There were two big news releases last week from Walt Disney World. First, as expected, Disney raised its ticket prices. The only surprise there was that they did it on August 5th instead of August 1st, the first Sunday in August, when they traditionally have increased the ticket prices. Second, Disney released its resort rates for 2011. While I had expected the usual increase in rates, I hadn’t expected Disney to tinker so much with the resort seasons I had gotten used to.
The ticket price increases overall were moderate, usually around a 4% increase. A single day adult base ticket went up from $79 to $82. A 5-day Park Hopper went up $11, from $280 to 291. What is surprising to me is the amount Disney is increasing its longer-stay tickets.
Traditionally, Disney has encouraged you to stay longer by making prices for anything above a 5-day ticket only marginally more expensive. When we went for our first visit using the Magic Your Way tickets in 2006, the difference between a 5-day and 10-day ticket was only about $12. Even last year, there was only a $15 dollar difference, or just$3 a day. While the increase for most tickets was in the 4% range, Disney last week raised its prices for longer-stay tickets by closer to 8%. The difference between a 5-day and 10-day ticket is now $25.
And forget about what I said in my last blog that it’s cheaper to buy a 10-day ticket with the No Expiration option than to buy two 5-day tickets. With the increase in the price of 10-day tickets, along with the increases over the past couple of years in the price of the No Expiration option, it is now more expensive to purchase a 10-day base ticket with No Expiration than to just buy two 5-day base tickets. The 10-day, No Expiration option can still save money if you want the Park Hopper and/or Water Parks Fun and More add-ons, though, as you’re only paying for these now $54 increases once.
Overall, the lesson I’m taking from this year’s ticket price increases is that Disney isn’t as interested in longer-term stays or repeat visits as it once was.
As far as the changes to the resort prices go, there appears to be a mix of good news and bad news. The price increases for the Value and Moderate resorts seem to be less than for the Deluxes, generally in the $4 to $10 a night range. The Deluxe resort increases were generally in the $10 to $25 range.
My first thought on looking at the new rates at www.mousesavers.com was, “Can Disney make it any more complicated?” There were already about ten different rates for any given resort throughout the year, and the dates and terminology weren’t the same for any two classes of resorts. Now, it’s worse.
There are now two Value and two Regular seasons (cleverly named “Value 1” and “Value 2,” and “Regular 1” and “Regular 2”). There’s also a new Fall season, which encompasses dates that traditionally were a mix of Regular and Value seasons.
The good news is that for the cheapest dates of the year, what is now the Value 1 seasons, there were generally no price increases. (I preface my statements with “generally” because there are so many different resorts, categories of rooms, seasons, and exceptions that I have not compared every possible room at every possible rate with this year’s rates. One exception I’ve noted is that Standard rooms at Animal Kingdom Lodge have increased by $10, even during the Value 1 season.) This lowest-price season is now limited to the beginning of the year, from after New’s Year through mid-February (excepting Marathon and MLK weekends) and the end of August through the end of September.
More good news is that for a couple times of year, namely the end of February through the first two weeks of March and late October through the week before Thanksgiving, rates have actually gone down, by $20 to $50 per night. For earlier in the year, this savings is due to a change from Peak season to Regular season. In the October and November times, this is because what was formerly the Regular season is now the Fall season, with a lower rate.
The flip side of this coin, however, is that for the period between Thanksgiving and Christmas (my family’s favorite time to go to the World), the change from Value to Fall season has resulted in a significant increase in rates. Significant, to the tune of a $40 to $50 per night increase.
Likewise, late summer from after the Independence Day holiday through the middle of August, which was formerly the Value season for Deluxe resorts, is now the Value 2 season, with increases in the $20 to $35 per night range.
More mixed news for summer–the summer rates for June and July have gone up everywhere; except, for some reason, the moderate resorts I looked at. The June/July rates there are the same as this year’s.
I know this all sounds confusing, because it is. Most families, I imagine, don’t plan their vacations around Disney’s resort rates. My family, anyway, is limited to when school and work will allow us to get away and we’re forced to deal with whatever rate Disney has at that time. If you have flexibility, however, you’ll get better rates in 2011 for the end of February (after Presidents’ Day weekend) through the first two weeks of March and again in late October up until Thanksgiving week, than Disney offered in 2010 for the same periods. And it bears repeating that January up until President’s Day weekend and late August and most of September will generally see no price increase next year.
Mousesavers.com has a chart of all the 2011 rates for all the different room categories for each resort. Even if you’ve always gone at the same time every year, it might save you a lot of money to check out the new rates. The rate for the time you’ve usually gone to the World might have increased by $50 a night or more. Changing your vacation dates a week or two either way might move you into a better season.
Contributed by: Mark (NDD #102). Mark is our resident “how to save money while living the Disney Driven Life” expert.