2022 Disney World 50th Anniversary UK Deal: Not-So-Free Dining

Walt Disney World has released its flagship UK discount for 2022, a 50th Anniversary package deal that offers an up to $950 dining credit during a 2 week trip, and more. In this post, we share dates and details, what this could mean for future U.S. general public WDW deals including Free Dining, whether the promo makes sense to book, and more.

First, the details of Walt Disney World’s 50th Anniversary package deal. You’re eligible for this promotion if you are a resident of the United Kingdom, Ireland, or the European Union, and book a full-price Walt Disney World hotel and ticket package for a minimum of 5 nights and maximum of 21 nights. Travel dates are January 1, 2022 to April 2, 2022, April 24, 2022 to September 24, 2022, November 13 to 17, 2022, or December 9 to 18, 2022; deal must be booked by August 3, 2021.

As part of this offer, you can take advantage of Walt Disney World’s 14-Day Ultimate Ticket for the price of a 7-Day Ticket, which includes Memory Maker. Guests booking Walt Disney World’s 50th Anniversary deal with a qualifying package will also receive a $200 Disney gift card. On top of that, those booking at Tier 2 and Tier 3 resorts (see below) will get a special “World’s Most Magical Celebration” Gift Basket. Here are additional details, followed by commentary…

Let’s start with the list of eligible resorts, grouped by tier:

Tier 3 Resorts – Up to $950 Dining Credit:

  • Disney’s Contemporary Resort
  • Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort
  • Disney’s Polynesian Villas & Bungalows
  • Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
  • Disney’s Yacht Club Resort
  • Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas – Kidani Village
  • Disney’s Beach Club Resort
  • Disney’s Beach Club Villas
  • Disney’s Boardwalk Inn
  • Disney’s Boardwalk Villas
  • Disney’s Old Key West Resort
  • Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa
  • Copper Creek Villas at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
  • Boulder Ridge Villas at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
  • Disney’s Riviera Resort

Tier 2 Resorts – Up to $850 Dining Credit:

  • Disney’s Art of Animation Resort – Family Suites
  • Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort
  • Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort
  • Cabins at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort

Tier 1 Resorts – Up to $500 Dining Credit:

  • Disney’s Pop Century Resort
  • Disney’s All Star Movies Resort

While these are the attention-grabbing headline amounts, there’s actually a set way to calculate the amount of dining credit you’ll receive. Tier 1 resorts receive a Disney Dining Credit in the amount of $36 per room for each night; Tier 2 resorts receive a Disney Dining Credit for the amount of $61 per room for each night; Tier 1 resorts receive a Disney Dining Credit for the amount of $68 per room for each night.

Disney Dining Credits are rounded to the nearest ten. While 5 days is the minimum for this promotion, 14 days is not the maximum. However, guests who wish to book a stay exceeding 14 consecutive nights “will be able to benefit from the Disney Dining Credit applicable to the 14 night stay,” which sounds to me like there’s no upside in booking a longer stay–maybe do a split stay instead?

Note that some Walt Disney World Resort Hotels remain closed. As hotels reopen they may be added to Resort Hotel Offers and will be subject to these terms and conditions. You will be able to cancel and rebook or modify your reservation, should you want to change resorts.

The following room types are excluded from the Resort Hotel Offers: Bay Lake Tower at Contemporary Resort, all suites and 3-bedroom Grand Villas, Little Mermaid Standard Rooms at Art of Animation Resort, Standard Rooms and Water/Pool View Rooms at Caribbean Beach Resort, Gran Destino Tower Standard Rooms – Club Level at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort, Garden Wing and Club Level at Disney’s Contemporary Resort, Tower Studios at Disney’s Riviera Resort, the Villas at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, the Bungalows at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort, and essentially all rooms at both Port Orleans Resorts, which is presumably because those are still closed.

If you book this Walt Disney World 50th Anniversary Package including a stay in one of the participating Moderate or Deluxe Resorts by July 17, 2021, you will receive a Celebration Basket worth £109/€119.

This Celebration Basket contains two 50th Celebration Lanyards with Medallions, two Black Mickey Ear Hats, two castle water bottles, a Mickey insulated cooler bag, and a selection of snacks including a bag from Chip & Dale Snack Co., bag from Goofy’s Candy Co., bag of Cheetos, bag of Doritos, bag of Lay’s Potato Chips, and a bag of Smart Popcorn.

Guests booking this Walt Disney World 50th Anniversary package can modify their package anytime up to and including 7 days before the arrival date if booking before August 31, 2021 for arrivals up to and including December 31, 2022.

You will need to pay any difference in price if the new package price is higher and Walt Disney World will refund you the difference if the price is lower, with a deduction of any applicable fees. This would allow you, for instance, to book Grand Floridian right now and modify to Port Orleans Riverside if the latter reopens by Summer 2022 (which is a near-certainty), potentially receiving a refund as the All Star option will likely be cheaper.

Interesting, the fine print does not mention cancellations–and the main deal description only indicates you’ll receive a “cancellation refund” if Disney cancels your package holiday, which should be a given.

We typically watch and share this deal for several reasons. One is that we love and value our UK readers!!! (I feel like a lead singer shouting the name of the city of the performance just to get some cheap applause). But seriously, we do. Our audience in the United Kingdom is surprisingly large and a lot of readers ask about these promotion; it thus makes sense from a demographics perspective to discuss this deal.

Another is that many Americans are interested in the details of the UK discounts, as it’s often a sneak-peek at what will be offered in the United States. In a normal year, that means a preview of the popular Free Disney Dining Plan at Walt Disney World offer. Let’s start with analysis of this deal, and then turn to speculation regarding Free Dining…

I’m no mathmagician, but this deal sounds mediocre at best to me. Keep in mind that the value of the standard Disney Dining Plan was $78 per adult last year–so even a solo traveler would’ve come out ahead with that deal. Make it a party 3 or 4 and the Free Dining deal would’ve been exponentially better.

Of course, the Disney Dining Plan is not yet available and Walt Disney World was almost certainly baking in some degree of DDP credit waste into that promotion. Which is to say that they expected most guests to not use all of their credits, or to not use them efficiently. By contrast, a lower denomination dining gift card can be used more efficiently. However, that doesn’t even begin to explain away the full disparity. Not even close.

This also isn’t better than most garden variety room-only discounts during normal times. Obviously, the comparison isn’t straightforward since this offers fixed savings whereas a room-only discount varies by season, but those are almost always better.

In looking at regular season rate charts for standard rooms at the Contemporary, this offers 11% off. For Caribbean Beach, this would amount to 20% off. For Pop Century, it’s a 17% off discount. Across the board, those booking Moderate Resorts are going to see the biggest savings because of the high nightly credit versus the lower nightly price. Deluxes are consistently the worst. It’s sort of odd that there’s only a $7 different in nightly credit amount between the two tiers despite Deluxe Resorts frequently costing $200 to $300+ more per night than Moderates.

Now, you might look at the current Summer & Early Fall 2021 Room-Only Discounts at Walt Disney World, see Caribbean Beach at 10% off and Pop Century at 15% off, and conclude this is superior. That’s absolutely correct, but it does require some significant oversights.

First, that’s comparing this year to 2022, which is an important distinction because there’s currently a serious lack of inventory at the lower tier resorts. That problem almost certainly resolves itself before next year with the reopening of Port Orleans and All Star Resorts. Second, the current deals are also not normal room-only discount amounts for Value and Moderate Resorts; they’re lower right now because see first point. Finally, the room exclusions at many resorts pretty much force you to upgrade–at Caribbean Beach, in particular, that probably means a dreaded Pirate Room.

I’m hesitant to draw any conclusions or speculation as to what this means in terms of whether Free Dining is offered to the United States general public for 2022. Obviously, we’d prefer to see a Free Dining deal here as that would be a nearly-definitive sign both that the Disney Dining Plan was returning and that Free Dining would be offered in the United States in 2022.

However, the absence of such a deal is not definitive proof of the opposite conclusions.

As we’ve seen repeatedly in recent months, when Walt Disney World releases a deal or announces something, its details are essentially frozen in time or a snapshot of whatever exists at that specific moment.

There are plenty of examples of this, but the best and most recent is Disney After Hours Boo Bash, the press release for which indicated face masks would be required–suggesting that rule would be in place come November 2021. Literally one week later, Walt Disney World made masks optional outdoors.

Free Dining in the United States does not typically involve as much advance notice as the UK offers. In recent years, the lead-time on Free Dining has varied considerably, from as little as a few weeks ahead of time to as many as 6 months in advance. With so much still up in the air, that release date flexibility is crucial.

It’s entirely possible that Walt Disney World will not offer Free Dining in 2022. However, it’s also possible that the Disney Dining Plan will return later this year and bookings will slow down by Spring 2022. In the latter scenario, Free Dining would likely be released for next summer and fall. That’s not necessarily our prediction–we’re just presenting what’s within the realm of possibility.

Strong current bookings are likely why this UK deal is subpar. As intimated above, Walt Disney World’s recently-released summer and early fall discounts are paltry. The percentage savings are bad, and the room options are even worse. Spoiler alert: the same is going to be true when fall and 2021 holiday season savings are released later this summer.

As we’ve said repeatedly, Walt Disney World does not offer discounts out of corporate benevolence–it’s to fill unsold rooms and increase occupancy numbers. Right now, hotel bookings are incredibly high through the end of 2021. Certain resorts and room categories are sold out entirely for select dates. That’s partly a matter of pent-up demand and partly a result of countless hotels still being closed.

While eventual occupancy numbers for 2022 are unknown, it nevertheless makes sense to extrapolate from current bookings and transpose present discounts into the future. If you’re Disney, that’s the pragmatic approach–you don’t want to “over-discount” and sell rooms at a lower rate than needed.

However, a lot will change between now and next year. For one thing, more hotels will reopen (probably all of them) and that added supply will help satiate demand. That alone will be a huge thing that should lift discounts. For another, pent-up demand that is currently driving strong numbers could start fizzling out. That’s less of a sure thing (especially with more international travel and group bookings next year), but it’s at least plausible.

Ultimately, even though the United Kingdom usually gets one big deal per year, it’s not like that was etched on a stone tablet by Walter Elias Disney himself, making it supreme law of the World. There’s absolutely nothing that precludes the company from releasing another, superior discount once more resorts reopen and/or the Disney Dining Plan returns.

However, there’s also nothing guaranteeing it (I don’t want to falsely get anyone’s hopes up here). The reality is that Walt Disney World will release more discounts if and when those are necessary to fill unsold hotel rooms. If bookings remain strong for 2022, fewer and worse discounts will be released. If bookings decrease or if more hotels coming online reduces resort-wide occupancy, more and better discounts will be released.

The company has broken from “discount precedent” countless times in the past to do exactly that. Just two years ago prior to Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, Disney released Free Dining earlier than normal and then extended it with multiple subsequent waves upon realizing that numbers were still low. It should go without saying, but what we’re all living through right now is much more unprecedented that blasting off to Batuu; there’s no reason to believe Disney won’t take a similar approach to discounting if the situation calls for it.

Planning a Walt Disney World trip? Learn about hotels on our Walt Disney World Hotels Reviews page. For where to eat, read our Walt Disney World Restaurant Reviews. To save money on tickets or determine which type to buy, read our Tips for Saving Money on Walt Disney World Tickets post. Our What to Pack for Disney Trips post takes a unique look at clever items to take. For what to do and when to do it, our Walt Disney World Ride Guides will help. For comprehensive advice, the best place to start is our Walt Disney World Trip Planning Guide for everything you need to know!

YOUR THOUGHTS

What do you think about the 2022 Walt Disney World 50th Anniversary package discount for United Kingdom residents? Do you wish we got offers like this in the United States, or do you prefer getting the room-only discounts and shorter minimum stays? Any questions we can help you answer? Hearing your feedback—even when you disagree with us—is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!

74 Responses to “2022 Disney World 50th Anniversary UK Deal: Not-So-Free Dining”
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