James Rao

Published: January 8, 2009 at 5:50 PM

For those on the Disney mailing list, you may be receiving a PIN coded offer for 40% off your stay at select value resorts (the higher end resorts are discounted too). The dates for this offer are extensive, covering most months of the year. Here's what the email says:

"40% off your stay at select Disney Value Resorts in a standard room for stays most Sunday–Thursday nights.
Jan. 4–Jan. 15, 2009
Jan. 25–Feb. 12, 2009
Mar. 1–Mar. 12, 2009
May 31–Jun. 4, 2009

For stays most nights
Aug. 23–Oct. 3, 2009
Oct. 25–Oct. 31, 2009
Nov. 15–Nov. 21, 2009
Nov. 29–Dec. 5, 2009
Dec. 13–Dec. 24, 2009

Ask about packages and other room types including Moderate, Deluxe and Disney Deluxe Villa Resorts, at varying rates when you call to book."

Again, this deal is not available to the general public and the PIN numbers are tied to a specific user/email, so if you have not received an email with the offer, then it may not be available to you. Also keep in mind that there are about a dozen different PIN-related offers floating around out there right now, so your deal may be different than mine. It might be better too - Disney is teaching me envy!! ;)

Anthony Murphy

Published: January 8, 2009 at 9:46 PM

Other Positive at Disney is its four parks vs two parks.

I also hear that you can get a meal plan for free if you book your next Disney World Vacation while you are down there. Anybody hear that?

Mark Hollamon

Published: January 9, 2009 at 5:37 AM

For my money the Disney deal is the best of the two. Disney is being very aggressive in attracting vacationers to the parks this year. My wife and I actually saw the word "Sale" in Mouse Gear at Epcot and Mouse Gear at DTD! I have never seen that before.

When you add in the gift card the net on the 7 days is 1175 for a family of 4. That further breaks down to about $42 per person/day for resort and park tickets.

While USF has soem beautiful resorts on property, there isn't enough to make me want to stay there a week. Three days is about my limit, but I am not a night club person. If that is what you crave it may well draw you there for a week.

James Rao

Published: January 9, 2009 at 7:42 AM

Just a little bit of an update on Disney's 40% PIN-required offer I mentioned earlier: the 40% only applies to the cost of the lodging, so once again, your biggest bang for your buck is to utilize one of the more expensive Deluxe resorts. At a moderate resort, you'd save around $400 for a week's stay, while at a Deluxe resort you'd save around a grand. Me, I am still holding out for the free dining offer, which for my family of five is easily a $1000 in savings no matter the resort!

As for the Universal VS Disney debate, I consider staying on property at Universal Orlando a must. Their three hotels are up to Disney Deluxe standards and the included Universal Express pass just adds so much value to the package that there is nothing else quite like it at any other theme park. Not to mention the convenience of being in walking distance to everything you care about doing! I cannot stress enough just how relaxing our Universal vacation was when we stayed on property for a week in 2007. It was the best part of our two week Orlando vacation. One last point to consider for later this year: when you combine Universal with a day or two at SeaWorld/Aquatica (free shuttle from the Universal hotels to SeaWorld, btw) then you will be able to take in both Rip, Ride, Rockit and Manta, the two newest coasters in town. That offer is a tough one for Disney to beat this year, imho.

As much as I love Disney, I just don't feel the need to stay on property unless the deal is too good to pass up (like when they offer free dining as part of the package). Furthermore, Disney is not offering anything new at their parks this year (American Idol does NOT count), and in fact, they are shutting down a premiere attraction in Space Mountain from April thru December. If ever there was a time to take a break form the annual Disney vacation, it is 2009. Disney knows this, which is why I think the deepest discounts are yet to come....

Robert Niles

Published: January 9, 2009 at 10:55 AM

Front of the line is the greatest perk in the theme park industry. Until you've had it, you can't understand just how relaxing it makes your vacation. Totally changes the way you approach theme parks.

I would throw in a SeaWorld visit if I were doing the Universal week. But with the amenities at the hotels, CityWalk and the two parks, I could easily fill a week without leaving Universal property. How? I'd spend time at the pool, walk around, watch a movie, sleep in. You know, relax. Plus wander over the parks when I left like riding or watching something.

James Rao

Published: January 9, 2009 at 4:10 PM

So true, Robert. Unlike most theme park excursions, when you have Universal Express Passes to every major attraction, all the time, you do not need to get up early, or have a touring plan, or anything that is unbecoming of a vacation. Just imagine sleeping in late and sitting down to a leisurely breakfast instead of waking up at the crack of dawn, going over your touring plan one more time, and eating a Go Lean bar on the run! You simply tour when you feel like it, doing what you want, and waiting a minimal amount of time at most. It is wonderful.