Disney World may be closed, but there is one interesting thing that the closure has us looking forward to.
In the past, hurricane closures and recessions have caused some serious dips in attendance for Disney World. With the special health concerns of the current situation and the projected recession, there is certainly a possibility going into the next few months (and even years) that attendance will be lower than usual in the parks.
Disney has a track record of trying to drive attendance with discounts so we might see some CRAZY Disney deals soon!
So let’s take a walk down memory lane and take a look at the kind of discounts Disney has offered in the past to drive attendance up. Maybe we’ll see some of these in the coming months or years — once it’s safe for Disney to be incentivizing guests to return.
SIGNIFICANT Hotel Rate Discounts
In 2009 after the Great Recession, Disney offered MAJOR discounts on rooms and vacation packages. One deal was so crazy that the New York Times wrote, “If you’ve been putting off your kids’ entreaties to take them on a Disney vacation…you may soon be running out of excuses.” The deals were REALLY good!
According to AllEars.net, the 2009 deal allowed guests who purchased a four-night/four-day Walt Disney Travel Company Magic Your Way hotel and ticket package to receive three EXTRA nights of hotel accommodations AND THREE MORE DAYS added to their theme park tickets for free. For some of the dates, this also included a free $200 Disney Gift Card for use on their trip. Woah.
That’s a pretty crazy discount. It’s so crazy, in fact, that it DID keep hotel occupancy at normal levels despite the fact that it had an effect on earnings. Newsday quoted a Disney guest in 2009 saying they “did consider canceling their trip” until they saw that great deal and changed their mind.
Then-CEO Bob Iger recognized the implications of such an immense discount saying, “We made a conscious decision to put in place promotions that would drive attendance. This strategy has had a predictable impact on margins, but it’s also had the intended effect of bringing people to our parks.”
If a similar pattern in attendance occurs, Disney might need to drive up attendance again. Based on the past, this could mean the release of some inexpensive vacation packages to do so.
Special Park Tickets
2009 also saw the release of some special park tickets to draw people in — some of which provided FREE theme park entry. We don’t know about you, but getting into the parks for FREE is a pretty tantalizing reason to pack your bags for Disney.
The deals in 2009 included free park entry on your birthday (with valid ID, of course), and those actively serving or retired from the U.S. Military were offered a free FIVE-DAY park ticket. That’s over a $400 value today.
At this time no discounts or specials have been announced to lure guests to the parks besides what had already been announced before the closures — the parks don’t even have set reopenings as of press time!
So it will be extra important to keep an eye on DFB so that you can see ALL of our coverage of the best and newest Disney discounts to take advantage of — maybe even some surprising ones!
Fewer Price Increases
Disney World tends to see price increases regularly, usually every year. Prior to the closures, we already saw the price increase for Annual Passes for both Disney World and Disneyland, and we’ve been on the lookout for a regular ticket price increase too.
Now, with the lengthened closures, Disney might have to make a change of plans. If attendance takes a hit, Disney might put such ticket and other price increases on hold until regular attendance levels return.
Disney World Free Dining Offer!
Finally, it’s possible that Disney could release a Walt Disney World Free Dining package. Disney has been releasing Free Dining deals since 2005. This allows guests to receive a free Disney Dining Plan alongside their resort hotel and ticket packages if they make the reservation during certain dates and at select resorts.
Interestingly enough, Disney has already released a new Free Dining offer for guests affected by the closures, but if attendance needs a boost we could possibly see a general Free Dining offer released soon.
We’ve definitely seen Disney use Free Dining offers to buff attendance levels before, typically during “slower” times of year, and it could be a move they make again.
Whatever deals are on the horizon, you can BET we’re on the lookout so we can let you know as soon as they go live. If you’re thinking about a trip to Disney World when it reopens, make sure you stay tuned into DFB so that you can get the most BANG for your buck!
But remember, Disney will likely keep attendance levels lowered — as they’re doing in Shanghai — until they confirm they have the right mix of precautions to keep everyone in the parks completely safe. So while we do think Disney will incentivize guests to return at some point in the next 12 months, we’re not sure when that will start to happen.
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Will YOU be on the lookout for some good Disney discounts