Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Disney Special Offers: Crunching the numbers

By now, you may have noticed (or maybe not) that I've added a Disney page up at the top there.  You'll find links to all my trip reports, planning tips and Disney photography posts.

Last week, I checked in to see what, if any, promotional deals Disney was running through the remainder of 2013.  It is definite now that we won't be returning until 2014 but I still like to keep up to date with promotions.  There are two special offers of interest:
  1. Free dining plan with the purchase of a non-discounted 5-night/6-day Magic Your Way package (includes room and theme park tickets) at select Disney Resort hotels.
  2. Save up to 30% on rooms at select Disney Resort hotels.
Both of these special offers are available in September (select dates), which means that if you were planning a trip for that time, you would have a choice between the two.  Which one gives you more for your money?  Is one better than the other?  As an accountant, I'm a numbers nerd and I like to occassionally run numbers for different vacations. I'll then email or text the results of my calculations and findings to Rich, which prompts confusion and questions, such as, "Why exactly are you sending this to me?" and "I didn't think we were going to Hawaii anytime soon.  Right?"

Maybe I should have been a travel agent.

Before you book your vacation, I highly suggest running through different scenarios and analyzing the costs.  Even if you plan to use a travel agent.  We've booked all of our Disney trips through AAA.  The last one, they were able to give us a package for less than if we had booked directly through Disney.

Also, keep the following in mind:

  • The free dining plan offered when you book at a value resort is the quick service plan, which means that you receive 2 quick service meals and 1 snack per person per night of stay.  You also receive the refillable mug.  This means that you would have to pay out of pocket for any table service meals or upgrade your dining plan, which is an option. 
  • Only a certain number of rooms are set aside for promotional offers so if you wait to book, you may find yourself out of luck.  From what I've seen, room discounts at the deluxe resorts can sell out fast.
  • The room discounts currently being offered are less than those of the past few years.  The highest discount for September is 30%.  Where in the past (last year, I believe), it was up to 40%.

Okay, now it's time to crunch some numbers.  I decided to see what it would cost for my family of six (three adults and three children) to vacation at Disney for September 13th through the 19th.  These prices include 5 day park tickets.

Value Resort 

Both the family suites and the Little Mermaid rooms at the Art of Animation Resort are extremely popular right now.  So much so that the Little Mermaid rooms have been and continue to be excluded from the special offers. 
$3,260 - Family suite, 15% off room rate
$3,540 - Family suite, free quick service dining plan
$3,915 - Family suite, free dining (upgrade to "regular" dining plan)
Moderate Resort

Port Orleans French Quarter, two garden view rooms

$3,600 - 25% off room rate
$4,240 - Free dining plan
Deluxe Resort

Contemporary, two theme park view rooms (I would LOVE to stay here someday.)

$8,675 - Free dining plan

Yeah, I just about choked on my cookie, too.  Moving along...

What I found to be most interesting is that there's not that much of a difference between those family suites and the cost of two moderate resort rooms.  For a family of four, a family suite isn't cost effective when a package with free dining at a moderate would run you about $2,400. But I can see the appeal in having a suite versus a single room, especially if you are traveling with an infant or very young children.    In the past, I've thought that room discounts were the better way to go over free dining, given the choice, but with those discounts lower than before, free dining seems to be a better deal.  You have to think about how much you would spend out of pocket on food and this will be different for each family, of course.

So if I was going to book today, what would I pick?  Possibly two rooms at a moderate resort with free dining.  We stayed at Port Orleans Riverside during our first trip and while it was nice enough, I'd like to try a different moderate.  The girls loved Art of Animation and have asked if we can stay there again.      

Am I the only one who wants to stay at a different resort each time?


Tinkerbellemommy said...

My goal is to eventually hit all the resorts, lol, but we seem to en up at the Beach Club or Port Orleans most often. Our last stay at POR was in the Princess rooms in the mansion section...your girls would LOVE that I bet! Have you also crunched the numbers for renting DVC points? We had our first experience with that last winter at Old Key West. The extra space and full kitchen was nice,many the kids enjoyed the pool. We had a 2 BR when we celebrated my DD's sweet 16 with 3 of her friends.

Sarah said...

I've seen those rooms at POR but b/c we've already stayed at POR, I don't know if I want to stay there again. LOL We really, really, really liked Beach Club - I want to try out Yacht Club or Boardwalk too though.

For some reason I always feel overwhelmed when I check out the DVC stuff. When you rented the points did you have to book well in advance? I've heard that with DVC, you need to book in advance and we usually don't book early.

Kimmy said...

Thank you so much for posting these tips! I have followed your blog for awhile now and have three year old twin girls. I am now in the beginning stages of planning our first Disney trip and always loved your Disney posts before, but now that we are going, I am so happy you have it as a separate tab at the top now. Thanks again!

Farah said...

I just LOLed because I do the exact same thing with my husband. I will crunch numbers for different trips and send them to him. And he's always like "Uhh... Why are you sending me this?"

And I always want to go somewhere different too (both when it comes to resorts/hotels and actual destinations). It's fun to try and experience new things. I totally get it.

Anonymous said...

have a look at port orleans french quarter as the distance to food court at the furthest point is still a short distance. great for yound kids. my kids loved it there the staff were so nice and we've now stayed there twice

Tinkerbellemommy said...

When we booked our DVC it was about 6 months the first time...we planned a weekend in December to go to MVMCP, and I thought it was best to book as early as we had made the plans. The next time was about 3 months out, and we had no issues. Both were at OKW, which I understand is easier to get than some of the others. I looked but didn't commit in May for a June trip, and at that time there was OKW and Saratoga Springs. OKW worked for us, the pool was within walking distance, and they had activities there for free fun. In the community hall you could borrow sports equipment, movies, play Wii, do crafts or watch tv if you're still waiting for your room to be ready. There was so much more than a regular resort, we really felt like we got our $$ worth.

Michele said...

I just booked a Nov trip and said "Screw you 2nd grade! Momma needs a break!"

We're staying at Coronado Springs. I knew I wanted to do moderate and thought I'd give the girls a few choices and let them pick.

I haven't picked all my reservations yet, but I was pleased to see some Downtown Disney additions to the food plan this year. So we're hitting up Bongos, Hoop De Doo, Norway for the princess luncheon, and Cantina de San Angel. I have two more to figure out but am not sure. I have commitment issues.

Love reading your Disney posts! I don't know if I'll brave the big camera this trip.

Raenstoirm said...

I do the same thing to my husband all the time. If I plan enough fake trips, eventually he caves and lets me actually book one of them (or more than one depending on his mood- thats how I got a 9 day cruise in April, a week at the lake in June, 10 days at the beach last week and a 9 day Disney trip in Sept and I almost got a 2nd Disney trip for December, but he saw through my ruse! ;))

Not that you are actually going, but I could get you an even cheaper rate for your fake week. Sept 13th (the day we actually arrive incidentally) starts "Villains week" since it is Friday the 13th. There is a special promo at Beach Club as the host resort for the stuff. It cut our trip cost by over $1000!

Marion said...

My husband and I have stayed at Port Orleans French Quarter (honeymoon), Caribbean Beach (highly recommend for kids...great pool!), Grand Floridian (pre-kids!), and last year we stayed in a two bedroom suite at the Animal Kingdom lodge with my parents and our two girls.

We've always gone with the free dining (we always go in September because we haven't had school to contend with yet). The free dining always seems to be a better deal during that time for us. We're planning on doing a land-sea package in 2015. Maybe I should have you crunch the numbers for me :)

Debbie said...

We love Caribbean Beach. How much...we have stayed there like 30times. We have also stayed at Poly, Contemporary, Grand Floridian, Riverside, Wilderness Lodge, Boardwalk, and a favorite, Beach Club. Staying at CBR is of course much cheaper than at the deluxe, and since we go at least once a year, that is what we do. Most of our savings come to us because we buy annual passes, and have done so since 1994. We simply make sure that we book the seoond trip we take within 365 days. We are have been lucky enough to book when they offer annual passholder discounts. If you are going to continue to take your family on vacations to Disney you may want to check the annuals out.

Jennifer said...

Disney has extended the free dining through December to return guests. We got our pin code for it in the mail about three months ago. We are going December 1st and staying at the Polynesian. Originally we were booked at The Wilderness Lodge which I was excited about the Christmas decorations but they didn't have the room we needed with the free dining plan offer. But I'm very excited about the Poly & being on the monorail loop!! We loved to stay at CBR growing up and we also really enjoyed The Fort Wilderness cabins. Hubby & I tried out AKL when it first opened and it was amazing although so far out from the parks!