Walt Disney World offers a promotion annually for select fall and winter dates in which you receive “Free Disney Dining” when you book a Disney Travel Package.
Most folks think that it’s an incredible deal that you shouldn’t miss, but there are a few details that may give you the perfect outcome…or may send you running for the hills and sticking to your original plan of getting discounts and staying within your budget.
Disney World Free Dining
LET’S LOOK AT “FREE DINING” AS A TRADITIONAL CONCEPT:
Typically, the Disney Company has offered this promotion as a way to fill up their resorts during the slower season. When you buy a package (Hotel Room and Tickets) during the Free Dining discount period, you can take advantage of the promotion. Traditionally there are a couple of options for you to consider:
- Guests who stay at a Value Resort (Art of Animation, Pop Century and All-Stars) can opt for the Quick-Service Dining Plan (QSDP) for free
- Guests who stay at a Moderate, Deluxe or Deluxe Villa can opt for the Disney Dining Plan (DDP) for free.
- Dining Plans are able to be upgraded for a fee, so if you’re staying at a Value Resort but would like the DDP, you can upgrade. Same thing goes for the Deluxe Dining Plan, where you would just pay the difference between the plans.
IS IT WORTH IT?
Yes, it’s a great deal…but you will be paying “rack rate” (full price) for the hotel room. This means that you won’t get to utilize any discounts. How do you know if you should go ahead with the deal? Well, it’s all about the math!
- Are there any “room-only discounts” that won’t require you to book tickets or dining to receive. The discount is usually a higher savings than the DDP…but it depends on what level of resort you’re staying at.
- Do you have kids? Then getting the DDP may save you money ‘on paper’ but kids usually don’t eat as much food on trips, so take that into account.
WHAT ELSE SHOULD YOU KNOW?
- Disney Dining Plans do not include Gratuities (15-20%). For more on tipping read How To Tip the Disney Dining Plan.
- DDP is based on the number of nights you stay, not the number of days
- Unused credits expire at midnight on the day you check out of your resort
We’ve got articles about the Disney Dining Plan, but instead of taking a side…I actually wrote an article for both options!