It’s time for Disney to salute our Armed Forces! Again! Yay! I’d like to start this post by thanking Disney for renewing the Armed Forces Salute for 2018. As a military spouse of 28 years (and a military brat before that), I am very familiar with the sacrifices military members and their families make each and every day. Having said that, Disney doesn’t owe us a thing, and yet they are very generous with their discounts for military. On behalf of military families, I would like to say it is greatly appreciated.
For as long as I can remember, Disney has had slightly discounted tickets for the Armed Forces at military bases. For the last several years, Disney has also offered a very large discount, usually referred to as the Armed Forces Salute. I’ve written blog posts on previous offers, but details change a little each year, so this is an update of those previous posts!
For what should be a pretty straightforward offer, the Armed Forces Salute can be a bit confusing. To be fair, the military has lots of categories of military personnel (active duty, Reserve, National Guard, retired, separated, Allied military assigned to the US, etc…), so it’s no surprise there are lots of nuances to Disney’s Armed Forces Salute. It seems like every time it’s announced, there are small details and restrictions that have changed and need clarification. So let me see if I can help clear some things up!
1. Who is Eligible? – Any active duty or retired Service member, National Guardsman, Reservist, or Coast Guardsman is eligible. Foreign military assigned to US military bases (with a US ID card) in the United States are eligible, as are 100% disabled members with an ID card that says “DAV/PRIM”. Commissioned Corps of the Public Health Service (PHS), and the Commissioned Corps of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) are also eligible. If the eligible member is not present, their spouse is eligible. That’s it, though. No matter how deserving some others are, Disney did not choose to include those groups within this promotion. Even within these rules there are complicated situations, so call Disney (or ask in the comments section below) if you still have questions.
2. What are the Dates? – The 2017 salute runs through December 19, 2017. The 2018 salute begins on January 1, 2018 and ends on December 19, 2018. Unlike some of the previous years, there are no added blockout dates like Thanksgiving or Easter at Walt Disney World. The ending and starting dates essentially build their own blockout date over the Christmas holidays. Disneyland tickets are blocked out from March 23-April 8, 2018.
3. How Many Tickets Can I Buy? – Each eligible member can buy 6 tickets at Disney World and 6 tickets at Disneyland during the promotion’s time period. Buying your tickets for Disney World does not exclude you from the Disneyland promotion; they are independent offers. If a member cannot be present, their spouse with a valid ID card can purchase the tickets. If the member’s immediate family is larger than 6, Disney will allow them to buy more. Immediate family includes the spouse and dependent children: Not nieces, nephews, grandparents, etc. The tickets for the extra family members must be purchased in person at Disney.
4. How Much are the Disney World Tickets? – There are two lengths, and two different types, of Disney World tickets. There are Military Promotional Tickets with the Park Hopper option, or Military Promotional Tickets with Park Hopper Plus which includes the Park Hopper option and a limited number of admissions into non theme parks, i.e. Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon. A 4-day Military Promotional Ticket is $226, and a Military Promotional Ticket with Park Hopper Plus is $266. A 5-day Military Promotional ticket is $246, and a Military Promotional Ticket with Park Hopper Plus is $286. The discount is significant; they’re a little under half price of a similar full-price ticket. These tickets are not like typical Disney tickets in that they do not expire 14 days after the first use. The 2018 tickets will expire on December 19, 2018. You can use 2 days in May and 2 days a month later if you like. The prices do not include tax, which you will pay if you purchase them in person at Walt Disney World.
5. How Much are the Disneyland Tickets? – At Disneyland, there also two lengths of tickets. There is a 3-day park hopper ticket for $168 or a 4-day ticket for $188. Both tickets include Park Hoppers. Unlike regular Disneyland tickets, these tickets also do not expire within 13 days of first use.
6. Where Can I Buy Tickets? – The first place I would suggest buying tickets is your local ITT (Information, Tickets, and Tours) on base. If you purchase them on base, you can get them early enough to book FastPass+ selections before you leave. As a caution, many bases do not keep the tickets in stock and they must be ordered. I’d recommend ordering them 3 weeks or so before your FastPass+ window opens. If you aren’t able to get to a base to purchase them and really want to save sales tax, Shades of Green at Disney World is another option. Shades of Green will let you order the tickets by phone, fax, or email. A third option is to find a base that will let you order them online or by phone. There are a few, like Camp Pendleton, that have allowed this in the past. If you don’t buy your tickets on base, the most convenient option is to buy the tickets at Disney. You can get them at Guest Services in Disney Springs at Disney World, and at any ticket window at Disney World or Disneyland.
7. How Do I Activate the Tickets? – If you purchase the tickets on base or at Shades of Green they must still be activated. Disney will gather information about everyone that will be using the tickets, and a valid ID card must be shown at time of activation. Everyone needs to be there for activation. If you buy them at Disney, they are activated when you buy them and everyone needs to be there for that. You do not have to use them the day they are activated. To save yourself long lines in the morning, you may want to activate them the night before you use them. You can activate tickets at any park ticket window, the TTC, or Guest Services at any park or Disney Springs.
8. Does FastPass+ Work with Military Tickets? – Absolutely! Military tickets work the same as any other tickets. As soon as you purchase your ticket, link them to your My Disney Experience account. Like all other tickets, if you are staying at a Disney resort, you can book FastPass+ selections at 60 days; if you are staying offsite, you can book FastPass+ selections at 30 days. Your tickets do not need to be activated to book FastPass+ selections or to link them to your account. Likewise, do not think that because you have linked your tickets and booked FastPass+ selections that they are activated. You must still activate your tickets in person at one of the above locations before their first use.
9. Are There Any Room Discounts Available? – Yes there are! The Armed Forces Salute room discounts at Disney World and Disneyland are great. Each eligible member can reserve up to 3 rooms at once at Walt Disney World, and for as many different trips as they would like during the year. Members can book up to two rooms at Disneyland, as many times as they like during the year. At Disney World, the discounts range from 30-40%. Discounted rooms at Walt Disney World are blocked out from March 25-April 5. At Disneyland, the discounts are up to 40%. Room discounts for March 23- April 8th is blocked out at Disneyland. Availability goes quickly at popular times, so I’d recommend booking as soon as possible! The Disney Dining Plan can be added to the room discount as well if you like, but it is not discounted above the normal Disney price.
10. Are There Any Disney Cruise Discounts? – There are not any standard cruise discounts included with the Armed Forces Salute, but Disney does offer military discounts for cruises fairly regularly. The Disney Cruise Line Blog posts a list of them every Monday. They are offered on sailings that aren’t filling up and are usually announced around 60 days before sail dates, although they can be announced much earlier. The eligible group for these discounts is expanded to include Department of Defense civilian personnel. The offers are valid for one stateroom per military member (or spouse) per sailing.
Do you have any questions about the Armed Forces Salute? Let us know in the comments.
Tammy Whiting is the owner of Storybook Destinations. Did you know Storybook Destinations offers a complimentary subscription to TouringPlans with qualified Disney and Universal bookings? Click here for a no-obligation quote on your next vacation!