’t get an Annual Passholder discount. This includes many of the full service restaurants inside the theme parks. Outside of the theme parks your card will be good at some of the hotel food courts, in addition to many full service restaurants. The list of restaurants that accept the card changes from time to time, so check the Tables in Wonderland website before making your plans, just to be on the safe side.

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Free Disney Dining Plan

While the Disney Dining Plan isn’t a discount per say, it can help you to better budget for your vacation. With the Disney Dining Plan your meals will be included in your Magic Your Way vacation package. There are several plans to choose from, and you must stay at a Walt Disney World Resort in order to be eligible.

Sometimes the Quick Service Disney Dining Plan is offered for free. The Quick Service Plan consists of two quick service meals and one snack each day of your vacation. There are extra restrictions that may be included. For instance, you will pay full price for your room, you may be required to add Memory Maker to your package, you might have to purchase the Water Parks Fun and More ticket option. There is usually also a minimum stay requirement of three nights. There are no set days when free dining will be offered, and Disney may discontinue the promotion at any time. Traditionally it is offered in the slower fall months, although it has also been offered in the spring. The details of the Free Disney Dining Plan are usually announced in late April or early May. Because of the requirements of the free Disney Dining Plan, Annual Passholders and Disney Vacation Club members are usually not eligible. Free dining is one of the most popular discounts offered by Walt Disney World.

Free Quick Service Meal

In early 2016 Walt Disney World introduced a new dining promotion. Guests staying at a Walt Disney World Value Resort late May through mid-August may be eligible for one quick service meal a day. Blockout dates apply, and you must stay a minimum of three nights. There are other requirements as well, and The Little Mermaid Standard rooms at Disney’s Art of Animation Resort are not included in the offer. There is no word on whether this offer is just for 2016, or if it will continue in the future.

Walt Disney World Resort Hotel Discounts

There is something special about staying at a Walt Disney World Resort hotel. True, you could save a few dollars and stay off property, but there are added benefits of staying at a Disney Resort. You can enjoy Extra Magic Hours, free theme park parking, Disney’s Magical Express, and more. To be eligible for the Disney Dining Plan you’ll need to stay on property. There are five classifications of resorts; Value, Moderate, Deluxe, Deluxe Villas, and Campgrounds. The cost that you will pay depends on the time of year that you travel. In the slower times of year Disney wants to fill empty rooms, so they will offer discounts. During the busiest seasons you will pay more. You can see the non-discounted rates for each type of room on the Walt Disney World website. The best way to find any current promotions for when you plan to travel is to call 407-939-7702 and ask the operator about discounts. While there are no discounts guaranteed at any time of year, here are the usual types of promotions that you might find.

Room Only Discounts: If you’re looking to find only a discount on your room, this is what you should look for. This type of discount is perfect for Annual Passholders or people who don’t intend to spend every single day in the parks. Often the discounts are available in the spring and fall, and savings could be 20% or more, depending on the type of resort that you plan to book. Rates are released several weeks to months in advance.

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Packages: A package will include more than just a discounted room. You will need to book a minimum number of nights. Tickets are part of the package, and will often include an extra incentive such as a free day. Sometimes, other things are thrown in to sweeten the deal, such as the Quick Service Disney Dining Plan for free.

Travel Agent Discounts: Sometimes the best way to find a deal is to book through a travel agent. Often they will know of either single room or package deals that aren’t well known to the general public. Make sure that the travel agent that you use is an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner. If you’re the member of a travel club such as AAA, you might also be able to save some money if you book your trip through them.

Discount Travel Sites: Deals can often be found by not booking your room through Walt Disney World. Empty rooms need to be filled, and sometimes extras will be released to travel sites such as Expedia. The savings could be significant.

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Ticket Discounts

One thing that most perspective travelers want to know is the best way to save money on tickets. The honest answer is that it’s hard to save all that much. The best way to save on tickets is to stay a few extra days at Walt Disney World. The longer your ticket is for, the less you will pay per day. There used to be a No Expiration Date option when purchasing tickets, but that is no longer the case. Your ticket will be good for 14 days from the day that it is first swiped, even if you don’t use all of the days. Extras such as Park Hopper and the Water Parks Fun & More Option will add onto your ticket cost, so purchase them only if you will use them.

There are some places where you might be able to save a few dollars on tickets. Look for an Authorized Walt Disney World Ticket Seller. The savings won’t be huge, but every little bit can make a difference when money is tight. Authorized Ticket Sellers will sometimes have special deals, such as an extra day if you purchase a certain ticket. You might also be able to save a little bit on tickets if you are a member of a travel club such as AAA. You can also purchase slightly discounted tickets at two different Walmart stores that are near Walt Disney World.

One word of warning; beware of so called “deals”. When in Orlando you will see many places that offer “discounted tickets” or “cheap tickets” at a price that seems too good to be true. Sometimes such an offer is totally legitimate, but you will be required to sit through a lengthy timeshare presentation in order to get your tickets. It is a high pressure environment, and it is their goal to not let you leave (or give you your tickets) until you have signed up for something. The rest of the “cheap ticket” places are scams. They will sell used tickets, knowing full well that the buyer will not be able to use them. There is no way of telling how many days are on a ticket unless you’re at Walt Disney World, so you won’t know if you can get in until you’re at the turnstiles. Also, even if the ticket has some days left on it, Disney uses biometric scanners at the park entrances. Your scan will not match the finger scan of the person who originally used the ticket. The practice of buying and selling used tickets is illegal, and there are arrests from time to time. It’s probably also not a good idea to buy a ticket from a place like eBay or Craigslist for the same reasons. Be safe, and make sure that your tickets are going to work. You don’t want to be disappointed.

Annual Passholder Discounts

One of the best ways to receive discounts at Walt Disney World is to purchase an Annual Pass. There are several options available to the general public, and even more choices for Florida residents. Not all Florida resident options include all discounts, so compare the benefits to see which one will work best for you. The two passes that are available to the general public are the Disney Platinum Pass and the Disney Platinum Plus Pass. The Disney Platinum Pass allows the holder to visit all four theme parks any day of the year, there are no blockout days. Park Hopper is included. The Disney Platinum Plus Pass has all the benefits of the Platinum Pass, but the holder also can visit the two Walt Disney World Water Parks, ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, and Disney’s Oak Trail Golf Course. There are plenty of other benefits to being a Passholder as well. Some groups or families will purchase an Annual Pass for one member of their party so that they can enjoy all the extras. Here are some of the discounts that are offered to Annual Passholders. They do change from time to time, so it’s always a good idea to ask if a discount is available when about to make any type of purchase.

Dining Discounts

The dining discounts for Annual Passholders vary. For the most part, the discounts are for full service restaurants, quick service locations don’t usually offer a savings for Passholders. Alcohol is not discounted. The main problem with the Passholder dining discount is that it does not apply to most of the restaurants in the theme parks. There are exceptions, especially at Epcot. Even restaurants that have a Passholder dining discount may have restrictions, such as lunch only or certain days of the weeks. Blockout dates might also apply. The good news is that there are plenty of restaurants at Disney Springs that will give a Passholder discount. The same is true at many full service restaurants at the Walt Disney World Resort hotels. The discount for Passholders is usually 10%, but depending on the location it could be as high as 20%. Passholders are also eligible to purchase a Tables in Wonderland membership. That card is accepted at over 100 restaurants, including many in the theme parks. Tables in Wonderland members will receive a 20% discount at participating locations. An alcohol discount is included with a Tables in Wonderland membership.

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Merchandise Discounts

While there are plenty of restaurants at Walt Disney World that do not offer a Passholder discount, the same is not true for merchandise. A 10% discount is offered at most Walt Disney World owned and operated stores. Remember that not all stores on Disney property are owned by Disney, so not every place will offer a discount. If a store is operated by Disney but owned by another company, there may or may not be a discount. There are exceptions to what you can receive a discount on as well. Gift cards, outdoor vending kiosks, park tickets, and some other items are not eligible for a Passholder discount. The Passholder will need to make the purchase, your card is not transferable. Some merchandise locations offer a discount of 15% or even 20%. Always be prepared to ask when you check out.

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Accommodation Discounts

There are no set dates or room discounts for Annual Passholders. That said, discounts are common. Four times a year Disney sends a newsletter to Passholders called the Mickey Monitor, and that will contain any upcoming promotions. You will also receive emails about savings on rooms. If that’s not enough, log onto the Passholder section of the Walt Disney World website and see what deals on rooms may be available. If you think that you might be missing something, call 407-939-7702 and ask if there are any room discounts available for Annual Passholders.

Other Discounts

The discounts don’t end with food, souvenirs, and lodging. Here are a few more discounts that Annual Passholders can enjoy. Remember that restrictions may apply, and any discount can end without notice.

Boat Rentals and Water Sports: At Sammy Duvall’s Watersports Center at Disney’s Contemporary Resort you can save up to 10% on parasailing, tubing, wake boarding, and water skiing. Reservations are recommended, and can be made by calling 407-939-0754. There is a 15% Walt Disney World Resort Marina discount for bike, boat, and surrey bike rentals. Specialty cruises are not included, nor are the surrey bikes at Disney’s BoardWalk. The Passholder and guests can also receive a 15% discount on a BASS Nitro Fishing and Guided Fishing Excursion. Call 407-939-7529 to make a reservation.

Child Care: Children’s Activity Centers allow parents a chance to have some adult time, while letting the kids have fun in a supervised environment. A 15% Passholder discount is available, and it includes one meal. For more information or to make a reservation, call 407-939-3463.

Disney Springs: Passholders receive $2 off an evening ticket at AMC Disney Springs 24 Dine-In Theater. The discount is good for the Passholder only, there is no additional discount for guests. There is a walk-in bowling discount of 20% at Splitsville Luxury Lanes. Passholders can also receive a 15% discount at The BOATHOUSE on Italian Water Taxi and Amphicar Tours. There are also sometimes other discounts available, such as special Passholder pricing on tickets for La Nouba by Cirque du Soleil.

Golf: A 30% discount is available for the Passholder and up to three guests for Disney’s Lake Buena Vista, Disney’s Magnolia, and Disney’s Palm Golf Courses. There is also a nine hole Walking Course discount at Disney’s Oak Trail. Remember Platinum Plus Passholders play for free on Disney’s Oak Trail, but their guests must still pay. There is also a breakfast and nine holes promotion available to Passholders.

Horse and Carriage Rides: At Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground Passholders can save as they enjoy the natural beauty of their surroundings. Take a 45 minute trail ride and save 10%. You can also save 10% on carriage rides at Fort Wilderness or Disney’s Port Orleans Resort. Reservations can be made by calling 407-939-7529.

Miniature Golf: save 15% for the Passholder and up to three guests at either Disney’s Fantasia Gardens or Disney’s Winter Summerland golf courses.

Pet Care: Passholders who don’t want to leave their pets at home can save at Best Friends Pet Care. The discount depends on the services booked. Make a reservation by calling 407-939-9738.

Salon and Spa Treatments: save 15% on a salon treatment $45 or over, and or a 50 minute greater spa service. Restrictions apply, and reservations are required.

Special Events: Passholders are eligible to receive a discount on special ticketed events such as Mickey’s Parties. Discounts will be announced when the dates are announced and tickets are made available. The Passholder can purchase up to four discounted tickets.

Tours: If you’ve ever dreamed about going behind the scenes and seeing how the magic is made, you might want to sign up for a tour. Passholders receive a 15% discount on tours and experiences. Restrictions apply. Tours can be booked by calling 407-939-8687.

Water Parks: If you don’t purchase the Platinum Pass, the Water Parks aren’t included. If you still want to go, a $4 adult discount and $3 child (ages 3-9) discount are available for the Passholder and up to three guests at either of the Water Disney World water parks.

Other Money Saving Passholder Benefits: Being an Annual Passholder will help you to save a few dollars in other places as well. Your MagicBand is included. You will not have to pay for parking at the theme parks. Memory Maker is now included as well.

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Florida Resident Discounts

If you live in Florida you will be eligible for savings that the rest of the world can’t get. Proof of Florida residency is required. Don’t think that you’re going to trick the system and get a discount that you’re not really eligible for, Disney has seen it all before.

Annual Passes

There are more Annual Pass options for Florida Residents than there are for people who live elsewhere. Florida Residents also have the option of a payment plan. You will need to make a down payment, and then you’ll pay monthly for the rest of the year. The renewal rate is lower than the rate for a new pass, and a down payment is not needed for renewal. Here are brief descriptions of the different Florida Resident passes. The dining, merchandise, and other discounts are available no matter which pass you buy, except for the Water Park Passes. All Florida Resident Annual Passes except for the Water Park Passes now also include free theme park parking and the Passholder’s MagicBand.

Disney Platinum Plus Pass: includes unlimited admission to all four theme parks, both water parks, ESPN Wide World of Sport Complex, and Disney’s Oak Trail Golf Course. There are no blockout dates, and Memory Maker is included.

Disney Platinum Pass: includes unlimited admission to all four theme parks. There are no blockout dates, and Memory Maker is included.

Disney Gold Pass: includes admission to all four theme parks. There are a limited number of blockout dates during the busiest times of the year. Memory Maker is included.

Disney Silver Pass: includes admission to all four theme parks, with blockout dates during the busiest seasons. (The blockout dates include a good part of the summer and the entire month of July.) Memory Maker is not included.

Disney Weekday Select Pass: includes admission to all four theme parks on weekdays. There is no Saturday or Sunday admission, and the other blockout dates are the same as those for the Silver Pass. Memory Maker is not included.

Epcot After 4 Pass: includes admission to Epcot only after 4:00 each afternoon. There are no blockout dates. Memory Maker is not included.

Water Parks Annual Pass: includes admission to both water parks with no blockout dates. Water park openings are subject to weather and annual refurbishment.

Water Parks After 2 Annual Pass: includes admission to both water parks after 2:00 with no blockout dates. Water park openings are subject to weather and annual refurbishment.

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Florida Resident Tickets

Florida Residents don’t have to purchase an annual pass to save on tickets. While a one-day ticket still costs about the same, those who live in the Sunshine State can purchase a Florida Resident Disney Select Ticket. The tickets are available for three or four days, and they will not expire after 14 days like a normal Magic Your Way Ticket. Florida Resident Disney Select Tickets are good for six months or until a select date near the end of the year.

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Florida Resident Accommodation Discounts

The Florida Resident hotel discounts are often similar to those offered to Annual Passholders. There are often specials during the slower times of year. The best bet is to call 407-939-7702 and ask if there are any Florida Resident discounts available.

Dining

Florida Residents are eligible to purchase a Tables in Wonderland membership. The card is good for a year, and it will save you 20% on over 100 Walt Disney World restaurants. An alcohol discount is included with a Tables in Wonderland membership.

Disney Vacation Club Discounts

The Disney Vacation Club (also known as DVC) is a timeshare program with a twist. Instead of purchasing a specific time each year to use your vacation, you will buy points. You can use your points however you want, you aren’t limited to a time of year or a specific property. There are places all over the world where you can stay through the Disney Vacation Club, your trip doesn’t even have to be to Walt Disney World. There will often be special incentives for guests when they first purchase a DVC membership. The incentives change all the time, but could be extra points, free tickets, special financing, or something else. Consider carefully before purchasing a Disney Vacation Club membership, because it is a long term obligation.

Disney Vacation Club members are eligible for discounts, which are all subject to change at any time. There are discounts on dining at select restaurants, merchandise discounts, tour discounts, discounts on some spa services, golf discounts, watersport discounts, and more. DVC members also receive discounts on Annual Passes, making them eligible for more benefits. Members can also purchase a Tables in Wonderland card, which is good for a year and will save them 20% on food and alcohol at over 100 Walt Disney World Restaurants. If you’re a DVC member always ask about discounts when making a purchase or using a service, just to make sure that you don’t miss anything. For more information on Disney Vacation Club, call 877-616-8687.

Military Discounts

Walt Disney World wants to thank the men and women who serve our country and their families. That is why they offer special discounts for active or retired military members. The military member or the spouse must be present, and a valid military ID is required. While none of the discounts are guaranteed to continue, here are a few that might be offered.

Room Discounts: Active and retired military members and their families can receive special deals on Walt Disney World Resort hotel rooms. Blockout dates apply. To find out how much of a discount you might be eligible for, call 407-939-7830. The discount could be up to 40%.

Ticket Discounts: Military members are also given a break on ticket prices. The promotion is usually a four day ticket at a deeply discounted price. There are blockout dates, and there is a limit on how many tickets can be purchased at the discounted rate. For more information, call 407-939-7830.

Shades of Green: It’s technically not a discount, but Shades of Green needs to be mentioned. It is a resort on Walt Disney World property that is owned by the US military. The resort is only for active and retired military members and their families. It is located in the Magic Kingdom Resort Area. There are restaurants on property as well. Shades of Green offers military members and their families a chance at a vacation of a lifetime for an affordable price.

Disney Visa Discounts

Disney knows that the majority of guests are going to charge a lot to their credit cards while on vacation. They have teamed up with Chase, and offer the Disney Visa Cards. There are two different cards available, the Disney Premier Visa Card and the Disney Rewards Visa Card. Both cards come with benefits, such as exclusive character meet and greets. Disney Visa Cardmembers have a couple of discounts available to them as well. There is a 10% merchandise discount at select locations if you spend $50 or more. There is a 10% discount at some full service restaurants, most of which are at the resort hotels, restrictions apply. You can also save 10% on carriage rides and horseback trail rides. There is a 15% discount on some spa and salon treatments, with a $45 minimum. Cardmembers can also save 15% on select behind the scenes tours. Disney Visa discounts are not always advertised, so call 800-300-8575 for more information.

Other Ways to Save

While it’s always great to find discounts that will allow you to save a few dollars on your Walt Disney World vacation, there are also other ways to save. Here are a few common expenses, and how to cut back on the costs.

Stroller or Scooter Rentals

Traveling with a stroller is not always practical, especially if you’re flying. You can rent a stroller in the parks, but the daily cost will add up. The same is true for a scooter rental. There is a simple solution, rent a stroller or scooter locally instead of at Walt Disney World. There are plenty of Orlando area companies that you can choose from, and they will deliver right to your hotel. You can rent for the entire length of your vacation, and won’t have to worry about turning anything in as you leave the park. Wheelchairs are available for rent locally as well.

Groceries

Making some of your own food while on a Walt Disney World vacation will save you some money. Your room might have a small refrigerator and a microwave, or you could stay somewhere that has a full kitchen. You are also allowed to bring snacks into the parks. You can buy groceries on Disney property, but expect a small selection and the Disney markup. There are other choices. If you have a car, there are a couple of Publix grocery stores not too far away. Target and Walmart also sell groceries. If you don’t have access to a car you can still pay less than in the Disney stores. There are some local services that will deliver groceries to your hotel. You might even receive a discount if you place your order well enough in advance.

Flights

If you’re looking to save money on your flight the key is to book early. Discount travel sites will often give deals, but use a private browser for your search. If the information is saved on your computer, the site might up your rate on the next search to make you feel like you need to book before it goes up even more. Try to book six weeks out if possible, and many travel professionals say that the best fares are usually found on Tuesdays.

One more word about flying into Orlando. Most people book flights into Orlando International Airport, thinking that there is no other choice. You might want to see if you can find a flight into Orlando Sanford International Airport instead. It’s a little bit further from Walt Disney World, but you might be able to save a lot of money. With flights from dozens of US cities, Allegiant Air in particular might be worth looking into. Disney’s Magical Express does not service Orlando Sanford International Airport.

Car Rental

It’s hard to find a discount on car rentals in Orlando. The local companies know that they can charge a premium. A discount travel site might save you some money. So will renting the smallest car possible without the extras such as power windows. You might be able to get a better deal if you bundle your flight and car rental together. If you’re flying into Orlando International Airport and staying at a Disney Resort hotel, think about taking advantage of Disney’s Magical Express and not renting a car at all.

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About RIck Killingsworth

Rick visited the Magic Kingdom in 1971 for the first Christmas parade in their history. At nine years old, he was bitten by the Disney Bug. He can still remember the sights, the smells, and the sounds. It truly was magical. It would be twenty years before he could afford to take his young family back to “The World.” It was the vacation of a lifetime, and they have been fortunate to go hundreds of times since. His daughters, now grown, still tear up when they see the castle (as does he).