Year-Round Walt Disney World Discount Advice from TouringPlans.com

by: Laurel Stewart\/TouringPlans.com Updated:

Visiting a theme park is expensive. Tickets are expensive. Food is expensive. Parking is expensive. Souvenirs…well, you get the idea. Luckily, there are discounts available for guests to take advantage of. This is by no means a comprehensive list of every discount out there. It also doesn’t go into specialty discounts for military, teachers, nurses, etc. It does explain some of the major discounts on dining, merchandise, tickets, and resorts available to nearly everyone. For the last word on Disney discounts, we heartily recommend a visit to Mousesavers.com – the best resource on the Internet for saving on your vacation costs.

Dining Discounts

At TouringPlans.com, our very favorite discount program is the Tables in Wonderland dining discount card.

  • Eligibility – FL residents, Annual Passholders, Disney Vacation Club (DVC) members
  • Discount – 20% off most full service meals at theme park restaurants including alcohol
  • Blackouts – Some holidays

Food costs can bring sticker shock to many visitors. A dinner for 2 adults, one 13 year old, and one 7 year old at Chef Mickey’s (a very popular buffet at the Contemporary Resort) will run you nearly $150 ($119 + $9.22 tax + $21.42 gratuity at 18%).  That’s for one meal. One night.

This is why we love the Tables in Wonderland program. Guests break even on the $75 purchase price after $375 in food purchases. As you can see in the example above, that is probably going to be around Day 2 of your vacation. And the card is good for a whole calendar year. Naturally repeat visitors will see the biggest savings with this card, but even the 5-night visitor will get value from it.

Unlike Disney’s Magic Your Way Plus Dining (a vacation package including onsite accommodations, park tickets, and dining credits), guests only pay for what they want. And did we mention it includes alcohol? Go to TablesInWonderland.com (http://tablesinwonderland.com) for more information. Eligible guests may purchase this card at Guest Relations at any theme park or Downtown Disney.

More Dining Discounts

Annual Passholders get lunch discounts at several Epcot full service restaurants.

DVC members also get discounts for lunch at many locations. These discounts are usually around 10%.

Restaurant.com – Check this site for some incredible deals at the restaurants of the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resorts.

Landry’s Select Club – if you and your family are fans of Rainforest Café, T-Rex, or even the Animal Kingdom Park’s Yak & Yeti, this program may be for you. Visit http://www.landrysselect.com to find out more about this loyalty club that add to discounts at the above Walt Disney World restaurants as well as all Landry’s owned eateries across the country.

Merchandise Discounts

Annual Passholders receive 10% (regular AP) and 20% (premium and premiere APs) at nearly all Disney theme park merchandise locations (World of Disney, resort gift shops, theme park gift shops). This discount is even good for non-Disney merchandise sold in the gift shops – think Lilly Pulitzer dresses at the Grand Floridian, Dooney & Burke handbags at several locations, or Tommy Bahama apparel at the Polynesian. Ask about AP discounts at the point of sale.

If you would like to purchase merchandise from home, the Disney Store online (http://www.disneystore.com) runs specials all the time for deals ranging from free shipping to percentage off your entire order. Register at their web site to start receiving notifications of these.

Ticket Discounts

Theme park tickets go up every year. And ticketing options can be daunting to even the most prepared traveler.

We advise all guests to begin with the TouringPlans.com Least Expensive Ticket Calculator (http://touringplans.com/walt-disney-world/ticket-calculator). This free service from our web site will let you know the best combination of tickets for your party. It will you sort out the many options Disney offers for tickets.

Florida Residents

Florida residents are not only eligible for discounts on Walt Disney World annual passes and tickets, but can purchase other nifty passes only available to those who reside in the Sunshine State. Start at http://disneyworld.disney.go.com/florida-residents/ for the lowdown. These include the Epcot After Four pass, great for locals who want to pop into the theme park for a quick meal and perhaps some fireworks, and the seasonal weekday pass – perfect for parents who can take their kids to the parks during the less busy times of the week.

Resort Discounts

Disney will offer room discounts (the percentage varies and the more expensive rooms tend to have the largest discounts) to Annual Passholders, Disney Visa card members, and to the general public. Many of these discounts require that you purchase a vacation package with tickets, so always get out your calculator to make sure your “discount” is worth it. Florida residents will also get the occasional last minute deal on resorts when occupancy is down. Watch the Walt Disney World web site (http://disneyworld.disney.go.com) and register your email address for deals sent straight to your inbox.

The true “Best Kept Secret” about Disney Vacation Club is that non-owners may purchase a reservation from owners. This is known as “renting points.” Use this tactic to either save money on regular accommodations or stay in larger (1-, 2 – or 3-bedroom) villas for far less than reserving them through Disney. We have used and recommend David’s DVC Rentals (http://www.dvcrequest.com/) as a low-hassle, no-risk way to stay in Disney Vacation Club resorts without the cost of buying a membership.

AAA Discounts

Are you a AAA member? You may be eligible for discounts whether you booked your trip through AAA or not. AAA offers discounted park tickets and often has resort rates that are very competitive with the best publicly available discounts. AAA tickets must be purchased from AAA before your arrival in Walt Disney World. Members may also visit an Orlando AAA office and present their membership card to buy tickets at a discount. We still recommend that guests use the Least Expensive Ticket calculator on our web site to determine with type of ticket or combination of tickets best meets your needs.

Contact your local AAA office at www.AAA.com – the discounts you gain may more than pay for the price of your membership.

Visiting Walt Disney World is never going to be an inexpensive option, but if you do your homework you can save hundreds of dollars on your vacation. For more trip planning tips, visit TouringPlans.com.

TouringPlans.com is the official home on the Web of the best-selling Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World. The site offers subscribers premium tools, including a Crowd Calendar, custom touring plans, and a mobile app, to help guests make the most of their trips to Walt Disney World and other destinations. All photos are courtesy of Tom Bricker of the DisneyTouristBlog.com.