Rumors are beginning to buzz about if or when Disney will be offering Free Dining this year, so I have come up with a quick guide that includes everything you need to know about Disney’s Free Dining promotion and how you can make sure you don’t miss out! Please remember that this information is based on previous years’ promotions, and does not represent any current promotion. Disney can change the qualifications for the Free Dining promotion at any time, and we will most likely not know anything about this year’s promotion until it is released.
1. What is “Free Dining”?
Free Dining is a promotion in which Disney will offer guests booking a non-discounted room and ticket package a free dining plan. Which dining plan you qualify for depends on which resort category you are staying in. Value resort guests will receive the Quick Service Dining Plan, while moderate and deluxe resort guests will receive the Disney Dining Plan.
You are able to “upgrade” to another plan by paying the difference. To upgrade from the Quick Service Dining Plan to the Disney Dining Plan, it would be a difference of $19 per adult and $3.49 per child (ages 3-9), per day. To upgrade from the Disney Dining Plan to the Deluxe Dining Plan, it would be a difference of $49.89 per adult and $11.60 per child, per day.
2. When Will Free Dining Be Released?
Only Disney knows! Typically, it is released anywhere between mid April through mid May.
3. What Are the Qualifications?
At this time, we don’t know. We can look at previous years and see the qualifications, and assume they will be similar this year.
Last year’s dates included August 28-October 2, October 25-October 31, November 8-November 19, and December 15-December 21. Guests needed to check in during the promotion dates in order to receive Free Dining through the duration of their stay. This means that if you wanted to celebrate Christmas at Disney last year with Free Dining, you needed to check in on or before December 21st.
Resort reservations of at least 3 nights were required to receive the discount, with a maximum of 14 nights. Resort/room exclusions last year included Art of Animation’s Little Mermaid rooms, Grand Floridian Villas, all three bedroom villas, Polynesian Village Villas and Bungalows, Ft. Wilderness Campsites, All Star Movies Resort, Port Orleans French Quarter, Port Orleans Riverside (beginning October 25), and Bay Lake Tower.
A minmum ticket purchase of 2 days per person has been required in the past, and last year added the requirement of the tickets being park hopper tickets. Some people reported being about to get away without adding the park hopper option, but it was written as a stipulation in Disney’s qualifications. It could be a requirement again this year, and Disney might put measures in place to make sure it is enforced.
It’s important to note that just because you see a particular resort included, that does not mean all of their rooms can be booked with the Free Dining Promotion. Each resort allots a certain number of rooms to be booked with the discount, and those rooms can sell out quickly. This is why it can be so important to book this promotion right away if you have a particular resort in mind.
4. Is Free Dining Worth It?
To many people, it most definitely is. That is why it is such a popular promotion! One thing to take into consideration is the fact that you must book a non-discounted room in order to receive Free Dining. Disney will typically also release a room only discount around the same time frame, and it doesn’t hurt to see which promotion will work best for your family. A lot of it depends on which resort you are staying in and how big your family is.
5. When Should I Book My Trip?
The earlier, the better. Even though the promotion has not been released, people are already booking their packages and dining reservations in hopes they can transfer to the promotion the day it is released. Guests wanting to travel under the Free Dining promotion in September can begin making their advanced dining reservations in March, before the promotion is typically released. You can pretty much count on any of the hard to book restaurants (Be Our Guest, Cinderella’s Royal Table, Chef Mickey’s) already being filled if you wait until the promotion is released.
6. But I Have An Annual Pass. Can I Still Take Advantage of Free Dining?
Yes, you can! As previously mentioned, a 2 day park ticket per person is required in order to receive the promotion, but you don’t have to use those tickets. They will stay on your account and can be used towards the renewal fee for your annual pass next year. If you know you will be renewing your passes, then consider this a downpayment!
7. How Can I Make This Easier On Myself?
Use a travel agent! Part of my job is to make sure you are paying the lowest price on your vacation, so it’s my responsibility to do my best to switch your reservation over to a promotion when it is released. Promotion days at Disney can usually mean server issues and extremely long hold times (sometimes up to several hours – JUST ON HOLD!). It’s my job as your travel agent to make it easy for you, so let me be the one fighting with the website or sitting on hold all day. 🙂
if you are wanting to take advantage of Free Dining this year, don’t wait and book your trip now! Click the “Free Quote” button at the top of the page to fill out an easy form for a free, no obligation quote!