The 2018 Walt Disney World Free Disney Dining Plan discount offer is now available for United Kingdom residents! So, for those of you booking a 2018 Disney holiday (that’s United Kingdomish for “vacation” 😉 ) you can now take advantage of this offer. And by “you,” I mean the 5.3% of you readers living in the UK.
The rest of you will just have to look at this exceptional offer in envy, daydreaming about a future when Americans will receive better offers. Just as we daydream about a future when Americans will receive better paid vacation standards. (Here’s a fascinating read on European versus American notions of vacation time.)
Actually, in addition to the basics of the 2018 Free Dining promo, we’re going to offer some analysis on other discounts at Walt Disney World and whether this offers any clues to the future of Free Dining for U.S. residents (spoiler: it doesn’t). So, it isn’t totally useless if you live in the United States or Canada…
First, the details of the 2018 Free Disney Dining Plan discount for UK residents. If you book a full-price Walt Disney World hotel (Moderate tier or above) and ticket package for a minimum of 5 nights for travel dates January 1, 2018 through March 18, 2018 and April 6, 2018 through November 30, 2018 by July 6, 2017 you receive Free Dining. Guests at Moderate Resorts receive the Quick Service Dining Plan. Deluxes receive the standard Disney Dining Plan.
BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE. In addition to this Free Dining offer (which looks pretty much like the standard U.S. offer, guests also receive a $200 Disney gift card and Disney’s 14-Day Ultimate Ticket for the price of a 7-Day Ticket. (This is ticket is not sold in the U.S., which may be why it sounds unfamiliar to some of you.)
Now, I know a lot of American Disney fans are sitting on pins and needles regarding this year’s Free Dining promo given all of the comments we’ve received on our 2017 Free Disney Dining Plan Promo post and are eagerly awaiting any rumors, hints, or hope of any sort regarding that discount, but…I don’t think this UK offer provides any insight whatsoever into 2017 (or 2018, for that matter) Free Dining for the U.S.
Aside from a slight shift in the blockout period (due to the peak season shifting as a result of Easter being on a different date in 2018), this 2018 Free Dining promo for United Kingdom residents is identical to the 2017 offer. To be honest, I’m surprised Walt Disney World didn’t do more to sweeten the promo given the declining purchasing power of the pound and the current economic uncertainty in the United Kingdom.
The unfortunate thing about a promo being released so far in advance is it’s not based on as reliable of hotel occupancy projections as a promotion released ~6 months in advance. Disney knows that, historically, a promo like this works to incentivize lucrative UK guests to book a trip, but the promo is not being used to hit occupancy targets based on any current trends.
More telling is the 35% off ticket offer for Canadians, and just the simple fact that the Canadian, United Kingdom, and Brazilian currencies have been slumping as compared to the USD. Even though the majority of visitors to Walt Disney World are from the United States, these foreign visitors spend (or used to spend) disproportionate amounts.
On the other hand, consumer confidence in the United States is incredibly strong right now, and that is a driver of spending and travel decisions. If you read our 2017: Year of the Discount at Walt Disney World? post (written last fall), you know I did not see this coming. Normally, consumers are skittish in the year immediately following an election; our most recent election was an anomaly in a number of ways…and I guess it defied even the Presidential Election Cycle Theory.
We could start seeing the impacts of increased consumer confidence in bookings this fall. Then there’s the buzz that will follow the opening of Pandora – World of Avatar. If this new land wows guests, generating positive word of mouth and a flurry of favorable media coverage (mainstream, not just Disney blogs like this), it could boost bookings. Conversely, poor buzz will do little to motivate additional bookings. Likewise, a market ‘correction’ or a decrease in consumer confidence could spell a situation that requires further discounting.
In other words, if you’re wondering whether Walt Disney World will have better discounts for Fall 2017 and beyond, we have absolutely no clue at this point. How’s that for burying the lede. 😉
Planning a Walt Disney World vacation (or ‘holiday’)? For comprehensive advice, the best place to start is our Walt Disney World Trip Planning Guide for everything you need to know!
What do you think about the 2018 Free Dining promo for United Kingdom residents? Wish we got offers like this in the United States, or do you prefer getting full Free Dining at the Moderate Resorts? Share any questions or additional thoughts you have in the comments!