Disney News & Listener Questions from 1/1/2017 – Episode 18

In this week’s episode, for January 1, 2017, Jon will be discussing news and current events at Disney Destinations around the world as well as taking your listener questions on Disney travel.

Please send any questions about the show to host@mousedreamsblog.com and visit our website, www.MouseDreamsBlog.com for more information. Also, like our Facebook page at Facebook.com/MouseDreamsblog and follow us on Twitter @MouseDreamsBlog.

Finally, thanks to our sponsors and friends at Big Dreams Travel, an Authorized Disney Travel Planner. Visit them at www.bigdreamstravelusa.com to help with your next vacation.

You can submit Disney trip planning questions for us to answer on the show by e-mailing us at podcast@MouseDreamsBlog.com, by tweeting your question to @MouseDreamsBlog on Twitter, or by visiting the listener questions page on our website at www.MouseDreamsBlog.com/podcastquestions. We would love to answer your questions on travel including Walt Disney World, Disneyland, or Disney Cruise Line. Have a great week everyone and thanks for listening!

Show Notes
New Discounts for Spring and Summer Released at Disney World
New Quick Service Breakfast Opens at Sanaa at Animal Kingdom Lodge Kidani Village
Disney After Hours Event Returning at Lower Price Point

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New Discounts for Early 2017 Released at Disney World

Contemporary from Boat DockDisney World has released another round of discounts this time for early 2017. There is both a room only discount for up to 25% off as well as a Play, Stay, & Dine discount where guests can save $500. Be sure and contact your travel agent to get this offer applied if you have a vacation booked during this time frame, or if you are looking at a trip during this time contact our friends at Big Dreams Travel, they’ll help you plan a trip where they do all of the work, and you get to have all of the fun!

Play, Stay, & Dine Discount
The newest dining inclusive discount released allows guests to save $500 on their Disney World vacation package. The amount of discount can vary widely and the $500 savings is based on a 5 day/6 night vacation package for a family of four. The discount can be applied most nights from January 1 through March 7, 2017. Guests must  book this discount before December 21, 2016. There are a few resort exclusions for this offer including the Campsites, all 3-bedroom villas, The Villas at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, Bungalows at Disney’s Polynesian Villas and Bungalows, Bay Lake Tower at Disney’s Contemporary Resort, Disney’s Art of Animation Resort – The Little Mermaid Standard Rooms, Disney’s All-Star Movies Resort, and Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – French Quarter.

25% Off Room Discount Offer
The room discount offer is good for up to 25% off rooms at most Disney resorts. All bookings for this offer must be made by December 21, 2016 and are good for stays most nights from December 15-23, 2016 and January 1 through April 8, 2017. There are a few resort exclusions for this offer including the Campsites, all 3-bedroom villas, The Villas at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, Bungalows at Disney’s Polynesian Villas and Bungalows, Bay Lake Tower at Disney’s Contemporary Resort, and Disney’s Art of Animation Resort – The Little Mermaid Standard Rooms. Also, excluded from December 15-23 only is Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – French Quarter.

Holiday Season Room Discount Released for Disney World

Contemporary from Boat DockDisney World has released a new room discount off for up to 20% off when booking a room only reservation at most resort hotels. Keep in mind these discounts must be booked by October 8, 2016. We always recommend using an authorized Disney vacation planner like our friends at Big Dreams Travel. Contact them today for a free no-obligation quote. There help costs you nothing.

The following discount levels are valid for stays from 11/6/2016 through 11/10/2016, 11/13/2016 through 11/22/2016, and 11/26/2016 through 12/23/2016. The available discount levels are as follows:

  • 20% off at Animal Kingdom Villas – Jambo & Kidani, BoardWalk Villas, Old Key West, Saratoga Springs, and The Villas at Wilderness Lodge.
  • 15% off at Fort Wilderness Resort – Cabins Only, Caribbean Beach, Coronado Springs, and Port Orleans-Riverside.
  • 10% off at Beach Club Villas, Polynesian Villas & Bungalows – Studios Only, All-Star Movies, All-Star Music, All-Star Sports, Art of Animation – Family Suites Only, and Pop Century.

The following discount levels are valid for stays from 11/6/2016 through 11/10/2016 and 11/26/2016 through 12/23/2016. The available discount levels are as follows:

  • 10% off at Animal Kingdom Lodge – Standard/Pool View Only, BoardWalk Inn, Grand Floridian, Wilderness Lodge, and Yacht Club.

The Different Ways to Make Your Disney Resort Reservation

Trip Planning Tuesday CastleWhen planning your Disney World resort vacation you have a few different options as to how to make the actual booking. Below we are going to outline each of the three main ways you can book a Disney World vacation and some of the positives and negatives of each. We are not going to go extremely in depth in any of these areas, but we are going to give a brief overview to educate you on the best ways to book a Disney vacation.

Disclaimer: The three options we are presenting below can be utilized with and without a travel agent. Most travel agents will encourage booking directly with Disney World, but can help you with any of the options, and let us reiterate travel agents should be working FOR you for NO COST. If a travel agent tries to charge you a service fee, you need to find a new travel agent. We just wanted to put the disclaimer out there that any of the below options can be done with or without an agent. If using an agent our sponsor, Big Dreams Travel, has Disney experts that will help you every step of the way.

  • Through Disney World Directly – One of the best ways to book your vacation in terms of the extra benefits you get is to go directly through Disney World. This can be done on the Disney website or through your travel agent. You are going to get access to any deals and discounts that have been released by Disney, but the biggest positive is that you get complete control of your reservation from start to finish. You will see why that is important when we get to the next option below for dealing with a 3rd party reservation system. When booking with Disney you get immediate access to your reservation on your My Disney Experience to manage the booking. Also, you will get all of the great benefits to booking with Disney: availability of the dining plan, the option of doing a 3 day hold with no deposit, only having to make a $200 deposit until the 30 day mark instead of a full payment, and the ability to make any types of changes or cancellation you want until that 30 day mark. Disney reservations are very flexible and allow you much freedom if something were to come up and require a change. We think this is the best way to go if booking a package reservation which includes hotel and park tickets.
  • Through a 3rd Party Reservation System – Another way to book your Disney reservation is going through a 3rd Party travel vendor such as Travelocity or Expedia. Sometimes these reservation sites seem to have good prices on the surface, but when you look at the extras that go with it and some hidden fees that are almost always involved. Also, with these sites you don’t get an actual Disney reservation number so you do not get the advantage of using My Disney Experience. A final negative if this method is that these sites often require full payment of the entire trip at the time of booking. With that said there are times when these sites do have an extra discount that they may provide when packaging airfare with a hotel, so we are not advocating never checking with these vendors. Travel agents also have some 3rd party vendors they can book through that are more reputable than these internet agencies and they usually do include the Disney benefits such as a deposit initially and the balance due later on, so if working through a travel agent this can be a good option at times.
  • Through Separate Reservation Systems – This final option is referring to booking your hotel through Disney World as a “room only” reservation and then purchasing park tickets elsewhere. The “room only” option at Disney World carries most of the same benefits as a package reservation, except that your final payment is not due until a few days in advance of your trip. You can still apply room discount codes, but you are not able to take advantage of free dining offers when booking a “room only” reservation. This option does allow you to use a Disney World authorized ticket retailer, such as Undercover Tourist. A site like that offers a small discount on Disney World tickets. The discount is not much, but the tickets are the same as you would get through Disney and they can still be linked to your My Disney Experience account. With this option you do have to manage multiple reservations, but it is sometimes a better deal as far as the total cost.

Leave a comment below with any questions and a “Mouse Dreamer” will answer them as soon as we can.

Disney Offers Free “Meal” Plan This Summer

Cinderella CastleToday Disney World released a new and unique discount type for guests who may be traveling this summer. This discount includes a Free Quick Service Meal per person, per night of their resort stay in a Disney Value Resort. The package must be at least 5 days/4 nights for the free meal to be added. The booking window for this discount is fairly slim from January 19 to February 29. There are two travel date ranges included, May 29 – June 30 and July 5 – August 13. As always we recommend visiting with one of the travel agents at Big Dreams Travel to help you with this trip as they can make sure you are getting the best deal available. Sometimes a room discount may be a better value than this “Free Meal” package.

How to Save Money and Stay in Disney Resorts

BoardwalkOnce you have made the decision that an on-property, Disney Resort, is the right choice for your family you will want to know how you can make that trip happen for the best possible price. With this in mind we have listed below some tips we have on how to save money while staying in Disney World resorts. These tips are in no particular order and some of them only happen at certain times of year.

  • Room Discounts – The most popular discount that Disney releases are room discounts. They usually release these 3-6 months in advance of certain travel dates. These discounts will range from 10% to 35% off of the hotel room portion of your trip, and the percentages get higher for the higher level of resort you book. For instance a certain discount may be 20% at value resorts, 25% at moderate resorts, and 30% at deluxe resorts. At times of year when crowds are low the discounts will usually be higher and at times of year when crowds are higher the discounts will be less, but every little bit certainly helps. Disney has been releasing room discounts in recent years for almost all travel dates except those most popular times of year. These times include the Christmas/New Year Holiday Season, Marathon Weekend, and the Easter Holiday Season. Most other times have had some discount available, although you should always know that no discount is guaranteed.
  • Free Dining – Disney also offers a “Free Dining” discount at certain times of year. These were fairly frequent 3-4 years ago, but in the last year or two they only release free dining in the less crowded times in the fall (late August and September). When free dining comes out it includes the quick service dining plan at value resorts and the regular dining plan at moderate and deluxe resorts. Also, keep in mind that with free dining you must be booking a vacation package that includes hotel, park tickets and dining. You cannot attach free dining to a room only booking or combine it with a room discount offer.
  • Know Which is the Best Discount – This tip refers to times of year when there are both free dining and room discounts available. Since you can only use one discount per booking when staying at value resorts the free dining offer is a better deal than the room discount since the room discount percentage is pretty low at the value resorts. In contrast, when staying at deluxe resorts the room discount can sometimes be more beneficial and save more money than the free dining plan since room rates are higher at these resorts. It is just important to put the pen to the paper and see which option will actually save you the most money.
  • Know the Rules of Disney Packages – We always recommend you book your trip as far in advance as possible of your trip dates, even if discounts have not been released. When booking a package with Disney you only have to pay a $200 deposit and you can do things such as dining reservations at 180 days and FP+ reservations at 60 days. The balance of your trip is not due until 30 days before your travel dates. Another great feature of booking through Disney is that any part of your package is refundable and/or changeable up until that 30 day mark. If a discount is released and you already have that reservation you can simply call, or have your travel agent call, and get the discount applied to your current booking. So, you are in no danger of losing a discount if you already have a reservation on the books, that is why we recommend doing it early.
  • Work with a Travel Agent – This tip is one that we highly recommend, as using a travel agent is your best bet in finding current deals and discounts and getting them applied to your trip. First, using a travel agent is a free service. Make sure you work with a travel agent who is an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner, such as those at Big Dreams Travel. Travel agents, especially those with a Disney specialization, are going to be the first to know about coming discounts and deals and they can get these applied to your trip the day they are released. This is important as many Disney deals and discounts have limited availability so the quicker you get them applied to your trip the less of a chance you have of the space at a certain resort being completely booked.

If you have any other questions regarding saving money at Disney resorts post them below and we’ll help however we can.