In honor of Armed Forces Day this Saturday, I wanted to do a post about special discounts available for those who serve or have served our country. Last September, Disney renewed their Armed Forces Salute Discount to cover most travel dates through December 16, 2016. These discounts are fairly significant when compared to non-discounted rates, but eligibility is limited.
Eligibility includes active and retired U.S. military personnel (including active and retired members of the United States Coast Guard, National Guard and Reservists) or their spouses. If you are still unsure, here is a list of military IDs that are eligible:
Resort discounts can be significant, although the number of rooms allocated at participating resorts is limited and should be booked as soon as possible. It’s important to note that the resort discount cannot be combined with any other discount. So, you would not be able to book a room with a military discount and expect to also get a free dining plan in the fall.
Additionally, you cannot book a room and ticket package under the discount. Tickets must be purchased separately, either at a military base or on Disney property. This is because the proper ID (see above) must be presented at the time of purchase. Pricing for military tickets is as follows:
- Disney 4-Day Military Promotional Tickets with Park Hopper Option for $196 each, plus tax (regular price is $394)
- Disney 4-Day Military Promotional Tickets with Water Park Fun and More Option for $196 each, plus tax (regular price is $394)
- Disney 4-Day Military Promotional Tickets with Park Hopper and Water Park Fun and More Options for $230 each, plus tax (regular price is $420)
The number of tickets permitted is limited to 6, and there is no separate pricing for children. Guests purchasing discounted military tickets are also unable to add days to their tickets. This means that if you want 5 days in the theme parks, you would need to purchase an additional park ticket at full price. Tickets will have the same expiration rules of regular tickets, which is 14 days after first use. If unused, any purchased military discount tickets will expire and cannot be used after 12/19/2016. If you are looking to travel after that date, you will need wait and see if Disney extends the current promotion.
If you are unable to secure a Walt Disney World Resort discount, there is an alternative for you to consider. Did you know that there is a resort at Walt Disney World that is exclusive to military families? Shades of Green is located right across the street from the Polynesian Resort. It is owned by the Department of Defense, and pricing for the resort is based on military rank and pay grade. Unfortunately, travel agents such as myself are not able to book with this resort, but it is definitely worth a look if you are an eligible service member.
Amenities include two golf courses, tennis courts, heated swimming pools, fitness center, hot tub, children’s play area, restaurants, bars, and lounges. Rooms sizes are a bit larger than typical Disney World resorts. Eligible service members can reserve up to three rooms, and each room can accommodate up to 5 guests. Discounted military tickets are available for purchase here, as well.
Guests at Shades of Green can enjoy many of the same perks of other WDW resort guests, such as package delivery to the resort and Extra Magic Hours. However, parking is not included at either the resort (small fee of $5 per day) or at the theme parks ($20 per day). Guests at Shades of Green will also not be given Magic Bands for their stay, and will be unable to charge purchases back to their room.
Most importantly, because Shades of Green is not an official WDW resort, guests staying there can only make their FastPass+ selections 30 days in advance (60 days at WDW resorts). The same goes for the all-so-important 180+10 advanced dining reservation window. Shades of Green guests will need to make separate reservations every 180 days prior to the reservation date. Do those inconveniences outweigh the discounts offered to guests? Absolutely not. But those are definitely things you want to be made aware of prior to your arrival.
On a related note, something else to consider if you are staying at a WDW resort: linking your tickets to your My Disney Experience account. I would highly recommend purchasing your tickets at a military base at least 61 days in advance of your trip. Having those tickets linked to your account enables you to take advantage of the 60 day FastPass+ reservation window as a WDW resort guest. If you are unable to purchase the tickets on a base, that’s very understandable, but know you will not be able to make any FastPass+ reservations until there are tickets linked to your MDE account.
This is a brief summary of the discounts available to military service members and their families. Should you be interested in something a little more detailed for your family’s upcoming trip, feel free to contact me at Carrie@KingdomDestinations.com or by using the “Contact Me” link above.