If you’ve ever been to Disney World, you know that vacations to the “most magical place on Earth” aren’t exactly cheap. Sticker shock can be a common result of tallying up prices for basics like hotel rooms, park tickets, and dining -- and that’s before adding in extras like tours and special events.
But if you think that there are never savings to be had when it comes to Disney vacations, we're letting you in on a secret: You're just looking at the wrong times. During the low season, not only do hotel rates drop, but Disney itself releases special offers for is biggest fans. Promotions include room-only discounts, packages, and even a free dining plan -- over which guests unsurprisingly go completely bonkers. And that's not to mention significantly shorter wait times for attractions. As you might guess, this is definitely the time of the year that we recommend visiting.
The hotels that make up the Disney World roster aren’t like typical hotels that work according to the supply and demand model. Instead, Disney sets the prices for each of its hotel rooms according to seasons: value, fall, regular, summer, peak, and holiday. Specials are offered for various times of the year, with holidays and a number of days during the summer typically excluded. They’ve most often been announced for off-season (value) travel dates in past years, and they’re released about two to three months before the travel window begins.
The value season for 2015 takes place on most nights January 4 through February 11 -- which means those interested in traveling in the first quarter of next year are in luck. The two latest offers are for room-only discounts and a discounted package with tickets, dining plan, and hotel stay for the first quarter of the year.
Depending on the hotel you choose, the room-only discount knocks 10-30 percent off room rates most nights January 5 through March 28. While there’s no minimum night stay, know that some room categories are excluded -- a note will appear during the booking process if that's the case. An example of one available option: a garden view room in Disney’s Contemporary Resort's Garden Wing is $270 on January 5, with a 30 percent discount from the standard rate of $385.
Or, opt for the discounted package offer and save $400-600 on a five-night package, based on a three- to 14-night stay for a family of four on most nights January 5 through March 7. Again, some accommodations are not eligible for this package, specifically The Little Mermaid rooms at Disney’s Art of Animation, the campsites, and three-bedroom villas. There may also be some restrictions based on the type of ticket that you purchase. For January 19-24, we found a $3,822 package for two adults, a junior, and a child with a savanna view deluxe studio Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge – Jambo House, four-day base park tickets, and a dining plan. Without the discount, the package would've cost $4,446.
Both deals must be booked by December 29.
Finally, later next year, another round of deals is expected to launch for visits between August 16 and September 10. But no matter when you’re going to Disney World, it’s always good to check the special offers page every so often. Even if a promotion for your dates goes live after you've made a booking, there's no harm in calling a reservation agent to see if they can apply to offer retroactively.