Free fall Dining at Walt Disney World is back this year for a very limited time. While I tend to travel last-minute, planning ahead for free dining is a big money saver; I have done it twice on Disney vacations. Here’s a explanation of the free dining offer and things to consider before you jump at this Disney deal.
Free Dining At Disney World
As a Disney World regular, I know the ins and outs of planning a Disney vacation. Long before I became a regular visitor, I would easily spend nine months planning my family’s Disney World vacation. When my daughters were younger and we visited once a year, we always dined with the princesses or Mickey and friends. Those once-in-a-lifetime experiences add up quick. I always tried to offset those expensive meals with free dining. It was a HUGE money saver for my family.
What Is Walt Disney World Free Dining?
Free Dining is a discount Walt Disney World has offered for quite a few years, typically in the fall. Here’s how it works: During the discount period, book a Disney vacation package that includes a participating onsite Disney hotel along with park tickets and the Disney Dining Plan. You pay full price for the hotel and park tickets, but get the dining plan for free.
The Fine Print
- Tickets are MANDATORY to get free dining, even if you already have an Annual Pass.
- Gratuities are not included with the dining plan.
- The Dining Plan is based on number of nights you’re staying, not number of days. So if you have booked a 6-day, 5-night vacation, you will get only 5 days’ worth of free meals.
- Meals and snacks may be redeemed in any order during your stay, they do not expire until midnight of your check-out day.
- Your whole stay does not have to fall within the promotional period dates, but you must start your stay within those dates. If you’re already going to be at Walt Disney World before the promotion starts, you can still take advantage of the free dining deal by booking two reservations, with the second reservation starting in the Free Dining period. Simply check out of your first reservation and check back in on the first date of the promotion. You may have to move rooms, but Disney will keep you in the same room if possible.
Is Free Dining The Best Deal?
There is a catch to the free dining deal: To take advantage of this discount, you will pay the full price for your hotel room. So before you book it, do the math.
- Check whether there are any room-only discounts through Disney. These are deals that do not require you to buy tickets or pre-pay for dining. Will booking one of those room-only deals then buying tickets and paying for meals a-la-carte save you more than the cost of the dining plan? Generally that is true if you are planning to stay in a Deluxe Resort because the discounted room price offers a better deal than Free Dining.
- Think about how many people are in your group. The more people you have in your room, the better the free dining deal becomes. Because the dining plan is charged per-person, a family of five will save more than a family of three.
- Are you big eaters? If you don’t think you will use all of the meals that come with the dining plan, it probably isn’t worth the cost.
2017 FREE Dining Offer
This year one MAJOR change has been made to the offer. Moderate resort packages include only the Quick-Service Plan for free. If you want the Basic Plan, which includes table service meals, you will have to pay an up charge. In years past the Basic Dining plan was offered to moderate guests. Do the math to determine whether you will save money once you pay for the upgrade.
Booking Window: April 24-July 7, 2017
Travel Window: Aug. 21-Sept. 30, Nov. 14-20, Nov. 25-27, Dec. 8-23, 2017
Excludes the following room types and Disney Resort hotels:
- 3-bedroom villas
- Disney’s Art of Animation Resort – The Little Mermaid Standard Rooms
- Disney’s Polynesian Villas & Bungalows – Bungalows
- Disney’s All Star Movies Resort
- Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – French Quarter
- Copper Creek Villas at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
- The Villas at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
- Bay Lake Tower at Disney’s Contemporary Resort
Additional exclusion for Nov. 14-20, Nov. 25-27 and Dec. 8-23, 2017:
- Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – Riverside
Will you take advantage of this Fall Disney Discount? Let me know how much it saved your family!