DW Dads Best of 2013: Disney World Discounts

Happy Holidays!

As we wind down 2013, we are taking a look back at some of our most popular articles from the past several months. Over the next couple of weeks, we will re-share these tips and tricks, so our newest fans can check them out, or so those of you who have been with us from the beginning can check them out again!

Today’s article comes from August 7 and it gives an overview of how Disney World offers their discounts. Enjoy!

Going on any vacation, especially a Disney vacation, is a major investment, both of time and money.  If there is a way to save money on our Disney vacation, we will all happily take advantage of it.  There are times, however, when Disney runs multiple discounts or discounts that are not available to everyone at the same time.  How do you know when or how to get the best deal?  Here are some basics on how Disney offers discounts and how you can take advantage of them.

First, we should define a few terms:
Vacation Package is when you combine a stay at a Disney World resort hotel with tickets to get into the theme parks.  Packages can also include the Disney Dining Plan, but they do not have to.  The tickets in your package can also include optional upgrades, such as the ability to hop from park to park.
Room Only reservation is just what it sounds like: a reservation for a room at one of the Disney World resort hotels.  Tickets can then be added to this, thereby essentially making it a Vacation Package; but, it is important to note that this type of reservation started as Room Only.

Right now, Disney is offering Free Dining and Room Only Discounts for this fall.
Right now, Disney is offering Free Dining and Room Only Discounts for this fall.

Types of Discounts

Disney likes to offer two main types of discounts: Free Dining and Percentage-Off Room Only

Free Dining: This discount would add one of the Disney Dining Plans to your reservation for free if you book a Vacation Package at the rack rate.  The level of the Dining Plan depends on the level of resort you book.
% Off Room Only: This is a certain percentage off the Room Rate.  The percentage tends to go up as the level of hotel goes up.  As mentioned above, you can then add tickets and dining, usually at full price.

There have been other discounts, of course.  Kids Stay and Play Free basically gives your kids free park tickets.  In the past, there have been gift cards given out or free nights added, but these are a lot less common today.

Who Gets Discounts?
General Public
: Many of the discounts are available to the general public; however, there are a few groups that sometimes get to take advantage of them first:
Disney Visa Cardholders: Sometimes get to book with a discount a few days earlier than the general public.
Annual Passholders: They also get to book a few days early.  AP holders also get many discounts offered to them exclusively throughout the year, including special room rates.
Florida Residents: If you live in Florida, you can often get special room rates.
Pin Code Recipients: Many times, Disney sends out personalized postcards or e-mails that include a unique code.  This code allows the recipient to take advantage of an unpublished discount (free dining, room only, etc.).  Who gets these codes and why? That is a mystery only Disney knows the answer to!

This year's Food and Wine Festival is included among the dates for this Fall's discounts.
This year’s Food and Wine Festival is included among the dates for this Fall’s discounts.

What You Need To Know
1. You can only take advantage of one discount at a time; no double dipping!
2. Most discounts require you to pay for some of your vacation at rack rate.  Often, two discounts are offered at the same time, so do the math to see which is the better deal for you.
3. There are only a certain number of rooms at each resort earmarked for each discount.  So, the discounted rooms will sell out before the actual resort runs out of rooms.
4. If you book a vacation at rack rate, then a discount comes out, you can call and have them apply the discount to your reservation, as long as your room type is still available under the discount.
5. If the room you want is sold out under a discount, keep calling back.  It may become available as others change their vacation plans.
6. Let a Disney Vacation Specialist do the work for you! DW Dads are Disney Vacation Specialists. At no cost to you, we will find you the best discount available for your family.  If one is not currently available, we will keep in constant contact with Disney to apply a discount to your reservation as soon as it is released.  Let us crunch the numbers and make the phone calls; you can just focus on making great vacation memories! Click here to request a quote.

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Dog Days of Summer: Top Dogs at the Magic Kingdom

In honor of the us being in that final stretch of the “dog days of summer,” we thought we’d ask our readers for their opinion on a related topic: the top dogs represented in the Magic Kingdom.

Here are the canine-didates:

Goofy – Barnstormer and Meet-and-Greet

Photo Copyright feistyfrugalandfabulous.com

Photo by feistyfrugalandfabulous.com

The Caretaker’s Dog – Haunted Mansion

Photo copyright dqforum.com

Photo by dqforum.com

Polynesian Dog – it’s a small world

Photo by Chris Barry

Photo by Chris Barry

Nana – Peter Pan’s Flight

Prison Dog – Pirates of the Caribbean

Rover – Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress

Photo by Joe Penniston

Photo by Joe Penniston

Hot Dogs – Casey’s Corner

Photo by disneydining.com

Photo by disneydining.com

Lady and the Tramp – Tony’s Town Square

Photo by makinmemoriesphotoblog.com

Photo by makinmemoriesphotoblog.com

Pluto – Meet-and-Greet

Photo by unofficialdisneycharacterhuntingguide. blogspot.com/

Photo by unofficialdisneycharacterhuntingguide.blogspot.com/

So which one is your favorite? Vote below!

Money-Saving Tip: Disney World Vacation Discounts

Going on any vacation, especially a Disney vacation, is a major investment, both of time and money.  If there is a way to save money on our Disney vacation, we will all happily take advantage of it.  There are times, however, when Disney runs multiple discounts or discounts that are not available to everyone at the same time.  How do you know when or how to get the best deal?  Here are some basics on how Disney offers discounts and how you can take advantage of them.

First, we should define a few terms:
A Vacation Package is when you combine a stay at a Disney World resort hotel with tickets to get into the theme parks.  Packages can also include the Disney Dining Plan, but they do not have to.  The tickets in your package can also include optional upgrades, such as the ability to hop from park to park.
A Room Only reservation is just what it sounds like: a reservation for a room at one of the Disney World resort hotels.  Tickets can then be added to this, thereby essentially making it a Vacation Package; but, it is important to note that this type of reservation started as Room Only.

Right now, Disney is offering Free Dining and Room Only Discounts for this fall.

Right now, Disney is offering Free Dining and Room Only Discounts for this fall.

Types of Discounts

Disney likes to offer two main types of discounts: Free Dining and Percentage-Off Room Only

Free Dining: This discount would add one of the Disney Dining Plans to your reservation for free if you book a Vacation Package at the rack rate.  The level of the Dining Plan depends on the level of resort you book.
% Off Room Only: This is a certain percentage off the Room Rate.  The percentage tends to go up as the level of hotel goes up.  As mentioned above, you can then add tickets and dining, usually at full price.

There have been other discounts, of course.  Kids Stay and Play Free basically gives your kids free park tickets.  In the past, there have been gift cards given out or free nights added, but these are a lot less common today.

Who Gets Discounts?
General Public
: Many of the discounts are available to the general public; however, there are a few groups that sometimes get to take advantage of them first:
Disney Visa Cardholders: Sometimes get to book with a discount a few days earlier than the general public.
Annual Passholders: They also get to book a few days early.  AP holders also get many discounts offered to them exclusively throughout the year, including special room rates.
Florida Residents: If you live in Florida, you can often get special room rates.
Pin Code Recipients: Many times, Disney sends out personalized postcards or e-mails that include a unique code.  This code allows the recipient to take advantage of an unpublished discount (free dining, room only, etc.).  Who gets these codes and why? That is a mystery only Disney knows the answer to!

This year's Food and Wine Festival is included among the dates for this Fall's discounts.

This year’s Food and Wine Festival is included among the dates for this Fall’s discounts.

What You Need To Know
1. You can only take advantage of one discount at a time; no double dipping!
2. Most discounts require you to pay for some of your vacation at rack rate.  Often, two discounts are offered at the same time, so do the math to see which is the better deal for you.
3. There are only a certain number of rooms at each resort earmarked for each discount.  So, the discounted rooms will sell out before the actual resort runs out of rooms.
4. If you book a vacation at rack rate, then a discount comes out, you can call and have them apply the discount to your reservation, as long as your room type is still available under the discount.
5. If the room you want is sold out under a discount, keep calling back.  It may become available as others change their vacation plans.
6. Let a Disney Vacation Specialist do the work for you! DW Dads are Disney Vacation Specialists. At no cost to you, we will find you the best discount available for your family.  If one is not currently available, we will keep in constant contact with Disney to apply a discount to your reservation as soon as it is released.  Let us crunch the numbers and make the phone calls; you can just focus on making great vacation memories! Click here to request a quote.

Money-Saving Disney Vacation Tips: Shop Before You Go

Let’s be honest: There are reasons why we are willing to pay when places like the Disney Parks overcharge us for things that would cost a fraction of the price in the real world.  For one, we are on vacation, so the money in our pockets may be considered a bit more disposable than when we are home.  Plus, it’s hard not to get caught up in the moment when we are living “in the bubble” for a week; suddenly, we forget that we usually spend $2.50 for an entire case of water at home, but in the parks it is the cost of a single bottle.  So, we have to rely on our “still at home” selves to save some money for the “on vacation” spendthrifts we become!  Here are some things that you can purchase while you are still at home that could potentially save you a bundle when you are in the parks.

1. Rain ponchos

"Look, kids, these 50-cent ponchos match Mickey's shoes!"

“Look, kids, these 50-cent ponchos match Mickey’s shoes!”

Florida is known for its daily rain showers, sometimes only lasting a few minutes, sometimes lasting all afternoon.  While looking through the photos from a typical family’s Disney World vacation, you would be hard-pressed to not see at least one picture of people in rain ponchos.  Disney charges a little less than $10 for a poncho, so a family of four is spending close to $40 for ponchos.  The good news is that these are destined to be family heirlooms, passed down from generation to generation.  OK, not so much.  They are plastic and they have a picture of Mickey Mouse on the back.  Also, if it rips, Disney will replace it free of charge.  Otherwise, there is no reason to have to pay that amount.  Most Targets, Walmarts and dollar stores sell ponchos, many times in a 2-pack for $1.00.  Honestly, these are trash bags with a few holes in them, and you are usually better off using them and throwing them away rather than trying to dry them and reuse them; but that sounds better than lugging around wet plastic for the week anyway, doesn’t it?

2. Bottled Water

Dealing with hydration, especially in Florida, is a top priority for any Disney vacationer.  Free water is plentiful in the parks, either at the tap or at counter service restaurants.  Many of us, however, have grown accustomed to bottled spring water.  Disney charges $2.50 for a single bottle in the park.  This isn’t too bad; the same bottle at a movie theater or a ballpark may cost you twice as much.  But it adds up.  Let’s say you drink 4 bottles a day, for 7 days: $70 multiplied by the number of people in your family.  Many online retailers (Amazon, Staples, etc.) sell cases of bottled water that can be ordered and shipped to your hotel prior to your stay.  These are usually priced higher than the case you would buy at your local supermarket, but they still represent a significant savings.  For example, a recent search on Amazon turned up a 35-pack of spring water for $22 with free shipping.  When you get to your hotel, you would have the water sent to your room with your luggage.  In the morning, everyone grabs a bottle or two and it will save you a few bucks (or some snack credits) in the park that day.

Purchase souvenirs before you leave home, so you can buy more expensive ones in the parks!

Purchase souvenirs before you leave home, so you can buy more expensive ones in the parks!

3. Souvenirs

Buying souvenirs is an important and fun part of many family vacations.  Chances are, all the money-saving preparations in the world won’t stop you from buying that really cool Epcot thimble when you see it and fall in love with it.  But, sometimes it can become frustrating to continue to spend money on things that are being sold back at home for a lot less.  Here are a few tips to help you out with souvenirs.  First, hit up the Disney Store before you leave.  Check out their clearance section for t-shirts, toys and other fun items.  Don’t tell the kids about them, and you can surprise them with little toys and gifts throughout the trip.  If you are into Vinylmation, check out that section of your Disney Store as well.  Many times, there are great deals (Buy 1, Get 1) or clearance sales (I’ve seen them marked as low as $2.99) on these collectibles.  The deals may not be on the type you want, but these make great traders in the park.  A couple of traders can keep a child collector busy for the whole vacation.  Finally, check out the dollar store for nighttime entertainment souvenirs, like glow sticks or other glow-in-the-dark toys.  Many of the toys sold during parades and fireworks can cost $15 or more.  You can be a real hero if you break out a huge package of glow sticks to give to your family (and maybe even your sidewalk neighbors, too!) while you are waiting for the nighttime parade to begin.

While these tips won’t stop you from spending (perhaps more than you wanted) while you are on vacation, they can help you avoid overpaying for some things, saving extra money for another Mickey Bar or  Dole Whip Float!