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Last chance to Join The Disney Club

Memberships no longer accepted after Dec. 12, 2002

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For the past few years, theme park bargain hunters have been able to save some Disney Dollars by flashing their Disney Club cards. Walt Disney World Resort vacation package discounts, Disneyland Resort ticket savings, coupons for theme park merchandise, savings at theme park restaurants: membership has its privileges. But Disney is ending the club in December of 2003 and will stop accepting new members on December 12, 2002. Should you join before it's too late? If you are planning a Disneyland or Walt Disney World vacation over the next few months, it may be worth your consideration.

Things to know:

  • What: The Disney Club membership and savings program
  • Cost: $39.95
  • Membership period: Through club closing on December 31, 2003
  • Accepting members: Through December 12, 2002
  • Benefits: Theme park hotel, tickets, restaurant, and merchandise savings. Other features listed below
  • To join: (888) 347-6394
    Outside the U.S.: (913) 752-1080

Planning a trip? Disney's club may be worth the membership fee
Once seemingly above the rampant discounting practiced by most theme parks, Disney used to keep its posted prices more or less intact. One of the few ways to bring a ride on Space Mountain a little more down to earth was to own a piece of the Mick. The Mouse House use to reward Disney stockholders, even those who owned a single share, with a free card that entitled them to special savings. Soon after Disney began charging shareholders for the card, it opened The Disney Club to non-stock owners as well. Now, the company announced it is closing the club altogether at the end of next year and will stop accepting new members on December 12 of this year.

Even though it is a lame duck program, it may make sense for those planning theme park vacations to sign on for its last hurrah. For example, during specified off-season dates, such as late August through early October, Disney is offering members 20% off the room portion of Walt Disney World Resort packages at its moderate resorts. At a regular rate of $133 per night, a Disney club member could save over $100 for a four-night stay. That would make the $39.95 membership fee a relative bargain. However, it is possible to find discounted Disney hotel packages through third-party travel providers or from <a href= http://disneyworld.disney.go.com/waltdisneyworld/index>Disney itself.

Even if you're able to find a better hotel deal, it still might be worth your while to join The Disney Club. Once you get to Disneyland or Walt Disney World, the savings for restaurants, clubs, gift shops, and theme park tickets could more than pay for the membership fee. For example, members can save $10 off the retail price for three-day Disneyland Park Hopper tickets.

A partial list of The Disney Club benefits

  • Special rates and discounts for Disneyland and Walt Disney World hotels
  • Discounts for Disneyland and Walt Disney World admission tickets
  • Merchandise discounts and special offers at Disneyland and Walt Disney World gift shops
  • Discounts and special offers at Disneyland and Walt Disney World restaurants
  • Subscription to "Disney Magazine"
  • Special offers and discounts for merchandise, shows, and other Disney stuff
  • Special offers and discounts for Disney partners like National Car Rental
  • Savings on non-Disney hotels, restaurants, and more through the Entertainment program.

That last item, an often-overlooked Disney Club benefit, can really add up. You know the Entertainment program. It is the thick book, typically sold as an incentive for fundraising campaigns, which is full of restaurant savings and 50%-off hotel deals. All Disney Club members can reap Entertainment savings by showing their cards. The Disney version carries one caveat, however: It cannot be used for discounts in Central Florida.

In a cryptic note to current club members, Disney says that it will continue to bring new ways to connect to the Disney magic and will inform members as "exciting new opportunities develop." According to an article in the Orlando Sentinel, Disney says that it plans to replace the Disney Club with a "co-branded" Disney/Visa credit card in which cardholders will be able to earn points (presumably by charging up a fortune) for discounts on Disney vacations and merchandise.

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