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

Disney World in 2014

By Dave Shute


Walt Disney World in 2014 from yourfirstvisit.netThe big news for Disney World in 2014 will be

  • The continuing roll-out of FastPass+
  • The opening of the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train sometime in the “spring,” and
  • The impact on Disney of Universal’s expansions


FastPass+ continues to be a moving target.  Right now, guests at Disney’s hotels can make reservations for FastPass+ beginning 60 days before their arrival date, everyone at the Animal Kingdom can only use FastPass+ (off-site guests make their reservations that day) and the Swan and Dolphin are in a test.

Over 2014 I expect to see FastPass+ for all extended to the other parks, and for the other parks likely to also restrict the number of headliners per day available (already in place at Epcot and Hollywood Studios).

Walt Disney World in 2014 from yourfirstvisit.netSo far, FastPass+ has been a good thing for first-timers staying in Disney-owned resort hotels, and a bit rough on everybody else–especially repeat visitors who have an already set way of doing the parks on the old FastPass system.

See this for more on FastPass+


The final element if the Fantasyland Expansion, the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, is expected to open in the “spring” of 2014.

This ride, while targeted at the younger set, oughta be fun for everybody.

I haven’t seen any credible rumors on opening besides “spring.”

Spring, to the Wall Street analysts who track these things even closer than bloggers, means March 20 to June 21. Earlier in this window would add capacity for the massive spring break crowds and give Disney something to sell in the slower month of May; later would add capacity for the summer crowds.

My guess?  With FastPass+ so far behind, Disney really needs this ride to be open soon.  So I’d expect it to be open earlier in the spring rather than later…


Two big things are happening at Universal this year: Harry Potter is expanding from Islands of Adventure into Universal Studios, and Universal is opening its first mid/lower priced hotel, Cabana Bay.

While the Harry Potter Diagon Alley expansion gets the attention, it’s the hotel–which will eventually have 1,800 rooms–that might have the bigger impact on Disney World–and thus Disney guests.

The economics of this are complicated, but here’s the key points:

  • The Universal theme parks aren’t really substitutes for the WDW parks so much as they are complements.  Increased numbers of visitors drawn to Orlando because of Harry Potter will, in high proportions, show up at Disney World too. And even if people substitute time at Disney parks for time at Harry Potter, what that typically costs Disney is the lower-priced last days of a ticket.
  • Hotels, on the other hand, are indeed substitutes. Someone staying at one is not also paying for another…And the economics of hotels (with their low per-room incremental variable costs) are such that lost revenues–from people shifting from e.g. All-Star Sports and Caribbean Beach to Universal–drop almost directly to the bottom line. Lost food and gift shop revenues have higher variable costs, but still have a bottom line impact.

So while Disney might lose $25 to $50 million on lost park ticket sales from Harry Potter, if Cabana Bay fills entirely at Disney’s expense, the bottom line impact could easily be $100 to $125 million.

The upshot?  If Cabana Bay is wildly successful, look for Disney to increase the value of staying on-site–either by more aggressive deal-making than I am currently foreseeing, much better FastPass+ for onsite guests than off, or both…


Here’s more on Disney World in 2014, including

  • Disney World 2014 packages and booking dates
  • 2014 Disney World deals
  • 2014 Disney Armed Forces Salute
  • Free Dining in 2014 at Disney World
  • The best weeks of 2014 to visit
  • 2014 crowds at Disney World


Disney World in 2014 You can find 2014 Disney World price seasons here.

You can book a Disney World hotel room up to 500 days in advance. That means you can book all of 2014 on-line, and later dates over the phone.


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.

As deals launch, you’ll find them here.

For Disney World 2014 military deals and 2014 free dining at Walt Disney World, see below.


Disney World has announced special discounts for Military families for most of 2014.  See this for more. There’s no telling if this deal will be extended into FY15, or if so, when such an extension will be announced.


There’s no guarantee Disney will offer the Disney Dining Plan for free in 2014.

If it does, based on past dates, Disney will most likely offer more free dining in 2014 for much of September, and announce it in the late spring or early summer of 2014.


For the best times to visit Disney World in 2014, see 2014 weeks to visit, ranked in order.

A few observations (all reflected in the 2014 week rankings):

  • New Year’s Eve 2014 is midweek, so there will be fewer lower-crowd days in January.
  • Easter, April 20, 2014, is about as late as it can be, meaning more good late March and early April dates than usual.
  • Thanksgiving 2014 is November 27th, almost as late as it can be, meaning more good November days and fewer good December days.


See the 2014 Disney World Crowd Calendar.


Follow on Facebook or Google+ or Twitter or Pinterest!!



1 Mary { 01.05.14 at 9:01 am }

We are taking advantage of discounted room and staying at all star sports resort in march. I hear that when Disney discounts rooms, it’s better to stay at pricer resorts. Are the room rates that close with the varying discounts? We plan on staying in the parks most of the time and will only eat a meal or two at resort. The all stars just seemed to be a very good deal

2 gary wiley { 01.06.14 at 7:58 pm }

We will be visiting Walt Disney World in early January,2015. We are hoping that the parks will still be decorated for Christmas. When do the decorations come down?

3 Dave { 01.07.14 at 8:27 am }

Gary, I can’t say for sure. They will be up through the 2nd, and then start to come down. For example, this year, the tree and decorations at the Studios is due to come down January 9

4 Kenny { 01.07.14 at 5:15 pm }

What are the odds that splash mountain or blizzard beach will reopen before their scheduled times. We will be in Orlando from March 6-18 and would love it if they opened even slightly ahead of schedule.



5 Dave { 01.08.14 at 10:02 am }

Kenny, I’m not sure. Splash is more likely to open early–even if it’s in an unannounced “soft open”–than BB, but I can’t give you odds…

6 Peter { 01.16.14 at 11:45 am }

We plan on going to Disney World and stay at Pop Century the week after Thanksgiving. Do you think they’ll have the free dining plan at this time again? I have a family of 9 goings so it would help.

7 Dave { 01.16.14 at 6:33 pm }

Peter, that week was excluded from free dining in 2013 (see this: ) and I don’t expect to see it in 2014 either…of course I hope I’m wrong!!

8 Peter Carlson { 01.17.14 at 8:01 am }

Thank you, we went down in 2011 after Thanksgiving and it was offered then. Do you know why they would’ve stopped it that week? It was a pretty quiet week, not many people.

9 Dave { 01.18.14 at 9:48 am }

Peter, pre-recession the only free dining was August/Sept.

Then Disney added a ton of deals including more free dining during and right after the recession.

Its announced strategy the last two years has been to sharply cut back free dining, and it’s done so. That particular week is popular among people who know what they are doing, and the hotels (but not the parks) are full enuf then without a deal that Disney did not need to offer it…

10 john { 01.23.14 at 12:27 pm }

hello there i know you gave me a yes answer before. however i was wondering what if anything you might have heard on free dining in september? thanks this site is very helpful with lots of useful information!
john-troy n.y.

11 Dave { 01.24.14 at 2:03 pm }

John, I don’t expect to hear anything til May or so on this

12 john { 01.24.14 at 5:49 pm }

thank you so much you always have the answers and are usually right on thanks again!!

13 Dave { 01.25.14 at 7:51 am }


14 Jill { 02.14.14 at 11:46 pm }

I am looking at traveling to Disney and staying at the Art of Animation during the second week in Sept. 2014. I have looked on websites like and also on Disney’s official website for pricing. I understand that in the past this is the time of year when disney has offered its free dining plans. Do I have to book from the official disney website in order to be eligible for that deal ( I have also heard that purchasing the room and the park tickets thru them is a requirement to get the dining package). Or am I able to book through expedia.con and then if later disney offers free dining can I somehow get that to apply to my trip? If I have to book on the official website I likely will not want to wait until May (the anticipated time that Disney may offer the free dining for Sept). If I purchase the room and tickets now and the dining plan later becomes available can it be applied to my already purchased trip and if so how do I ensure this is applied ? Thank u!

15 Dave { 02.15.14 at 9:53 am }

Jill, think of it this way: If the deal comes out, create an entirely new reservation with Disney and cancel your old one. SO all you have to focus in is cancellation terms.

Deals like this aren’t “applied.” You have to compete for them with everybody else, whether or not you already have a reservation. If you are trying to change an old reservation init the deal, you have to do that over the phone, and that can take hours. So you’d just make the new one–yes, with only via Disney, and yes including buying tix–over Disney online system…then once you had it, cancel your old one…Note that you should book your dining right at the 180 day mark, as many others with the same hopes will be doing so–you don’t need a room to do dining.

16 Stephanie { 02.18.14 at 9:56 pm }

Hi Dave,

I’m curious what you think the news of Food and Wine beginning a week earlier, Sept. 19th according to the Disney Parks Blog, will do to the possible free dining promotion for this fall?

We’re planning a trip in September and are hoping to catch both free dining and F&W.


17 Dave { 02.19.14 at 7:18 am }

Stephanie, I’m still thinking about this…there’s a lot of variables in play–Harry Potter 2, attractive new non-Disney hotels (Cabana Bay and Four Seasons), South American spring break and what the summer world cup in Brazil does to them, the apparent, but not yet confirmed, addition of 4 Halloween parties compared to the usual patterns…my head hurts…

18 Marty Smith { 02.19.14 at 7:37 pm }

I am thinking about booking a trip to disney over Christmas of this year, December 22-January 2nd. Is this something we should book early or is better to wait and see if there are any deals. Any tips would be appreciated

19 Dave { 02.20.14 at 8:41 am }

Marty that is by far the busiest time of year, with waits some rides some days of 4 hours. Because of this level of demand, Disney raise prices to make it the most expensive time of the year, by far, and never discounted.

In other words, don’t go then….

20 melissa { 02.26.14 at 10:59 am }

hi dave,
we are planning at trip for November 2014, from the 18th to the 24th. I seen a comment about the number of days free dinning is being offered being cut back, this is right before thanks giving, do you think these dates will still qualify or should we look at changing out dates??

21 Dave { 02.27.14 at 8:09 am }

Melissa, I’ve never thought there would be free dining in 2014 after September. I hope I am wrong, and was wrong in 2013!!

22 Terrie { 02.27.14 at 11:31 am }

We are making our first ever visit to disney world the week before thanksgiving… I understand you don’t know if the dining plan will be free at this time yet, but has it ever been free during this time? Also if I schedule my vacation know and the dining plan does end up being free will we still get the discount or should I wait and book after they announce the dates for the free dining plan?

23 Dave { 02.28.14 at 7:02 am }

Terrie it has been free those date sin the recent past–but during the recovery from the recession, so you can’t read to much into that.

It doesn’t matter if you book now or not–that won’t affect your ability to get it if it comes out. If it comes out, you have to compete with everyone else for one of the available slots, by making a new reservation on-line (cnacelling your old one once you are successful) or coaling to change your reservation…

24 Veronica { 03.02.14 at 1:26 am }

We are ready to book our vacation. I’m wanting to book whenever they are offering the free dining plan, but I want to know if I should wait until the free dining plan is offered or should I just book it and change or cancel my reservation later. Our dates are Oct. 25- 31, 20142014.

25 Dave { 03.02.14 at 9:25 am }

Veronica it doesn’t matter if you wait or book now. If it comes out, you need to compete with everyone else to either add it to your reservation or create a new reservation if your hotel isn’t eligible, or sold out.

26 Scott { 03.07.14 at 9:27 am }

Hi Dave, similar question to the last couple: when/if we cancel reservations to get free dining, if that happens after we’ve already made restaurant reservations, would we need to also cancel and rebook those?

27 Dave { 03.08.14 at 7:22 am }

Scott, no. There’s a bit of complexity to swapping the pre-paid meals with credits, but you can do all that over the phone or at the concierges..

28 Elizabeth { 03.13.14 at 10:08 am }

Dave, Do you think that they will extend the Fast Pass options on the MagicBands for people that buy park hopper tickets? I don’t think it’s fair since it limits only getting a shot at 3 rides at one park per day. When the reason for the park hopper is to be able to enjoy more than one park a day. Thank you for your opinion! I love, love, LOVE your website. Elizabeth

29 Dave { 03.14.14 at 7:17 am }

Elizabeth, rumor is that they will someday, but for now FP+ works fine for hoppers if you hit rope drop at one park, and book your FP+ at the second park you plan to go to. This gives you much better return times than under the old FP system at the second park…

30 Karen { 03.14.14 at 12:31 pm }

What happens if you purchase a package with meal plan and then they announce a free meal plan for the week you have scheduled.

31 Dave { 03.15.14 at 8:42 am }

Karen, you can call them to try to change your package to the deal (as with everyone else, your dates, and resort have to be in the deal, and there have to be deal rooms left) or you can go online and book a new deal, then canceling the old one if you are successful.

32 Leah { 04.11.14 at 9:53 pm }

Hi Dave,
Any information (dates/times) for Christmas events for 2014?

33 Dave { 04.12.14 at 9:16 am }

Leah, I’ll have forecasts out tomorrow!

34 Toni { 04.14.14 at 1:46 pm }

I have heard a rumour here in the UK that Disneyworld are stopping the free dining plan for 2015 have you any news to confirm or heard the same news

35 Dave { 04.15.14 at 8:47 am }

Toni I heard the opposite–that 2015 free dining for the UK is coming out soon!

36 Karen { 04.19.14 at 12:14 am }

What are your thoughts of taking advantage of the cheap Universal accommodation rates? Not knowing the area is it easy to get to WDW parks?

37 Dave { 04.19.14 at 8:41 am }

Karen, if you have a car it’s easy to get from Universal to Disney. If you don’t, it’s not…

38 Jessie { 04.23.14 at 1:40 pm }

I have heard rumors that they will be releasing free dining dates for fall within the next few days. If this is true, how far into fall do you think they will announce dates for? We already booked our trip for November 11-22 and are hoping for free dining. Also, do you think free dining is likely for when we are going? Thanks!

39 Dave { 04.23.14 at 1:57 pm }

Jessie, this announcement will be for no later than September, I expect. See this:

40 Anonymous { 05.01.14 at 8:34 pm }

We are planning our first trip in late October / early November of this year. We want to stay at your recommended Polynesian but have heard it will be under extensive construction. Is that true? And if so what hotel would you recommend? My son is autistic

41 Dave { 05.02.14 at 6:56 am }
42 Judy { 05.25.14 at 4:21 pm }

Thank you the wonderful advice! We are headed down with hopper tickets for 9/25-9/27 while staying at AoA. First trip for my 6 yo daughter&75yo mother in law. Any opinions on which parks to do which days? I looked at the itineraries but sadly we don’t have that much time.
Thanks for any suggestions.

43 Dave { 05.26.14 at 7:45 am }

Judy at that age, and on so short a visit, I’d just focus on the Magic Kingdom.

44 Alex { 10.06.14 at 2:04 pm }

Hi, planning a trip to WDW in April 2015 (14-20) and so far we have had no luck with any special offers or discounts. Are there discounts typically during this time? If so, when do they come out?

45 Dave { 10.07.14 at 6:44 am }

I expect special offers for the period beginning about a week after Easter through at least May to come out in later December, Alex

Leave a Comment | Ask a Question | Note a Problem

My response to questions and comments will be on the same page as the original comment, likely within 24-36 hours . . . I reserve the right to edit and delete comments as I choose . . . All rights reserved. Copyright 2008-2017 . . . Unless otherwise noted, all photos are by me--even the ones in focus--except for half a dozen from my niecelets . . . This site is entirely unofficial and not authorized by any organizations written about in it . . . All references to Disney and other copyrighted characters, trademarks, marks, etc., are made solely for editorial purposes. The author makes no commercial claim to their use . . . Nobody's perfect, so follow any advice here at your own risk.