By the co-author of The easy Guide to Your Walt Disney World Visit 2018, from the best-reviewed Disney World guidebook series ever. Paperback available on Amazon here. Kindle version available on Amazon here.—Disney World Instructions for the First-Time Visitor

Walt Disney World in 2013

By Dave Shute


Below find the main topics for Walt Disney World in 2013, including

  • Disney World 2013 packages and booking dates
  • 2013 Disney World deals
  • 2013 Disney Armed Forces Salute
  • Free Dining in 2013 at Disney World
  • The best weeks of 2013 to visit
  • 2013 crowds at Disney World
  • What’s new at Disney World in 2013

Moreover, for a 2013 Disney World “cheat sheet,” see this.


Disney’s 2013 prices came out July 11, 2012. You can find 2013 Disney World price seasons here.

You can book a Disney World hotel room up to 500 days in advance. That means that as of August 18, 2012, all of 2013 is bookable.


2013 discounts at Walt Disney World are unlikely to emerge until the fall of 2012 at the earliest. For 2013 Disney World deals, promotions, and discounts as they emerge, see the Walt Disney World deals and discounts page of this site.

Walt Disney World offers specials, discounts, packages deals, and other deals only when, based on its booking rates, it believes it can profitably bump demand by doing so.

The windows it provides for such deals seem to range from a month to nine months ahead. Given this, the more the economy seems to be doing OK, the shorter the notice for these deals likely will be.

For Disney World 2013 military deals and 2013 free dining at Walt Disney World, see below.


Disney World has announced special discounts for Military families for most of 2013.  See this for more.


There’s no guarantee Disney will offer the Disney Dining Plan for free in 2013.

If it does, based on past dates, Disney will most likely offer more free dining in 2013 from later August 2013 through most of September, and announce it in the late spring or early summer of 2013.

If I had to bet, I’d bet Disney will offer more free Disney dining in 2013.


For the best times to visit Disney World in 2013, see 2013 weeks to visit Walt Disney World, ranked in order.  (Returning visitors should check out the 2013 Disney World Week Picker.)

A few observations (all reflected in the 2013 week rankings):

  • New Year’s Eve 2013 is midweek, so there will be fewer lower-crowd days in January.
  • Easter, March 31 2013, is in the earlier part of its range, so there will be more good April days, but March will be ugly.
  • Thanksgiving 2013 is November 28th, as late as it can be, meaning more good November days and fewer good December days.


See the 2013 Disney World Crowd Calendar.


The major new stuff expected to open at Walt Disney World in 2012 includes Under the Sea: Journey of the Little Mermaid and the Be Our Guest restaurant, both part of Disney’s Fantasyland expansion plans, and Disney’s Art of Animation Resort, a new value resort, which is opening in stages over the summer of 2012.

In 2013, the rest of the Fantasyland expansion is expected to open, and the new Disney Vacation Club resort at the Grand Floridian may open as well.

The major elements of Disney’s NextGen project may launch in 2013 or late 2012.  If so, much more will come on this later.

NextGen, when fully implemented, will increase the value of staying in Walt Disney World resort hotels, especially for those able to do extensive advance planning.


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1 Stephanie { 07.12.12 at 12:08 pm }


Your site is very helpful even for me a person that has been to Disney over 13 times!

2 Maureen { 07.17.12 at 5:08 pm }

Hi Dave. I am addicted to your site! Its a wealth of useful information.

3 Dave { 07.18.12 at 4:10 pm }

Thanks Tom!

4 nj { 07.18.12 at 4:20 pm }

Can you book two connecting Port Orleans Royal Rooms at the Port Orleans? We’d like waterview rooms and we want to be nearer the south bus stop.

5 Dave { 07.18.12 at 4:31 pm }

NJ–you can book two royal rooms, but you can only “request” connecting rooms. Same with the location–you can only request it. For both, it’s best to call the resort front desk a few days before and beg…

6 Greg { 07.24.12 at 8:44 am }

Hi Dave… We’ve been saving since January for our trip with a heavy focus on catching a free dining deal for January ’13. I’m concerned that if we wait until those dates are released, that the rooms set aside for free dining at the Coronado Springs resort will book up too fast and we’ll have to settle for something like Port Orleans. Would it be better to book now for the 2nd week of January ’13 so we are assured we’re staying at our preferred resort and then when free dining is announced call and have them apply the free dining plan? Or would they (Disney) be just cancelling out that reservation and re-booking us anyway, putting us in the same boat with everyone else scrambling to get a room at that resort?

7 Dave { 07.24.12 at 11:37 am }

Greg if you are dead set on Coronado Springs book it. During free dining the moderates are always the first to sell out…I’m also gonna look for some additional advice here, so come back to this comment stream in a day or so…

8 Greg { 07.24.12 at 12:05 pm }

Thanks for looking into this for me. One more question on booking before: Should I add the dining plan when I book now and then Disney will credit me back that cost after the promotion is released?

9 Christine Hardenberger { 07.24.12 at 12:54 pm }

Hi Greg! Yes, the easiest way is to book the exact package you want. If Disney releases any discounts, you can have them added after the fact. If you have already paid in full, Disney will refund the difference to your credit card. If you have only put down a deposit, then your final balance will be reduced. Keep in mind that Free Dining is not the always the best discount available. When you call, you have to know the discount you want or Disney will give you whatever you ask for — even if it doesn’t save you the most money. Booking with a travel agent will protect you as we are apprised of ALL the discounts (not just the popular ones) and can find the one that saves you the most! BTW — Coronado Springs is SUCH a great choice! It is my favorite of the Moderate resorts!

10 Dave { 07.24.12 at 6:02 pm }


11 Dave { 07.24.12 at 6:05 pm }

Thanks Christine!

12 Greg { 07.24.12 at 10:45 pm }

Thank you both! I’m going to book asap…can’t wait, its been 6 long years since my last visit 🙂

13 Ange { 07.25.12 at 1:25 am }

Hey Dave.
I saw the comment from ‘Linda’ near the top of this list and wanted to share a link I stumbled on while researching for our own family vacation next year.

According to this link, the parks will be hosting “The Disney Honors’ for selected middle & high school music ensembles from Feb 28 to March 3. There’s even notes toward the bottom about meeting ‘at a designated park’ on at least two of those days. I know Disney has venues and pavilions set aside for such things but who knows if certain areas will be blocked off or overrun with band and choir geeks? (Not that I’d mind, being one myself, but my dad will dislike the longer lines.) We’ve changed our own plans to end our vacation toward that part of the week and start more toward Feb 24th.

14 Dave { 07.25.12 at 7:20 am }

Have a great trip, Greg, and let me know how it went when you come back!

15 Dave { 07.25.12 at 7:20 am }

Thanks Ange!

16 Ben { 07.26.12 at 1:25 pm }

Hi Dave! Just placed the deposit for a 5 day 4 night stay starting Jan. 28, 2013. Just started some reading and it looks like ride closures may be an issue. Is this something I need to be worried about?

17 Tom { 07.26.12 at 2:11 pm }

Ben, I checked in this year at more or less the same time you mention and it was COLD, don’t forget to take a jacket with you because Orlando does not provide with lots of winter gearment variety. Some games expect maintenance time during this time of the year so may be closed, but Disney usually informs well in advance about this.
In my last trip I didn’t go to water parks, due to weather conditions, and some Fantasyland games that were closed down due to major refurbishment (which most of it will be finished by the time you go to WDW). Hope it helps! Cheers

18 Dave { 07.27.12 at 8:22 am }

Hi Ben! If this will be your only family trip ever, then I’d think hard about ride closures…if you can come back another year if you choose, then they matter much less. Typically only a few rides are closed, but headliners/don’t misses are among them…

19 Alison { 07.27.12 at 10:53 am }

I am booking a trip for my family – 2 adults and 2 children (ages 8 and 5) for January 16-22nd. We are planning on going to the parks 17-21st since we arrive in late on the 16th and are leaving early on the 22nd. I am a little unsure if it is worth it for the meal plan, I called Disney today and the cost is $58/adult and $20/kid per day for a sit down, 1 quick and 1 snack. Except for the character meals it seems like it is pricey. Also you need 2 tickets for the Cinderella Royal Table. Do you think the meal plans are worth it? Also, when I called this morning there were absolutely no discounts at all, on hotel (we are staying at the contemporary so we have access to the monorail), or meal. plan. Are there discounts at this time of year usually? This is our first time going as a family, I havent been in over 20 years and we are all really looking forward to it.

20 Dave { 07.27.12 at 3:11 pm }

Hi Allison! No discounts have been announced for January yet, but I’m not sure if any deals will come out for your arrival date, as it’s bracketed by the Marathon before and MLK weekend after. The dining plan used to be a good deal if you would have otherwise paid in cash for as many table-service meals as it pays for, but it is getting pretty close to a wash…to actually tell if it saves money or not, you have to compare the cash price of where you’d dine anyway, allocate your credits, figure what’s left for cash, and compare the alternatives…

21 Lys { 08.01.12 at 9:23 pm }

Hi Dave ….Wow! …. Thank you soooo much for such a truly amazing site! I’ve been hooked for months reading various areas to plan for our holiday to Orlando in 2013!

Background: We are flying from the UK and will need to take the kids (7 and 5) out of school – but I can live with that for this holiday of a lifetime! We are also travelling with my parents (so total 4 adults and 2 kids).

One of my questions to you – which I hope you are able to help with is (and I am sure I’ll be emailing with others soon!) … is, having studied your ratings, originally we were chosing w/b 20 april and w/b 27 april for our trip – aiming to do a disney cruise from port canaveral for 4 nights starting 28 April. Sounds fab – but whether staying in say Art of Animation or in a hotel on International Dr it was all working out too much money for us…. (a little over £7300 inc flights, transfer, animation hotel, disney tickets, quick dining, cruise – & then there are always extras eg tips, extra food, souvenirs, our taxis in UK to airport and back etc… price will head up and up!)

So….. I then saw your next best ranked week of 23 Feb and saw the cruise also goes on 3 March so thought maybe doing it earlier would make little difference apart from the few degrees cooler weather…. well having priced it up it saves us about a £800 to £1000 on flights from UK – making the total cost a little more doable….do you think this saving is worth it based on the weather being more variable?! or are we going to get a cheaper holiday but regret it based on the weather…

I’m in a quandry, and its 2.22am…. better go to bed otherwise hubby will not take me on holiday at all!!!!…. looking forward to hearing back from you asap! Thanks again Dave, Lys x:)

22 Dave { 08.02.12 at 7:09 am }

Lys, thanks so much for the kind words about the site!!

…you’ve probably already thought of this, but the simplest way to make your April dates work is to drop the cruise and extend your time in the parks.

As you note, late Feb weather is highly variable–see this: (The chart will also help you fall back asleep in case you are here at 2a again.)

So it kinda depends on what you need from your cruise…can you consider it a success if it turns out that none of your cruise days have highs over 75?

23 Lys { 08.04.12 at 4:49 am }

Thanks so much Dave! That was one chart I hadn’t actually seen so that was helpful!… even end Feb does not look good 🙁 … and you’ve got a point – what if the cruise days don’t reach the possible highs! argh! I think we are gonna try and stick to our April dates (which i found by using your “rank” charts originally!) Thank you – you have helped make up my mind – they r so much more appealing! and since I am still awake (!) can I just ask – I saw somewhere on your site about the other “Disney resort” hotels – would you not recommend the Disney Royal Plaza then? and if not, what are the reasons? (getting around/food costs etc? Please elaborate, thanks) as we may be able to pick up a deal and then it helps us to afford the cruise too (!) …Thank you again Dave 🙂

24 Mark saker { 08.04.12 at 7:51 am }

I wanted to share that I booked a disney trip from they where the best deal I got. First time going, cant wait

25 Patty { 08.04.12 at 4:52 pm }

We are looking at visiting Disney World for the first time sometime the last two weeks of October and the first week of November. Are you aware of any particular groups Disney may be hosting at that time?

26 Dave { 08.04.12 at 5:24 pm }

Hi Lys, and glad to help. I’m not against the Downtown Disney Resort area hotels. It’s just that they are not Disney hotels (see this: ) and thus don’t share in the Disney hotel perks (except for one perk that the Hilton shares in) and they just aren’t as fun as the Disney hotels. But if that’s the only way to make your trip work, then go for it!

27 Dave { 08.04.12 at 5:29 pm }

Patty, I’m not sure what you mean by groups, but avoid the first week of November, as that is much more crowded than the October weeks.

28 Jade { 08.05.12 at 6:24 am }

I have two questions. We are looking into the end of September 2013 for a trip to WDW to avoid summer heat, however my concern is the weather (hurricane season per your chart). If it’s just rain, I’m not sweet enough to melt, however hurricane winds might put a damper on things, but my first question what is your opinion on going during hurricane season? My second question is, if WDW decides to offer a dining plan for the time that we there, are able to take advantage of the offer even though we’ve already made the reservations? Thank so much for all of your insight and tips! This site has literally helped my sanity in planning such a big trip!

29 Dave { 08.05.12 at 10:27 am }

Hi Jade…first you won’t really avoid the summer heat then–see this:

Second, hurricanes rarely affect WDW, and if they do it is more like strong thunderstorms than what we usually think of as “hurricane force”–this is because Orlando is far enough inland that a lot of the hurricane energy is dissipated…they can mess up a day or two, and mess up flight…

Third, yes, you can convert to free dining!

30 Nicole { 08.08.12 at 2:31 am }

Hi Dave,
We are planning our first trip to Florida and are just wondering a few things we will be there from thr 27th of Jan 2012 and leaving on the 12th of Feb 2013. We plan do stay at a WDW resort hotel and enjoy the park for a week of that time any suggestions on what dates would be a good week? Also if we book at a WDW and then free dining becomes an option can we change our reservation? And thridly what is the weather like that time of the year, we will be coming from Alaska so I know it will be way better then the negative temps we will be leaving:)Just wondering if the beach is still a good thing to plan well we are there. Thanks in advance!!!

31 Dave { 08.08.12 at 4:22 am }

Nicole, those are great periods in terms of prices and crowds–see this and this In general, avoid the weekends at WDW if you can. And yes, you can add free dining later if your arrival dates and hotel are eligible!

Weather then is highly variable–see this: I would treat the beach as a possible fun extra if weather permits, not something to count on…

32 Stacye { 08.08.12 at 9:55 am }

I work in a school, so I don’t have the luxury of choosing an “off week” for visiting. We always go to Disney on our Spring Break, but I was thinking I would like a different experience this time. (Been in the summer before, too, and said would not do that again due to the heat.) You have the week after Christmas ranked lower than Spring Break, but the crowds are listed as ‘high’ then and ‘higher’ for Spring Break. Can you explain why you ranked that week lower with lower crowds? Or, is the week after Christmas typically more crowded than mid-March? We have learned how to handle the Spring Break crowds, but I would not want it to be any more crowded than it is at that time. Thanks for any insight!

33 Dave { 08.08.12 at 8:42 pm }

Hey Stayce, for both 2012/2013 the week after Christmas is crazy until Jan 1 or so, then bad, but not crazy, the rest of the week. That’s why it gets an overall “9.” So it will be worse than Spring Break at the beginning, but better than Spring Break in the second half…

34 Stacye { 08.09.12 at 9:28 am }

Gotcha! Thanks…..we could shift our dates a bit bc we don’t have to be back at school until the 7th. Weather typically ok then?

35 Dave { 08.10.12 at 12:37 am }

Hi Stayce, that’d be great if you can shift your dates to later. Weather then is highly variable–it could be 35 or 85. See this and also this:

36 Nicole { 08.10.12 at 3:40 am }

Thanks Dave!!! also any suggestions on Hotels? There will be six of us 2 adults myself and my husband and 4 kids 9, 7, 6, and 4. My mother in law will be meeting us there on the 29th of Jan for a week I will be booking her, her own room st the same hotel of course.

37 Dave { 08.10.12 at 3:46 pm }

Hey Nicole! Families of 6 are hard to fit…

There’s some options, with the main sort on them being first budget, and second if it would be a good or a bad thing for your MIL to be in the same space. A two bedroom villa, for example, would sleep all of you in three sleeping spaces–once your MIL arrives, she’d have a private bedroom with a king, and you two and the kids would share two queens in another private bedroom, plus 2-3 more sleeping spots in the combined LR/DR space. (Before MIL arrival you’d take the king!)

See the image for an example from Old Key West ( )

Old Key West Two Bedroom Villa Floor Plan Layout

For more options see the links about halfway down this page:

38 Nicole { 08.11.12 at 4:00 am }

Thanks Dave!!!

39 Dave { 08.11.12 at 11:19 am }

You bet, Nicole. Come back to me if you have more questions after you work through this stuff…

40 KZ { 08.17.12 at 7:01 pm }

Hi Dave, If I book a vacation package without flight and at a later point decide to add it, would it just be added to the current package or would the original need to be canceled and a new one started? I’m asking because I want a Royal Room at Riverside and am afraid they’ll book quickly for April/May 2013; but if I need to change the trip dates, I’d hate to lose the deposit on the flight if I booked the flight now (through Disney Travel) and had to change it. Refundable tickets are WAY too expensive! At the same time, I’d hate to find out that all the Royal rooms are booked if I waited a few weeks before I made the reservation. If I knew for sure that I could add flight to an existing package, I’d book the package now and call back in a few weeks to add the flight. I just don’t know if it’s that easy. Is it?

41 Dave { 08.18.12 at 7:27 am }

Um, KZ, why not just book your flights separately? That is, not through Disney…

42 KZ { 08.18.12 at 9:23 am }

Wouldn’t I need to book through Disney to get Magical Express?

43 Dave { 08.19.12 at 8:32 am }

KZ–not at all. You only need to book a Disney hotel for magical express. You can do your air any way you wish!

44 KZ { 08.19.12 at 4:59 pm }

AWESOME – thanks! By the way, this website is the best I’ve come across. You do a great job organizing info and making things easy to find.

45 Dave { 08.19.12 at 5:33 pm }

Thanks, KZ!!!!

46 Sabrina { 08.22.12 at 10:40 am }

We were kind of planning a spur of the moment trip, end of sept till beginning of October. 9 days. Is this a bad idea to plan so quick and just go? And at this time of the year can we still swim or will we be freezing?

47 Dave { 08.22.12 at 11:26 am }

Hi Sabrina! Spur of the moment is fine–you will miss out on some dining experiences (as they’ll be booked up), though, so it’s best to be sure you can come back later to see those–see this:

It’s typically still quite warm then, though cooler (thankfully) than the summer–see this

That’s a good time for crowds and prices–both low–but is in the peak of the hurricane season… see

48 Lisa { 08.27.12 at 3:48 pm }

Hi There! I’m planning to go to Disney World with the kids over the marathon weekend in January. Any special tips on which theme park to visit on Saturday and Sunday and which ones to visit on the Friday before and the Monday after? I’ve been to the parks before, but I’d like to maximize my time.

49 Dave { 08.27.12 at 8:00 pm }

Hi Lisa, Friday is a good day everywhere but Epcot, Saturday is OK everywhere but HS, Sunday is bad everywhere but Epcot, and especially bad at MK, and Monday is bad everywhere but Epcot, and especially bad at AK and HS…

50 Renee { 08.30.12 at 6:40 pm }

Hi Dave! Would you say the parks are generally more crowded on the days when they have the Extra Magic Hours? Should we plan to go to the parks on EMH days, avoid them those days, or doesn’t it matter? We are not planning on using hopper passes, so just going for the EMH would not be an option. Thanks!!

51 Dave { 08.31.12 at 7:15 am }

Renee, the simple answer is avoid EMH. As you note, it leads to a more crowded day…

52 Nicole { 09.02.12 at 2:12 pm }

Christmas trip 2013, when doesn’t seem like the. Candlelight procession will begin? I want to miss the amercian thanksgiving but not really travel into December Thanks!

53 Dave { 09.03.12 at 7:52 am }

Hi Nicole, the Candlelight procession typically begins the Friday after Thanksgiving. IN 2013 that means November 29…

54 Dave P { 09.03.12 at 3:36 pm }

Dave, I am trying to book a DVC point rental for Jan 1st -Jan 5th and there is very little availble. I also looked for discounts on regular rooms and can’t get availabilty or prices past December. When do you think the new discounts will be out for January? Is there something going on at DW that week and considering it is supposed to be the slowest time of the year, little is available. Thanks

55 Dave { 09.03.12 at 4:47 pm }

Hi Dave–that’s actually one of the busiest weeks of the tear, thanks to the patterning of Xmas school breaks this year–see this:

I’m sure that’s why you can’t find points, and I doubt there’ll be deals for arrival dates until, as the earliest, the 3rd, and maybe later…

56 Caroline { 09.05.12 at 10:57 am }

Hi Dave!
Thanks for so many tips!!! If you were to recommend a mid price, great value for money, comfortable hotel with maybe a few waterslides for the kids what would it be? Also, we are there from the 5th to the 18th April 2013, any dates we should avoid in those?
Cheers Dave

57 Dave { 09.05.12 at 11:16 am }

Hi Caroline and thanks!

The mid-priced (for Disney…) class of hotels is called the moderates. I don’t recommend this class of hotels for first time visitors who may never return–see this for why:

If you want to know about them anyway, an overview, ranking, and links to reviews starts here:

Re your dates, the Easter crowds will continue until April 6, and possibly the am of April 7th, so I’d avoid the parks until the 7th at the earliest…

58 Emily { 09.05.12 at 1:33 pm }

We are planning a Disney vaca for 8/13 . My uncle booked 11 mos out too and got free dining. How do we find a similar deal? Or is it better to stay offsite?

59 Dave { 09.05.12 at 1:47 pm }

Emily–are you US based (I ask because it varies a little for non-US deals.) Free dining for August 2012 became bookable to US residents in early March 2012–not 11 months before. Your options are to book a package now and convert it later, or to wait…and I’m firmly in the stay-on-site camp if you can afford it!

60 Martha { 09.08.12 at 8:19 pm }

I would have to disagree that 9 days is enough for a trip to Walt Disney World. We arrived Saturday afternoon and departed a week later on Sunday in the evening. Beginning with Sunday, we went to the Magic Kingdom for 2 days and the 3 remaining parks a day each and the 2 water parks a day each. We were exhausted. Epcot really requires 2 days because it is so large and you want to experience everything you can. We felt liked we missed out on things there. My husband also said that we needed 2 “down” days…days spent at and enjoying the fabulous Disney resort you paid so much for! So, we are planning a Septemebr 2013 trip for 12 days/11 nights. Two days for MK, 2 days for Epcot, 1 day for Animal Kingdom, 1 day for Hollywood Studios ,1 day each for Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach and 2 relaxed days (all mixed within our alotted time). With a 10-day park hopper and water parks ticket he feels that we could enjoy our resort more and catch anything extra at a park we may have missed. I do have a question for you…we are planning 9/13-9/24/13. Is that generally a good time to go? Smaller crowds and best values? Thank you!

61 Shellie { 09.08.12 at 8:48 pm }

We are planning to go the Sunday before Labor Day through the following Saturday in 2013. Do you know if they normally offer the dining plan during this time? Or if they just black out the days prior to labor day would we be able to get it on our package for the days we are staying after labor day, the Tuesday through Saturday?

62 Dave { 09.09.12 at 9:10 am }

Hi Martha! It’s for the reason you note that I don’t have the waterparks in my itineraries–not because they aren’t worth seeing (they are!) but because most families can’t do more than a “week off of work” and they just don’t fit that schedule…

September is a low crowd, low price period, but is smack dab in the middle of the peak of the hurricane season–see this on September 2012 as a an overview of what you might expect in 2013:

63 Dave { 09.09.12 at 9:12 am }

Shellie, I’m assuming you mean “offer the dining plan for free“? If that’s what you mean. it’s been offered for all arrival date form mid-late August into September for the last few years…Labor Day is not enough of a draw to matter for when its offered…

64 rob { 09.19.12 at 9:55 am }

Hey, just wanted your thoughts – we are not veterans but ahve been several visits and are planning either 1st week of April 2013 or alternate dte of 1st week of June. I know it is possibbly a little hotter in june but,would like less crowd – any thoughts? Thanks! (traveling wtih 3 teenagers and 8 year old)

65 Dave { 09.19.12 at 10:27 am }

Hi Rob, I’d pick June in a heartbeat–the crowds, tho not great will be much better than the week after Easter. See this

66 Justin { 09.19.12 at 5:30 pm }

We are considering a trip in early 2013 — maybe Feb 2-9, Feb 23 – March 2 or earlier in January the 26 – Feb 3. We have been several times but not in about 4 years and have a 4 and 8 year old. Which date is best for the lowest crowds, decent weather, least ride closures and where there isn’t a mjor interuption like the Marathon or cheerleading? Also — what is the story with free dining during that time and is there a moderate or deluxe hotel that you would reocmmend over the others. We have stayed at Coronado and Polonysian in the past. Thanks

67 Dave { 09.20.12 at 7:56 am }

Hi Justin, for your options Feb 23 wins hands down–see this:

I don’t closely track the races and sporting events since they don’t matter that much. Free dining is possible, but no one will know until announced. The equivalent of the Feb 23 dates was not in this year–see this:

For my hotel recommendations by price class in order see this:

68 Jenny { 09.20.12 at 2:49 pm }

We are just about to purchase park tickets for our first Disney adventure! We are going the last week in Feb 2013, which sounds like great timing. We are not doing a package deal or staying at a Disney resort. We are staying at Lake Buena Vista because we have a free room for the week. My question is, I feel like we will miss out on meal deals, park inside information, etc. by purchasing everything ‘a la carte’ if you will. We will have to rent a car, pay for parking, buy tickets seperate, etc. Any tips for doing the trip this way versus a package deal that takes care of everything for you?

69 Dave { 09.21.12 at 7:53 am }

Hi Jenny–frankly you’ll miss only experiencing Disney hotels and its transport system–there’s no real difference that comes from buying stuff separately vs buying it together…

70 Heather { 09.28.12 at 11:47 am }

We just returned from our first Disney family vacation. We went sept 7-14. We are thinking of returning in Dec for Christmas 🙂 maybe dec 11-18. What are the odds we would have nights or days where my 5yr old could have pool days? We are kindof worried it might be cooler there?

71 Heather { 09.28.12 at 11:48 am }

We stayed at Pop Century with dining plan with character dinner each night and it was awesome!!!

72 Dave { 09.28.12 at 12:29 pm }

Great, Heather!

73 Dave { 09.28.12 at 12:30 pm }
74 Heather { 09.28.12 at 5:46 pm }

Dec doesn’t sound like a good month weather wise.
When do they normally announce free dining again? I am really not interested in going during crowds so summer is really not an option. We do like to go during free dining. Your site is wonderful! Glad to have someone who is so knowledgable with Disney to ask questions 🙂

75 Dave { 09.29.12 at 8:48 am }

Hey Heather, I’m not sure what you are asking…

76 Holly { 09.30.12 at 1:55 pm }

We are booking our vacation April 13, 2012 I have Googled many sites and keep getting conflicting answers. Is this going to be a super busy time? I hoped that making our vacation after Easter would be safe for a not so crowded park.

77 Dave { 09.30.12 at 6:00 pm }

Holly, you mean 2013 right? Tat’ll be a great time. Almost all spring breaks except a few northeastern states will be over…

78 Chad { 10.04.12 at 12:43 pm }

Hey there Dave…with more “available” weeks in November 2013, would you think there would be more opportunities for Free Dining in November? Based on past trends, free dining is usually offered the week before and the week after Thanksgiving with usually a blackout period a few days after Halloween to that week before T-day.

With November 2013 having that extra week, what do you see Disney possibly doing? Adding a second free dining for 2nd week in November after Food & Wine?

Love to hear your thoughts.

79 Dave { 10.04.12 at 1:09 pm }

Hey Chad, great question, and yes I do think that the extra pre-Thanksgiving week will be heaving discounted! Hard to say if it’ll be free dining, but I’d bet for at least a room rate deal…

80 Jenny { 10.08.12 at 5:16 pm }

Can we use the shuttle buses to get from park to park and back to downtown Disney if we are not staying at a Disney resort?

81 Dave { 10.08.12 at 5:44 pm }

Hi Jenny, yes you can with one exception–there’s no bus from the parks to Downtown Disney

82 Mercedes M { 10.16.12 at 10:21 pm }

Hi, Dave
We will be staying at Coronado Springs on January 2013. I’m surprised to see that ANY restaurant or fodd service of this resort isn’t mentioned in the Dining Plan 2013 brochure Is this just a mistake? Or is it true that any restaurant of the hotel is included in 2013? If so we will need to change to a different resort! Many thanks for this site, it is really very helpful.

Another question… do you know if Be Our Guest is available for reservations? I haven’t found any time available during Jan 19-26 at ANY time from 6:30 am till 10:30 pm!?!?! Is it really that crowded or is it that it is not accepting reservations yet?

83 Dave { 10.17.12 at 9:29 am }

Hi Mercedes, and thanks for the kind words about the site!

Some of the non-Disney owned restaurants at WDW (the CS ones are not owned by Disney but rather by the same Mexican restaurant company that runs e.g. San Angel in Epcot) drive a really hard bargain with WDW for the terms on which they’ll be included in the dining plan, and often don’t get to agreement til near the new year. That’s what’s going on at CS, and I’m 99.5% sure that it’ll be sorted out by the time you arrive!

Be Our Guest reservations opened for your dates around two months ago and sold out within a day or two. You can still visit it as a counter service in the day time–it’s a reservable sit down only in the evening…

84 Mercedes M { 10.17.12 at 10:18 am }

Many thanks, Dave!
Hugs from Argentina.

85 Dave { 10.17.12 at 10:48 am }

🙂 You’re welcome, Mercedes!

86 katie { 10.24.12 at 7:19 am }

Has free dining for 2013 been announced yet? Planning a trip for jan/feb 2013.

87 Dave { 10.24.12 at 7:27 am }

Hi Katie! Two 2103 deals are out–see this: –but no free dining, at least so far…

88 Lori { 11.09.12 at 4:13 am }

Planning a trip in early March. Noticed on the WDW site that Splash Mountain (one of our favorites!) will be closed through March 19 for refurbishment. Do the rides ever open earlier than anticipated?

89 Dave { 11.09.12 at 9:36 am }

Lori, sometimes they do! This earlier open, if it happens, is often informal–they let people on without publicizing it to make sure everything is working right. This is called a “soft open.”

90 Ruth { 11.26.12 at 7:52 pm }

Hi, I’ve been searching all over for predictions of the dates of mickey’s not so scary halloween party for 2013. We are planning our trip for 09/26 – 10/9. I know this is the time the party is usually happening, but I was wondering what days of the week. I’m hoping for Tuesday 10/08 so we can do it on our last night there. What do you think?

91 Dave { 11.27.12 at 8:22 am }

Hi Ruth!

Going by this year’s schedule, Friday is the most common night, with the party on 7 of the 8 possible Fridays. Tuesday is the next most common night, with the party on 6 out of the 8 possible Tuesdays–but not on 10/9/12, the equivalent night to yours. In October (but not September) Thursday (4 out of 4) and Sunday (3 out 4) were also common…

Better info will be available when Disney publishes its October calendars–which it will do in about 4 months….

92 Elizabeth { 11.27.12 at 10:51 am }

Dave, Do you know how long the Christmas decorations are up in all the parks? Planning a short trip first week of January. Thank you.

93 Dave { 11.28.12 at 8:51 am }

Elizabeth, they’ll mostly be up the very first week of January!

94 Stephanie { 11.30.12 at 2:40 pm }

Dave, I’ve been reading your site almost daily. We’ll be in Disney Jan.1st-7th because that worked best for all of our schedules. I’ve read all of your resort choices and reasons to stay there. We’re currently booked at Pop and I was looking to upgrade to Wilderness Lodge (based on better transportation–do you agree with that?). Is it worth the almost $1200 price difference that Disney quoted me? I haven’t been to Disney in 10 years and this is our first family trip with 2 kids, almost 7 & almost 5. Thanks!

95 Dave { 11.30.12 at 4:27 pm }

Hi Stephanie! I hope the site is helpful and fun in your daily reading!

I would not pick WL because of the convenience difference. While in total a little more convenient than Pop, it’s not enough for the price difference.

There is a profound difference in kid appeal, however. If you can afford I think WL is worth that difference.

You can hedge your bet (and reduce the budget impact of WL) by dividing your stay between both–staying the first half of your trip at Pop, and the second half at WL. Focus your MK days for when you are at WL. Don’t reverse the order, as Pop will be too much of a let-down after WL!

96 Norma { 12.06.12 at 2:16 pm }

I’m searching for the best 7-night stay between June 1 and July 31, 2013 for a family of 5 – 2 adults, children ages 9, 7 and 5. Where is the best place to stay on Disney for our family? Are there any specials during that time? Any free dining?

97 steve { 12.06.12 at 2:53 pm }

Hi, my wife and I were thinking of taking our five year old in October of 2013. Is Halloween week a good time to go, and is the party worth it? Thanks!

98 Dave { 12.06.12 at 3:33 pm }

Hi Norma! The best dates are as early in June as possible–see this: No deals have been announced for any dates after early March. I can’t advise you on where to stay without having a sense of your budget. The cheapest place for a family of 5 would be an Alligator Bayou room at Port Orleans Riverside–see this: but what I actually recommend is the Polynesian–see this:

99 Dave { 12.06.12 at 3:35 pm }

Hi Steve! That’s a great week–see this: I have mixed feelings on the value of the party–see this (about 2012 but still relevant)

100 steve { 12.07.12 at 12:49 am }

I noticed that you have the Halloween week as very low crowds, but when I looked at touring plans, they had some crowds at 6 and 5. Why the discrepancy?

101 Dave { 12.07.12 at 8:40 am }

Hey Steve, no discrepancy, just different approaches to ratings.

First TP rates days and I rate weeks. So you’ll always see higher weekends on TP than my overall week rating, and during the Epcot food and wine festival higher Fridays as well.

Second, and more importantin this case, TP forces its 1s, 2, 3s etc to be equally distributed. So they have 36-37 days rated 1, 36-37 rated 2, etc. That means they rank 60% of the days of the year 6 or lower. But only about a third of the year has to-be-avoided crowds. So they show weekday 5s and 6s sometimes in a week that will overall be low crowd. My ratings in contrast tie solely to wait levels–I don’t force 5.2 1s, 5.2. 2s, etc…

102 Stevie { 12.16.12 at 8:26 am }

Dave, what a brilliant website you have here! We are currently planning a trip to WDW in 2013. We are undecided on when to go…. our choice of dates are first 2 weeks in september or the first 2 weeks in october. The last time we went was in july 2011 and had terrible weather throughout. this did not dampen the spirits of the holiday as queues were nice and short after the rain stopped! Which dates, of the two, do you recommend?


103 Dave { 12.16.12 at 9:31 am }

Thanks Stevie! The September weeks will have lower crowds, lower prices, and the prospect of free dining. The October weeks will have higher crowds and prices–especially around the Columbus Day holiday weekend–will be cooler, are a little less out of the peak of the hurricane season (but still in it), and are during Epcot’s Food and Wine Festival. Between the two I’d pick October, but overall the differences are small.

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104 Dawn { 12.28.12 at 11:22 am }

Hey Dave,

We were in Disney World the week of Nov.25-30, 2012. It was a great week to visit as you suggested in your “best dates to travel” section, we stumbled into the taping of the Christmas Day Parade at Magic Kingdom on Nov. 30th. We hadn’t heard anything about it so it was a bit of a pleasant surprise for us. We are looking to go the same timeframe in 2013..Nov.30-Dec.6. I have searched but cannot find any dates for the 2013 Christmas Day parade..any ideas?? Is it taped over one day/multiple days?? Appreciate any info you may have. PS – unbelievable job on this site.

105 Dawn { 12.28.12 at 11:27 am }

Sorry Dave,

Meant to include this in my question above…we received free dining for our Nov.25-30 as well, we stayed at Wilderness Lodge and received the free dining offer by way of email AFTER we booked. What’s your gut about free dining possibility at same resort for our 2013 trip 11/30-12/6?

106 Dave { 12.28.12 at 2:55 pm }

Hi Dawn, and thanks! I’m glad you had a great trip! Disney does not publicize the taping date a lot but it’s typically a Friday and Saturday (with Sunday as a rain date) beginning in very late November or early December. My guess–and it’s just a guess–is that in 2013, because of the very late Thanksgiving and how crowded that week is, that the dates will be 12/6 and 12/7/13

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107 Dave { 12.28.12 at 3:01 pm }

Dawn I dunno but since you asked, here’s my gut:

if I’m right and Pop Warner week is that same week, not a chance (For Pop Warner see this: )

If Pop is the week later, then I’m still skeptical. WDW is cutting back on discounts and has not offered free dining (so far) in any 2013 deal. By your dates, the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train will have opened, leading them to discount even less…

108 George { 12.31.12 at 1:58 pm }

Hello, we are looking at going to Disney in early November, but want to make the Christmas Party also. Do you know when it will start in 2013? Also, we are thinking of going to Paris Disney? Do you know of any good websites / crowd calendars for Paris Disney?

109 Dave { 12.31.12 at 2:19 pm }

Hi George–first I don’t have any recommendations on Paris–sorry.

Second, the xmas party usually starts around November 9 +/- a couple of days–late in the week or so after Halloween, so they have time to take down the halloween decorations and put up the Xmas ones. You’d want to avoid the week of the 2nd if you can, anyway, as it is Jersey Week (see this: )

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110 Lori { 01.02.13 at 7:45 am }

We will be taking my mother for her 70th birthday and our dates should be nov 5 to the 11. Do you think they will be offering the free meal plan then. We are hoping to stay at the French quarter this time.

111 Dave { 01.02.13 at 5:28 pm }

Hi Lori! Sadly, for two reasons, I don’t.

One is that your arrival date is during Jersey week, and Disney hardly ever offers major discounts for that week. For more on Jersey week, see this:

Second, they seem–though it’s too early to be sure–to be cutting way back on free dining in 2013…

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112 Danielle { 01.06.13 at 3:25 am }

Hi Dave,
I just booked a trip for WDW for the 1st two weeks in May 2013 today, (I’ve typically gone during April for the past 25 years, but my “kids” are now out of H.S.!)- &this year we will be a total of 5 “adults” (my oldest is bringing a friend)-& I’ve NEVER had such a hard time booking within my “budget” as I am for this year due to the “extra” person!!! Having One extra person jacked everything up by nearly double!- I’m so confused & frustrated!- I’m desperately hoping “free dining” will be offered again this year for my trip weeks,-but last year they waited to offer free dining until ONE WK before we left for Fla.!!- Im wondering what your predictions might be for another offer of free dining in 2013?,-Do you think they will follow suit this year & announce it very, very late again? Or do you think I will be unlucky & not see a free dining offer for my dates this year?- (which would be a huge game changer for me at the last minute because Super-Storm-Sandy cost me BIG BUCKS this year… 🙁 Thanks for any insight you can provide on the subject!! I’m keeping my fingers crossed for that free dining offer!!-(but not holdin’ my breath! Lol) –

113 Dave { 01.06.13 at 10:23 am }

Hey Danielle, that fifth adult can really mess everything up, especially hotel costs! My best guess is that Disney will go thin this year on free dining, so I would not bet on it being offered. Did you see the other deal that’s out for your dates? It’s here:

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114 Michelle { 01.19.13 at 2:33 pm }

Hello Dave,
We are thinking about going to Disney for our Son’s 3rd Birthday April 27, 2013. I checked out your dates and that is a good weather and low crowd time but expensive. What part is expensive (Disney tickets, Hotels, food)? Since we live in FL we are hoping to find a FL Discount. Not sure if we are going to get a hotel and do a weekend family vacation or not yet If we do it would start on Friday, April 26th. Also what parks would be good for a 3 year old? Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom? In your opinion would a 3 year old have fun or should we wait till he is 4 or 5? I haven’t been to Disney since my younger sibling was younger which there is a 13 year difference between us. Also if we go on the 26th and 27th of April do I still need to get our son a ticket? I know it say 3 and older, but do they have any specials for birthdays still. Any and all help would be much appreciated, and if you think of anything else to add please let me know. 1st time mom and trying to make it a fun experience for our son with hopefully more fun times at disney to come. Thanks so much for your help!

115 Dave { 01.20.13 at 8:19 am }

Hi Michelle!

It’s the hotels that are a little more expensive then–so if you aren’t staying in one, the price point is, as you note, irrelevant.

Frankly, there’s not much anywhere for a three year old, but the Magic Kingdom is the best park for him by far. For some possible itineraries, see this:

If you can come back again when he’s 5, and then 8, then going now is fine–at least you’ll learn your way around! But if going now would eliminate one of those future trips, I’d wait.

For birthday celebration opportunities, see this:

I think–but am not sure–that you shouldn’t need to buy a ticket for him if your first visit day is before he turns three…

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116 Traci Starn { 01.20.13 at 1:26 pm }

We have heard that sometimes Disney offers free dining plan in September and would like to go then. If they don’t announce whether or not they are until perhaps late spring, do you still book now or wait until announcement is made?

117 Dave { 01.20.13 at 5:16 pm }

Hi Traci, they’ve offered such a deal every year for years now–though that’s no guarantee they’ll do so this year. See this: You can wait, or you can book a package now and convert it later…

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118 Jose { 02.05.13 at 11:16 pm }

We are planning on visiting the park on march 27, 2 adults 3kids and a 11 month baby would this be a good time to plan our trip since our kids are on spring break..

119 Dave { 02.06.13 at 7:14 am }

Jose, that’s a horrible time to go–the weeks before and after Easter are by far the most crowded periods of the spring at Walt Disney World. Can you go another date?

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120 john { 02.20.13 at 8:40 pm }

hi dave i am taking on march 24 2013 my family to wdw my son is in the military he is home for two weeks what is the discount for the military

121 Dave { 02.21.13 at 8:23 am }

John, there are some great military deals for much of 2013, but March 24-April 4 is excluded from all of them, because Walt Disney World is so wildly crowded then…

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122 Sarah { 02.22.13 at 2:51 pm }

Hi Dave,
Thanks for your great website! We are going to be going on our first Disney World Vacation November 22-29, 2013. I know this is Thanksgiving week and will be crazy busy, but the trip was put together and paid for by my MIL, so there is no chance of changing dates. My question for you is this, is it usually crazy crowds the entire week of Thanksgiving or just that Wednesday-Sunday? Also, do you have suggestions to make it more enjoyable even with the crowds? This is probably a once in a life time opportunity for my family to experience Disney World (we live closer to Disneyland and it is more do-able for my family of 6!) and I am determined to make it fun! Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated! Thanks.

123 Dave { 02.22.13 at 5:02 pm }

Hi Sarah and thanks! Sadly, the crowds go all week long. The keys to dealing with them are 1. be at the turnstiles well before a park opens, 2. then see the most popular rides first, and 3. use FASTPASSES to get lower-wait access to the popular rides you don’t get to in the first hour or so!

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124 Anne { 02.25.13 at 9:36 pm }

Hi. I am planning a vacation for 8/4 to 8/10 2013. I know it will be hot and busy during this time, but its the only time I can get off work. Do you think there will be any special offers/discounts/free dining during this time? I on-line chatted with someone from Disney and he said they typically reveal discount 45 to 60 days beforehand.

125 Barb { 03.03.13 at 1:25 pm }

We are planning a trip to Disney World the week after Thanksgiving week of 12/1..
Four adults – three children – one of which is Autistic. We are looking for a package which includes hotel/park tickets….what do you suggest ?

126 Dave { 03.03.13 at 4:09 pm }

Hi Barb, you can get a combined ticket and room package from Disney right now, online, over the phone, or via a travel agent. If by package you mean “deal,” deals are out right now covering arrival dates only through early June. Deals for your dates, if any, won’t be out for months…

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127 Sarah { 03.09.13 at 6:01 pm }

Planning a trip for sept 28-oct 5. Aside from possible rainy time (hurricane season) I can’t see any reason this wouldn’t be a great week? Am I missing anything? Thanks!!!

128 Dave { 03.10.13 at 8:15 am }

Hi Sarah, yes, if you ignore the peak of the hurricane seaosn, that’s a great time to go! See

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129 wendy { 03.13.13 at 3:38 pm }

Hi Dave, we love your site, thanks so much for all the work you do!
I would love to hear your best suggestion for a week for our family with six kids. We are flexible, but were thinking about sept/or oct. I would really like to experience as low of crowds as possible. I thought I wanted to try and go during free dining, but I am thinking that might be a mistake! I think I would rather just pay for it, than deal with the extra crowds and stress of not getting in anywhere to eat due to the FD. We want to enjoy Epcot, so want to skip the F&W Festival. The kids might like MNNSHP. What are your suggestions? Thanks in advance.

130 Dave { 03.14.13 at 8:27 am }

Hi Wendy, based on all your criteria, you want mid-September–low crowds, before F&W, but with MNNSHP. See this:

You may face free dining then–but free dining does not crowd the parks–it only makes table service hard to get. Pick your dates now, and make your reservations asap.

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131 Susan Wronka { 03.14.13 at 4:22 pm }

Hi Dave, Your site looks impressive, hope you can help us. My husband and I are returning to WDW for the 3rd time this winter. We are experienced visitors to WDW. However this will be our first trip with a disabled person. We are booked April 9 – 13 thru a pkg with Orbitz. We have reserved a handicapped room at the Wyndham near DTD. We will have a rental car, but plan on using Disney Buses (very familiar with these). We are bringing our own wheelchair. Our friend is a 69 year young lady who we are treating for her B-day. She lives in a nursing home and has no family. So she has become part of ours over many years. She is able to transfer from whchr to car easily, needs assistance to walk short distance. I have looked at the WDW site for Disabled Guests and have made a list of Magic Kingdom attractions/rides that are possible for her, along with all the restrooms…especially those for handicapped/companion as she needs help in this area. However, we are thinking Epcot might be a wiser choice….flower show, slightly slower pace, mild attractions /rides. Hopefully, fewer strollers and toddlers underfoot. We are very familiar with WDW on our own, but I am sure we may be missing some key pointers for the disabled guests and the things Disney may have at their parks to make the visit easier and more enjoyable for their disabled guests. We would be grateful for any info you may be able to pass along to us for this particular situation. We look forward to hearing from you.
With Thanks, Jim & Susan Wronka

132 Dave { 03.15.13 at 9:26 am }

Hi Susan, what a sweet thing to do! I’m sorry that I don’t have a lot to add, as I just don’t know a lot on this topic. However, my friend Melissa has a great blog on this here Check it out, and ask her questions via her comments section!

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133 Rebecca { 03.15.13 at 11:21 am }

Hi 🙂
Wow great site!! I am planning a trip for my family to WDW for 10/27/2013 thru to 11/05/2013, and I have a few questions. I have booked the AOA Ariel room for the 3 of us but I am considering changing it to the Port Orleans french quarter because of some reviews about noise and walking distance to buses at AOA, any thoughts on that? Also I am curious about the Mickeys Halloween Party, I want to book advanced tickets, when I am able to, but I am doing my itin now around the places we want to eat to ensure we get the reservations, so my question is, do they always have the Halloween party on Halloween night? Also We have 8 full days there and are defiantly spending 2 at the Kingdom but what other park should we plan to spend an extra day in, if any ( my daughter is 7) or is one in each good?
Looking forward to your response! 🙂 Thanx

134 Rebecca { 03.15.13 at 11:25 am }

Oh and I forgot to ask one more question 🙂
I know there is nothing out yet for any discounts for the time I have planned on going at the end of October, but if you had to guess is there any that come to mind for that time of year?

135 Dave { 03.16.13 at 7:09 am }

Hi Rebecca, and thanks!

There’s not much noise in AofA Little Mermaid, so I wouldn’t worry about that. POFQ is much more compact, so walks will be shorter. On the other hand, it shares most buses with POR (it has its own for MK, but that’s typically it), so instead of the one stop at AofA you’ll face up to 5 bus stops at POFQ/POR. So from an overall convenience perspective, AofA wins.

The Halloween Party has been on every Halloween that I can recall…

See my example itineraries for how to divide your time among the parks–e.g. this:

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136 Dave { 03.16.13 at 7:12 am }

Rebecca, I’d guess we’ll see a modest room-rate discount, kinda like the one on offer now–for which neither AofA Little Mermaid nor POFQ are eligible! See

137 Wendy { 03.18.13 at 1:41 pm }

Thanks Dave! Didn’t feel like I could pick til I had your recommendation!
Appreciate your advice, it is invaluable!

138 Dave { 03.19.13 at 4:35 pm }

You bet, Wendy! Have a great trip!

139 Shana { 03.25.13 at 2:10 pm }

Hi Dave,
I can’t decide if we should plan to attend MNSSHP during our trip in October (10/22-10/28). Our daughter is going to be 5 when we go. I am leaning towards skipping it unless you think we are missing out on Magic Kingdom time by doing so. Also, how can I tell when MK will be closing early that week (due to the MNSSHP)? Should I avoid MK on those days? Thanks!

140 Dave { 03.25.13 at 4:21 pm }

Heya Shana, I have a pretty tough time defending the cost of the Halloween Party compared to other uses of the money. See this:

Early close nights for the party are the best days to go to MK during the party period, as the late-close days are mobbed! See this:

The early close days your week are the same days that that on the first link I’ve forecast as party days…

141 Shelbi { 03.27.13 at 10:02 am }

Hi Dave,
We booked our vacation for Sept 7-13, but we didn’t include the dining plan. I’m hoping Disney will release the free dining offer and we can just add it to our package. Any chance you might know if and when Disney will release this offer?!

142 Dave { 03.27.13 at 10:07 am }

Hiya Shelbi, I don’t know anything. I suspect they’ll release a room-rate deal next week or soon after (see this for why: ), but it’ll be for mid-summer.

Once that’s out, if free dining happens, it could be announced anytime after that…once it’s out, you’ll be able to find it here:

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143 Susan { 04.03.13 at 5:55 pm }

Dave, Help! My main concern is avoiding the crowds. I was planning on booking Dec 6-10 but now I’m reading about the cheerleading competition. Is this still a better option than Nov 29- Dec 3 (weekend after Thanksgiving)?

144 Mary-Margaret { 04.03.13 at 8:18 pm }

Dave, I am going to Orlando, Florida with my adult son and age nine son. We will be there from April 19-24. Any recommendations how to use the time for Universal and the theme park connected to it, and Sea World? We get in on Friday evening, and are staying in Buena Vista Lake. Hotel has shuttles to all the parks. Should I plan to go to Magic Kingdon with a nine year old? Whats the difference between MK and Universal Studios theme park? Similar? How is the “tornado” weather down there this time of year? Suddenly admist the excitement of going to Orlando, my youngest son’s friend is filling his mind with tornado stories.

145 Mary-Margaret { 04.03.13 at 8:19 pm }

Well, let me rephrase where we are staying…not Buena Vista Lake, but the region around it!

146 Dave { 04.04.13 at 8:45 am }

Hi Susan!

The 29th and 30th will be mobbed, so I’d stick with your later dates. The cheerleading/football thingy is not as big a deal as many make it out to be–see this:

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147 Dave { 04.04.13 at 8:49 am }

Hi Mary Margaret, I focus on Disney World, not Universal or Sea World, so don’t have a lot to offer on them, other than the best days at those parks tend to be Sat, Sun and Mon. A nine year old would love all four Disney parks, including the Magic Kingdom!

Tornadoes in April…hmmm…see this: I wouldn’t show it to him….but maybe buying a weather radio and showing him how it works might relieve his fears? Or maybe they’d reinforce them…kids and phobias are a bit of a mystery….

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148 Dave { 04.04.13 at 8:50 am }

🙂 Otherwise you’d need to bring a boat!

149 Sara M { 04.22.13 at 10:29 am }

Just read on( that the dining plan that is offered free was not offered at Art of Animation. I also read that if you stay at a value that this will only offer you the quick service (but can upgrade) We are hoping to get the free dining but were going to stay at AOA. What do you recommend we should do? This is our first trip, 6 year old and almost 3 year old. We are debating between a sweet at AOA or a Little Mermaid room, POP or possibly even a moderate. Any advice is appreciated!

150 Dave { 04.22.13 at 12:53 pm }

Sara, Disney deals exclude resorts that are booking well enough without a deal, and since they are brand new and there’s not many of them, the deals have excluded among other options the AofA Little Mermaid rooms.

Moreover, free dining at the values has been restricted to quick service for years now as well. Frankly, I don’t think that will matter, as I really doubt we will see free dining for your dates. For why, see this:

151 Sara M { 04.22.13 at 2:29 pm }

Okay, so should I change my dates? I picked those 2 weeks in October because of your recommendation but am flexible.

152 Dave { 04.23.13 at 8:03 am }

No Sara, I would not change your date based on guesses about discounts…

153 Sara M { 04.23.13 at 9:26 am }

Okay awesome! You are so right! When we started to plan this trip, we never even knew of the chance for free dining, so I am not going to let it disappoint me or sway me away. I do wonder if adding the Dining package helps with reservations at all? Or is a credit card required regardless? Being as my daughter will be 6, my son 2 and my husband and I, I wonder how much if at all the dining plan would help. I know years ago, you say that it was more of a discount and now it’s mostly a matter of convenience. My son and quite possibly my daughter would just pick off of our plates as it is. I wonder if we should go that route instead of paying for the dining up front? What do you suggest if you have any advice on that matter?

154 Dave { 04.23.13 at 4:47 pm }

Sara if you have doubts, don’t do it. For example, kids the ages of yours (<10) if on the dining plan have to order off the kids menu if one is offered, so if there's nothing there they want then you end up paying cash anyway...and having it does not help you get reservations...

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