I am getting these two questions in growing frequency as the military community is wondering why we haven’t heard anything yet.
This is understandable as each of the last 5 years, Disney has announced the coming year’s Military Salute Offer right about this time in September. And we’ve seen nothing yet.
UPDATE 3 Dec – Disney has announced 2021 Disney Armed Forces Salute Info
First a Little History
I started my military career way back, and as far back as I can remember in my career, my Base Ticket Office sold slightly discounted tickets for Walt Disney World.
For the majority of my career these were all that was available for the military community and they really didn’t save you very much. These tickets are still available today and depending on the length and options purchased, you will save between four and eight percent off of the regular general public gate ticket price.
Several times over the years Disney has offered specially priced or sometimes even free, tickets for the military member. A couple of examples of this are:
- After the first Gulf War, Disney World offered a free one-day ticket for military members and reduced price tickets for their guests.
- During the first half of 2002 due to the post 9/11 travel industry slowdown, they offered a free seven-day ticket for the member and 50% off tickets for up to five of their guests. As the travel industry recovered, Disney discontinued this special military offer.
After the 2002 offer, once again all that was available were the regular military discounted tickets.
Then in 2009 Disney started what is called the Disney Armed Forces Salute. This initial new offer came after the economic downturn and travel industry slowdown that began in the fall of 2008.
- The first Salute began in January 2009 and was initially a partial year offer, which was then extended 3 times by a month at a time, eventually running through the end of the year.
- January 2010 saw another 7-month long offer, which was then extended twice through the end of the 2010 Disney fiscal year (September 2010).
- In October 2010, after a 22-day break, Disney offered the first full yearlong offer (25 October 2010 – 28 September 2011).
- In April 2011 Disney made a surprise announcement that the ongoing offer would be extended through 28 September 2012, making it a 2-year long offer. (The ticket limit was increased to 12)
- September 2012, 2013, and 2014 each saw one year long renewals.
- In June 2015 the 28 September 2014 – October 2015 offer was extended through just prior to Christmas 2015. This was in preparation to switching to a calendar year offer period. (The ticket limit was increased to 12)
- On 24 September 2015 Disney switched to offering a Calendar Year Salute Offer for 2016. It ran from 3 January through 19 December 2016.
- On 28 September 2016 Disney announced the second calendar year offer for 2017.
- On 28 September 2017 Disney announced the new 2018 Disney Armed Forces Salute.
- On 27 September 2018 Disney announced the new 2019 Disney Armed Forces Salute.
- On 26 September 2019 Disney announced the new 2020 Disney Armed Forces Salute.
How It Works
Each of these yearly Salute Offers are totally separate offers for a limited timeframe.
A continuation the following year is never guaranteed past the end date of the current offer!
Each year in late summer Disney holds what is called the Revenue Generation Board. In which they discuss future income (as you might imagine by the name). It is during this meeting that the decision is made whether or not to offer a Disney Armed Forces Salute for the upcoming year.
This is why Disney has never been able to announce the Salute offer in late July when general public room rates come out for the following year.
This Year Has Been So Messed Up!
Because of all the reactions to the virus issue this year, all bets are off!
All of the turmoil that was caused in reaction to the virus has been hard on everyone. Disney struggled to make their way, I know. But through all of it they treated the military community as an afterthought instead of the community they have always turned to in difficult times in order to plus up their bottom line.
I’ve been criticized for saying so, but Disney has treated the military community very poorly this year.
I can’t help it, I don’t like it and there is no reason for it, other than lack of concern.
- They kept us in the dark about what would happen with pre-purchased tickets that could not be used
- They refused to refund Salute tickets on their own and pushing it to the Bases to do so, when the Bases’ contracts with Disney state the Salute tickets are non-refundable
- Many military members were left with hundreds to thousands of dollars worth of tickets they purchased, could not use, and couldn’t get refunded
- They quietly extended the Salute tickets without announcing it at all. It was eventually added to their website well after the fact
- They have said there will be no refunds the cost of the park-hopper option on Salute tickets, though they did this for general public tickets
I fear this trend won’t change in the near future.
Long Story Short
I do think that there will be Disney Resort Room Military Discounts for 2021!
Moving forward Disney will need bodies to come to their vacation destinations as they did after 9/11 and the 2009 recession. In the past the military was there to fill that gap for Disney and we will be again.
I just have the bad feeling (based on this year) that Disney will not be thinking ahead about our community and make decisions way late, and then announce the discount poorly.
Currently for the general public, Disney is doing just what they did post 9/11. Offering discounts to residents of states within driving distance first. As people return to feeling comfortable flying, the nationwide discounts will follow. Hopefully a military one will be announced around that time as well.
Florida just announced the entry into Phase 3 with no State mask requirement.
Disney’s transition from how things are working now back to full attendance is sure to be rocky, just as the shutdown was. We’ll just have to see what happens.
It could be late in the year before we hear about next year.
Fingers crossed that I’m wrong and it is soon!
The Current State
Here is where we are at with respect to Disney Military Discounts.
- Remains closed and all military info was removed from their site.
Walt Disney World
- 2020 Disney Armed Forces Salute Tickets whether already in hand or yet to be purchased will expire on 26 September 2021. They must be purchased by 18 Dec 2020!
- The fate of ticket discounts from 27 Sept through 31 Dec 2021 is unknown
- The Salute ticket purchase limit remains at 6 per military member (even though the other 2 times Disney extended a Salute longer that 12 months the limit went to 12)
- Disney Armed Forces Salute Park Hopper Tickets are the special ticket currently being sold, even though there is no park hopping allowed
- Disney Armed Forces Salute Park Hopper Plus Tickets are not being sold
- Regular Military Discounted Magic Your Way Tickets are only being sole in 1-7 day lengths without Park Hopper or Park Hopper Plus
- 2020 Disney Armed Forces Salute Room Discounts run through 18 December 2020
- The fate of room discounts from 19 December 2020 through 26 September 2021 (and then through 31 December 2021) is unknown
Reports from reliable anonymous sources in the know are that Disney is just barely meeting the target numbers that have set for themselves in this post-closure opening period. And that Disney is desperate to expand their earning.
Here is a suggestions for Disney: Treat the military community with the same respect and forethought that you have in the past. Stop ignoring us and keeping us in the dark. If you do, we will be there for you as we have in the past when you were desperate for bodies (after 9/11 and the recession)!
Over to you
Share your thoughts and questions in the comments section below.
Planning a Disney Trip? Want to get the best military discounts that are available? Feeling a little confused?
See Our Great Disney Discount and Planning Info:
- Disney Veteran & Military Discount Eligibility Guide
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- Disney Military Tickets – Your Start to Finish Guide
- Resorts/Hotel Overview Page
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- Shades of Green, WDW’s Military Only Resort
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