Imagine, paying 40% off the lowest possible rate at a Disney resort and staying in a premium room.
I’ve done this before on several Disney World stays and you can too!
This isn’t guaranteed of course, but my family has done it several times. We’ve paid for Garden View rooms (Disney’s cheapest room type) at Deluxe Disney Resorts with a 40% military discount and stayed in higher room categories, for example a Savanna View at the Animal Kingdom Lodge or in a Pool View room at the Wilderness Lodge.
Here Is How
First, get up to 40% off the regular rates by using Disney’s Armed Forces Salute room discount. The Military Salute is a fantastic opportunity for military members to save big on Disney Resorts. With discounts of 40% on Deluxe Resorts, 35% on Moderates, and 30% on Value Resorts. These rates are fantastic by themselves!
Get the Most Within Your Budget
Disney vacations are expensive, so it is important to economize where you are able. In each Disney resort there are various levels of room price categories, often differentiated by the view they have i.e. standard, water, pool, woods, or preferred views.
If you opt for the cheapest room in your desired resort you’ll be in the Standard View Category. Disney’s standard view rooms are the least desirable and therefore the cheapest per night. They are the “entry-level” rooms at each resort. The entrance area or windows will be from the parking lot, or when looking out of your windows you’ll see parking lots, dumpsters. loading docks, blank walls, roofs, or other less than attractive areas.
That’s the drawback to the cheapest rooms at Disney. But you have to ask yourself, how much time you’ll be spending in the room anyway?
If you will be spending all of your time in the theme parks and just come back to the room to sleep it won’t really be an issue for you. But if you will be spending more time in the room or would just like to improve your experience you might want a higher category room.
You can either reserve a more expensive room or try to get an upgrade.
Improve your outlook
It is possible to get a free upgrade to a higher category of room at Disney Resorts!
Here’s the secret… Just Ask.
First, having booked at the military rate the resort room assigner may give you a complimentary room upgrade just to say thanks for your service anyway. I’ve had that happen before. We’d booked a standard view at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge but we were upgraded to a pool view at no extra cost without asking.
When you are checking verify with the desk clerk the type of room you are being assigned. If it is the same as you reserved you’ll want to ask the clerk if a complimentary upgrade is possible. You might feel funny doing it the first time, but it’s so worth it and the worst that can happen is they’ll say “Sorry, no.”
You’ve got to physically check-in to do this. This takes human interaction.
Improve your odds – special events and resort selection
You can improve the odds to get that yes answer that you want to hear!
When making your resort reservation, either through Disney or your your travel agent mention any special events you are commemorating during your stay and ask that they be placed on your reservation (Disney wants to know this and it isn’t out of the ordinary).
You should have these events added as a note on your reservation, things you might mention are:
- Return from or Pre Deployment
- Kid’s trip while the member is deployed
- First Visit, etc.
Give the actual date if it’s during your stay and Mickey may put a card and balloon or other surprise in your room.
Your choice of resort can also help you obtain a comp room upgrade. Choose the larger resorts and resorts that don’t fill up as often.
We’ve had the best luck at the two cheapest of Disney’s Deluxe Resorts, the Wilderness Lodge and the Animal Kingdom Lodge.
Also going during the less busy periods increases your odds.
One of My Experiences
On a recent trip to Walt Disney World I reserved three nights at the Animal Kingdom Lodge. My wife’s birthday was during the trip so I mentioned that when making my reservation through my travel agent, Ears of Experience. I booked a standard view room which during my stay dates cost $300 per night before taxes at the regular rate. My cost using the Armed Forces Salute 40% off was $180 per night plus tax for a total of $607.50. At the regular rate the total would have been $1012.50.
When we were checking in I asked for a comp upgrade. I knew the clerk could see the birthday mentioned on her screen and that it was a military rate. She said just a minute she needed to asked a supervisor to approve the upgrade. It took several minutes but it was so worth it! She came back in a few minutes and said, “It’s our pleasure to upgrade you to a Savanna View room.”
Look at the photo above, that’s the view from our Savannah View room balcony. Lots better than looking at a parking lot right?
A savannah view room during our dates was going for $380 plus tax per night ($1282.50 total).
So when you compare the room we stayed in to what we paid we saved $675.00, and we had many wonderful hours sitting on that balcony watching the animals.
Have you ever received a comp upgrade at a Disney resort? Tell us about it in the comments below.
This MDT Post By: Steve Bell
Steve is the the Military Disney Tips Founder. He a retired U.S. Military Member who's been touring the Disney Parks since 1971! Steve's mission is to help military families with their Disney vacations in every way. Check out Steve's Bio.
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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!
We flew to Disneyland after my husband returned from Afghanistan this past summer. We originally booked a standard room at the Disneyland Hotel and when they asked what we were celebrating, I told them it was to celebrate my husband’s return home from deployment. We were surprised at check in when the CM told us we had been given a complimentary upgrade to a park view room, and she then told my husband welcome home and thanked him for his service. After a 14 hour flight from Germany, there isn’t anything like walking into your room with a perfect view of the fireworks just as they’re beginning to go off. This was by far the most magical Disney trip we have ever had.
Awesome story Katherine,
Thanks so much for sharing!
Spring 2014 we had reserved a preferred room at coronado springs and when checking in i had asked if there was anything on the first floor because i was limping and wasn’t up to trekking all around the resort for our room. Had also mentioned it was my bf’s first time. She made a phone call and told us our room number and got our magic bands. Went to our room (had some trouble finding it. Opened the door to find it was a 2 room jr suite! Made our 2 night stay so much more enjoyable!
Oh that is awesome Dani, loved to hear that. Thanks!
We booked a club room at The Beach Club in July 2014, a VERY BUSY MONTH. Was for our anniversary, so we saved and splurged on club level. When we checked in, we were whisked to the club concierge and upgraded to the Nantucket VP SUITE. I nearly fainted. It was amazing! Disney will surprise you from time to time:) there were fresh flowers and a bottle of good champagne. The next day we had a 6″ solid chocolate Mickey Mouse and hand made chocolates in our room with a personalized note from Mickey and Minnie. It was truly magical.
That is awesome Brandi!
We’ve had the chocolate Mickey and chocolate covered strawberries in the concierge room we stayed in last year. Hated to break him.
I booked a garden view at the Grand Floridian to celebrate my husband returning from the Middle East and sent a fax ahead asking for a balcony or sitting area so we could spend time together after our children were in bed. When we arrived we were greeted at the bus, made the Family of the Day and whisked up to a club level 1 bedroom suite! It was the most magical trip and very needed after a long separation and a PCS alone for the kids and I.
Oh how wonderful Jennifer!
Disney magic. Thanks for sharing.
My bf will be returning in April 2016 from a yr long deployment, are there any discounts for post deployment service members?
There is nothing specific for post deployment Stephanie.
All members receive the same benefits, the best being the Disney Armed Forces Salute, which has not yet been continued for 2016.
I have been upgraded twice when booking standard rooms with the Armed Forces Salute. Once up to Club Level at the Boardwalk Inn and last summer, to a suite at the Disneyland Hotel over my sons birthday trip! So awesome both times and we never asked or anything.
Oh my gosh, to club level… Awesome!
We’ve had several, keeping in mind that we go 4-5 times per year, so get upgraded maybe 15% of the time. We’ve been upgraded Garden View to Club Level Standard at the Beach Club, 1 Bdr Value Villa at Animal Kingdom Jambo to 2 Bdr Suite at Animal Kingdom Lodge, and Club Level Garden View to 2 Bdr Suite at the Boardwalk Inn are the big ones. On all of these, my husband was mid-tour or just returned home, and that was noted on the reservation.
Awesome Sarah! Thanks for the report!
Is the discount only available for active and retired military or is it also availed for veterans?
Yes Jay the Disney Armed Forces Salute is only for current and retired military.
There is the this one discount available for non-retired veterans which is from Shades of Green. It is only for the months of January and September. Here is my post with details including what documentation is required: http://www.militarydisneytips.com/Shades-of-Green/Non-Retired-Veterans.html
Peg P says
Glad you got an upgrade at Wilderness Resort. I couldn’t even get a room! Called first thing on the first day of military discounts for 2018. I gave various dates to check (I was flexible), but there were no available rooms at Wilderness Resort for any of the dates 🙁