Walt Disney World, navigating a still-soft economy, has extended a sizable hotel discount deep into next year, though the resort continues scaling back the scope of its promotions.
Disney on Monday added a series of new travel dates in 2011 for vacation packages that pair hotel rooms with free meals at Disney World restaurants. It is the second time this year that Disney has extended the free-dining offer.
The extended offer covers approximately 13 weeks next year, with scattered dates throughout the spring and early fall.
Disney is trying to wean travelers off the discounts it has been using since the start of 2009 to stimulate travel amid the global recession. Walt Disney Co. executives have said they expect to return to “normalized” pricing sometime in 2011.
The extended promotion announced Monday amounts to a significantly smaller offer than the one Disney used last spring, when travelers could still book buy-four-get-three-nights-free hotel packages. The dates of the new offer are also more targeted to historically slower travel periods.
Disney World’s attendance has slipped as it cuts back on discounts. The company announced last week that attendance at the Orlando resort fell 2 percent during the three months that ended July 3. Occupancy at Disney World hotels dropped eight percentage points to 83 percent.
But it has made up some of that lost attendance through higher average prices. Per-capita spending inside Disney World’s four theme parks climbed 3 percent during the quarter; per-room spending in it hotels rose 4 percent.
“We basically are trying to reduce the amount of discounting — promotional discounting that we’ve been doing in the depth of the recession to maintain our volumes — and carefully playing off our rates with our volumes,” Disney Co. Chief Financial Officer Jay Rasulo said during a conference call last week.
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