Not sure whether you want a Walt Disney World vacation package or if it would make more sense to book just a Disney World resort hotel room and buy your tickets separately? This page explains the pros and cons of vacation packages vs. booking a room-only reservation, including the cancellation policies for each type of reservation.
Should I book a package or room only at Disney World?
Generally, Walt Disney World vacation packages for next year become available around the beginning of June each year. This is just a ballpark date, and does vary slightly each year.
If you are looking to book a room-only reservation at a Walt Disney World Resort, you can do so up to 499 days in advance. You can give Cast Members a call at (407) 939-7639 or your local travel agent, and they will book the room for you. At the time of booking, you’ll need to place a deposit, which is generally the first night’s room rate, plus taxes and fees. You pay a one nights deposit and then you pay the balance when you check in to the hotel.
If you’re already booked and then a Special Offer becomes available, you’ll want to call and ask them to apply the discount. Generally, this can be done retroactively if your resort and room type are eligible.
Can we convert room-only reservations into a package?
If you currently have a room-only reservation, this is usually because your room is on sale or you are booking so far in advance, that you want to secure your room and get the planning processes started.
When a sale package becomes available, like Free-Dining, Travel Agents don’t technically modify your existing reservation. They book you a new reservation under the package deal and cancel your old reservation. If you bought the tickets and room separately, they would cancel both orders and create a new reservation in the system that has the room, tickets, and dining all on the same reservation/order. Your deposit can be transferred to the new booking.
Conversely, by adding tickets to your existing room-only reservation, you are technically creating a Magic-Your-Way package, while custom, now falls under the Package rules. Room-only discounts (ie Sun and Fun Spring sale) and Ticket-only discounts (ie Canadian Resident tickets) are stackable within a package.
For most people, it is not worthwhile to make a room-only offer into a standard package because you’re adding full-price tickets when you could purchase them cheaper through an outside company such as Undercover Tourist. You only want to “convert” when adding discounted tickets to an already discounted room-reservation.
When to convert to a package?
Since we brought it up, we will answer; when is it best to convert your room-only discount into a package?
Considering anything with room and tickets is technically a package, just the act of adding discounted tickets from Disney themselves is “converting” a package.
You want to convert your room-only reservation into a custom package when tickets go on sale or the package offer is better than the sum of your pieces.
For example, Canadian tickets and a Room offer with paid Dining Plan are cheaper than Free Dining with rack rate tickets and rooms. However, Free Dining is cheaper than a bounce-back offer and no ticket discounts. See how that works.
The major selling point for room-only reservations is their discounts. Not only are you able to customize your own vacation, but you can stack discounts together. That is to say, adding a room-only discount and ticket discount to your account is possible.
Normal Disney vacation packages are not discounted; prices are more-or-less consistent with paying full price for the separate components. However, certain special offers such as “free dining” apply only to vacation packages.
There are many advantages to booking a room-only reservation;
- Cancellation policies are much less restrictive than packages.
- You’ll get a full refund if you cancel at least 5 days before your arrival date (6 days if you book it online), versus the 31 days in advance required for packages.
- You can pay off your trip on the day you arrive. Other than your deposit, there’s no need to pay in advance.
The lastest room-only discounts amounted to 20% off room-only reservations, plus applicable discounted tickets for Canadian residents (25%). In situations like these, the pros outway the cons and you will want to convert into a package and follow the new package rules; cancel within 30 days of arrival and pay in full within 30 days of arrival.
There is always cancel-for-any-reason insurance that you can purchase, to cover you should something happen between day 30 and day 5 of your countdown.
How to Book a room-only reservation
If you have decided that a room-only reservation is the way to go, or that you prefer to secure your room-type before the packages are officially announced, an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner is still able to help you.
Authorized Disney Vacation Planners are able to book any number of combinations, in order to customize your Disney vacation. They are free to use and offer a plethora of information.
You can also call Disney directly and have one of their call-center agents book your holiday for you. Room-only reservations are not possible online; you will be required to book a package sans tickets (sounds like the same thing, but not quite) and follow the package rules.
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