Disney just dropped a bunch of new discounts for resort stays in spring and summer 2023. This post will take a look at them and talk about whether these are good deals, how they compared to last year's deals, and what this might mean for future discounts.
Let's start with the simplest offer here, available to the general public. Guests can save up to 25% on select Disney resort hotels this spring and summer. The dates in this offer are from April 10 through July 10, which piggybacks onto the existing discount of up to 20% on stays from March 1-31. As is often the case with these discounts, the highest discounts are often the deluxe resorts, tapering down to the values. There are a couple of exceptions here, as the Contemporary (and Bay Lake Tower) and the Animal Kingdom Villas (Kidani) and Villas at Grand Floridian top out at 15%.
Whether these deals suit you is going to depend on a number of variables, and there is no "one size fits all" answer. What I can say is that these appear to be much better on the whole than what was offered for a similar time frame last year, when the discounts were based on a dollar amount rather than a percentage off. We'll discuss that more below.
A similar deal is available to annual passholders, except these discounts are up to 30% off as opposed to 25%. This makes sense, as there should be a better deal available to AP's than the public at large. Last year, I don't recall many (any?) general public discounts (though there was a similar offer for Disney Plus subscribers, which is as close to the general public as you can get, considering the low cost of a subscription to access the offer).
Before I get to the most "interesting" offer available, I wanted to talk a little about whether these are objectively good deals. If you're a long time visitor, you might turn up your nose at these (as well as a lot of other things). But given the lack of deals in recent years, these begin to look downright good. The pandemic was a convenient excuse for a while, but it doesn't explain everything.
I covered a lot of this in more detail in this post and it seems like a lot of the speculation in that post is coming to fruition. If Disney continues to make offers of discounts, it's likely because they're looking ahead and see soft booking in resorts for these time frames. There are a lot of variables here, but the general rule remains the same - Disney only offers discounts if they have to, not because they're generous and want to reward guests. If demand is strong, they have no need to offer anything.
So objectively, any discount here is good news, and this is better than just "any." As I said, it might not suit everyone but the idea of the discount is good for everyone regardless of whether you take advantage of it yourself. It makes it more likely that there will be a deal in the future that is more to your liking. And if these are really brought on by light demand, it could (should?) encourage Disney to cater to their guests more than they have in recent years.
I wanted to circle back to the third offer that was released today, as I alluded to above. Disney refers to this as "Stay, Play and Enjoy a Disney Dining Promo Card with this Special Offer". Essentially, this offer gives you a gift card to be used for Disney dining if you purchase a vacation package (that's resort AND park tickets) through Disney. The value of the card is up to $150 a day, for a maximum of $750 (five days). As with the discounts above, the amount tiers down depending on the resort category you're booking. As always, do the math before booking anything.
There's a lot to unpack here. One of the "best" offers Disney has had over the years is Free Dining, which pretty much is what it says it is. Free Dining was tied to the Disney Dining Plan, which went on a "temporary" hiatus with the pandemic and has yet to return. Without the dining plan, there really is no Free Dining, as what you really got under that promotion was a number of free meals based on the level of the plan, rather than a dollar amount as is given with this new promotion.
So if it's not Free Dining, what is this new discount offer? There hasn't really been an offer like this in the past but it aims to play to the same crowd that loved Free Dining in the past by tying the offer to food specifically. Otherwise, this would just be an offer like the other two - a set amount off the resort reservation depending on where you're staying. This accomplishes the same thing but allows Disney to take in the resort reservation money up front and offer the gift card upon arrival.
One of the major downsides to this deal is that the gift card is offered as one per room. That means that if you have a family of four staying in one room, you only get one card. With previous Free Dining (and similar) promotions, each PERSON would be given the discount, meaning that the more people you had on a vacation, the more you saved. This deal works well for smaller parties for the opposite reason.
Does this mean anything for the return of the Disney Dining Plan? In my opinion, not really. I don't know what's holding up that return, but this gift card offer is different enough (and able to be combined, if the dining plan were to return before this promotion expires) that they exist in separate plains.
One other thing of note - the resort only offers above are just what they say - resort only. You can still purchase part tickets through an authorized reseller, meaning you should be able to get them for a discount. That factors in to the overall cost of your trip. For the discount offer, you need to purchase the package directly from Disney, meaning the discounted park tickets would not be available to you. It's why I said above and is worth reiterating - run the numbers on any and all of these offers to see which (if any) work for you.
Disney has often released discounts over the years until the pandemic. The fact that these are coming back now and are more aggressive than they've been since then are a good thing. The parks have been stuffed full recently and if these offers mean anything, it's likely that this excess demand is slowing down. Less crowded parks at lower prices is the ideal situation for everyone, so hopefully we're on our way there.