Disney World Vacation Package Discounts

LAST UPDATE: 9/1/15

During the off-season, Disney sometimes offers a discount on its vacation packages. At other times, no Disney World vacation package discounts may be available. Any discounted Disney vacation packages listed below are subject to availability.

Most rooms are set up for 4 people. A few rooms can accommodate 5 or more, mainly at the Deluxe Disney resorts. Click here to learn more about the various resorts and room types.

Not sure which resort to pick for your Disney vacation package? Read about the various Disney resort types and our recommendations for the best values in each category.

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Is a Disney Vacation Package For You?

A Disney vacation package has traditionally included two key things: a hotel room and park tickets. (A hotel room by itself is not a package – it’s called a “room-only” reservation.) You can also add a pre-paid dining plan to any package. Annual Passholders have been able to get a special package with a dining plan but no tickets for several years now, and in 2014 Disney started offering the same package to the general public. That “ticketless” package is not currently available online; you need to book it with a travel agent or over the phone with Disney.

A lot of people like Disney’s vacation packages because they are convenient and worry-free. You get everything you need (except airfare) with one purchase. However, it is important to note that the standard full-price Disney vacation packages are designed for convenience rather than savings. In most cases you will not automatically get a discount by purchasing a package! It can be cheaper to book a “room only” reservation (ideally with a discount) and then buy the package components (tickets, meals, etc) separately.

When Disney offers package discounts, usually they are calculated as a discount on the hotel portion of the package and are identical to a room-only discount offered at the same time; the tickets and dining plan are charged at full price. However, Disney sometimes offers exclusive promotional package discounts, particularly in the off-season, that do not have any room-only equivalent, where you get a discount on dining instead of (or in addition to) a hotel discount. Disney World packages have rules about advance payment, cancellations and changes that are usually much more restrictive than those associated with “room only” reservations. If you’re not sure about whether to buy a package vs. just booking your room and tickets separately, click here for information that should help you decide.

It can be difficult to sort out what is best for your particular situation. That’s why we think it’s a good idea to have someone knowledgeable on your side, making sure all the details are covered. Our advice is this: if you want to book a Walt Disney World vacation package, we strongly recommend using a travel agent who specializes in Disney travel. It costs you nothing, and you can sit back, relax, and have all the vacation planning and hassle taken care of by someone else.

If you think you’d rather buy the various parts separately, take a look at our Disney World Resort Discounts page, where we cover room-only discounts on Disney hotels. You may also want to look over our recommendations for the best hotels near Walt Disney World. And of course you should visit our Walt Disney World ticket discount pages, and read our tips on saving money on food and drink.

2016 Vacation Packages

For 2016, prices to add the various dining plans have only gone up by a dollar or two per person per night. The Premium Package went up by about $4 per person per night, and the Platinum Package actually went down a few dollars for adults, and up a few dollars for children.

New benefits for 2016: you now get 4 miniature golf vouchers instead of 2. You also get four vouchers for admission to the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex. The Premium Package now includes in-room child care, which had previously only been available in the Platinum Package.

Reduced benefits for 2016: several merchandise and food discounts were removed, as were the Disney Tours and Children’s Activity Center discounts. Packages no longer include two tickets to Disney Quest, possibly indicating that Disney Quest is on the way out. The initial brochure for the Deluxe Dining Plan seemed to indicate that an appetizer  would no longer be included with table service meals, but we’ve been told that this was a mistake and a new flyer should be out soon with a correction.

For 2016, you can choose from the following Magic Your Way package options:

Thanks to Small World Vacations for info.

  • To book a 2016 Disney World vacation package, we recommend contacting a travel agent who specializes in Disney vacations. Small World Vacations gives you full service, including a personal travel agent you can contact by phone toll-free, and best of all, it costs you nothing to use them!

2015 Vacation Packages

For 2015, prices for the Quick Service, Deluxe, and regular Dining Plans add-ons have stayed the same. If the past is any guide, prices for those plans will go up eventually, as they did in March 2014. The Premium and Platinum Packages have gone up by $5-$10 per person per night.

New benefits added include a wide variety of food and merchandise discounts, especially at Downtown Disney, and a 15% discount on selected Walt Disney World tours.

Reduced benefits from 2014: photos are no longer included with Cinderella’s Royal Table, and Premium and Platinum packages no longer include preferred viewing locations for Illuminations and Wishes.

For 2015, you can choose from the following Magic Your Way package options:

Thanks to Small World Vacations for info.

  • To book a 2015 Disney World vacation package, we recommend contacting a travel agent who specializes in Disney vacations. Small World Vacations gives you full service, including a personal travel agent you can contact by phone toll-free, and best of all, it costs you nothing to use them!

Our Value Recommendations

The first thing you need to bear in mind is that Disney REALLY wants you to stay for at least 5 nights/6 days. For that reason, the Magic Your Way tickets included in your package are heavily discounted on longer (5 to 7 day) stays. Remember that tickets are usually the biggest single expense in your package, and 7 day tickets cost only a little more than 4 day tickets. So live it up — price out the longer vacation and you’ll probably be surprised how little the extra cost will be.

For most people who buy a vacation package, the plain Magic Your Way Package (no dining) or the Magic Your Way Package Plus Dining will be the best value.

There is a daily, per-person cost to add the regular Dining Plan to a basic package (click here to see the 2015 costs). With the regular Dining Plan you’ll get a full service meal, a counter service meal and a snack each day.

The Dining Plan is very marginal in terms of value. It’s possible to save a little vs. paying cash, but only if you use all of the included benefits, carefully plan out each meal in advance and order only the most expensive items on the menu. Otherwise at best it’s a break-even proposition. Adding the Dining Plan to your package does allow you to prepay all or most of your food expenses (except for tips and extras like appetizers and alcohol), and frees each person to order whatever they want without worrying about the price. If that sounds like an enhancement to your vacation, then a dining plan may be a good choice. To read more about the pros and cons of the Dining Plan, click here to see our review.

If your family isn’t into table-service dining, there is the Magic Your Way Package Plus Quick Service Dining. The Quick Service Dining Plan is not a good value. You will be lucky to break even vs. just paying cash for your meals and snacks, and the Quick Service Dining Plan is not particularly flexible. We don’t recommend it as a money-saving strategy, but again you have to evaluate whether pre-paying for all your food is worth it to you.

The higher level packages (Deluxe Dining Plan, Premium Plan and Platinum Plan) are really luxurious, but for the average family they are also serious overkill. First of all, eating the included three full table-service meals a day is just too much for most people. But if you’re like us, you’ll feel compelled to eat all those darn meals, because you’re paying for them!

The Premium and Platinum packages also include lots of unlimited extras like recreation (i.e. boating, fishing, parasailing) and behind-the-scenes tours, which sound great — until you factor in the hot and humid Florida weather and the extensive walking, which slow most people’s energy level to a crawl by the end of the day. The reality is, it’s highly unlikely that you will take a tour in the morning, play tennis in the afternoon and attend a Cirque du Soleil show in the evening, on top of visiting the theme parks. But to get your money’s worth out of the Premium and Platinum packages, you really need to be taking advantage of such “extras” every day.

Fall Package Offer

Book a package with a room discount of up to 25% at select Disney resorts for stays 10/4/15 – 12/23/15 (except 11/25/15 – 11/27/15). There is no minimum length of stay with this offer. The room can also be booked as a room-only offer.

Sample discounts off rack rates (discounts are just on the hotel portion of the package):

Discounts are 5% lower for the following date periods: October 4-10, 16-17, 23-31 & November 8-21.

It may be worth comparing this to the Magical Family Fall Package Offer and the Kid-Sized Fall Package Offer; for some bookings this offer may be a better deal, and for others one of the others may be better, or you may find availability for one and not for another. For most bookings, all of them will be exactly the same price; we suspect these are mostly just repackaging the same discount under different names. The only difference we’ve seen is that the Magical Family offer excludes All-Star Movies.

You can book a single trip that begins during the discount period but ends after the discount period; you’ll be given discounted rates for the specific days that are during the discount period and rack rates for the days that are after it. If your trip begins before the discount period but extends into the discount period, you have to book two trips (one for the dates before the sale begins and one for the dates that are during the sale). Your reservations can be “linked” so you don’t have to change rooms, but you may need to go to the front desk and “check in” when the second part of the trip begins. You can book this offer across the blackout period (11/25-11/27) but rates will be non-discounted for those three days.

Offer excludes Villas at Grand Floridian, Bay Lake Tower, Bungalows at Polynesian Villas & Bungalows, Little Mermaid (i.e. Standard) rooms at Art of Animation Resort and 3-bedroom villas. As with all Disney promotional discounts, some resorts, room types and date combinations will not be available. It’s important to be flexible if you want to book a discounted room.

Book by 9/18/15.

Thanks to Small World Vacations for info.

  • To book the Fall Package Offerwe recommend using a travel agent who specializes in Disney vacations. We find that the overall experience is better booking a package through a good full-service agency than direct with Disney, and the extra service costs you nothing; their prices are identical to Disney’s, including all package discounts. Booking packages, especially discounted packages, often involves comparing many different booking options to see which gets you the best deal, and that’s one of the many things travel agents are great at doing. Small World Vacations gives you full service, including a personal travel agent you can contact by email or toll-free phone number, and we can recommend them wholeheartedly.

Magical Family Fall Package Offer

Book a package and get a discount on select Disney resorts for stays most nights 10/4/15 – 12/23/15. The package includes a discounted room plus tickets (1-day minimum) and optionally a dining plan. There is no minimum stay with this offer.

Note that some of Disney’s promotional materials imply that this offer is only good through December 10, but in fact it can be booked through December 23.

The discounts off the room portion of the package vary for different resorts and time periods, but appear to be in the range of 10-25% for Deluxe and Deluxe Villa resorts, 15-20% for Moderate resorts, and 10-15% for Value resorts.

It may be worth comparing this to the Fall Package Offer and the Kid-Sized Fall Package Offer; for some bookings this offer may be a better deal, and for others one of the others may be better, or you may find availability for one and not for another. For most bookings, all of them will be exactly the same price; we suspect these are mostly just repackaging the same discount under different names. The only difference we’ve seen is that the Magical Family offer excludes All-Star Movies.

To get this discount, the entire stay must be during the sale dates. If you want to book a trip that is partially during the sale dates and partially before or after, you have to book two trips (one for the dates that are outside the sale and one for the dates that are during the sale). Your reservations can be “linked” so you don’t have to change rooms, but you still will probably need to go to the front desk and “check in” when the second part of the trip begins.

Offer excludes Bay Lake Tower, Villas at Grand Floridian, Bungalows at Polynesian Villas & Bungalows, All-Star Movies, Little Mermaid (i.e. Standard) rooms at Art of Animation Resort and 3-bedroom villas. As with all Disney promotional discounts, some resorts, room types and date combinations will not be available. It’s important to be flexible if you want to book a discounted package.

Book by 9/18/15.

Thanks to Small World Vacations for info.

  • To book the Magical Family Fall Package Offerwe recommend using a travel agent who specializes in Disney vacations. We find that the overall experience is better booking a package through a good full-service agency than direct with Disney, and the extra service costs you nothing; their prices are identical to Disney’s, including all package discounts. Booking packages, especially discounted packages, often involves comparing many different booking options to see which gets you the best deal, and that’s one of the many things travel agents are great at doing. Small World Vacations gives you full service, including a personal travel agent you can contact by email or toll-free phone number, and we can recommend them wholeheartedly.

Kid-Sized Fall Package Offer

Book a package and get a discount on select Disney resorts for stays most nights 10/4/15 – 12/23/15. The package includes a discounted room plus tickets (1-day minimum) and optionally a dining plan. There is no minimum stay with this offer.

Note that some of Disney’s promotional materials imply that this offer is only good for weeknights through December 10, but in fact it can be booked on any night through December 23.

The discounts off the room portion of the package vary for different resorts and time periods, but appear to be in the range of 10-25% for Deluxe and Deluxe Villa resorts, 15-20% for Moderate resorts, and 10-15% for Value resorts.

It may be worth comparing this to the Fall Package Offer and the Magical Family Fall Package Offer; for some bookings this offer may be a better deal, and for others one of the others may be better, or you may find availability for one and not for another. For most bookings, all of them will be exactly the same price; we suspect these are mostly just repackaging the same discount under different names. The only difference we’ve seen is that the Magical Family offer excludes All-Star Movies.

To get this discount, the entire stay must be during the sale dates. If you want to book a trip that is partially during the sale dates and partially before or after, you have to book two trips (one for the dates that are outside the sale and one for the dates that are during the sale). Your reservations can be “linked” so you don’t have to change rooms, but you still will probably need to go to the front desk and “check in” when the second part of the trip begins.

Offer excludes Bay Lake Tower, Villas at Grand Floridian, Bungalows at Polynesian Villas & Bungalows, Little Mermaid (i.e. Standard) rooms at Art of Animation Resort and 3-bedroom villas. As with all Disney promotional discounts, some resorts, room types and date combinations will not be available. It’s important to be flexible if you want to book a discounted package.

Book by 9/18/15.

Thanks to Small World Vacations for info.

  • To book the Kid-Sized Fall Package Offerwe recommend using a travel agent who specializes in Disney vacations. We find that the overall experience is better booking a package through a good full-service agency than direct with Disney, and the extra service costs you nothing; their prices are identical to Disney’s, including all package discounts. Booking packages, especially discounted packages, often involves comparing many different booking options to see which gets you the best deal, and that’s one of the many things travel agents are great at doing. Small World Vacations gives you full service, including a personal travel agent you can contact by email or toll-free phone number, and we can recommend them wholeheartedly.

Disney Visa Polynesian Package Offer

Disney Visa cardholders get 35% off the room portion of the Magic Your Way Vacation Package price for Deluxe Studio – Standard View rooms at Disney’s Polynesian Villas & Bungalows Resort for stays between July 5, 2015 and October 3, 2015. Availability is limited, and certain dates may sell out. To get the offer you must make an immediate deposit at the time of booking with a Disney Visa card.

This is a vacation package offer but the room can also be room-only offer.

Book by 9/22/15.

  • To book the Disney Visa Polynesian Package Offerwe recommend using a travel agent who specializes in Disney vacations. We find that the overall experience is better booking a package through a good full-service agency than direct with Disney, and the extra service costs you nothing; their prices are identical to Disney’s, including all package discounts. Small World Vacations gives you full service, including a personal travel agent you can contact by email or toll-free phone number, and we can recommend them wholeheartedly.

Annual Passholder Packages

Annual Passholder Packages are Magic Your Way packages that have a dining plan but no tickets (since annual passholders obviously don’t need tickets). They can be booked any time, and when Passholder “room only” discounts are available, those discounts apply to the room portion of a passholder package. The Dining Plans are always full price and these packages are never eligible for “Free” dining, or other packages that involve reduced-price Dining Plan like “Stay, Play & Dine.” These bookings are subject to regular Walt Disney Travel Company package rules. Annual passholder packages can only be booked through a travel agent or via calling the Disney Reservation Center; they are not available online.

Thanks to Small World Vacations for info.

  • To book an Annual Passholder Package, we recommend using a travel agent who specializes in Disney vacations. We find that the overall experience is better booking a package through a good full-service agency than direct with Disney, and the extra service costs you nothing; their prices are identical to Disney’s, including all package discounts. Booking packages, especially discounted packages, often involves comparing many different booking options to see which gets you the best deal, and that’s one of the many things travel agents are great at doing. Small World Vacations gives you full service, including a personal travel agent you can contact by email or toll-free phone number, and we can recommend them wholeheartedly.

Ticketless Packages with Dining Plan

Ticketless Packages with Dining are Magic Your Way packages that include a dining plan but no tickets. They are just like the Annual Passholder Packages, above, except that they don’t include the Annual Passholder room discounts. They can be booked any time, and when “room only” discounts are available, those discounts apply to the room portion of these packages. The Dining Plans are always full price and these packages are never eligible for “Free” dining, or other packages that involve reduced-price Dining Plan like “Stay, Play & Dine.” These bookings are subject to regular Walt Disney Travel Company package rules. Ticketless packages can only be booked through a travel agent or via calling the Disney Reservation Center; they are not available online.

Thanks to Small World Vacations for info.

  • To book a Ticketless Package, we recommend using a travel agent who specializes in Disney vacations. We find that the overall experience is better booking a package through a good full-service agency than direct with Disney, and the extra service costs you nothing; their prices are identical to Disney’s, including all package discounts. Booking packages, especially discounted packages, often involves comparing many different booking options to see which gets you the best deal, and that’s one of the many things travel agents are great at doing. Small World Vacations gives you full service, including a personal travel agent you can contact by email or toll-free phone number, and we can recommend them wholeheartedly.

Florida Resident Fall Package Offer

Florida residents can get a discount of up to 30% off rooms at select Walt Disney World Resort hotels* and add a Florida Resident ticket and/or Disney Dining Plan as well. You can also book just the hotel as a room-only booking.

Valid for stays October 4, 2015 – December 23, 2015. You can extend your stay past December 23, but the days after the 23rd will not be discounted. If you want to arrive before October 4, you will need to book a separate reservation for the days prior to October 4 and another beginning on October 4. You will only get this discount on the second reservation, though you may be able to get a different Florida resident discount on the first part as well.

Sample discounts off rack rates:

Offer excludes Villas at Grand Floridian, Bay Lake Tower, Bungalows at Polynesian Bungalows & Villas, Little Mermaid (i.e. Standard) rooms at Art of Animation Resort, campsites and 3-bedroom villas. As with all Disney promotional discounts, some resorts, room types and date combinations will not be available. It’s important to be flexible if you want to book a discounted room. Proof of Florida residency is required at check-in.

Book by 12/22/15.

  • To book the Florida Resident Fall Package Offer, we recommend using a travel agent who specializes in Disney vacations. We find that the overall experience is better booking a package through a good full-service agency than direct with Disney, and the extra service costs you nothing; their prices are identical to Disney’s, including all package discounts. Booking packages, especially discounted packages, often involves comparing many different booking options to see which gets you the best deal, and that’s one of the many things travel agents are great at doing. Small World Vacations gives you full service, including a personal travel agent you can contact by email or toll-free phone number, and we can recommend them wholeheartedly.

Florida Resident Late Summer Package Offer

Florida residents can get a discount of up to 35% off rooms at select Walt Disney World Resort hotels* and add a Florida Resident ticket and/or Disney Dining Plan as well. You can also book just the hotel as a room-only booking.

Valid for stays August 14 – October 3, 2015. You can extend your stay past October 3, but the days after the 3rd will not be discounted. If you want to arrive before August 14, you will need to book a separate reservation for the days prior to August 14 and another beginning on August 14. You will only get this discount on the second reservation, though you may be able to get a different Florida resident discount on the first part as well.

Sample discounts off rack rates:

*Offer excludes Villas at Grand Floridian, Bay Lake Tower, Polynesian Bungalows & Villas, Little Mermaid (i.e. Standard) rooms at Art of Animation Resort and 3-bedroom villas. As with all Disney promotional discounts, some resorts, room types and date combinations will not be available. It’s important to be flexible if you want to book a discounted room. Proof of Florida residency is required at check-in.

Book by 9/30/15.

  • To book the Florida Resident Late Summer Package Offer, we recommend using a travel agent who specializes in Disney vacations. We find that the overall experience is better booking a package through a good full-service agency than direct with Disney, and the extra service costs you nothing; their prices are identical to Disney’s, including all package discounts. Booking packages, especially discounted packages, often involves comparing many different booking options to see which gets you the best deal, and that’s one of the many things travel agents are great at doing. Small World Vacations gives you full service, including a personal travel agent you can contact by email or toll-free phone number, and we can recommend them wholeheartedly.

Bounceback Package Offer

“Bounceback” vacation package offers are offers made by Disney ONLY to guests who are currently staying at one of the official Walt Disney World resorts. The idea is to encourage you to “bounce back” to Disney World by planning your next vacation right now. These offers are not always available and could end at any time.

When a bounceback vacation package offer is available, you may be able to book a discounted vacation package (accommodations plus at least a 1-day Base Ticket) for a stay on selected dates at a Walt Disney World resort. Not all dates are offered, and not all resorts and room types will be included.

To qualify, the reservation for your next vacation must be made before you check out, and there are no exceptions made. You must call the number provided (usually on a flyer in your room) and pay a $200 deposit when booking.

If you don’t get a bounceback offer on a flyer in your room, the resort TV channel may be showing this offer, or you may receive an email from Disney during your stay. Your best bet is to dial x8844 from your room phone and ask them if there are any current offers. You can also try asking the front desk and/or Housekeeping for a flyer. They do not usually know what the current bounceback offers are or how to book them, but they may know where a flyer can be found.

Package Promotions with Small World Vacations

Small World Vacations frequently offers nice Disney World vacation package promotions exclusively for MouseSavers Newsletter readers. Be sure to sign up for the FREE monthly email newsletter so you’ll hear about the latest offers!

UK Packages

The Disney specialist travel agency we recommend, Small World Vacations, gladly works with clients around the globe. They have many clients from the UK and Ireland. Unfortunately they cannot book UK-specific offers, but sometimes the American offers are a better deal. It’s also worth noting that the US vacation package offers have much more advantageous cancellation and change policies than the UK holiday package offers.

Canadian Packages

Canadian residents can book the US offers listed above. The Disney specialist travel agency we recommend, Small World Vacations, gladly works with clients around the globe. They have many clients from Canada.

In addition, you can visit DisneyWorld.ca and click on the Special Offers tab to see any current deals specific to Canadians, but most of the time the offers are the same as those distributed in the US. Sometimes the Canadian offer will have a different discount code, but otherwise it will be identical to the US offer. If we learn of any specials for Canadians only, they are listed below. Small World Vacations can book most Canadian packages as long as you are traveling at least 45 days from the date of booking.

Southwest Vacations Packages

If you live in or near a city served by Southwest Airlines, you may be interested in checking Southwest Vacations for Disney packages that include airfare on Southwest. (Note that Southwest Vacations is not actually operated by the airline itself, but rather by a third party licensed by the airline.)

When Disney offers discounted packages, Southwest Vacations may offer those same packages, but with airfare added. Sometimes the deals are quite good, but be sure to check the cost of the airfare and/or tickets included with the package: sometimes either or both may be inflated. Do the math and don’t rely on marketing statements such as “3 days free” without checking the bottom line price. If you do your homework, you may find it’s cheaper to book discounted airfare directly with the airline and get your vacation package (room and tickets) elsewhere, such as through a Disney Specialist travel agent.

Online Travel Agencies

Online Travel Agencies (OTAs) such as Expedia, Travelocity, Orbitz, etc. typically cannot book Disney Magic Your Way Vacation Packages, which means they can’t book any of Disney’s special package discounts like Stay, Play, and Dine or Free Dining, and they can’t book packages with the Disney Dining Plans at all. They can be a good way to book a room-only discount, if they are offering some kind of discount code or coupon of their own that stacks on top of Disney’s own discounts. If not, they will typically have the same room rates as Disney.

All of the OTAs have what they call “packages,” but they’re just bundles they’ve put together of travel components they handle, like flights, hotels, rental car, tickets, etc. They generally are not discounted very much (or at all) over and above buying the individual components, and most often you’ll find better discounts on rental cars, airfare and Disney World tickets through other sources.

Generally speaking if you want an official Disney vacation package, and especially if you want to book one of the Disney Dining Plans, you’re best off booking with a Disney specialist full-service travel agency. You’ll get better service and a personal agent, for the same price as Disney charges.

Membership Discounts

Note: There are, as of now, no AAA/CAA discounts available for 2015 vacation packages at Walt Disney World.

If you belong to a membership organization like AAA, USAA or AARP, it may be worthwhile to check if they offer Walt Disney World vacation packages, and if so, whether they offer any discounts. However, don’t expect much service, and be aware that you may not get the best price in the long run. In our experience, the big membership organizations mostly employ “generalist” travel agents who often know little or nothing about Disney vacations and are frequently clueless about promotional packages and discount codes. You will usually have to do your own monitoring to make sure any better package offers that come out are applied to your booking. They almost never do this for you, unlike a Disney specialist agency.

Trip Insurance

It is especially important to buy trip insurance for a vacation package, because you have to pay the entire cost in advance and you won’t get a refund if you have to cancel right before your scheduled departure. With hundreds or even thousands of dollars at stake, it’s worth it to protect the investment.

It’s super-important to buy insurance if you will be visiting Walt Disney World on a package vacation during peak hurricane season (roughly the months of August and September). Don’t underestimate the potential of hurricanes to create major problems even in an inland location like Orlando. Walt Disney World was directly affected by two hurricanes in 2004 (Frances and Jeanne) and one in 2005 (Wilma). Two hotels located on Disney property (but not operated by Disney) were virtually destroyed by the 2004 storms; one didn’t reopen until 2010!

While Disney’s own resorts weathered the hurricanes very well, guests were stuck in their rooms for up to 36 hours and many had major travel problems because airports were closed. Disney did waive “no-show” fees for a few dates, but those whose trips began before the specified dates (but whose travel plans overlapped with the hurricane) or just afterward were out of luck. Many people had similar problems with their airfares. The airlines allowed highly restrictive changes for certain dates without extra fees, but many of those who had to reschedule could not work within the airlines’ narrow rules and just had to suck up the extra cost.

Perhaps the most important coverage included in a trip insurance policy is trip cancellation and interruption insurance, which can protect your investment if you have to cancel your vacation at the last minute (or come home early) due to illness or injury. Depending on the policy, you may be covered if you cancel for other reasons, such as jury duty, terrorism at your destination, or even unemployment.

Emergency medical coverage and medical evacuation insurance are very important if you become ill or injured during the trip. Otherwise you’re on your own as far as booking very expensive last-minute airfare to get home. And if you’re too ill to travel by commercial jet, you may have to pay for treatment in Florida (which your personal insurance may or may not cover) or for evacuation on a medically-equipped jet, which is incredibly expensive. Check your existing medical insurance to see what, exactly is covered while traveling. You may be surprised at how much isn’t covered when you’re away from home.

Delayed baggage insurance will help you pay for replacement clothing if the airline sends your suitcase to Timbuktu and you need something to wear in the meantime. Supplemental baggage insurance will pay a predetermined amount if an airline loses your luggage completely. (Some higher-end credit cards provide extra baggage insurance, so check with your card issuer before paying extra for this coverage.)

Disney sells trip insurance, but for most trips, it’s more expensive than other plans, and usually more restrictive. Additionally, it only covers the cost of your Disney trip (including airfare), so if you do anything else on your trip, such as visit another theme park, buy tickets to an offsite event, etc., those aren’t covered. With a third-party policy, you can cover all potential costs of the entire trip, from any providers, with one policy. You can almost always get better insurance than Disney provides, and at better rates, by buying it elsewhere.

The one situation where Disney’s insurance is a good deal is for very expensive trips. Disney’s insurance is charged at a flat rate per adult (children are included as long as all adults buy the insurance), but third-party plans have a variable charge based on the total cost of your trip and the ages of the adults. The break-even point for a family with two 30-year old adults is roughly $8,000-$12,000 of total trip costs, depending on exactly which plan you choose and what coverages you want. So if you’re 60 years old, flying in from New Zealand and staying at the Grand Floridian in a concierge room for 10 nights, Disney’s travel insurance is an incredible steal. For most trips, though, third-party insurance is a better deal.

Be aware that in most cases, trip insurance will provide slightly less coverage (usually by adding exclusions on pre-existing conditions) unless you buy it within about 14-21 days of paying your deposit on the vacation package. So be sure to purchase it right away, once you’ve committed to the trip.

Where to Buy Trip Insurance

  • If you have kids under 18, consider using Allianz for your trip insurance. Kids are included FREE in the Classic Plan, which is a rare and valuable benefit. If you buy that policy within 14 days of making your first payment/deposit on the package, it will also cover pre-existing conditions. Click here to get a quote from Allianz.
  • An alternative choice worth considering is the Travelex Travel Select Plan. Kids are also included FREE (up to age 20!), and it covers pre-existing conditions if you buy within 21 days of making your first payment/deposit. Typically it’s a few dollars more than the Allianz Classic Plan, but it offers a slightly different mix of coverages that may work better for your trip. Travelex is highly reliable and is the provider for Disney’s own trip insurance. Click here to get a quote from Travelex.
  • If neither the Allianz or Travelex policies are a good fit for you, a great place to comparison-shop for trip insurance is InsureMyTrip.com, where you can see side-by-side policy information and rates for major, reputable insurance companies. We have used InsureMyTrip.com ourselves to buy trip insurance for several trips. We saved a substantial amount and got much more comprehensive coverage than Disney’s policy would have provided. Click here to compare policies on InsureMyTrip.com.