It’s very important to know the know the difference between Disney’s Room Only and Package Reservations!
Flexibility is often very important to US Military Families and your selection affects your payment and cancellation schedules.
Updated: July 2021
What’s a Package?
A Disney package is normally when you combine another option with your Disney Resort Room Reservation.
The other option(s) could be:
- Theme Park Tickets
- The Walt Disney World Disney Dining Plan
- Or both of these
In 2021 Disney started offering “Basic Packages” without any of these add ons and usually not mentioning to you that they were reserving a package for you instead of a room only. The active military community often relies on the flexibility of room only reservations.
Also, you may not be eligible for miles, points, cash back, or bonuses from your credit card if you purchase a package. For instance, my Delta Skymiles Card gives me 3x miles per dollar on hotel charges versus a single point per dollar for package purchases.
Room Only – The Most Familiar
Room Only Reservations are probably the most familiar type of Disney Resort Reservation for those in the Military Community.
This is because of the Disney Armed Forces Salute, which offers highly discounted Military Theme Park Tickets and Room Rates. Besides the Disney Armed Forces Salute there are a couple of other military discounted ticket options that are available.
Because of all of these ticket options, the military community should never add full price tickets to their Disney room reservation*.
Under the Disney Armed Forces Salute, military families buy their Salute Tickets on their own through the ticket discount offer, separate from their room reservation.
* There is one exception and that is if the occasional Free Dining offer is being utilized, which rarely makes sense for the military community.
Disney Vacation Packages
So it’s usually not tickets that causes military families to get a Disney Vacation Package, it’s the Disney Dining Plan.
The Disney Dining Plan is a pre-paid meal plan that Walt Disney Wold offers, which allows you to pay ahead for some meals during your vacation.
Many people feel that using the Disney Dining Plan makes their vacation easier or less stressful having most of your food expense already covered.
Military Disney Tips does not usually recommend the Disney Dining Plan.
Adding a Dining Plan or tickets to an existing Room Only Reservation turns it into a package with all the associated rules.
The Dining Plan can be added prior to to 7 days prior to check in.
Package Magical Extras Benefits
When you book a package, Disney World also gives you what they call Magical Extras. This consists of luggage tags and a few discounts to use while on your vacation.
Here is the list of 2022 Magical Extras Benefits:
Discounts On Things To Do:
- Four (4) vouchers for miniature golf prior to 4:00 PM at Fantasia Gardens or Winter Summerland
- Four (4) general admission vouchers for the ESPN Wide World of Sports
- Splitsville Luxury Lanes Discount —Get 10% off bowling & 10% off the purchase of food and non-alcoholic beverages and 10% off the non-discounted price of merchandise at Splitsville Luxury Lanes at
- Disney Springs (formerly Downtown Disney). (Not valid with other discounts or offers; block-out dates may apply)
- Surrey Bike Rentals – Get 10% off a 2 or 4 person Surrey bike rental at Disney’s Boardwalk Weather permitting.
Discounts On Places To Eat:
- Save 10% on food purchases at the To-Go Cart at Disney’s Boardwalk Inn in the Epcot Resort Area
- Earl of Sandwich – Receive a 10% Discount on the purchase of food and non-alcoholic beverages at Earl of Sandwich at Disney Springs Marketplace. Valid for dine-in only. Gratuity not included
- Ghirardelli Ice Cream and Chocolate Shop: Receive a complimentary Ghirardelli Chocolate bar with the purchase of any specialty sundae at Ghirardelli Ice Cream and Chocolate Shop at Disney Springs Marketplace
- House of Blues Discount —Receive a 15% discount on the purchase of food and non-alcoholic beverages during lunch or dinner at House of Blues at Disney Springs Westside
- Joffrey’s Coffee and Tea Company —Get a 20% discount on your entire purchase at these Joffrey’s Coffee and Tea Company locations at Walt Disney World Resort: Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Disney’s Blizzard Beach Water Park, Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon Water Park, ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, Disney Skyliner and Disney Springs The Landing including Joffrey’s Coffee & Tea Co. Or purchase online at Joffreys.com and use coupon code: travel
- Paddlefish – Receive a 20% discount on the purchase of food and non-alcoholic beverages. Located in Disney Springs.
- Planet Hollywood Observatory – Save $15 off the purchase of food and non-alcoholic beverages at Planet Hollywood at Disney Springs Marketplace. Valid for dine-in only. Gratuity not included.
- Terralina Crafted Italian – Receive 20% off Food & Non-Alcoholic Beverages at Terralina Crafted Italian located at Disney Springs The Landing. Not valid with any other offer, or discount
- Wolfgang Puck Express: Receive 10% discount on the purchase of food and non-alcoholic beverages during breakfast, lunch or dinner at Wolfgang Puck Express at Disney Springs Marketplace. Offer not valid for merchandise
Discounts On Places To Shop:
- Basin: Receive 10% off your entire purchase (excluding sale items) at Basin at Disney Springs Marketplace or Basin White in Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa
- Coca-Cola Store – Save 15% on purchases of $30 or more in the Disney Springs store. Not valid at the rooftop beverage bar or for photography services
- Crystal Arts by Arribas Brothers Discount – Get 10% off purchases at the Arribas Brothers store at Disney Springs Marketplace (formerly Downtown Disney), Magic Kingdom, and Epcot. Excludes glassblowing custom/special orders (torch and furnace work), Exceptions apply and discount not applicable to shipping charges. Some other restrictions apply
- Edward Beiner Purveyor of Fine Eyewear – 15% discount on merchandise
- Kippling – Receive 10% off entire purchase at Kipling located at Disney Springs Town Center. Discount not valid on Special Collections
- Melissa Shoes – Receive 15% off your purchase at Melissa Shoes located at Disney Springs Town Center. Discount cannot be used towards a Melissa+ Membership
- Origins: Receive 10% off a non-discounted merchandise
- Orlando Stroller Rental – receive a free cooler by adding ‘free cooler” to notes when placing a reservation at www.orlandostrollerrentals.com
- Pro Shops at Walt Disney World Golf – Buy one and get one half off Walt Disney World Golf apparel at Pro Sops located at Disney’s Lake Buena Vista Golf Course, Disney’s Magnolia Golf Course,
- Disney’s Palm Golf Course and Disney’s Oak Trail Golf Course
- Sanuks: Receive 20% off non-discounted price of merchandise
- Sugarboo & Co: Receive 10% off a non-discounted merchandise. Exclusions may apply
- UGG: Receive 10% off a non-discounted merchandise. Exclusions may apply
- Volcom – Receive 15% off a non-discounted merchandise. Exclusions may apply
Unless otherwise noted, these discounts cannot be combined with other offers.
These minor benefits Disney says, is why they often automatically book the military for packages…
The Differences between Room Only and Packages
Room Only Reservations offer much better terms for cancellation and payment dates than the vacation packages do!
Packages are much more strict.
With a Package you are committing to a payment schedule and much earlier cancellation dates. These can be very important things to a military family who’s schedule can be unpredictable!
Packages: When making a Disney World Vacation Package:
- You must pay a $200 deposit within 3 days of reserving your package (due immediately if making online)
- Final payment of the entire remaining balance (room, meal plan, tickets, etc) is due 30 days prior to your check-in
- You have to pay in full if you are booking within 30 days or less prior to check in
Occasionally Disney’s phone agents may offer you a Basic Package when you want to book a room only reservation. A Basic Package is just the Room Only Reservation plus a few coupons and a luggage tag per person. This Basic Package is subject to the more strict vacation package rules.
The big give away that they have p booked you for a package vs a room only is the $200 deposit vs 1 nights deposit!
- You must pay a one night’s room rate as a deposit within 3 days of reserving your room (due immediately if making online)
- Final payment of the entire remaining balance is due at check-in
- You have to pay in full if you are booking within 30 days or less prior to check in
Packages: Here are the much more strict cancellation Rules for Packages
- You can change or cancel your reservation without penalty up until 30 days in advance
- Cancellations made 29 days to 2 days prior to arrival have a cancellation fee of $200 per package
- Reservations cancelled 1 day prior to arrival or later forfeit the full package price which is then is non-refundable
- Disney usually adds travel insurance to your package by default. You don’t have to add it! The insurance fee is non-refundable 14 days after purchase
- If you happen to add airfare to your package it is totally non-refundable!
Room Only: Much more reasonable rules for Room Only
- You can change or cancel your reservation without penalty up until 5 days prior to check-in. (6 days for online bookings.)
- Reservations cancelled less than 5 days prior to check-in will forfeit the first night’s room rate
Room Only is a Better Choice
The MDT family always* books Room Only! By doing so, we keep our options open and aren’t tied into pre-payment. Plus we don’t think the Disney Dining Plan is a good deal and it requires much more forethought and daily dining reservations.
* Note: Twice on MDT research trips Steve has used the DDP to gain experience and solidify his opinion.
Over To You
Did you find this post helpful? Have any questions or opinions they you’d like to share? Do so 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
- The Military Family’s Walt Disney World Comprehensive Vacation Planning and Preparation Guide
- Military Disney Tips Disney Packing Checklist
- Disney Military Tickets – Your Start to Finish Guide
- Resorts/Hotel Overview Page
- Dining Overview Page
- Transportation Overview Page
- Technology Overview Page
- Shades of Green, WDW’s Military Only Resort
Military Disney Tips' Recommended Disney Travel Agent
Ears of Experience Disney Only Travel Agency. Military family owned and operated! They know all the ins and outs of Disney military discounts!