The Value Season at Walt Disney World



By Dave Shute

THE WALT DISNEY WORLD VALUE SEASON

The only prices at Disney World that change a lot over the course of the year are Disney resort hotel prices.

Theme park admission ticket prices are the same all seasons of the year–although they often have an annual increase in the summer.  Dining prices go up in the peak spring break, summer, and Christmas seasons, but only a little–a few dollars per person per night.

Hotel prices, however, are all over the map–sometimes changing three times in a month–and can vary as much as 95% for the exact same room depending on when you go to Walt Disney World.

Disney has names for these seasons: value, regular, summer, peak, fall, pre-holiday, holiday, mile long, thumper, etc.

However, most people can’t remember any of the names of these seasons except for the value season and the peak season, so this site’s material on Disney World resort price seasons mostly just ignores these names and presents the numbers and the dates.

TYPICAL DATES FOR THE DISNEY VALUE SEASON

Until 2011, there were three value seasons during the year, when Disney World resort standard hotel prices are as low as they get:

  • Early January through the Thursday before President’s Day weekend
  • Mid-summer through September–the deluxe resorts begin this value season in mid-July, while the value resorts and moderate resorts begin it in August
  • The Sunday of Thanksgiving weekend through mid-December–which beginning in 2011 has been eliminated and replaced with the fall season (see below.)

CHANGES TO THE VALUE SEASON FOR 2011 AND LATER

Beginning in 2011, Disney changed things around a bit.

Most importantly, it has eliminated the third value season–the December value season–and changed these dates to a new pricing season, the fall season.

Prices in this fall season season are still low (low enough to preserve my recommending early December for first time visitors), but are higher than the old December value season prices.

The 2012 Value Season:

  • 2012 Value season dates for the moderate and value resorts are 1/2/2012 through 2/15/2012, and 8/4/2012 through 9/27/2012. (Some weekend and holiday nights are higher.)
  • 2012 Value season dates for the deluxe resorts are 1/2/2012 through 2/15/2012, and 7/15/2012 through 9/27/2012. (Some weekend and holiday nights are higher.)

For more on 2012 price seasons, see this.  For forecasts of  2013 price seasons, click here.

MORE ON WHEN TO GO TO WALT DISNEY WORLD

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28 comments

1 Debbie { 09.17.10 at 7:29 am }

Dave’s site has much detail and that’s the part , I like even more He does a wonderful job , keep up with the good work . I didn’t know it exist until , I did research on disneyworld and because my 2 adult son and daughter , both in the military .
I highly recommend this site for the general public , helpful.

Thanks , Dave

2 Dave { 09.17.10 at 7:48 am }

Thanks Debbie!

3 Sylvain { 09.21.10 at 7:01 pm }

Good info!
Merci beaucoup!

4 ynes { 05.23.12 at 4:48 pm }

We are planning a trip to Disney world on january 2-3 2012. 6 nights 6 adults. Any advice on good prices and how to plan will be appreciated.
Thanks

5 Dave { 05.24.12 at 2:57 pm }

Hi Ynes! For my current thoughts on 2013 prices, see this: http://yourfirstvisit.net/2011/09/04/walt-disney-world-2013-price-seasons/ but note that Disney will announce actual 2013 prices sometime this summer, and perhaps any day now.

Fitting 6 adults will be a trick, especially if everyone needs there own room…see this: http://yourfirstvisit.net/2010/12/22/bed-types-and-sleeping-space-layouts-at-walt-disney-world-resort-hotels/

For thinking about budgets, see this: http://yourfirstvisit.net/2010/10/03/introduction-to-the-tightwads-guide-to-walt-disney-world/

For how to plan, start on the home page: http://yourfirstvisit.net/

Hope this helps! Dave

6 Tom { 06.26.12 at 9:59 am }

Hi Dave! Great job you got here! Congrats!
I need some advice. We will be in Florida from 6 Feb 2013 till 15 Feb. I have been twice to WDW in the past 2 years and I would like to spend 4 nights in Orlando in the new Art of Animation hotel. When do you suggest best to stay to minimize hotel fares? Since we already know the place it is the same to go on a Monday or Friday for us.
Thanks!

7 Dave { 06.26.12 at 11:18 am }

Hi Tom,and thanks!

2013 prices aren’t out yet–they may come out any day now, so if you ca wait I’d hold a bit.

That said, if you can’t wait, there’s been a coupla of patterns common in the past: Friday and Saturday nights are more expensive than the rest of the week, but WDW starts jacking up prices for the President’s day holiday beginning the Thursday before–in 2013 that’s the 14th. So based on past patterns for a 4 night trip you’d want your first night to be Feb 10 to minimize room costs…but again if I were you I’d just wait a bit to confirm all this…

8 Barb { 07.02.12 at 5:20 am }

Hi Dave,
I came across your site by chance. It is fantastic. I live all the way round the world in NZ and I am hoping to bring my family to WDW in 2013. I have done a bit of research and see that Disney sometimes bring out free dining plans. Does this ever occur during a quiet time? I don’t think we would cope so well with your crowds in the busy season. Many Thanks.

9 Dave { 07.02.12 at 6:52 am }

Hi Barb,and thanks!

The free dining plans are offered only during quiet times–as during busy times, Disney does not need to offer deals to get people to come…

10 Viv { 08.23.12 at 11:47 pm }

Hi Dave:
Your website is awesome. So much info to digest.

I’m from Australia and planning to visit WDW during Apr 13 with 2c (ages: 10 & 12). It’s going to be our first visit to that part of US. We are leaning towards ‘Value Resorts’ within WDW, any recommendations for 1st timers?
Regards
Viv

11 Dina { 09.29.12 at 9:10 pm }

Hi I have read so many things and I am so confused as to when the best time to go and get the most for our money. I have a nine yr old and a 7 yr old and I would love to stay at the Deluxe Hotels at moderate prices. I can go mid week and I would like to stay a week and go at the Value Season. What do you suggest?

12 Dave { 09.30.12 at 5:57 pm }

Hi Dina, I don’t know how you can get a deluxe at moderate prices, but see this: http://yourfirstvisit.net/2009/12/21/the-tightwads-guide-to-when-to-go-to-walt-disney-world/

13 Nichole { 01.02.13 at 11:00 am }

First timers ( well not me but the 2 I’m traveling with). 2 adults and a 9 yr old. We obviously need to have a budget so we are trying to eliminate a rental car (need to obviously stay in park for shuttle). I have been on several sites ( including aaa cuz we are members) we would like to find a “package” that is exclusive of hotel, flight, dining, and possible park hopper…any insight and good saving tips would be helpful!!!!! Budget 2500-3000. Travel 8/10/13-8/16/13 (home on 16th flying from either Boston or providence ;)

14 Dave { 01.02.13 at 5:42 pm }

Hi Nichole! I’m sorry but I don’t pay attention to any deals other than those WDW offers–there’s too many and too much complexity. But could you go later? Crowds (and Disney deals) will be much better–see this: http://yourfirstvisit.net/2009/12/21/the-tightwads-guide-to-when-to-go-to-walt-disney-world/

Just for basic numbers, also take a look at this: http://yourfirstvisit.net/planning-your-first-family-trip/what-to-budget/estimating-budgets/designing-your-walt-disney-world-vacation-to-a-lower-target-budget/

15 Stephanie { 02.14.13 at 3:13 pm }

Hi! Love all the info on your site! I’m looking to plan our first Disney trip for my family, and I’m thinking Jan 26th 2014 would be the best time for us. Do you know what the estimated rate for a 4 night stay at Art of Animation (The Little Mermaid room) would be? Also, how does Disney do the deposit for a room only reservation? Thanks for your time and help :)

16 Dave { 02.14.13 at 4:28 pm }

Hi Stephanie! On the equivalent 2013 dates, those rooms went for $100 a night plus 12.5% tax. Add 5% to this and you’ve got a good estimate. (The real prices will come out this summer, if Disney follows past patterns.)

On a room-only, you need to pay one night’s price as a deposit. This will come back to you if you cancel within Disney’s cancellation period…

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17 nancy hele { 06.28.13 at 10:53 pm }

Hi dave love your ssite. Wheen do prices come out for dinning pa kages for january 2014 we are staying on site at all stars music this time last year were at all stars movies.we alreacy have a reservation but are interested in the dinning. Thanks nancy

18 Dave { 06.29.13 at 10:18 am }

Hi Nancy, word is that 2014 prices will come out July 10!

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19 Siobhan { 07.10.13 at 3:58 pm }

Hi Dave,
I love your site it has so much useful information on! I’m actually planning a trip for February 2015 but I’ve been checking the prices for 2014 and I’ve noticed September through mid October and most of November seem to be cheaper than mid January and early February. I thought January and February were the value seasons? Is there any reason why in 2014 they aren’t the cheapest months to go?
Thanks Siobhan

20 Dave { 07.11.13 at 8:36 am }

Hi Siobhan and thanks!

Fall season prices are anywhere from 10% to 15% higher than value season prices, depending on the resort class.

If your search is showing you higher numbers in Jan/Feb, I suspect that you are including some of the bumped-price dates–the marathon weekend, MLK weekend, or the period beginning Feb 13 when prices are jacked up for President’s day!

FOr the gory details, including the bumps, see this: http://yourfirstvisit.net/2013/07/11/walt-disney-world-2014-price-seasons/

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21 Siobhan { 07.11.13 at 2:41 pm }

Hi Dave,

That’s great thanks, I think I was including MLk weekend in my search which was increasing the price! I’ll try some different dates now and see if I can get the price down!

Thanks

Siobhan

22 Dave { 07.12.13 at 8:37 am }

Cool–good luck!

23 Sandra { 02.18.14 at 11:58 am }

Hi! I am soooo happy we found your site! We are not first timers, but definitely “first timers” as this is our first trip in a long time with our own kids! We were planning on renting RV’s and staying at Fort Wilderness RV park, but it looks like you cant partake in the dining plan this way? We are going mid October 2015 which sounds like it might be a time frame when free dining is offered (usually)? We are also Active Duty so I don’t want to miss out on any further discounts the rooms might offer? My family of 9 (grandparents/sister joining us!) would more than likely need 2-3 rooms so we are trying to decide which option is the best! Any help or insight would be greatly appreciated! :)

24 Dave { 02.18.14 at 4:15 pm }

Sandra this is very complicated. First, I doubt free dining will happen in October this year (though I hope I’m wrong). Second, I don’t know if the military deals will be extended past September–tho the best sources (Steve of MiltaryDisneyTips.com) thinks they likely will be. Third, if both happen you cannot combine them. Moreover the ticket part of the Military deal is only four days, and can’t be extended.

In your spot, if both cost and certainty are issues, I’d book Shades of Green. You can’t beat the price, rooms are huge, nice, and sleep 5…See this: http://yourfirstvisit.net/2010/02/22/review-shades-of-green-resort-at-walt-disney-world/

25 Becky { 03.16.14 at 5:55 pm }

Planning a trip to DW mid August 2014. Is it likely that there will be free dining plans at this time of the year? Also, do you know if AARP is much of a discount on resorts?
Thanks, Becky

26 Dave { 03.17.14 at 7:36 am }

Becky, I doubt it, but we won’t know for a couple of months. I don’t know anything about AARP discounts…but a new Disney deal for then just came out–see this: http://yourfirstvisit.net/2014/03/17/disney-world-summer-2014-deal/

27 Jen { 04.07.14 at 11:06 am }

Hi Dave,

Amazing site, I tell everyone that is planning a trip to check it out before they do anything!

I am considering a second trip to WDW either the week after Thanksgiving 2014 or Jan 24-Feb 1 2015. Our first trip was after Thanksgiving so we have already seen the amazing decorations everywhere and the Christmas party.

I am aware of the possible ride closures in our 2015 dates however the value season room rates are very appealing especially since I will have a 10 year old and will have to pay more in Jan for him then what I would in Nov when he is still 9. Plus no kid pressure to purchase the additional hard ticket for the Christmas party again.

I am wondering if historically any dining offers are made in Jan/Feb. I know when we went last time in Nov we had it but it sounds like Disney might be going away from some of the free dining offers.

This likely will be our last trip, I am very torn on going in Nov with all the Holiday magic again or in Jan which is easier on the wallet. Can you offer some words of wisdom?
Thanks!

28 Dave { 04.08.14 at 8:25 am }

Hi Jen and thanks!!

First, it’s been several years since Disney had free dining in Jan/Feb, so I would not expect to see it again til the next recession.

Second, the Jan dates will have not only lower prices but also lower crowds. There’s a bit of a compromise available, tho–a weekday trip in early January–e.g. arrive Jan 4. The formal xmas program will be largely over, but the decorations will mostly be up!

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