Disney Armed Forces Salute Blockout Dates (Spring/Summer 2013)

2012 Disney Armed Forces Salute - Military Disney Ticket and Room Discount

What, I can’t use my Disney Armed Forces Salute tickets at Disney World or Disneyland during Spring Break?

This is a common response that I hear when military families learn that their military Disney tickets are not valid on certain days.

Since January 2009 the Disney Armed Forces Salute has always had days that the special military discount tickets were not able to be used for admission to Disney’s theme parks or for resort discounts. Disney calls these days Blockout Dates (some people refer to them as blackout dates).

They are typically a week during Christmas, 2 weeks during Spring Break, and the Fourth of July.

Each year the Blockout Dates are slightly different, depending on the school schedule.

The remaining Blockout Dates for the 2013 Armed Forces Salute are:

At Disney World

  • 24 March – 4 April 2013 (No Park Use)
  • July 4, 2012 (No Magic Kingdom only)

At Disneyland

  • 25 March – 5 April 2013 (No Park Use)
  • 4 July 2013 (No Park Use)

Hotel Blockout Dates at Disney World & Disneyland

25 March – 4 April 2013

Many very frustrated readers have contacted me both recently and over the last couple of years, to ask why this is so. They always want to know, “Why won’t Disney allow me to use the discount military tickets during the only time I can go to Disney?”

Many feel that since it’s a military salute there should be no date exclusions. They don’t want to pull the kids out of school to use the discount at another time when it is available.

Disney’s Motivation for the Salute

Many take Disney’s Armed Forces Salute at the title’s face value. That Disney has made this offer due to their support of the troops. While that definitely is a factor in to their reasoning they do have other more immediate reasons to make these offers.

Many new to military life may be unaware that the recent semi-constant Military Salute offers are a rarity in the history of the Disney Company. In the past Disney did offer one free ticket to military members after Desert Storm. But during the twenty-first century these offers have only come at times of reduced theme park/resort attendance and are designed to draw more people to the Disney vacation destinations.

Recent History

The current Armed Forces Salute which runs through 28 Sept 2013 is basically the 5th year in a row Disney has had a special military discount with steeply discounted tickets and room discounts. This round of Salutes began 4 January 2009. Prior to this timeframe the previous special offer was in 2002 during the post 9/11 travel industry downturn. This current round of discounts was prompted by the economic downturn which began in late 2008.

Prior to the Salute offers all we in the military had in the way of a Disney discount was the regular military discounted Magic Your Way tickets.

Disney Attendance Levels

Disney’s main purpose behind the blockout dates is to dissuade you from coming then, as there are already way too many people in the Disney theme parks!

If you check any Disney Guide Book you’ll note that the timeframes of Disney’s blockout dates are during peak attendance periods. During these timeframes Disney often closes their theme parks during the day due to maximum attendance. Only those staying on property are allowed in, others are turned away. The way Disney looks at this is strictly from a business perspective. If they can fill the parks during those timeframes and actually have to turn away people willing to pay full price, then they’d be crazy to let those paying half price for military tickets to block those spots.

How This Helps You

The above is a pragmatic look at Disney’s reasoning. But here is my positive outlook on the situation.

These high attendance days, for lack of better words are simply miserable in the theme parks. There are just way too many people, lines are unbearable, and you’ll be unable to accomplish all that you’d like to do.

I think it’s really a blessing in disguise that you can’t use your Armed Forces Salute tickets during Spring Break or other peak times. It forces you to re-evaluate your vacation schedule and plan to go at another time. You’ll end up thanking yourself because your experience will be so much better during lower attendance periods.

Yes, this may involve taking the kids out of school, but you can take along class/homework and make opportunities to turn the vacation into a learning experience.

Click here to read about finding the best time to go to Disney World

So What Do You Think?

I know this topic has the potential to bring people out on both sides.

Please share what you think in the comments below.

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Steve Recommends
Here are my recommendations for products and services I've reviewed that can improve your Disney planning. This is a short list since it only includes my top picks.

Military Disney Tips Gear

The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World - Best WDW Planning book in my opinion

Hidden Mickeys - Kids of all ages will love finding Hidden Mickeys at WDW

Ears of Experience - My recommended Travel Agent, Fee Free, Disney Only, Military Family Owned

YourFirstVisit.net The premier website for first time visitors to Walt Disney World!

Simple Stroller Rentals - Beats WDW's prices, plus they offer a 10% Military Discount

TouringPlans.com - The website of the Unofficial Guides - Crowd Forecasts, Pre-made Touring Plans, plus lots of other detailed info

My Disney Experience - The Official Disney iPhone App

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Comments

  1. B Hayes says

    Spring break is not the “the only time” families can go to Disney”. Neither is Christmas. School is out all summer long. Summer may be crowded, but these two times are MUCH worse. You couldn’t get me there at those times if the tickets were free. Even if it included VIP head of the line treatment as well, there is still just being able to “move” when the parks are so crowded. No thanks.

    • Steve says

      You are right B Hayes,

      For Disney Armed Forces Salute’s in general 1 week at Christmas, 2 weeks during Spring Break, and 4th of July, and at Disneyland 4 days around Valentines Day are blockout dates.

      But during this current offer (there is no further offer at this point) the only dates left are Spring Break and the 4th of July.

      I agree, I don’t want to be in the parks during these periods either!

      However the regular Disney military discount tickets do not have any blockout dates and are valid then for those brave souls who do want to go.

  2. Brenda says

    Here is a question about Blackout Dates for Disney World…I know 4th of July is a blackout but on the 3rd the park is open till 3 A.M. Do you know if that is considered the 4th or will it be ok?

    • Steve says

      Oh, wow, good question Brenda!

      Here are my thoughts. If you are in the park on the 3rd and stay, you’ll be fine. But the curious part is what if you tried to enter the park at 1am on the 4th? Would the ticketing computer decline your entrance because it is actually the 4th?

      Very interesting, I’m gona reach out to a WDW Ticketing contact that I have and report back.

      • Steve says

        Interesting reply from my ticketing friend:

        “For Park hours Disney uses a 36 hour clock. So for July 3 the MK hours are 0900 until 2500, with EMH going to 2700. A person who enters MK between 2400 and 2700 is considered to have their entry on July 3, not July 4.”

  3. Deb Cochran says

    Hi Steve,

    Great info – thanks! We are staying at SOG starting the end of April for 8 nights. 2 adults and a 7 year old. What ticket package would your recommend for us? We do plan to use the water parks, at least 2 or 3 times. We plan to visit the parks for 7 consecutive days. The park hopper option would be great but if we’re talking $100′s more, than we’ll not use that option. I’m confused with all the offers at SOG for the length of time we will be there, so any input you have would be greatly appreciated.

    • Steve says

      Hey Deb,

      All the options can be confusing…

      The first and best price would be using Disney Armed Forces Salute tickets $184 each for 4 theme park days (with hopper, or only $156 without the hopper) and 4 entrances to the Water Parks Fun and More venues. This does limit you to only 4 theme park days though!

      If you want more theme park days you could do a combo of back to back Armed Forces Salute tickets. Say one 4-day hopper and one 4-day WPF&M $156 each for $312 per person. 8 park days (4 hopper/4 non hopper) and 4 WPF&M entrances.

      Shades sells their Stars and Stripes Pass which is a length of stay pass (8 nights would mean an 8 day pass) at $348 adult/ $331 child. these are hoppers with the WPF&M option. Not sure if you could get the cheaper 7 day due to the “Length of stay.”

      And the final option would be some type of regular military discounted Magic Your Way ticket (based on the length and options you want). See the link for prices.

      Hope this helps, some… But it really comes down to your preferences.

      Steve

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