Times are tough in the travel world. Even the great Disney is suffering from loss of attendance at the parks and resorts. I have seen estimates from late last year (2010) that they are down as much as 6% in attendance. Over the past couple of years, Disney has attempted to offer all kinds of discounts to try and entice you into coming to its Magical Kingdom.
The most widely available add-on that Disney has been pushing heavily over the past couple years is the free dining option. If you play your cards right, no longer will you need to shell out additional money while at the parks just to eat. Free dining used to be offered only during the slow periods, but it seems like Disney has been expanding the dining options to keep people coming to the parks. I cannot find a current offer with free dining being included in the price.
This week I received an offer from Travelocity, showing up to a 35% discount on Walt Disney World Resorts, as well as up to 4 free days of park passes. The catch is you must book by March 25, 2011 for travel April 28 to June 14, 2011 and August 14 to October 1, 2011. Again they limit the discount during the peak summer season. However, if you and your kids get out of school early in June or go back late in August, you might be able to score some significant discount on your stay.
The most valuable part of the Travelocity offer though could be the extra 4 days of park passes. Now realize the incremental cost to add on additional days is minimal; however, if you were to stay at a Disney property for the minimum number of nights (it looks like it is 3-night minimum), and then switch over to a cheaper hotel off-site, this could be very well worth the cost. Another option is to go the minimum amount of days, then when you are at the park, convert the tickets over to the non-expiration tickets for a future visit.
Honestly, I have always been able to find better deals booking everything individually on my own. If you have the time, you can watch for the best airline rates. Tickets can easily be purchased through the secret Mousesavers Newsletter link to Undercover Tourist. (Sorry but you will need to join Mousesavers newsletter for the discount link on Walt Disney World park tickets.) Lastly, off-site hotels, like I talked about here, are an excellent value. I am not trying to say staying in a Disney resort does not have its benefits, which I would not know since I have not stayed in one since I was a kid. However, when it comes to saving money at Disney, there are easily some ways it can be accomplished without diminishing the magic. If you book and stay at a Disney resort, you will need to weigh the added cost to the benefits. If the discount offered above was in addition to free dining, this would be a steal, but for now I will pass.