Updated: Yes, Virginia, There Is A New Discount Coming Out on December 21

DEAR EDITOR: I am 8 years old.
“Some of my little friends say there is no new discount coming out on December 21.
“Papa says, ‘If you see it in TouringPlans.com it’s so.’
“Please tell me the truth; is there a new discount coming out on the 21st?

– Virginia

Yes, Virginia, there is a new discount coming out on December 21. It exists as certainly as Buzz and Woody and Belle exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no discounts! It would be as dreary as if there were no Virginias. There would be no childlike faith then, no Splash Mountain, no Tower of Terror to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.

Not believe in discounts! You might as well not believe in fairies!

[Note: In keeping with Bob Iger’s recent statements about 2010 discounts we don’t expect this discount to be as steep as Buy-4-Get-3-Free or Buy-5-Get-2-Free.

Update: We hear there’s a five-day minimum. Travel dates are January 3 through June 3, 2010. Those who stay at value resorts will get a $300 gift card. Moderate resorts get a $500 gift card. Deluxes get a $750 gift card. Blackout dates are March 28 through April 10, 2010. There’s limited availability.]

Len Testa

Len Testa is the co-author of the Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World, and has contributed to the Disneyland and Las Vegas Unofficial Guides. Most of his time is spent trying to keep up with the team. Len's email address is len@touringplans.com. You can also follow him on Twitter: @lentesta.

50 thoughts on “Updated: Yes, Virginia, There Is A New Discount Coming Out on December 21

  • December 17, 2009 at 10:11 am

    Two thoughts. First, this is better than the 20/30/40 PIN code floating around for a five-night stay in a Value or a Mod, not for the Deluxes. Second: genius! It’s a “discount”, but you are forced to spend the money you “save” at Disney. Yes, many of us would spend that money anyway, but I’m guessing people will be a lot more free with their gift cards than they would be with Real Money.

  • December 17, 2009 at 10:22 am

    Yea, but the parks will still be dirtier than ever before, with more stores, and less free attractions than ever before. And avoid the monorail at all costs. Count me out. Any new Pixar flicks? Now I’m interested.

    • December 17, 2009 at 10:44 am

      No offense Ronda, but I think you are a “Disney Downer”.

      My family and I enjoyed a wonderful vacation at WDW in November. It was our first visit and we’re hooked! We found the parks, and resorts to be beautiful and clean. I really appreciated the friendliness and cleanliness of the cast members. It was nice to go somewhere where the employees (almost w/o exception) were friendly and free of visible tattoos, and bizarre piercings.

      Being employed in the transportation industry, I particularly enjoyed the variety of Disney transportation options including the monorail. Oh, I almost forgot! We also enjoyed the variety and quality of the food.

      We can’t wait to go back!

      • December 17, 2009 at 12:37 pm

        Max, you can disagree without labeling other readers. Please don’t do that again.

        • December 17, 2009 at 1:42 pm

          Gee Len, I’m sorry, I guess I forgot the smiley face. 🙂

  • December 17, 2009 at 11:46 am

    Quick question–will this be on hotel reservations alone, or will it only apply if you get reservations with passes? I’m thinking of getting passes now, then booking the hotel later. thanks in advance!

    • December 17, 2009 at 12:35 pm

      Don’t know just yet, Scott. Recent offers have included packages, so I think tickets will be included in some variation of the offer.

  • December 17, 2009 at 11:55 am

    Will you be able to receive this gift card even if you already booked your reservation using a room discount pin code? I didn’t know if that would be considered as combining discounts, which I know is not allowed.

    • December 17, 2009 at 12:35 pm

      Disney generally doesn’t allow combining discounts, but you could rebook if this is a better deal (and there’s availability at your resort).

  • December 17, 2009 at 12:13 pm

    Too funny. Do we know if the gift card will be like last year’s gift card from this time period which could be used on anything? Or like the “fun cards” which can’t be used on food?

    • December 17, 2009 at 12:31 pm

      Did last year’s card from this time period come with room reservations, or was it tied to a room-and-tickets deal?

      • December 17, 2009 at 12:36 pm

        I think you’ll see this offer in both room-only and package form.

        • December 17, 2009 at 12:42 pm

          thanks for the replies, Len!

    • December 17, 2009 at 12:36 pm

      Thanks! No word on the kind of gift card.

  • December 17, 2009 at 12:45 pm

    the black out dates start on March 28th and my reservation starts on March 26th. will we be blacked out?

    • December 17, 2009 at 1:38 pm

      I don’t think so – Disney usually goes by check-in date.

  • December 17, 2009 at 1:03 pm

    Sounds great! We are annual passholders and use the Tables in Wonderland discount card for meals. We are planning a trip sometime before June 2010! I sure hope this discount will apply to us 🙂

    Thanks for posting this!
    Betty in Maine

  • December 17, 2009 at 1:03 pm

    Thanks for the heads up, espec. before the current deal expires. Now I can formulate my plans with the most complete info possible. That’s why I come to Touring Plans and buy the Unofficial Guide! So… sounds like this is comparable to free dining, assuming you can use the gift card at restaurants?

  • December 17, 2009 at 1:12 pm

    That’s exciting. We are currently booked at the end of April at POFQ and we received a PIN code for a discounted room stay (35% I think). Hopefully this will be an even better deal for us. Thanks for the heads up!

  • December 17, 2009 at 4:18 pm

    Great post Len. Well written.

  • December 18, 2009 at 10:23 am

    I already have a package booked for May 27 to June 5, 2010 with no discounts. I know that the rumor is the promo dates will end June 3, 2010. When and if the promo comes out, I will probably rebook but I wonder if I’ll have to book two different reservations since mine will go beyond June 3rd.

  • December 18, 2009 at 12:11 pm

    I think this deal will appeal a lot to the general public who book rack rate rooms, because the gift card amounts do sound impressive. I’m not sure how many seasoned veterans would book a special trip around this, however.

    Having just gotten back from the WDW this week, I’m not sure what I’d spend the gift card on if we stayed anywhere other than a Value resort. Merchandise didn’t have appeal for us this trip (although it might be because we were down in August, however I don’t recall buying much stuff then either). The little bit of souvenir stuff we bought was seasonal-related (mostly $75 of gingerbread to bring home). Because we were doing the Reunion trip, we didn’t have ADRs and the couple sit-down meals we had were cheapies for brunch/lunch at lesser-known resort restaurants. Because I was still dealing with the last vestiges of first trimester hormones, I did more kids meals than even adult counter service meals, which also kept our budget profoundly low.

    We had originally scheduled to go down this coming spring, but because airfare was painfully expensive for the weekend we had planned (and because of my baby concerns, too), we cancelled that last month. I can’t see that the gift card would make me second guess that decision. For disclosure, as a DVC member, I do a lot of thinking before I book a room by cash anyhow, but if the deal is good, I’d gladly bank the points and pay for the room, as done this past week.

    So my questions for those who are planning to take up this offer, was it that you were planning to go anyhow and this was just a nice bonus or is this something that makes you say “ooooh, now’s the right time to book a trip!”? Also, for those who are taking advantage of it, what do you foresee yourself spending the gift card on: merchandise, counter service meals, sit down meals, additional entertainment (could it be used for Cirque tickets?), or something else entirely?

    (Or, if you’re Len, does the whole gift card get spent on a night at Cava del Tequila? *grin*)

    • December 18, 2009 at 12:41 pm

      Hi JulFromMD – We’re neighbors, I live in NoVA! So here’s my thoughts on why I WOULD take advantage of this: my son is a fan of Star Wars, so I was looking at going for a long weekend in May already. However, if the Buy 4 deal had been extended, I would probably have opted to go instead during spring or summer break and saved SWW for next year. If the card can be used for dining, then we will most likely book a trip to a value/moderate resort — and have some $ left over for souvenirs. If it can’t be used for dining, I would def. only book a value resort. I can’t see spending more than $100-$200 on souvenirs, realistically. Seems like Disney wants to provide some incentive for extra visitors, but they must realize this deal will only increase their crowds marginally.

  • December 19, 2009 at 7:17 am

    It’ll be interesting to see whether the gift card can be used for food. If so, it’s a deal (but an odd one). If not, it’s not a deal.

    Disney’s really trying to push park merchandise now. I wonder if this is that attempt.

  • December 19, 2009 at 10:39 am

    Just wondering, do you know when they will release this?

  • December 19, 2009 at 10:47 am

    When we stayed at Pop Century last March, we received a $500 gift card that we used towards merchandise AND food.

  • December 19, 2009 at 11:07 am

    last year they had the 4/3 deal and the 200 dollar gift card. I took advantage of this deal. I would like to see the same deal this year.

  • December 19, 2009 at 11:36 am

    I’ve been doing some math this morning, comparing this new deal to the current Buy-4-Get-3-Free (b4g3) and Buy-5-Get-2-Free (b5g2). I could be wrong about all of this, but here’s what I’ve got.

    The new Gift Card Promo makes sense for those:

    1) With two or more rooms at a deluxe resort, if booked separately

    2) At a moderate resort for 7 nights (b4g3), with 2 adults and 2 or 3 kids

    3) At a value resort for 7 nights (b5g2), with 2 adults and 2 or 3 kids

    For all other scenarios, the original deals seem to be better.

    Anyone else re-priced their trips at this new rate?

  • December 19, 2009 at 1:05 pm

    Maybe I’m just not getting it, but what benefit would the $500 gift card be if you’re purchasing a package with hotel, tickets and dining plan? I don’t think my family could spend $500 on merchandise and snacks. It just doesn’t seem like a good deal. We were planning to take a trip in May, but I think we may pass this year.

    • December 19, 2009 at 3:10 pm

      I think the gift card (assuming they let us buy food with it) would replace the dining plan. So you would still buy a package for your room/tickets, but use the gift card for the food you buy while there.

      I am planning a trip in May, too, but was hoping for the buy 4 get 3 free deal to be extended. I will have to adjust some things (moderate hotel instead of deluxe) to make things work. This gift card deal definitely isn’t better than the buy 4 get 3 deal.

      • December 19, 2009 at 5:44 pm

        I agree with you, Sara. This offer definitely is not as good as the buy 4 get 3 free deal. I don’t think omitting the dining plan and using the gift card would work out in our favor. Looks like we may be skipping our trip this year. It’s just too expensive without a good deal. 🙁

    • December 19, 2009 at 6:31 pm

      Exactly – I think the card may take the place of the dining plan for some people.

      • December 21, 2009 at 11:56 am

        So Len, have you run the numbers yet to see how the gift card deal would compare with free dining? I’m thinking it would end up being not a deal for 2 adults/2 kids staying at a Value for 5 nights, but might be a deal for a couple staying at a Moderate or Deluxe, yes?

  • December 19, 2009 at 8:36 pm

    I was hoping for an extension of the buy 4-get 3 promo into May, too. But, by this time last year, I had booked our May trip using that promotion, so I guess the odds are not good. I took my 4 year old last year, and we stayed at Animal Kingdom Lodge. We didn’t spend anywhere near $750, beyond our hotel and park tickets. I think with food and the few souvenirs, we may have spent $300. It was so hard to get reservations anywhere, that we only ate a couple of sit down meals. I agree this looks like a good deal only for larger families. Now, if they let you apply the balance on the gift card to your hotel bill, that would make it a much better deal…

    • December 20, 2009 at 7:05 am

      I love this idea. Don’t you have to pay in full before you arrive, however?

      • December 20, 2009 at 9:03 am

        Good point…last year, with the buy 4 get 3, I did have to pay in full in advance because it was a MYW package. If you could get this deal by booking rooms and buying tickets separately, I think it would work, because I don’t believe that you have to pay for a room only reservation in advance. But, something tells me, the Disney promotion folks are too smart for this! I’m sure they want us buying rooms and tickets at full price and using the card exclusively in the parks!

  • December 20, 2009 at 12:54 pm

    Len: here was my attempt to run some #’s, assuming the g.c. has real value as good as $$ (can be used for food or for a future trip).

    I was comparing g.c. vs. 4+3 vs. Jan to Jun PIN code. If my assumptions are correct, this g.c. deal is a *much* better deal if you’d be interested in staying 5 nights instead of 7, & maybe even if you’re staying 7. & we’re in the southeast, so a 5 night trip is pretty appealing for us.

    4+3 = 42.9% off of any 7 night stay (3/7 = 42.9%)
    5+2 = 28.6% off of any 7 night stay (2/7 = 28.6%)
    PIN = 40% off deluxes, 35% off of moderates & 30% off values.

    *If* you are planning a 5 night stay…
    $800 g.c. for 5 night stay = $160 “off” per night, & this is a bigger discount than the PIN if the rack (pretax) rate is $350 or less per night (& much cheaper than 4 nights @ rack rate).

    $500 g.c. for 5 night stay = $100 “off” per night, & this is better than the PIN if the rack (pretax) rate is $250 or less per night (& much cheaper than 4 nights @ rack rate).

    $300 g.c. for 5 night stay = $60 “off” per night, & this is better than the PIN if the rack (pretax) rate is $175 or less per night (& much cheaper than 4 nights @ rack rate).

    The lower the nightly rate, the better the g.c. deal would be, so you’d particularly want to re-run your #’s if you’re in value or regular season, particularly values or moderates. And if you don’t need tickets & this is hotel only, even better.

    For regular season, 5 night stay with a Saturday arrival, I’m calculating the net nightly rate with taxes (std views, cheapest rooms, net of the full value for the gift card) would be: $62 @ Pop, $110 @ CSR, $105 @ PO, $182 @ WL, & $216 @ Contemporary. All are 42%-49% off. That makes this an incredible deal for the Values & darned good for the moderates **if** my assumptions are correct. It would make a strange follow up to their announcement that they are rolling back discounts.

    • December 21, 2009 at 9:04 am

      Hey Andrea, I think you’ve nailed it.

      The new discount seems to make sense only in some scenarios where you’re staying less than 7 days. The examples I have are for 6 nights at Pop, but they come out better than a single-night discount in B4G3.

      There’s also a scenario where guests with no discount with 4-day MYW tickets would benefit from applying the discount and buying 5-day tickets, because of the net difference.

  • December 21, 2009 at 9:42 am

    Hi Len,
    I just called and was able to get the gift card added to my existing April 17th reservation. The cards are good for food and just about everything else. As the B4G3 was not offered during my stay, this is a good deal for us. Thanks to everyone who ran the numbers – very helpful.

  • December 21, 2009 at 9:47 am

    We have a reservation at POFQ at the end of April and received a PIN code a while back for 35% off our stay. After running the numbers and paying rack rate for both the rooms as well as our 7 day park tickets (we can get a small discount on our park tickets by using our AAA discount & purchasing them separately), it’s about even. For convenience sake, we are keeping our current reservation as it. I was hoping for the 4+3, but we still feel like we got a “deal” with the 35% off accomodation PIN code. But I know for people who weren’t sure if they might take a trip this year, it’s certainly worth looking into if there are no other discounts floating around. Too bad we can’t take advantage of BOTH the discounts. Now THAT would be sweet!

  • December 21, 2009 at 10:00 am

    I called Disney reservations first thing this morning and was able to modify my existing reservation to take advantage of the free $500.00 gift card. When I booked, I had no pin code or special offer. Since there seems to be no chance of the buy 4/get 3 free offer being extended to include my travel dates, I went ahead and took this deal. At least now I’ll have extra spending money!

  • December 21, 2009 at 3:02 pm


    Why is it OK to label a company FULL of people that work very hard at their job but not label a poster here is is obviously full of it. Disney Dirty? Compared to what?

  • December 22, 2009 at 9:50 am

    I booked this morning. I called first and asked some specific questions about how the gift card can be used. My understanding is that it can be used anywhere a standard Disney Gift Card can be used–park and resort hotel restaurants and shops, etc. It can also be used to book backstage magic tours and to upgrade park passes, so I bought a five-day basic Magic Your Way pass that I’m going to add park hopper to once we get the gift card. It can not, however, be used to upgrade your room once you book.

    • December 23, 2009 at 1:35 pm

      Hmm… if you aren’t an annual passholder, using the gift card to upgrade the park tickets would be an awesome excuse to upgrade from a Value to a Moderate and use the extra gift card cash to pay for the park hoppers.

  • December 26, 2009 at 10:28 pm


    I already had a trip booked within these promotion dates and have the dining plan in my package. We have been reading all the strategies to make the most of the meal plan, and I think we have learned a lot about how to optimize the value. On the other hand, there was still at least one meal a day that wasn’t covered by the dining plan, and I think this gift card will come in handy to cover those extra food expenses.

  • January 1, 2010 at 1:44 pm

    I have already booked 7 days at the Contemporary from January 30 to February 6 using the book 4 get 3 free promotion. Can I still take advantage of the $750.00 promotion and, if so, how do I go about it?


  • January 1, 2010 at 1:50 pm

    You can ignore my previous post. I just read the other posts and it looks like my answer is no.

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