Room-Only Disney World Hotel Discounts
Walt Disney World has released a variety of room-only discounts through Summer & Fall 2018. Click here for current special offers, which can save up to 25% on rooms at select Disney resort hotels most nights now through October 7, 2018. In this post, we’ll weigh the pros & cons of room-only discounts, including how they stack up to Free Dining. (Last updated April 24, 2018.)
As always, the promotion is subject to availability and block-out dates, and discounts vary by resort. Unfortunately, room inventory for the last few room-only promos has been incredibly limited. We anticipate discounts for mid-October through late December 2018 to be released at some point in mid to late July. (We’ll alert newsletter subscribers as soon as details about the 2018 discount becomes available, so sign-up for it if you’d like to be notified.)
In this post, we take a look at why you might want to book a room-only discount (as compared to something like the Free Disney Dining Plan promotion), the pros & cons of doing a room-only discount at Walt Disney World, and details about taking advantage of this to save money on your Walt Disney World vacation…
When it comes to any Walt Disney World discount, “flexibility” is the name of the game. We would highly recommend trying multiple Walt Disney World hotels and/or doing flexible dates when searching if you’re trying to book this promotion yourself. Likewise, if you’re working with a travel agent, let them know if you’re flexible on travel dates or resort, because that can be the difference between paying rack rate and scoring a discount.
Now let’s take a look at the pros and cons of the room-only discount offer…
Why A Room-Only Discount?!
With Free Dining available for a number of the same dates as the room-only promotion, you might wonder why anyone would bother with the room-only discount. No, it’s not because we all stay at All-Star Sports and make twice-daily pilgrimages to the McDonald’s there for some hot McPick 2 action. (And even if I do, there’s nothing wrong with that!)
A lot of people, us included, love room-only discounts is because they are clean and easy, and allow us to take advantage of other money-saving strategies to save on dining, tickets, and other components of the vacation. We can dine much cheaper out of pocket than we can on the Disney Dining Plan, tickets are cheaper when not purchased through Disney, etc.
In our Is Free Dining Worth It? post, we compared some sample Free Dining packages to Room-Only discount offers, and the general conclusion was that Free Dining was usually a better deal, but not always. For families with kids, Free Dining is going to be a better deal most of the time, especially those of you with teenage “human garbage disposals” (as my mother would say).
However, there are plenty of examples where room-only discounts work out to be better, such as for a couple like us. Let’s say you’re going on your “Disneymoon” (Walt Disney World honeymoon, in Disnerdspeak. 😉 ) or want to be within stumblin’ distance of World Showcase during Epcot’s International Food & Wine Festival.
Or, maybe you’re a beneficiary of the McDuck Clan Trust Fund and you want to TREAT YO SELF to Club Level at the Grand Floridian during the Christmas season. (I envision GF Club Level as a magical place where DJ Roombas dance around your feet, cleaning up broken coffee cups as you yell for “ANOTHER!” Also, in my imagination there are plush Catbuses to transport Club Level guests to Magic Kingdom in style. How else could anyone justify $700+/night for this?!)
In any of the above circumstances, 25% off the rack rate of the room is going be over $100/night, which is the magic number (in my opinion) for a party of 2 to choose a room-only discount over Free Dining. Yes, I realize the Disney Dining Plan costs ~$75 per adult per night–it’s not worth that much to me. I think the average guest is going to get about $50/night in value out of the Disney Dining Plan. Hence $100/night being the magic number. (Honestly, I’d be tempted to choose a room-only discount of $90/night over Free Dining…that’s a close call.)
In the extreme case of that Club Level Grand Floridian room, you’re looking at a minimum $200/night savings. (By the way, if any McDuck Clan Trust beneficiaries are reading this…can we be friends? I’d really love to ride a Catbus.) With the 25% discount, most people won’t save this much per night, but if the discount is 30% for Deluxes, an average nightly discount at Beach Club or Boardwalk could be around $150, which is not too shabby.
In actuality, the discount we typically receive is usually around 30-40%, or 5-15% higher than the general public offer. This is because we are either taking advantage of an Annual Passholder rate or PIN code (read more here about how to increase your odds of scoring a PIN/UOC for Walt Disney World better hotel discounts), which helps sway the room-only discount in our favor. This is probably a big reason why “regulars” are more inclined to favor room-only discounts…because we’re typically receiving slightly better discounts than the general public.
Still, even with the better discount rate, you usually need to be a party of 2, and looking at a higher tier than the Value Resorts for this to work in your favor. The downside to the room-only discounts is pretty evident once you move down in resort tiers or add additional people to the room. Whereas the Free Dining promotion gets sweeter as you add people to the room, a room-only discount is the same for parties of 1 or parties of 5.
For those of you who read the comments to the “Is Free Dining Worth It?” post and were puzzled by the range of responses, that’s why. There are a variety of different circumstances, and a party of 5 adults in a standard room at Caribbean Beach is hitting the Free Dining jackpot (the room is literally better than free using my $50 per adult Dining Plan valuation), but only eligible for a pretty insignificant room-only discount. This is why we stress doing the math for yourself–because there is no one ‘one size fits all’ answer to the question of which discount is “best.”
Overall, for many of us (and by many, I mean a small minority) the room-only discounts are the absolute best discount that Walt Disney World offers. Hopefully this post has helped explain that, and also provided some information so you can determine whether taking advantage of a room-only discount is right for you.
If you need help booking and taking advantage of the best Walt Disney World discounts and would like the assistance from a professional, click here to get a quote from a recommended, no-fee Authorized Disney Vacation Planner. They get their commission from Disney, so there is no charge to you for them to book your trip and help you plan!
Want to plan your Walt Disney World trip yourself? Learn about hotels on our Walt Disney World Hotels Reviews page. 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!
Do you prefer room-only discounts? Have you received a PIN code within the last ~6 months? Are you a member of the McDuck Clan Trust? Any resort/discount combination preferences? Hearing from you is half the fun, so please share your thoughts or questions in the comments!
We lucked out, booked our Dec trip at CBR in Feb and received an email that we’re eligible for the $75.00 per night (total $520.00) plus we were able to secure free dinning keeping the same reservation number from when we booked in Feb. We’re flying in the afternoon on Dec 7th and booked a 1 day separate reservation at CBR Perfected room. Does anyone know if a room discount is usually available for early Decemb and if so when it historically would be available. Hoping for one for our one day reservation on Dec 7th
I am hoping someone reads this in hopes that the word Black out Dates, dont mean the same. I booked our Family of 11 in Dec 1 – 7th. I cannot get the free dining since it fell in the black out dates, but keep looking for the room discount. We are staying at the Grand Floridian in hopes there will be discounts on the rooms. But will the blackout dates for the Free dining be the same for the room discounts. At almost a 25k trip booked, I am hoping something will turn up.
I received a PIN for the first time ever! Maybe because we skipped Disney World last year…?
We are a Disney family, visiting once or twice a year with Florida Resident Passes. It is always disappointing that we are NOT included in free dining. We will be spending a few days in late August and staying at All Star Music Resort (not a favorite, but the price is right). Why would Disney not make this perk available to passholders? Just asking.
Our travel agent got they to WDW after being on hold for 3+ hrs. Took nearly 2 hrs to debate with the call center rep. They refused to change our Boulder Ridge 2 bedroom villa to the free dining because our vacation starts on 20th. Our agent said we would take dining starting 21st. NOPE. REP said she would have to cancel our reservation and a 2 bedroom villa was not available. What??? We have had our 2 bedroom since early January! It was ridiculous. We were eligible, got thru, and told we had to cancel and then wouldn’t get what we needed. THEN the rep said we could cancel our trip if these options were not acceptable. I remain astonished. Similar issue occurred last September, but my same agent was able to get the dining included. As a long time fan of Disney, I am so frustrated with the ridiculous and misleading marketing ploy. I have written to Guest Services asking for the logic behind forcing me to cancel an existing reservation, and suggesting if I didn’t like it I could cancel.
That is what happen to me. ended up staying st All star sports and they put me Way in the back. So I tried to get free dining this time as well. I waited for two hours couldn’t do it anymore. The CM I had last time was so rude too. I get you are tired of dealing with people all day. But hey, that is your job. So now I am wondering if the hotel discount is worth it. Plus, you still pay a lot on food if you tip 20%
Hello, I’m visiting all by myself on setember. What do you think would be a better choice: pop century with fre dinning plan or the room only discount?
I did the math, and if I consider that the real room price is the one with the discount, so the dinning plan is not free; and since it’s almost impossible to reach the 64 dollars/day you pay for the regular dinning plan, the room only discount and paying for the food out of pocket seem to be the better option.
What do you guys think about it?
I would say for 1 person the room only discount seems like the better choice
Will room only discounts that come out for November or December be available to those of us that already have the $75 CB promotion? Free dining didn’t make sense for us as only pirate rooms are available and we are two adults, two young kids, but I’m thinking getting a room discount and buying our one park per day tickets from a discount place will be cheaper overall… but losing the $75 gift cards would be the deal breaker…
The Parks and Rec references make this post such a win
Our trip begins October 1st. We booked with AAA, they are telling me that there are no room discounts. I thought I saw Caribbean beach on the list for 25% off. Has anyone else had an issue with this or have an answer for what I can do!?!?
We have a package reservation at Beach Club for October 21 through the 28th (arriving on the 20th and staying at POFQ for one night). I know that the free dining usually never applies in October because of the Food and Wine festival, but do you think there’s any chance of other discounts becoming available for October?
I was pleasantly surprised that POFQ was offered in the room-only discount at 20% off. Especially considering how POR free dining appeared to only be available for Royal Rooms. I switched over to there and will save a lot of money.
Is there a possibility that room-only discounts for the rest of October will be released at a later date?
If we are receiving a $75 gift card for CBR, would we still be able to take advantage of the room off deal coming out in summer? We are going in November and I tried to get free dining today but only pirate rooms were available. The cast member did say that I would still get the gift card with free dining but I did not book anything.
Just got TWO pin codes in the mail back to back last week…for the same discount as the public room only discount of ‘up to 30%’ for dates May to mid August. Unless with the code I get an additional discount off that…guess I wouldnt know unless I called to book. Despite how excited I was to get my 1ST pin code ever ( I have been trying for months signing up for every free trip planning DVD available, DCL, DVC, the works ) I was sadly disappointed to find out that it was the same as the public offer, and is also NOT during any of my travel dates…Womp womp… Heres to seeing if I can convince my husband to take a 4th Disney trip year (definitely not happening) 😉
I would be very interested in hearing your fool proof method for getting PIN codes 🙂
We booked last night for Caribbean Beach for this coming December 2016 as a surprise for our kids for Christmas. We also took advantage of the Dining Plan. We did the calculations and we did wind up saving a lot of money.
Hubby and I used room discount to book GF Concierge in December of 2015. Worth every penny. We traveled with out 17 month old baby. Having coffee and food prepared each morning was worth it’s weight in gold to me. At night, I enjoyed desserts with “mommy” juice.
Maybe when our child is older, we will consider a non-concierge room….but not in the near future. Those room only discounts make our trips affordable because I can justify $600 per night, I cannot justify $1000.
I’m wondering if this discount is similar to the offer “for a limited time only” (2 weeks) that I received maybe 3 weeks ago via email from Disney to upgrade from a moderate resort (that we had all ready booked) to a deluxe resort (in the case of the email, Animal Kingdom) for “only $44 a night more.”
We pulled the trigger on the deal and did the upgrade once I looked at what the going rate was for the dates we were booked (“Jersey Week in November) and realized we would be saving about $90 to 100 per night with the upgrade.
I don’t have any comments about room discounts, but wanted to thank you for working in that photo of the most awesome wall art from any hotel at WDW, the bunny and the ??? (monkey?). Love your posts/photos Tom!
I’ve seen Stay, Play and Dine promos for January in recent years. Do you anticipate that offer coming this year too, or just room only discounts?
To your PIN question, I’ve recently been getting lots of pin codes in my email. Recently booked an October trip for this year and ended up using one of the standard Disney discounts. The pin code ended up being the same as what I could get via the website, if not slightly worse.