Bounceback offers are one of the best ways to book Walt Disney World discounts, and the easiest for scoring Free Dining. In this post, we’ll clear up confusion with info about 2021 bounce-back deals, who is eligible, and how to book these coveted WDW deals. (Updated March 2, 2021.)
Also known as “Future Stay Offers,” bounce-back discounts are only available to travelers who are currently staying at one of Walt Disney World’s resort hotels to book during the duration of their trip. This discount 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.
The most sought-after bounceback offer of the year is Free Dining at Walt Disney World. Consult our Guide to Free Dining at Walt Disney Worldfor everything else you might want to know about this incredibly popular promo. In a normal year, the Free Dining Bounceback Deal is offered from August through October 31. Of course, this is anything but a normal year…
Walt Disney World’s last bounceback offer was a room-only discount with savings of 20% off Value Resorts, 25% off Moderate Resorts, and 30% off both Deluxe and Deluxe Villa Resorts. This “Future Stay Offer” was bookable when the parks closed, but it was cancelled and removed from rooms when resorts reopened.
We’ve done roughly a dozen hotel stays since reopening, including a couple in 2021, and have not seen a single bounceback flier. As that’s not always conclusive as to whether there’s a bounceback deal, we’ve also called the normal phone number (see below) and verified that no bounceback offer is available. Cast Members have stated they have not been told when the next “Future Stay Offer” will be released. However, there is some good news…
Walt Disney World is now testing a new type of bounceback deal! In lieu of the in-room fliers to capture future bookings from current guests, general managers of select hotels are sending out emails with special offers to past guests of that same resort, for that resort only.
Please note that we’re sharing this simply as a ‘heads up’ so you can check your spam folder. This discount is not available to the general public. If you don’t have the email, you will not be able to book the discount, so don’t bother calling and trying. It’ll just lead to confusion and wasted time.
Rather than being called a bounceback discount (even though it basically is one, albeit in modified form), the Walt Disney World hotel general managers are referring to this as an exclusive ‘friends of the family’ rate.
These special offers are valid for travel dates now through June 10, 2021 if booked by May 26, 2021. No blockout dates are listed, nor are exact discount rates, but I’ve found dates at over 50% off when calling to inquire.
As for the in-room bounceback offers for current resort guests, it remains to be seen when those will return. It’s possible that Walt Disney World’s enhanced cleaning and sanitation policies are an impediment to them. It’s also possible that this is a calculated move, as Disney has determined that only the most diehard fans are vacationing right now, and those guests don’t need to be incentivized to return.
Our prediction is that bounceback offers will either return around October 1, 2021 or not at all until 2022. Before Fall 2021 seems unlikely, and if it doesn’t happen in time for the start of Walt Disney World’s 50th Anniversary, it likely just won’t happen this year at all.
As for what the next “Future Stay Offer” will be…it actually could be Free Dining. If things were normal, that would run from late summer until October 31, 2021. While Walt Disney World currently doesn’t have an official timeframe for its return (see our When Will Disney’s Dining Plan Come Back?), it’s entirely possible they might want to kickstart bookings for 2022 with an aggressive offer.
That would be a great way to reverse the current trend of low occupancy numbers and also help reopen additional resorts (check out the 2021 Walt Disney World Hotel Reopening Dates–several are still TBD and might not return until 2022). With that said, here’s what you need to know once bounceback offers do start to return…
FAQ & How to Book Bounceback Discounts
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 above). 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.
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 for “Future Stay Offers” at Walt Disney World? 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. Additionally, you can book up to three hotel rooms via the bounce back offer for multiple travel dates, but those rooms must be under the name of an adult on your current reservation. This means that during your current stay, you could book yourself bounceback room-only deals for three different trips in June, September, and December.
Of course, many of you reading this probably want to take advantage of the Free Dining bounceback. As noted at the top of the post, this is not available and probably won’t be at all this year. However, in normal years it’s popular to do a strategic short stay during the Free Dining bounceback window to make yourself eligible for the following year’s Free Dining offer. 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. (Note: obviously this advice is irrelevant right now. We’re simply preserving it here so we don’t have to rewrite it when things return to normal. Plus, you might want to know how this works so you can take advantage of it next year or whenever.)
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 2021 for ~$250. After checking in, they arrive at their room to find that there is no flyer for the 2021 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, he 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 24 through 31, 2022. 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 to book the 2022 Free Dining Bounceback.
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.
When it comes to the Free Dining bounceback, only your check-in date needs to fall within the date ranges.
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 any bounceback or “Future Stay Offer”? 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!