Bounceback offers are among our favorite ways to book Walt Disney World discounts, but they’re also misunderstood. In this post, we’ll clear up the confusion with info about the 2019 bounce-back deal, who is eligible, and how to book bounceback offers at Walt Disney World. (Last updated May 13, 2019.)
Most importantly, bounce-back offers are only available to travelers who are current guests of Walt Disney World resort hotels to book during the duration of their stay. Bounce-back offers must be booked before 10 p.m. the day you check out of your Walt Disney World hotel. We’ll cover more of the ins and outs later in the post, but that’s the crucial one to know up-front.
Currently, the Walt Disney World bounceback offer is up to 30% off rooms at Deluxe or Villa Resorts, 25% off Moderate Resorts, and 20% off Value Resorts. Those familiar with room-only discounts at Walt Disney World might notice that these savings are fairly pedestrian. The significance here is not the amount of the savings, but the available travel dates, which run now through December 24, 2019 if booked by August 14, 2019.
Unfortunately, the normal “for most nights” caveat applies, and plenty of dates are excluded. If you look at our scan of the flier below, you’ll see that there are four lines of available date ranges (I’m not even going to attempt typing that all out), with plenty of dates excluded.
Most notably, the entire months of October and November are excluded. This is interesting because most other exclusions are for only a handful of days, mostly around holidays or popular weekends. (By contrast, there are no exclusions from May 27 through August 29, 2019.)
We originally speculated that the exclusion of September 29, 2019 through December 5, 2019 was due to Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge is debuting in that range, but Walt Disney World has since announced that it’ll open on August 29, 2019.
While this same bounce back offer has been available since late last year, it’s a bit surprising that Walt Disney World hasn’t gone back and removed some of the early September or December travel dates. Either this is an oversight or bookings are still low for September.
The same applies for December, which has become one of the busiest times of the year. We’re already hearing that availability is limited for some resorts this coming December (which is still over half a year away!), so Walt Disney World offering hotel discounts then is surprising.
If and when general public discounts become available for December 2019 travel dates, they are likely to be incredibly limited. Depending upon when you’re visiting, this bounceback offer could be your best hope, so we’d highly recommend you take advantage of it if you can (or find a way to take advantage of it).
The current bounceback offer is available for booking through August 15, 2019, after which we would anticipate that the 2020 Free Disney Dining Plan Bounceback Offer will be available. Of course, that’s entirely speculation at this point, and obviously nothing is guaranteed.
However, the Free Dining Bounceback has been offered for stays during August through the end of October for each of the past several years, so we’d expect that to again be the case. Booking Free Dining via the bounceback offer–when it’s available–is far and away the easiest way to get Free Dining. Availability tends to be the best and it’s hassle/headache free.
As with December discounts, there’s a good possibility 2020 Walt Disney World discounts will be sparse, especially if Star Wars Land proves to be a big draw, as expected. We’d expect Free Dining to be the first discount on the chopping block–it probably won’t be outright eliminated as a general public offering, but we could see Free Dining “Light” becoming the new normal.
If this does occur, doing a strategic short stay this year during the Free Dining bounceback window (again, assuming it’s offered as a bounceback) might be your best option. This is not as crazy of an idea as it might seem. We know people who have done this in previous years, and detail how to make it work in our fictional “Costanza family” example later in the post.
Before we get ahead of ourselves, we should offer a ‘bounceback offer’ definition. Bouncebacks (or bounce-backs, or bounce backs…there’s really no consistent terminology) are targeted offers released to Walt Disney World hotel guests. They are not a type of discount, but they’re a method of booking a discount. (Think of them like PIN or Unique Offer Codes, except targeted differently.)
Usually, bounceback offers are very similar to deals that will be available for the general public to book at a later date. In many cases, bounceback offers might have more or better dates, more room inventory, and/or less exclusions. The most common bouncebacks are room-only discounts, while the most popular (by far) is the Free Dining Bounceback.
Bounceback offers are distributed via in-room fliers that are usually similar in size to park maps (see below). Unlike PIN/UOCs, receipt or possession of a flier is not necessary to book a bounceback. This trips up a lot of people, as most guests don’t read blogs like this one, and short of tangible receipt of the bounceback flier or reading a blog post like this one, how else are you going to know you’re eligible? You could really miss out, and you’d never know! (In other words, not reading this blog is detrimental to your well-being, so never stop.)
So, who isn’t eligible? Obviously, anyone who is at home. Also, anyone who is at Walt Disney World, but is staying off-site or in third-party hotels. You need to be staying at a hotel with Disney in the name (e.g. Disney’s Wilderness Lodge, Disney’s Pop Century Resort, and so on). It doesn’t matter if you just left Walt Disney World or will be arriving soon–you aren’t eligible to book unless you’re currently staying in a Disney-owned hotel at Walt Disney World.
Beyond that, it doesn’t matter in which WDW hotel you’re presently staying or which promotion you’ve booked your current stay under. That should be fairly clear, but there are still some quirks to bounceback offers that are worth clarifying via an example, as these bounceback offers are not nearly as restrictive as you might think.
You might remember the fictional Costanza family from New York, who have booked a variety of fake vacations in past blog posts on this site. The Costanza family now has 4 “Disney adults,” as their kids have grown up (I know you’re all on the edge of your seats with curiosity, so yes, they have added more pet hamsters to their family–they now have 15!–but none of those will be joining them on this trip).
The Costanzas really like the location of the Magic Kingdom area hotels, but they are incredibly frugal. As such, the Costanzas follow the advice in our Tips for Renting Disney Vacation Club Points post, and book a 1-night stay in a Deluxe Studio at Disney’s Grand Floridian Villas in September for $272. After checking in, they arrive at their room to find that there is no flyer for the Free Dining Bounceback Offer in their room.
Cool as a cucumber and never one to get upset, Mr. Costanza picks up the in-room phone and dials x8844. A Cast Member assists them in booking for next year. Alternatively, since Mr. Costanza is on vacation and doesn’t want to deal with a call center or being on hold, we could simply contact his fee-free Authorized Disney Travel Planner, or travel agent. In a perfect world, he’d give them a heads up about booking this bounce-back before his trip, which would make this a matter of a quick, one-line email during his trip. (We’ve done–and recommend–the latter approach.)
Since they only took a 1-night vacation this year, they go all out and book a stay at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge for December 10 through 24. Although Mr. Costanza does not celebrate Christmas, and finds tinsel distracting, he finds the ambiance of Wilderness Lodge very enjoyable during the holidays.
This will be an expensive vacation package–and as we’ve noted, the Costanzas are frugal–but the good news is that they will have 30 days prior to the start of the December reservation to cancel with no penalty (the $200 deposit they paid to book the package is refundable during that time). This fake story has a happy ending, though. After crunching the numbers, the Costanzas realized it’s worth the splurge.
These somewhat extreme example should illustrate a few important points:
How you booked your current stay does not matter–it just matters that you’re staying in a Disney resort.
It does not matter if your currentresort is excluded from the bounceback promo you want to book–you can book any eligible resort while staying at any Disney resort.
Your current length of stay does not matter. (We know people who have booked 1-night stays just to be eligible to book Free Dining without the hassle the following year.)
The flier not being in your room makes no difference–dial x8844 and you can book the bounce-back offer.
The first three points we’ve covered above in sufficient detail (I hope) but the last point is worthy of elaboration. Mousekeeping is supposed to leaves these fliers in every single room, but sometimes, that does not happen. As you might know from our past posts, Mousekeeping is currently understaffed (and overworked) and sometimes oversights are made. It happens.
Last fall, we stayed in 6 different Walt Disney World resorts during the window that was eligible to book the Free Dining Bounce Back Offer. A couple of these rooms did not have the bounceback flier in them. This wasn’t because we weren’t eligible (again, anyone currently in a Disney-owned hotel is eligible) but due to simple human error. It was no big deal, because all we needed to do was pick up the in-room phone, dial x8844, and inquire about what (if any) bounceback offers were available to us.
We cannot reiterate enough that dialing x8844 is how to book the bounceback offer (if you booked your current stay with a travel agent, they can also handle it for you, making this entirely hassle-free for you). Do not call the front desk and do not call the central reservations line. While there is a chance that Cast Members at either of those lines will be able to help, there’s also a chance they won’t.
Walt Disney World is a incredibly complex organization and it’s simply not possible for every Cast Member to know every single thing about the resort. The specific role of Cast Members at x8844 is booking bounceback offers, so they have specialized knowledge of the promotions, and will be much better at helping you. (Same goes for travel agents and having this specialized knowledge.) Think of it like a doctor. Your proctologist might be great, but you should really go to a neurosurgeon for brain surgery.
Ultimately, booking a bounceback offer is not brain surgery, even if our long-winded explanation might make it seem just as complicated. Hopefully, we’ve broken these discounts down in a way that makes sense and clarifies the who/how/when/etc. of Walt Disney World Bounceback Offers. We are huge fans of these deals, as they take a lot of the stress out of booking discounts–namely, the waiting and hoping there’s availability for your travel dates and resort. If you get the chance, we’d recommend booking the Bounceback Offer as a safety net, especially if Free Dining is the bounceback offer available when you visit Walt Disney World.
Have you booked a bounceback offer at Walt Disney World? Do you make a point of calling x8844 to check for bouncebacks even if you don’t receive an in-room flier? 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!