Walt Disney World has released new holiday 2021 resort room-only discounts for Annual Passholders, Florida residents, and Disney Visa credit card holders. This post shares the details of these special offers, commentary about why there’s such a shortage of savings, plus sample pricing, analysis & other info.
In case you’ve forgotten, general public discounts of up to 25% off rooms at Walt Disney World were released at the beginning of May for stays most nights now through September 29, 2021. That discount is still available to book for the next couple of weeks.
Before we start, we’ll preface this with a reminder that availability was weak for the last round of deals…and the round before that. We had many readers report finding nothing at all–or higher prices–for their travel dates. In our searches, we found few options at the Value and Moderate Resorts. Where there is availability, it often requires a room upgrade (e.g. from standard to preferred view…or the dreaded Pirate Rooms), thus at least partially negating the benefit of the discount.
Just something to keep in mind before getting your hopes up here. In any case, we’ve all been “patiently” waiting for more discounts since earlier this summer. Our wait was been rewarded with more abysmal savings for Christmas 2021…
Let’s start with the official details for the new AP discount: Annual Passholders can save up to 25% on rooms at select Disney Resort hotels for stays most nights December 12 through December 24, 2021.
Here are resort by resort AP savings rates:
This special offer for Annual Passholders excludes the following room types: 3-bedroom villas, campsites at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground, and Little Mermaid Standard Rooms at Disney’s Art of Animation Resort.
Additional per-adult charges may apply if more than 2 adults per room at Value, Moderate and Deluxe Resorts and Studios at Deluxe Villa Resorts. Maximum length of stay under this deal is 14 nights.
Next, Florida Residents can save up to 20% on rooms at select Walt Disney World Resort hotels for stays most nights December 12 through December 24, 2021.
Details are mostly the same, but with ~5% less off at some tiers of resorts. Here are the specifics:
Proof of Florida residency is required at check-in. Otherwise, the terms & conditions are identical, with the same room exclusions and so forth.
With both of these deals, you’ll notice that several resorts aren’t available at all. For us, the lack of Wilderness Lodge is the biggest disappointment. We were really hoping to score a deal at Old Faithful Club during the Christmas season. Obviously, we weren’t alone in wanting to do that stay since it’s fully booked for many dates and now offers zero savings.
Finally, there’s the “DisneyÂ® VisaÂ® Cardmember December Room Offer” which is available to book by calling the Disney Reservation Center beginning at 7:00 am Eastern Time today.
This one isn’t loaded online yet, but it’s facially identical to the above Florida resident offer. Since it’s not searchable online, I can’t speak to actual availability or exclusions. Sorry, but I’m not calling to find out. (Please report in the comments if you inquire and discover a notable distinction between the deals!)
Walt Disney World’s theoretical list of eligible resorts and prices tends to differ from what’s actually available, so we did a few searches to check out actual discounts and availability.
Here’s what we found for best available rates (well, at least for most of these hotels–Grand Floridian and Riviera Resort are odd outliers on this date due to only have their upper echelon rooms available) when searching:
As a reminder, Walt Disney World does not increase resort rates prior to releasing a discount. This is a popular misconception, but it’s absolutely not true. Rack room charts for the entire year are published well in advance, and can be found in multiple places online.
If you see higher prices now as compared to what you’re already paying, the first thing to do is check the room category. Make sure it’s an apples to apples comparison. The reason Grand Floridian’s “discounted” rate above is $2,995 is because literally the only available room category on that date is a 2-bedroom suite. Not exactly a hot deal, but we probably didn’t need to tell you that!
Okay, commentary time.
These deals are pretty paltry. This is not a huge surprise–weak discounts are what we expected for October through December 2021. As we’ve written previously, those first few months kicking off Walt Disney World’s 50th Anniversary could be one of the busiest 3-month stretches in the resort complex’s history.
Nevertheless, this weak of discounts is not precisely what we’ve been expecting. If past precedent and historic trends were any indication, discounts for late September or early October through December 24, 2021 should have been released in mid-July 2021. In other posts, we commented that we wouldn’t be surprised if that discount release occurred about a month later than normal this year.
Instead, the deal drop occurred two full months later than normal, and offered nothing for October, November, or the first two weeks of December. Not quite what we hoped for or even anticipated.
Perhaps we should’ve seen this coming, though. We’ve been covering the dearth of deals for months, as well as the lack of hotel availability for the end of the year. (If you haven’t already read it, we’d recommend What’s Up with Sold Out Hotels at Walt Disney World?)
That offers an in-depth explanation of the current phenomenon, which I’m not going to rehash here. In a nutshell, it’s a matter of 50th Anniversary demand colliding with low room supply.
Our hope was that the combination of the limited lead time between the announced reopening and the return of those resorts coupled with the sheer number of rooms that’ll be returning around the same time would be good news for Walt Disney World vacation planners. At the time, we commented that it might be a recipe for better discounts than what we’ve been seeing. Obviously, that proved not to be the case.
While low off-season crowds would have little bearing on deals for October through December, we had heard that cancellations extended beyond the off-season. In talking with travel agents and third party vendors we know, all anecdotally stated that they were seeing cancellations through the end of the year. Again, this seemed to bode well for discounts. Also again, that proved not to be the case.
Despite this, room availability has still been scarce for October through December, with many readers reporting that they’ve been unable to find anything at all for their resort of choice. Others have had to do forced split stays at Walt Disney World resorts just to secure their desired dates. We’ve had similar issues when searching for rooms.
At times, this has felt somewhat random, with nothing for the first week of December but plenty of options for the week of Christmas when the parks are notoriously busier. Although we hadn’t covered it in a post, we’ve actually wondered if something has been up with the online room inventory. If these discounts (or rather, lack thereof) are any indication, our suspicions were unfounded.
After all of that, it’s likely the simplest explanation: bookings are still really, really strong for October 1, 2021 through the end of the year at Walt Disney World. To whatever extent that people are cancelling, they’re being replaced by new bookings.
Obviously, these Christmas 2021 discounts–and the lack of deals for October, November, and the beginning of December 2021–are going to be disappointing to many of you. Most of the dates offering savings are among the highest season in resort rate charts, so prices are still very high even post-discount.
Beyond those traveling in the last quarter of the calendar year, the strong resort bookings might be disheartening for those who have been upset by recent announcements about Genie+ and Lightning Lanes, among other things.
However, as we’ve said repeatedly, any potential downturn in attendance or resort reservations driven by those practices or pricing probably wouldn’t be visible until early 2022.
October through December 2021 were always going to be busy due to a mix of Walt Disney World’s 50th Anniversary, Halloween, and Christmas. (Different topic for a different day, but this doesn’t necessarily mean crowds will be sky high for all 3 months–fans focused on the fiftieth are disproportionately likely to stay on-site.)
Nevertheless, if you’re an Annual Passholder or Florida resident who is eager for an escape to Walt Disney World this holiday season and you don’t mind overpaying a bit, can’t find any better options via Disney Vacation Club Point Rentals (it’s pretty much only confirmed reservations now) or Priceline Express Deals (more of those have been coming out lately, so perhaps that’s how WDW will unload unsold rooms this holiday season), this might be as good as it’ll get for you.
What do you think of these room only discounts for Walt Disney World Annual Passholders, Florida residents, and Disney Visa credit card holders? Disappointed that there’s nothing for the general public, or for October and November? If you booked this, do you think you ended up with a good price or do you feel like you’re overpaying? What was available or unavailable for your dates? Is this deal enough to convince you to book a trip, or can you not justify these prices? Do you agree or disagree with our assessments? 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!