Coming This Summer to Walt Disney World: Four Big Promotions and Major Updates to Disability Access Service

Heading to Disney this summer? You will definitely want the details on these new promotions.
TRON Lightcycle/Run at night (Photo: Disney)
TRON Lightcycle/Run at night (Photo: Disney)

Summer is right around the corner, and the busy travel season will bring families from around the country to top destinations like Walt Disney World. Summer is also one of my favorite times to visit the theme parks, and this year will be no exception.

As a Disney theme park expert and travel journalist, I’m most looking forward to the opening of Tiana’s Bayou Adventure at Magic Kingdom (also opening later in 2024 at Disneyland). This summer at Walt Disney World will also include the opening of Country Bear Musical Jamboree, a brand-new nighttime drone show at Disney Springs, and much more.

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With all of that in mind, there are some important updates you will definitely want to read up on if you, like me, are considering a trip to Disney World this summer. These can have a major impact on your trip, both in terms of how you can save on your next vacation and how you might navigate those long lines.

Four New Discounts and Promotions Announced

There are multiple ways you can save on a Disney World vacation this summer, with varying benefits that cater to your travel preferences. If you’re a Disney foodie (I know I am!) and enjoy the feeling of an all-inclusive vacation, you’re probably familiar with the Disney Dining Plan. Now for a limited time, Disney Visa Cardholders will receive a free Disney Dining Plan when booking a non-discounted vacation package that includes Park Hopper tickets.

The free Dining Plan promotion is good for vacations with arrival dates from July 1 through 31, 2024. If you aren’t traveling this summer, this promotion will also be good for vacations with arrival dates from September 1 through 7 and December 9 through 21. The exact Dining Plan you receive varies by resort. Value and Moderate resort guests receive the Quick Service Dining Plan, and Deluxe resort guests receive the standard Disney Dining Plan.

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Is the free Dining Plan promotion worth it? That depends! The key takeaway is that this promotion cannot be combined with any other offers. In some instances, you may wind up saving more if you find a discount on your hotel room. Crunch the numbers and price out your vacation options before booking if you want to maximize your savings!

In addition to the Free Dining promotion, there are three newly announced discounts to help you save on your Walt Disney World hotel room this summer into early fall. These discounts are very similar in scope and include three guest categories: 

  • Annual Passholders can save up to 35% on their room-only reservations for select dates from July 8 through October 3, 2024.
  • Florida residents can save up to 30% on their room-only reservations for select dates from July 8 through October 3, 2024.
  • All Walt Disney World guests can save up to 30% on their room-only reservation for select dates from July 8 through October 3, 2024.

Major Updates Coming to Disney’s Disability Access Service

Disney’s Disability Access Service (DAS) is a program designed to help guests with disabilities who are unable to wait in the regular standby queue for rides and attractions. Soon, Disney will roll out changes to how guests sign up for DAS and how they are accommodated if they need assistance accessing attractions.

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Several key details have yet to be announced, but there are a few “known knowns” at this time. Per Disney, the updates coming to DAS are designed to assist “only those guests who, due to a developmental disability like autism or similar,” have difficulty waiting in line. Other key changes include:

  • The maximum party size for DAS will be 4 (with exceptions for immediate family).
  • The enrollment eligibility window will increase from 60 to 120 days.
  • If you are currently eligible for DAS, you will need to re-apply when the changes go live.
  • Advance pre-arrival attraction selections for DAS will no longer be the default offering

Theme park journalist Scott Gustin shared that a “return to queue” system will also be introduced for other guests who need to leave a queue and re-enter.

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Why are these changes happening? According to Disney, DAS usage has tripled in the last five years. This may be an attempt to curb misuse of the DAS system, which guests have noted anecdotally as being a large issue that has a negative impact on those who truly need the service. Once these changes go into effect, Disney will partner with a third-party company called Inspire Health Alliance. Their health professionals will assist Cast Members, when necessary, to determine whether a guest is eligible for DAS.

These changes go into effect at Walt Disney World on May 20. These same updates are also coming to Disneyland Resort, which goes into effect starting June 18. More details will be shared as we get closer to the official launch of the updated DAS system.

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Carly Neil
Carly Neil is a New England-based writer who specializes in theme parks, local attractions, food and drink, and travel. Her expertise for all things Disney has been featured in numerous industry-leading sites, and over the years she has become a trusted voice in helping first-timers and experts alike plan their Disney vacations. When Carly isn’t planning her own Disney getaway, she can be found catching the latest Broadway play. Visit her website at carlyterzigni.com for more information, and follow her on Instagram and Twitter @itscarlyneil for theme park news, other daily musings, and pictures of her pets.