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Some people has an impression that going to Walt Disney World is expensive. Special promotions and offers are a way to get that same vacation to the happiest place on earth more affordable. Feeding a traveling family of at least 5 could be expensive especially if you’re in Disney. That’s where the FREE DINING promo cuts in.
The Free Disney Dining Plan is a promotion Walt Disney World (WDW) releases every year usually for travel during the fall and winter seasons. Guess what, they just announced it last April 24, 2017 and is now available for booking! The travel dates covered for the FREE DINING promotion are as follows:
- August 21 through September 30, 2017
- November 14 through November 20, 2017
- November 25 through November 27, 2017
- December 8 through December 23, 2017
*Disney Visa Cardholders can book the Free Disney Dining Plan promotion for arrival dates beginning August 13, 2017.
Be sure to book this promotion on or before July 7, 2017. Guests booking the Free Disney Dining Plan promotion for Value or Moderate Resorts will receive the Quick Service Disney Dining Plan, while guests staying at Deluxe or Deluxe Villa Resorts will receive the regular Disney Dining Plan. This is a huge change from previous years where only Value resorts receive the Quick Service Disney Dining Plan while Moderate and Deluxe accommodations come with the regular Disney Dining Plan.
You can check Free Dining details directly on Walt Disney World’s website. Meanwhile, read on about important details, exclusions, and restrictions about Free Dining.
Free Dining Details
Who doesn’t love free food? The Free Dining promotion is very popular and some resorts that offer this promotion tend to sell out quickly. This year, it was released on Monday, April 24 and some Disney guests are already up as early as 04:00AM trying to modify or book their reservations. Don’t worry! Some rooms will free up later on as some people make later changes to their reservations. Keep trying!
How to Qualify
To qualify for this promo, guests need to book packages with non-discounted room rates and park tickets. This will give each member of your travel party dining credits with no additional charge.
You would need to purchase tickets that include either a 2-day (or longer) Park Hopper or the Park Hopper Plus option as part of your package. Additionally, you would need to stay a minimum of 3-nights and a maximum stay of 14 nights. With Annual Pass holders, you must purchase tickets with the offer even if you already have them.
What’s Not Included
When booking your room, you have to take note that there are resort exclusions from the Free Dining promo. The following are excluded in this promotion: campsites, 3-bedroom villas, Disney’s Art of Animation Resort – Little Mermaid Standard Rooms and Bungalows at Disney’s Polynesian Villas & Bungalows. Port Orleans Resort Riverside is eligible for Free Dining, but only for select dates from August 21 until September 30, 2017.
How to Get It
If you have already booked a vacation package with an arrival date that qualifies for Free Dining, the quickest and easiest way to avail of the promo is by using the “modify/change reservation” link in your booking. Some people prefer to call Walt Disney World’s reservation line early in the morning. Most of these people have been reporting that they were on hold for at least an hour (or hours) to speak to a Disney Cast Member. Booking or modifying your reservation online is quicker and easier. Sometimes, the online system crashes or loads slowly due to all the traffic, it’s easier to just keep trying online.
You can also contact an “Authorized Disney Vacation Planner” (a travel agent specializing in Disney) if you want someone else to do it for you. They charge no extra fee as they are paid by commission by Disney. The benefit of this is having the same magic Disney offers with a specialist doing all the legwork for you.
Don’t forget to make advance dining reservations (ADRs) for your Walt Disney World restaurants if you are planning to dine in those. Most ADRs are table-service restaurants which are included in the regular Disney Dining Plan or the Deluxe Dining Plan. The only Quick Service restaurant that accepts ADRs is Be Our Guest for breakfast and lunch. Be Our Guest is a table service restaurant for dinner. If you are planning to dine in Be Our Guest, we recommend reserving now.
As a recap, Value Resort and Moderate Resort guests receive the Quick Service Disney Dining Plan during the promotion. Guests at Deluxe Resorts receive the standard Disney Dining Plan. You can still upgrade to higher dining plans by paying the cost difference. The upgrade cost from the Quick Service Disney Dining Plan to the standard Disney Dining Plan for Free Dining is $21.17 per adult and $4.07 per child per night. While upgrading from the standard Disney Dining Plan to the Deluxe Disney Dining Plan is $37.31 per adult and $13.80 per child per night. To upgrade from the Quick Service Disney Dining Plan to the Deluxe plan, add the two upgrade costs together.
Doing a Split-Stay
The Free Disney Dining Plan promotion is always based on arrival dates. For example, if Free Dining runs November 14 to November 20, and you arrive on November 20 and stay until December 2, you qualify for Free Dining.
On the other hand, if you arrive on November 22 and stay until November 29, you are not eligible for Free Dining, even though some of your nights fall during an “eligible” period. However, there is a work around for this. You can book a split stay, one reservation with the ineligible arrival nights (possibly with a room discount) and a second reservation with Free Dining starting at the first eligible “arrival” date and continuing thereafter.
Bookings made with Disney Vacation Club points are not eligible for the offer. Free Dining offer cannot be combined with other discounts or offers.