Ask The Disney Experts Discuss Best Value? in the Ask The Experts forums; Just got back from disney and now that I have more time to plan our next trip ( Cant wait to go back!) I was wondering how other people plan ...
Just got back from disney and now that I have more time to plan our next trip ( Cant wait to go back!) I was wondering how other people plan for their trips...anyway you cut it, its expensive...outside of the dining options, does anyone know of how to get some good deals on a vacation package? is there a time in the year that is better? What is that free dining all about and how does it work? Is it really free?
Thinking also about Universal ( oops! I know, probably should not have mentioned that here)....how does it compare with Disney?
Yes, there are cheaper times of the year to go than others. Take a look at the season rate charts at MouseSavers: MouseSavers.com - 2008 Walt Disney World Resort Room Rates & Season Dates
Yes, Free Dining, when it's offered, really is "free", but that doesn't necessarily mean it's the best value. Many people can do far better by booking a room-only reservation with an Annual Passholder or AAA discount, and buying their food ala carte. Until recently, the Dining Plan was only available if you booked a Magic Your Way package, which includes both room and tickets - but there is no discount available for the room portion of the package. A month or two ago, Disney started experimenting with a new Annual Passholder package that lets you add Dining, without having to buy a ticket, and still gives you the Annual Passholder room discount. There is no way of knowing at this point whether or not this new package will continue.
There is also no way of knowing if/when Disney will announced Free Dining for 2008. IF they do, it will PROBABLY be for late August through September. IF they announce it and IF you book the package that includes free dining, it just means that they give you the Basic Disney Dining Plan (1 table service, 1 counter service, 1 snack per person per night) with your hotel and ticket purchase, without additional cost to you. Regular price for the Disney Dining Plan is something like $35/person/night.
Never been to Universal, so I can't help you there...
We did Universal a few years back. I'd suggest you stay on site there for 2 or 3 days and then move to Disney, it worked well for us. Universal has wonderful perks and transportation to their parks. It has water launches and they run every few minutes. Love that aspect. Also their fast pass for hotel guests is your room key and we were able to go to that lane for each and every ride that was designated FP. No restrictions on how often it can be used. It was great and we were able to do both parks that way in less than 2 days even though we were there for 4 (convention) then we transferred to Disney.
You can always go through AAA for discounts on tickets (certain ones) and rooms (AAA is alloted so many rooms), also check for codes, which are often posted in the forums. We just went this past January and got some good deals, pick the slow times for the better deals. I agree with Haunted Gabe about if you are going to Universal, stay there, they are beautiful resorts and you get great perks. Universal usually has some deal going on with their tickets (free days, 1/2 off etc.)
Wonderful Weeks of Disney
According to Disney World, these are the best times of year to go.
I've been in early December and in my opinion, this is the best time, because it's inexpensive and everything is decorated for Christmas.
Also, I went to Universal this year.. it wasn't that great. We did Universal and Islands of Adventure in the same day and were still done far before park closing. They are fun, but I wouldn't spend more than two days there.
July 1994- off site
February 1999- Port Orleans Riverside
March 2000- Caribbean Beach
January 2004- off site
February 2006- Pop Century
April 2006- off site
January 2007- Pop Century
December 2007- Coronado Springs
December 2008- Pop Century
December 2009- Coronado Springs/All Star Sports
Next trip: December 2010- All Star Music