Booking a Disney World vacation is not for the faint of heart. There are so many details and nuances involved in Disney vacation planning that it is easy to become confused, especially when it comes to the finer points that are less well known.
One important aspect to be conscious of is the difference between booking your vacation as a package or as a Room Only reservation. Many people are not aware of the distinction between the two. There are many advantages and disadvantages to both.
1. Different Cancellation and Payment Policies
Generally speaking, a Room Only reservation has much better policies in place than a vacation package. With a Room Only reservation, a deposit is required at the time of booking, usually just the cost of the room for one night. Final payment is due on arrival.
The reservation can be cancelled with a full refund of the deposit up to five days before your check in date. Changes can be also be made with no fees.
A Vacation Package has different policies in place. A deposit of $200.00 is required at time of booking. The package must be paid in full forty-five days before check-in.
Up until the forty-five day point, you can cancel the package and get your money back. After forty-five days, there is a $200 cancellation fee. For changes made after forty-five days, there is a $50 fee.
2. Disney Dining Plan Requires a Vacation Package
The Disney Dining Plans have become very popular lately. If you want to add a Disney Dining Plan to your vacation, you will need to book it as a package. Room Only Reservations cannot be combined with a Disney Dining Plan.
If you are a member of the Disney Vacation Club or an Annual Pass Holder, there is a package you can book that will allow you to add the Disney Dining Plan without having to purchase Magic Your Way Tickets.
3. Certain Discounts Only Apply to Vacation Packages
Disney has had some amazing discounts come out in the past couple years. To take advantage of the majority of these discounts, you will have to book a Vacation Package.
Generally speaking, the only discount that will apply to a Room Only reservation will be a Room discount. Most of the other discounts, including Free Dining, Gift Card Offers, Kids Stay and Play Free, and Buy 4 Nights, Get 3 Free, will only apply to packages.
4. Vacation Packages Come With Additional Perks
Vacation Packages include several additional features that Room Only reservations do not include. Vacation Packages include luggage tags, one round of miniature golf, $15 toward a meal at Planet Hollywood, and a resort arcade card with 100 game play points.
In addition, Vacation Packages include discounts of 15% for children’s activity centers, spa services, bass fishing, and water sports packages and a marina discount for boat rentals.
As you may have surmised, Room Only reservations include your room only.
5. Room Only Reservations offer more Flexibility
With a Vacation Package, every member of the travelling party must select all of the same options. Everyone must be on the Dining Plan or no one can be. Everyone must purchase the same Magic Your Way tickets.
Sometimes, one member of the party may already have tickets that are still good. Or one person may have an Annual Pass and someone else may not. In cases like these, it makes a lot of sense to book a Room Only reservation to avoid having to purchase tickets that are not what you need.
So which is better, Vacation Packages or Room Only reservations? It really depends on the circumstances and what you prefer. One is not inherently better than the other.
Ask yourself what matters the most for your vacation. Maybe you really want a Dining Plan. Maybe there is a great discount for packages available. Or maybe you need to be able to cancel or change the reservation or buy different tickets for different people.
Whether you select a Vacation Package or a Room Only reservation, be sure to read all of the fine print and make an informed decision.