About the Disney Dining Plan (and how to get it for free)

by Shannon Albert · 207 comments · Like the Facebook page

About the Disney Dining Plan (and how to get it for free) from WDWPrepSchool.com

About the Disney Dining Plan (and how to get it for free) from WDWPrepSchool.comIf you’re staying on-site at Disney World, almost everything is paid for before you even arrive – hotel, park tickets, airfare – but that leaves one main expense that you still have to think about: food.

As they always do, Disney came up with a solution for handling this when they created the Disney Dining Plan. This plan allows you to pre-pay for all of your dining so you don’t have to worry about it later and gives your vacation an “all-inclusive” feeling. Disney even offers the Disney Dining Plan for free during some promotions.

Here’s how you can figure out if the Disney Dining Plan makes sense for you.

Who can use it

The only people that can use the Disney Dining Plan are those who stay on-site at Disney World. This includes all of the hotels listed in the Hotel Filtering Tool except the Dolphin and Swan hotels.

What is included

When you’re using a Disney Dining Plan, you can use it toward these things:

  • Table Service credits – used at participating Table Service restaurants, includes an entree, dessert and non-alcoholic beverage
  • Quick Service credits – used at participating Quick Service restaurants, includes an entree, non-alcholic beverage (plus dessert if you’re eating lunch or dinner)
  • Snack credits – used at many locations, including some food carts. Can be used toward everything from a bottle of water to cotton candy to an ice cream bar. For the most current list of snacks, see this DISBoard list of confirmed snacks.
  • Refillable mugs – each dining plan includes a refillable mug for every guest who is 3 years old or older that can be refilled in any resort but not in the parks


Disney Dining Plan options

There are 3 main types of dining plans, each with different perks. The information below is per person per night (except for the refillable mug which is per person but each mug is used throughout the duration of your stay).

NameCounter Service creditsTable Service creditsSnack creditsRefillable mug included? (free refills, to be refilled at any resort)Adult Price after June 17, 2013 (ages 10+)Child Price after June 17, 2013 (ages 3-9)
Quick-Service Dining Plan201Yes$39.64$15.75
Regular Dining Plan111Yes$58.66$17.16
Deluxe Dining Plan<-- 3 credits to be used for either of these -->2Yes$102.94$28

How to use your credits

Although the number of credits you get are based on how many nights you stay, you can use them whenever you’d like until they run out. For instance, you may have the regular dining plan which gives you 1 Table Service credit and 1 Quick Service per day. You could decide to use 2 Table Service credits one day and 2 Quick Service credits the next. You could use all of your credits in one day. It’s up to you.

To see which restaurants provide the best value, check out my analysis of all Table Service and Quick Service restaurants at http://wdwprepschool.com/maximizing-disney-dining-plan-credits-for-2014/

Disney Dining Plan vs. paying out of pocket

People have different ways of looking at using a dining plan. For some (like me), it’s about having a vacation that is stress-free where we aren’t worrying about money. For others, it’s purely a financial decision.

Create a list of what meals would cost you if you were paying out of pocket. Then see what the same meals cost if you have the Disney Dining Plan. Be sure to add 18% gratuity to the Disney Dining Plan figures (so if your strategy is to order the most expensive entree while using the Disney Dining Plan, remember that it increases your tip as well).

How do you get it free?

Of course, if you don’t have to pay for your Dining Plan then the calculations and comparisons don’t matter at all. Free food is awesome. Disney does “Free Dining” promotions periodically.

Here’s the history of when they’ve been announced and for what dates they were valid. If I was betting money, I’d say there’s a pretty good chance of enjoying Free Dining from September through mid-December.

Booking PeriodFree Dining Stay Dates
5/7/2014 - 8/8/20148/31/2014 - 12/23/2014
8/1/2013 - 9/15/20139/29/2013 - 12/22/2013
5/9/2013 - 7/31/20139/2/2013 - 9/25/2013
7/12/2012 - 9/29/20129/30/2012 - 12/13/2012
3/5/2012 - 5/18/20128/25/2012 - 9/29/2012
8/3/2011 - 10/29/11 and 10/27/2011 - 12/17/20111/8/2012 - 3/31/2012
8/3/2011 - 10/29/201110/2/2011 - 12/17/2011
5/2/2011 - 8/27/20118/28/2011 - 9/24/2011
8/16/2010 - 12/20/20108/19/2011 - 9/29/2011
8/16/2010 - 12/20/20105/27/2011 - 6/2/2011
8/16/2010 - 12/20/20101/1/2011 - 3/3/2011
8/16/2010 - 12/20/201010/1/2010-12/21/2010
7/6/2010 - 8/14/20108/15/2010 -12/21/2010
5/3/2010 - 8/14/20108/15/2010 - 10/2/2010
7/27/2009 - 9/26/20099/27/2009 - 12/17/2009
3/30/2009 - 6/21/2009 and 6/10/09 - 7/26/098/16/2009 - 10/3/2009

When you book Free Dining, the level of your dining plan will be determined by which level of resort you have booked.

  • If you book a value resort, you will get the Quick Service Dining Plan for free. You can upgrade to the next level of Dining Plan for $18/adult and $3/child per night.
  • If you book any other level of resort, you will get the regular Dining Plan for free. You can upgrade to the Deluxe Dining Plan for about $44/adult and $10/child per night.

Note: as long as you arrive by the last day of the promotion, you can enjoy free dining during your whole stay.

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Many people get caught up in thinking that Free Dining is better than any other promotion but that’s not necessarily true. For instance, there is often a discount code for 30% off room rates running at the same time as the Free Dining promotion. Depending on the hotel and dining package, 30% could work out to be a much better deal.

See my analysis of free dining vs. room-only discounts.


About the Disney Dining Plan (and how to get it for free) from WDWPrepSchool.comAbout the Disney Dining Plan (and how to get it for free) from WDWPrepSchool.comAbout the Disney Dining Plan (and how to get it for free) from WDWPrepSchool.comAbout the Disney Dining Plan (and how to get it for free) from WDWPrepSchool.com
About the Disney Dining Plan (and how to get it for free) from WDWPrepSchool.com
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{ 207 comments (add yours) }

Jenny September 23, 2014 at 11:39 am

I was told a new promotion will start Oct 4, 2014 as the current one runs until Oct 3rd. Can any Disney veterans guess if the that promotion will be free dining? I am looking to book for Feb 2015! The suspense is killing me and I need some insight. =)
p.s this will be our first family trip!

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Shannon Albert September 23, 2014 at 11:42 am

Free Dining is almost always a fall promotion so I wouldn’t count on it for your dates.

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Jenny September 23, 2014 at 12:50 pm

Aw okay thank you for your answer. I have been spending so much time on your site. Everything is so helpful!

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Rockster September 21, 2014 at 9:23 am

We have found that the dining plan does not work for us seniors. We just cannot eat that much food. Plus it forces you to make dining reservations every night which kind of spoils an evening if you are in one park having a good time and have to leave to get to another to make your reservation time. We have done it both ways and usually by the end of our trip, we are sitting there with credits that haven’t been used. Once I stood at a cash register at one of the Disney Restaurants (Animal Kingdom) and used my leftover credits to pay for a meal for a random family as they came up to pay.So, we do better just eating when we feel like it and not making reservations. Except we always pick one night to have a high end dinner just to celebrate being at our favorite place on earth. That usually means a meal at Jiko at AKL, or the California Grill at the Contemporary resort, or San Angel Inn at the Mexican Pavilion at Epcot.

The wife and I belong to the Disney Vacation Club, so we are “forced” to head to Orlando from out Northern Illinois home several times a year (Oh, the pain! Ha..ha..). So, we already have a place to stay and we also buy season park hopper passes because we get a $100 discount being DVC members. We also pick up a Tables in Wonderland card which we use to defray food costs. The TIW card costs $100, but it is good for a year and you can use it for up to 10 people in your group. It gives you a 20% discount on all food and drinks (alcohol included) for sitdown restaurants on Disney property. Many times we go down and take friends/family and we use the TIW card to get the 20% off for the whole group and they just pay me back later. This saves everyone lots of cash. You get your $100 back quickly. It basically pays for the 18% gratuity and gives you an extra 2% discount on top of it.

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Susan September 20, 2014 at 2:12 pm

I am taking my three teenaged children for their first Disney trip in Nov. 2014. The trip coincided with a lacrosse tourney that my oldest daughter will be playing in. We will be staying at Pop Century for the tournament (per organizer requirements) but then moving to an off site hotel for our Disney park portion. I have until November 5 to get my discount tickets through the travel agency that had to book our tourney rooms. I wonder if I can get a dining plan with those tickets and the on site room to be used later? The tickets are good for 7 days before and after the tournament.

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sean May 25, 2014 at 2:54 pm

We are leaving tomorrow, and we still have 20 table sit down dinners left, we paid for the deluxe plane can you get a refund on the 20 remaining dinners?

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Angela May 14, 2014 at 2:09 pm

What if you already have a vacation planned OUTSIDE of the arrival dates for the free dining promotion…can you change your arrival and departure dates to take part in the promotion?

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cindy May 6, 2014 at 12:12 pm

I will be booking my trip to Disney as soon as the Free Dining plan is available for the non Visa card guest from Nov.11-19 according to my travel dates I will be able to get the Free Dining Plan, but we will be staying at a value resort. After making my reservation will I be able to upgrade from the Quick service meals to the regular dining plan? And if so, do I have to request the upgrade at the time of my reservation or can I upgrade later on at any time?

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tony September 13, 2014 at 3:06 pm

ABSOLUTELY!!! I did it 4 years in a row. was about $160 upcharge for 3 of us, but hoping you did it!!

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John May 5, 2014 at 10:21 pm

I am preparing to make reservations that will include the free dining plan for fall 2014 dates that border a black-out date on this offer and was curious for any feedback on these questions (Thanks in advance for any and all replies!):

1. If I book a reservation from Nov. 1 – Nov. 5, would I still qualify for the free dining for all 5 days of my visit, even though a blackout period begins Nov. 2? Everything I’ve read here and elsewhere suggests I would, but the Disney agent I spoke with on the phone tonight repeatedly told me I would not be able to, even after I told her I would be checking in, paying for a room and park ticket for Nov. 1, a date still included in the offer.

2. I understand that I obviously cannot book two separate Disney-specific discounts if they are available at the same time (For example: 15 percent off Value rooms OR free dining but NOT both). However, if I book my room through AAA, which seems to offer a year-round or ongoing 10 percent rate off of the value resort rates, would I still be able to get the free dining plan during dates that are valid for this offer this fall? Yes, this would be combining two offers, but the room discount is through AAA – not Disney. The Disney agent on the phone stated more than once that this would be possible, though again she seemed a bit less-than-convincing on both of these questions.

3. Regardless of whether I book the rooms through Disney or AAA, do I have book a complete package (room and park tickets) from the same source to qualify for the free meal plan? I’ve read conflicting responses on this but am curious to know. I can purchase the park tickets cheaper through Undercover Tourist and save – essentially the fifth day free. However, would I be ineligible for the free dining plan offer if I purchased the room through AAA (or Disney directly) but my park tickets through Undercover Tourist?

Again, thanks in advance for any replies or feedback to these detailed questions.

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stina sardinha May 6, 2014 at 9:05 am

hey! last year the special ended on Nov 2. I set my vacation where I purchased the tickets to start on nov 2-8, but arrived after midnight. My entire week still worked and the meal plan was still free.
I found that if you use the disney website instead of the agents on the phone, it pretty much gives you all the answers by virtue of, if the deal doesn’t work, it won’t let you put it in your cart. Good luck

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Heather May 5, 2014 at 3:23 pm

If i get discounted rooms through friends and family discount can i still get free dining?

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Alicia May 5, 2014 at 2:36 pm

Hi Shannon, we are already booked for 9/9/14-9/16/14, we have put a deposit down and have been making payments on our stay, what if the free dining becomes available during that time of our stay, can we still qualify?

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Diane May 3, 2014 at 2:43 pm

Hi Shannon,
How quickly does the free Dinning rooms go? I have a friend studying to be a travel agent and we were waiting for her to finish so she could book our trip. I’ve heard that only a certain number of rooms are available for free dinning and I’m afraid if we wait, they will all be gone.

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Shannon May 2, 2014 at 5:37 pm

I booked my package holiday to disney a few weeks ago can I add on tickets and get free dining?

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Erica Foster May 2, 2014 at 3:44 pm

If I book our stay the day the promotion for free dining ends will just the first day count or all of our stay? Thanks! !

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Diane May 4, 2014 at 2:27 pm

From mousesavers.com: As long as your arrival date qualifies for free dining, you get the free dining for your entire stay (up to 14 days). For example, if you check in on 10/3/14 and are staying 10 days, you would get free dining for the entire stay, even though only the first day is within the promotion period, assuming you can find a resort and room type that is available for those dates and qualifies for the discount.

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Susan May 2, 2014 at 10:20 am

We are going to Disney 10/22-10/28 which does not qualify for free dining 2014…..what are the chances more dates will open up? Do they ever add more dates as it gets closer?

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Sue May 23, 2014 at 6:56 pm

We have planned our trip for those dates too. Fingers crossed that Disney includes our dates, but we are also staying at Port Orleans but I don’t mind moving to another resort to get free dining!!! :)

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Brian Stuart May 2, 2014 at 7:49 am

Just saw that free dining for 2014 has been announced, but only Disney Visa Cardholders can book it right now. We don’t have a disney visa and have already booked our stay. Luckily, our arrival date is the day the free dining starts. Is it worth applying for a disney visa to go ahead and book the free dining….or do they typically open it up a little later for non-disney visa people. Is there any risk of not getting to stay in the same resort, etc. if we wait to book when they offer it to everyone?

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Shannon Albert May 2, 2014 at 7:51 am

You have to have your Disney Visa card to pay the deposit on a booking so you won’t have time to do it now. It’ll be available next week for the general public.

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Tonya May 2, 2014 at 1:58 pm

What were the dates, we have been patiently awaiting free dining. :)

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Diane May 4, 2014 at 2:29 pm

Offer is valid for stays 8/31/14 – 10/3/14, 10/26/14 – 11/1/14, 11/9/14 – 11/20/14 and 12/12/14 – 12/23/14.

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lorraine May 2, 2014 at 3:55 am

Im going to pop century oct 22nd 2014 i have booked my disney hotel through hotels.com and my disney tickets through disney direct.can i still recieve free dining?

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Robin Maddox April 19, 2014 at 11:11 am

We are currently booked for Oct 1-10 @pop century. What is your best educated guess of free dining during these dates 2014???

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Amber April 27, 2014 at 4:09 pm

The dates for free FALL dining were released May 6, 2013 last year. So any day now!!! Exciting for sure.

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Kim April 16, 2014 at 3:31 pm

Is the Art of Animation Suites considered a value resort?

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Shannon Albert April 16, 2014 at 3:33 pm

Art of Animation is a Value Resort, yes. 3/4 of the rooms are suites and the rest are standard rooms located in the Little Mermaid section.

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Katie April 12, 2014 at 8:02 pm

Hi. We are going to disney the last week of September 2014 and staying at pop century .we went though a TA .if the free dining should become available can that be added on if I or my TA calls?this would be awesome !

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Raechel sweat March 31, 2014 at 10:56 pm

When free dining is offered, can passholders take advantage of it if they are staying on site?

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angela March 22, 2014 at 8:17 pm

we are looking to go in the third week in october. I see multiple announcement dates and was wondering when the disney visa cardholders usually get notified free dining is available. Is there a way you can sign up for the annoucement to know as soon as it is made?

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Shannon Albert March 23, 2014 at 11:42 am

You can sign up to receive alerts for the month that you’re planning to travel. Once the Disney Visa announcements are made, I email the people who have signed up to receive alerts to let them know that it’ll be available to the public within a couple of days. http://wdwprepschool.com/monthly-dashboards/

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Erick March 10, 2014 at 2:11 am

Last time I did the disney deluxe dining plan, it went great until my mother in law didn’t use the coupons and paid out of pocket. We lost some money do that. This time I’m looking at the (disney dining plan) but it only has one table-service meal but the Cinderella’s Royal Table use’s two table-service, so can you pay the other half out of pocket?

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Heather May 6, 2014 at 11:54 am

You can use 2 table service meals to go there if you want.

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kim March 8, 2014 at 5:14 am

Hi,
we are planning to stay at the all stars resort in Disney world December 7th -14th and doing 5 or 6 day park entry as we are going to sea world.
We want the dining package with one table service meal a day, so if we get the free plan added we will pay the extra, my question is should i book the dining package with the one table service meal now or the one with the three quick service meals now? also is the dining plan based on the nights staying at the resort or how many park entry days?
thanks
kim

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Jason March 7, 2014 at 1:00 pm

Hello I looking to book my first disney vacation and dining free package would help a lot , I am looking to go at the end of August or the end of October which one would you think the best option to get the free dinning package if any ? Thank you

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Shannon Albert March 7, 2014 at 1:23 pm

Hi, Jason –
It’s hard to know but here’s a post I did showing the 3 year history of when and what discounts have been offered that you can use as a reference – http://wdwprepschool.com/guide-to-disney-world-discounts/

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Terrie February 27, 2014 at 11:58 am

We are planing to go to disney world the week before thanksgiving…. Is the free dining plan ever offered during this time or only during sept… Trying to decide if I should consider sept to go or not? I am going to book in about two more weeks and if the dates aren’t up yet for free dining yet can I still get it if it comes available?

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Shannon Albert February 27, 2014 at 12:00 pm

Hi, Terrie –
Check out my post with a 3 year history of when and what discounts have been offered so you can see what’s normally been offered – http://wdwprepschool.com/guide-to-disney-world-discounts/

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Michael February 26, 2014 at 8:43 pm

Hi Shannon .. We booked our trip in January for August . We usually get the free dining because it’s slow in august but we also got it free the week of Christmas when it’s busy , so I really don’t get it. This time we booked and got a free memory maker . Can we take the free dining if it becomes available?? Or do we need to stick with the memory maker?

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Shannon Albert February 27, 2014 at 4:56 am

Yes, you can change the promotion. The free Memory Maker deal isn’t such a great deal and if you do change the promotion to Free Dining (or something else) and you don’t really want Memory Maker, be sure to remove it from your package.

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Carissa February 16, 2014 at 10:49 pm

Do you know if the free dining is generally offered for longer stays? We reserved our vacation for Sept at AOA, but are only staying 3 nights. Just wondering if free dining plans generally have a minimum stay and if you think they will be offered in 2014? Thank you!!!

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Laura February 15, 2014 at 5:05 pm

My family has an RCI timeshare which includes Old Key West resort. If I book through RCI during free dining plan, can I get it?

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Nikki Ambrose March 17, 2014 at 10:01 am

We are also booking through RCI but are interested in the possible free dining option.

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April February 9, 2014 at 8:29 pm

Hi we are planning a trip in October of 2014 and old like to take advantage of the free dining. We’ve keys one it in the set. Can we book now, and add dining if/when it’s offered. Is there a good chic if will be offered this year?

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Michele February 1, 2014 at 7:25 pm

Hi there.
Thanks for all the great advice. I was getting ready to make my reservations for Aug 17-23 of this year and keep changing my mind about dining plans when I came across this section. I would be thrilled to learn that they were offering Free dining during my up coming stay but I want to book as soon as possible so I can make my ADRs early (or try.) Should I make the reservations now? And Disney is only asking for the $200 deposit + Airfare at time of booking to hold the reservation. I have never used a TR before and wanted to know if they work the same way and if so could they help me change\ upgrade my dining package when\if the FREE dining is announced for my travel plans. As you can see I need alot of help.

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Lauren Peterson January 31, 2014 at 8:57 pm

Hi there!
I am thinking about getting the quick service disney dining plan for my trip in May. I was planning on getting quick service, because I don’t believe my boyfriend and I would be hungry enough everyday to eat at a table service restaurant. And for it to be worth the extra money. But my question is, would we be able to redeem 2 (or however many it required) quick service meal tickets and eat at a table service restaurant one night if we chose to?

Thank You!
Lauren

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Shannon Albert January 31, 2014 at 10:48 pm

No, you can’t use QS credits to pay for TS meals.

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Tricia January 31, 2014 at 2:32 pm

We are planning a trip to WDW in mid-September 2014. My husband is ret. Navy so we will be purchasing our tickets through our local military base, however we still plan on booking our hotel directly through Disney. If we don’t purchase our tickets directly through Disney would we still be eligible for the “free dining”?

Thanks!!!

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Tiana February 28, 2014 at 2:23 pm

Hi Tricia, my husband is in Army and we were going in September also. We’re going to buy tickets at a ITT office too, but if they have the Free Dining Plan then you have to get tickets through Disney, that’s the catch. Hope this was helpful

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Rachelle January 30, 2014 at 11:49 pm

Question, party of 10 going in Sept….hoping for free dining. The question is….IF free dining or room discount is offered. Would it be possible to book 4 adults in 2 rooms, 1 adult and 2 year in old room 3. Room 3 take the discount (possibly around $250)…and 2 rooms with adults getting free dining. The 1 adult in room 3 wouldn’t have free dining, but the way our meals would be….arrival late day 1…we’d only need 1 quick service meal day 1 and day 2 we would do 1 character dining OOP, so between 8 of us…we’d have enough credits plus some to get my mom free meals throughout the other 4 days. Do you think that would work? This is all a bunch of IF’s, I know.

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Cathleen January 29, 2014 at 11:00 am

is there ever an advantage to Disney Visa card holders getting free dining, or free dining sooner? I’m contemplating applying for a card, but don’t want to do so if most likely no advantage.

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Shannon Albert January 29, 2014 at 12:22 pm

Disney Visa cardholders usually get every promotion a few days before the general public.

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Jennifer January 27, 2014 at 8:31 am

Hi Shannon and thanks for all of your information!

I’m hoping you can clarify some things for me. My family will be traveling to Disney World this September 2014 (20-27.) I’m hoping to get the “free dining” promotion if/when it becomes available. I have already booked the hotel room (we are staying on-site at the Beach Club). I have not yet ordered park tickets, but I will be doing that through Disney as well (you have to, correct to get the free dining promotion??)
My question is, do I also go ahead and book a dining plan in “hopes” that it will be free; calling in later to get it adjusted once the dates have been released? or do I wait and book a dining plan once the promotion has been released? If the plan is not free during our stay, we do not want it.

Hope you can help!
Jennifer

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Michele April 26, 2014 at 3:28 pm

I have the same question as Jennifer. Is it better to book deluxe villas & tickets now and then call back for the free dining when the announcement comes out OR should we wait to do everything when the announcement about free dining is put out? Our party is 16 people, hopefully in 2 – 2 bedroom villas, so we were thinking that we should book rooms as soon as possible to ensure a convenient resort for us during the 1st week of December. But if free dining isn’t available for 2014 during this week, we could wait until value season. Any opinions or suggestions? Thanks for any input! Michele

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Nick January 21, 2014 at 6:11 pm

I have 2 question if thats ok.

1. If I pay for the dining plan on an early booking for mid october for 2 weeks and disney later release the free dining option could I get a refund?
Or…
2 If I dont pay for the dining option in my package, can I pay for it on arrival at the resort if they dont offer a free upgrade,
Im looking to book with disney themselves fir 2 weeks at animal lodge or wilderness lodge
Thanks

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Nick January 21, 2014 at 2:30 pm

I have 2 question if thats ok.

1. If I pay for the dining plan on an early booking for mid october for 2 weeks and disney later release the free dining option could I get a refund?
Or…
2 If I dont pay for the dining option in my package, can I pay for it on arrival at the resort if they dont offer a free upgrade,
Im looking to book with disney themselves fir 2 weeks at animal lodge or wilderness lodge
Thanks

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Karen January 19, 2014 at 10:25 pm

Do you have info on the Disney Cruise Line? My understanding is you must stay at a Disney Resort to be able to go on one? Also, my family is planning on visiting WDW in October, 2014 when should we be booking this trip? Thanks for all awesome info!!!

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Carolyn January 11, 2014 at 6:27 am

When are the best times to make reservations for eating at WDW? Should we eat early, late, or what suggestions do you have? We will have 7 adults and 3 kids ages 3 and under.

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Lauren January 8, 2014 at 4:59 pm

Hi Shannon, great info but I have a silly question for you. I’m planning on going next year when my daughter is 2 1/2. Question is, how do I feed her? Does she just get free food or share off of my plate? Thank you!

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Dana January 4, 2014 at 3:32 am

If you rented a Dvc studio at bay lakes or grand Floridian would you still be able to get free dining? We are starting our vacation plans for October 1-7th 2014. would you buy the dining plan first then call disney when they announce free dining?
Is there only a certain amount of dining plans issued during the specific time frame?

Thank you!

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Rich January 23, 2014 at 1:19 pm

If you are a Vacation Club member the Free Offer is not available to you. If you are staying as a guest renting through traditional means then the plan could be extended to you unless the location is on the exclusion list. Hard to tell as that tends to change

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Alleson Garcia November 20, 2013 at 9:51 pm

My family is planning a trip the end of May 2014. Is their normally a free meal plan that comes out at that time? If so, when should I be looking for it? Thanks!
Alleson

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Shannon Albert November 21, 2013 at 10:19 am

I believe Free Dining happened for the last week of May one time but I wouldn’t count on it for your trip dates.

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Tish November 18, 2013 at 6:29 am

Hi! I was just wondering about the Disney dining plan. If they were to offer it for dates in March 2014, when would it be announced?

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Sharon October 31, 2013 at 10:12 am

Hi, I have previously booked to stay in the all star music resort for myself and my 3 children aged 4, 13 and 16 from the 26th November 2013 and the 10th december 2013. Is there a free dining option available for these dates and if so how do I apply to get it?

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Ann October 28, 2013 at 8:32 pm

Hello Shannon,
Thanks for the great info, I have some questions, I booked a vacation with room dining and tickets. If free dining becomes available should I make a second booking through the website , then cancel my first or should I call in? All so, if I cancel my current reservatin for the better deal, will that mess up my dining reservations I have already made?

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Lucia October 20, 2013 at 7:49 am

We are going in March 2014, there is 4 adults, 1 six years old, and one 2 years old. We want to stay together and we need at least 2 bedrooms and would like a small kitchen. Is it cheaper staying in the cabins at the campgrounds? Or would you stay at a hotel off disney world? And what would be cheaper for the meals? Thanks for all you do.

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Jen October 9, 2013 at 2:30 pm

Is February a predicted slow time when free dining might be available? And I have read through the comments where you recommend going ahead and booking everything and then waiting on the meal plan to see if free dining is available- Are you meaning go ahead and book the resort room? Never been before and happened upon your site. Not sure if you have to book the meal options in a certain amount of time before you go. Thanks!

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Alex October 9, 2013 at 1:27 am

Booking for four using the booking website is there any way we can take the dining plan and the tickets for two persons. And the kids get their meals out of our pockets or “plate sharing”. The thing is that we want to buy the kids tickets through aquired rewards points from our credit card to save 500$+. The WDW web site doesn’t seem to “agree” with that.
I though about that.
Can I book for two adults in a two double bed room and when I arrive on site “surprise” we are four! How will the staff handle that. I dont think that the prices of the rooms varies in function of the number of persons, but even knowing that will they agree?

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Barbara October 1, 2013 at 8:51 am

We are booked, three of us with the dining plan. If two of us wanted to share/split an entree at one of our TS meals, is that acceptable? I know the portions are large and I’m wondering if we’ll have any problems.

Our nine year old is going with us and a CM suggested that for a few more dollars we could put our son’s age at 10 and he could eat off the adult menu because it would give him more menu options. Initially, I thought it was a good idea, however, he already had to deal with food allergies, which WDW handles very well, however, he won’t eat a full adult meal. So, I’m thinking we might share entrees.

Anyone ever have this situation come up?

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Shannon Albert October 1, 2013 at 8:54 am

If you bump his age up to 10, you’ll also pay park ticket prices for a 10 year old. I wouldn’t suggest it. You can usually share. Just have him get a kid entree, adults get adult entrees and add some food to his plate from your plates.

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Karen October 1, 2013 at 6:25 am

One of the things everyone should be aware of if you are looking to purchase the dining plan is that you must purchase it for the entire time you are staying at disney. If you plan to eat elsewhere or go to other parks, you cannot opt out of the plan on those days (well, you can but then you lose money as you technically have paid for those days). In other words, if you are staying at a disney resort for 7 days but only plan on going into the parks or eating onsite for 4 days – disney will not allow you to purchase the dining plan. You could make the resort reservations for 4 days first (and get the dining plan) then call back and make a separate reservation for the remaining 3, but not sure if that might pose an issue (possibly cheaper rates the longer you stay…) also a hassle if you have a big number of people and rooms. Just thought people should be aware.

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Mandy September 24, 2013 at 3:01 pm

We just booked our Disney vacation for 2/3-7, 2014. Am I reading right that free dining is not likely to be offered?

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Erin September 18, 2013 at 3:38 pm

I am planning our 12th trip to Disney and all other trips we have planned when we can book our package which includes a discount on hotel or a free meal plan. We are planning on going March 16-22, 2014 and I have only booked our hotel since they have not released specials for this time frame. I have reviewed all the prior years and the specials are always released more than 180 days prior to our trip and we are now at 179 days.

We are not purchasing the meal plan this year because my son is 13 and he does not eat much so it is not beneficial to purchase the adult plan for him. If it is free will will take advantage of this but right now I am stuck.

Do you think they will actually release a Free Dining Special or should I continue planning as if one is not going to be released? The people I have taked to at Disney of course do not learn of specials before they are available. I have not experienced anything like this before when I have planned a trip and I am at a loss for what I need to plan.

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Laurel September 15, 2013 at 1:31 pm

We have reservations for POR w/ free dining plan from December 16-21. We *have* to leave for home on the 22. When reservations were made, we were told we have 14 days to use 7 days of tickets and DP. With that in mind, we made a reservation for AKL for Dec 14, with reservations for Boma that night, and Epcot/Tutto Italia on the 15th (will stay off site that night).

Now I’ve read (several places – none of them on official WDW sites or our confirmation, both of which are surprisingly vague) that our package isn’t valid until the first day of our resort reservation in the resort the package is attached to ( so, the 16th). Is this true? If so, doesn’t that make the whole staying in the resort thing a crazy hassle, and risky besides? It would mean we have to check out (with warnings that can take up to 2 hours on busy park days), load our car, including valuables, and leave them in a hot parking lot while we visit the park….? BTW, the 16th was the only start date still available in the resort we chose. Thanks for helping me clear this up. Tried phoning and was on hold for 48 minutes before giving up.

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Nora Riley August 30, 2013 at 2:56 pm

Hi! We are going to Disney for the first time in October and we get the free dining plan. If we book a dining reservation for the 5 of us at a restaurant that uses 2 credits for the meal, is it possible for only 3 of us could spend our credits and share the dishes?

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Missy August 27, 2013 at 9:17 pm

Do you think that free dining will be offered the first week in February? We are looking to go then!

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Victoria August 22, 2013 at 3:42 pm

Hello Shannon,
We will be at WDW Feb 6-13, 2014 and I see on the chart above there was a free dining option Jan – March in 2011 and 2012, if it were offered in 2014 when would that be announced? Or when was it announced in those prior years? By the way, thanks so much, couldnt have planned our trip without your site.

Thanks,

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Shannon Albert August 22, 2013 at 4:46 pm

The chart above also includes the “booking dates” which is when it was announced (and you’ll notice that the 2 times it was offered in February, it was announced by this time of year already). However, this year has been strange in terms of when WDW has made announcements for promotions so there’s no telling when they’ll be making promotion announcements for early 2014.

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Victoria August 23, 2013 at 9:20 am

Thanks so much for the info. I appriciate it.

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Christina August 11, 2013 at 7:58 pm

Hi Shannon,
We are planning to take our 1st Disney vacation in Late February early March of 2014…Our family is VERY excited!!! My question is do you possibly know when we will be able to start looking at park/parade schedules for 2014 and when do you feel they might release the dates for the free meal plans for 2014?

Thank you,
Christina

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Shannon Albert August 19, 2013 at 2:01 pm

Schedules usually come out about 6 1/2 – 7 months in advance. Free Dining is almost always a fall promotion as the dates in the chart above show so I wouldn’t anticipate it being available for your trip.

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Sharon Graham August 1, 2013 at 9:36 am

We will be at WDW Saturday 10/05 through 10/09. The free DDP is not offered during this 2 week period (10/03 through 10/17). Is there something special going on that these are black out dates and is there any chance I could get the DDP free? Thanks!!
~Sharon

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Eduardo Waisblut September 5, 2013 at 8:49 am

Hi! I have the exact same question about these days! Thanks!

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Karen July 30, 2013 at 1:49 pm

My husband has a job interview in Jacksonville & we figured since the kids are on summer vacation we would take the drive down from NY together & head to DisneyWorld after but it seems everyone plans this out way in advance & we arent able to. Im getting nervous about eating since Im a type 1 diabetic and all the walking & warm temps can bring my sugar down. I dont want to be waiting to eat or pay a fortune either! Any helpful tips?

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Julie July 27, 2013 at 8:12 am

I booked a last minute vacation ala carte for my family in Disney using a work-related discount website (ticketsatwork) – I booked the a value hotel and a I purchased Magic Your Way tickets (buy 4 days get 3 free) and the air was separate. Looking at the cost of dining out, I’m starting to think it makes more sense to add the dining plan – given I bought everythingn ala carte, do you think the value resort would allow me to ADD the dining plan to our vacation?

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Shannon Albert July 27, 2013 at 8:34 am

No, it’s only for packages.

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debbie July 22, 2013 at 2:55 pm

My husband and I booked a Disney vacation through his work. He is going there for a conference. We are going at the end of Aug. 2013. Would we still be able to get the free dining plan. He is a veteran. We are trying to get discounted tickets to the parks.

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Shannon Albert July 22, 2013 at 2:56 pm

No, I don’t think you can get free dining. Check out http://www.militarydisneytips.com/ for discounts you might be eligible to get.

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Brenda July 18, 2013 at 12:10 pm

Ok, I am a little confused. It looks like free dining will be offered in Oct. We were hoping on going Oct 10-17th, which wouldn’t qualify us for free dining. Our dates are flexible at the end though and can change the dates to say the 12-20th. Since our a portion of our package would include dates that are covered ( 18-20) could we get free dining for the entire time, or would we have to check out and then re book for 3 days at the end. I really wouldn’t want to do that if that was the case. Honestly, if we aren’t getting free dining, I would rather save my money and stay offsite with a kitchen.

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Caroline July 16, 2013 at 8:20 am

We are going to WDW February 4, 2014. Do you think they will offer the free dining then?

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Shannon Albert July 16, 2013 at 8:23 am

I would guess it won’t be available then.

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Kathie July 15, 2013 at 9:08 pm
yesica July 14, 2013 at 11:54 am

I know that but i cant change my flights because i will be coming from argentina and the cost of the change is so expensive. So…do you think the current free dinning offer will include more days in a close future? Thanks!!

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Shannon Albert July 15, 2013 at 2:13 pm

I have no idea but Free Dining isn’t the only kind of discount. Look for those to be announced soon.

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yesica July 13, 2013 at 5:06 pm

i booked a disney package from september 26 to october the 5. do you think disney will release the free dinning plan for this dates? i missed for one day the current dinning plan free offer!!!

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Shannon Albert July 13, 2013 at 7:06 pm

Normally, if you show up on the last day of the promotion, they’ll let you use it for your whole trip. Might be worth it for you to change your trip dates by 1 day to get free food.

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rebecca July 4, 2013 at 1:01 pm

I have seen they are offering free dining again till the end of sept, my trip is booked for the end of October, any chance you think that will be carried over into my vacation booking time when they release new discounts? what are the chances?

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Julia July 3, 2013 at 8:53 am

Hi Shannon, A few questions about dining . . . I’m planning a trip for two adults to WDW for 1/5/14 – 1/11/14. We will be buying hopper 7-day passes. A CM told me, and the website indicated, I can’t purchase a package, at least with on-site hotel, until July 10th. BUT, this is already five days into the allowed period for making dining reservations. Am I missing something? Will I somehow be behind? And is the dining plan worth it for two adults? We are hoping to enjoy a few table service meals while there, and maybe one signature dining experience, but we’re also very cost conscious. Help? Thank you!

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Shannon Albert July 3, 2013 at 10:22 am

Good questions! 180 days before your trip is July 9. You can call or go online on July 9 and book any reservations you want for January 5. On July 10, you can book your trip and then the rest of your reservations.

The Dining Plan is really more of a convenience that makes your trip feel like an all-inclusive package. If you’re very cost conscious, I would pay for your meals out of pocket. You really will have to do the math on that one though. For instance, the DDP includes desserts which we wouldn’t typically order after a meal so it depends on your style and what you would typically eat.

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Novac July 2, 2013 at 10:32 am

If the dining plan isn’t yet announced for the dates I am going to travel, should I wait for the dining plan to be announced for those dates, or should I sign up under the room discount now and then switch over to the dining plan when it’s available?

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Janet June 24, 2013 at 6:45 pm

Hi Shannon,

I read here that if the dining plan is offered at any time during your trip, you can get it free for the duration of your trip? Is this still true? We arrive on Oct 16, and the dining plan looks to start on Oct 18… Can we do the plan for our entire two week vacation?

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James June 23, 2013 at 8:45 pm

Here’s something you may not have covered. But if you did, forgive me for overlooking it…
We are going in about 6 months.
We have a 6 year old boy who eats wonderfully (He’ll try ANYTHING) and a 3 year old girl who will eat almost nothing.
We wanted to just get a dining plan for me, my wife, and the boy and just shovel some food onto daughter’s plate.
We have done the dining plan many times and know from experience you are given more than enough food and certainly enough to fill my daughter.
1) Will my daughter be required to get a meal plan if we do?
2) At sit-down restaurants, will they change a “share fee”? And if so, is it just billed to the room or something?

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Vicki June 22, 2013 at 9:59 am

I am planning a trip with just me and my daughter—do you think the Regular Dining plan will be good for us? Is it really free with Moderates & Deluxes?? (wasn’t free last time we stayed!). We will be doing some high-end dining, & sharing of counter service meals (they are traditionally still large??!!)
Thanks!!

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Shannon Albert June 22, 2013 at 10:01 am

It’s only free during certain promo dates.

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Rob Hughes June 19, 2013 at 1:36 pm

Hi Shannon,

Nice article. I really just wanted to say how nice it is of you to graciously answer so many of the same questions over and over again in the same line of comments.

Keep up the good work!

Rob

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Dan Loura June 19, 2013 at 11:59 am

Dear Shannon,
My wife ,son and I are planning a disney vacation in Oct of this year, My wife recevied a free dinning plan promotion via her e-mail address, but when she called the rep. stated the the person who the promotion was intended for was my cousin and his wife, Disney had that information because my wife had booked a stay for them 3 years ago, using her e-mail to book.
Question is could we state the fact that the e-mail is our account and the promotion was selected using our e-mail address, not to mention we have been to Disney 2o+ times and have never been offered the free dinning. should we push back and ask that Disney acommadate?

Thank you,
Dan Loura

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Melinda Lopez June 17, 2013 at 1:10 pm

Hi….We are planning to go to WDW the last week of Jan.2014. I know that free dining was offered during this time in 2011 & 2012. Any thoughts/guesses if it will be offered in Jan 2014? We have been to WDW many times with our family, but always stay off property. We’re thinking of staying on WDW property but the food costs are a big issue for us. Any ideas?

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Shannon Albert June 17, 2013 at 1:25 pm

I wouldn’t count on it during that time. There are always room discounts. Free Dining isn’t always the best way to save.

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Christia June 7, 2013 at 12:19 pm

We have reserved our family vacation for Thanksgiving week 2013 and have included the plus dinning plan. When do they usually announce dinning plan special promotions for these dates?

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James June 6, 2013 at 12:18 pm

Hi, I want to know if I plan our trip thorugh a disocunt website for a delux resort and NOT thorugh Disnsey, will we still get the free dinning plan. Thsi woudl be in Sept.

Next question. We may come the week of Sept, 22 so our trip is hafl way thorugh on Sept. 25 when the free dinning ends. WIll all of our trip be covered since we started our trip during the free dinning offer?

Tahnks

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David Anderson June 2, 2013 at 9:17 am

We plan to wdw on Nov 28th thru Dec. %th 2013. We have made reservations already and if a free meal plan comes up, we are told we can get it. Any word of fd for that month Nove-Dec?

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Tiffany May 31, 2013 at 9:37 pm

If you buy the package for 6 days 5 nights but only buy 2 days of park tickets – can you still get the free dining for all the days you’re there?

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Rob May 31, 2013 at 9:56 am

I booked a 6 day stay at Disney Art of Animation. I will be there in mid October. I noticed there is a free dining plan till September. Is it safe to say that there would be no free dining plan in October? Thanks for the informative website.

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Maria May 23, 2013 at 6:41 pm

Have you heard if they are offering the free meal plan in October 2013?
If they offer anything for October do you think they would announce by early June?

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Shannon Albert May 23, 2013 at 8:01 pm

Hasn’t been announced yet.

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Timi May 20, 2013 at 7:59 pm

I have been reading all of your answers to the questions people ask but couldn’t see any info on Disneyland. Do you feel they will extend the free dining plan to the first part of October and do you still recommend going or trip now then changing to the free dining once it’s available?

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Shannon Albert May 20, 2013 at 8:04 pm

Sorry, I don’t know much about Disneyland planning.

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Carl May 20, 2013 at 7:01 am

Based on the free dining in prior years, I’m planning on going on Nov 10th. Should I book now? I feel as though airfare and car rentals are getting more expensive if I wait. I hesitate to book the airfare since its nonrefundable and the 10th is not one of the check in dates for the free dining.

Also – my daughter will be a couple of months short of her 10th birthday so I was thinking of saying that she is 10 so she will be able to order from the full menu for just a few dollars more. Does Disney do anything to regulate this? Thanks for your help.

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Shannon Albert May 20, 2013 at 7:04 am

No, but you’ll have to buy park tickets for 10+ as well.

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Amy May 18, 2013 at 8:13 pm

Are they offering free dining to the Art of Animation guests so far in 2013? Would we lose our dining reservations if we switched resorts because they do not offer the dining to AoA guests? Thanks!

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Gretchen Rivera May 17, 2013 at 7:48 pm

Hi Shannon! My fam and I are going to Disney on July 1-7, we already made a reservation at the all star music resort and I was wondering if you think they will have the free dinning or quick service meals at that time ( July 1 to July 7). Thank you in advance!

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Shannon Albert May 17, 2013 at 7:57 pm

No. As you see from the history of discounts, it’s offered in the fall usually. They won’t offer it during busy times like summer.

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rich ferretti May 14, 2013 at 3:57 pm

Just to let you know, when you book your vacation. The first day has to be during the promotion, I just tried and they said they could not honor it. My pin that they sent me runs from november 11 thur the 23. They said since I’m getting there on the 6th and not the 11th I can’t get the free dining plan. Keep in mind I’m there for 8 days.

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Shannon Albert May 14, 2013 at 4:52 pm

You can book your trip in 2 parts to get Free Dining. One part would be the dates that don’t qualify and the other part would be for the dates that are part of the promotion.

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Sue Walizer May 23, 2013 at 6:34 pm

Rich, I hope that you are right about the 11th to the 23rd of November. We are going 11/13 to 11/19/13 and have all dining reservations made already. Our travel agent told me that she will deduct the dining if FDP is offered.

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wendy randall May 13, 2013 at 9:23 am

We have a timeshare with Disney. Do you know if we are able to use the free dining option?

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Shannon Albert May 13, 2013 at 9:29 am

DVC members can use the Dining Plan but can’t get Free Dining.

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Nilde May 10, 2013 at 6:17 am

Hi I was wondering if this year Dec 2013 is having the FDP? Is it usually all of Dec? I know last Dec it started on the 9th. Any thoughts?

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Shannon Albert May 10, 2013 at 8:10 am

Free Dining for September was just announced. No word on December yet. In the past, it’s been just the first part of December.

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Bonnie May 26, 2013 at 4:25 pm

They just took it away!!!
Do you know when it will be back & if I book for 9/15/2013 and the free dining plan comes on can I add it to my vacation or do I have to do it all at once?
I will be booking thru SWA Vacations.

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Lisa May 9, 2013 at 2:19 pm

Plus does the free dining apply to all guests? I have 3 children, one is 2 and the other 2 classify as adults because they are over 10. Would all 4 of us get the free dining? Plus are Canadians eligible for this? thx again

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Lisa May 9, 2013 at 8:36 pm

Thx Shannon!! We just went this past Jan and loved it so much…can’t wait to go back! :)

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Renee May 9, 2013 at 8:30 am

Any feelings if they will continu
e to offer the free dining in October or November 2013

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Shannon Albert May 9, 2013 at 8:31 am

Nope. Some people have speculated that Disney’s recent earnings report was so good that they might have very little incentive to offer Free Dining after September. Nobody really knows though.

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Lisa May 9, 2013 at 2:12 pm

I’m looking to book in late August. Any chance they will add the free dining in for that date? thx

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Shannon Albert May 9, 2013 at 2:28 pm

At this point, it doesn’t seem likely. They did just extend a late summer discount through August that’s up to 30% off on room rates which can add up to way more than the savings you’d get on Free Dining, depending on where you stay. If you do get Free Dining, it applies to everybody on your package. I believe it’s available to Canadians but you’d have to call to double-check that.

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Brian May 7, 2013 at 9:30 am

Disney just released the the dates for the free fall dining plan. Booking to the general public is May 9th. The dates are only from Sept.2 – Sept.23. If you are a Disney Visa cardholder you can book now. Hope this helps!!!

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Brian May 9, 2013 at 6:31 am

Just booked my FREE dining. If you call expect a very long wait. Thanks Shannon for recommending going ahead and booking in advance. We got great dining times and now it is free.

Brian

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Shannon Albert May 9, 2013 at 6:47 am

Great! That’s exactly the right way to do it.

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Jamie May 6, 2013 at 4:13 pm

we are looking to book our trip for Nov 4th-11th 2013 so do I add the dining package when booking or wait add it after they announce the promo? Also I might have mis read this but did you say that if you stay at a value resort ( we are trying to art and animantion resort) you automaticy get free dining? if you this needs to be corrected because that was not an option for us once i added it the price went up dramaticly….thanks!

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Tammy May 5, 2013 at 8:22 pm

Hi Shannon,
We are planning to take our 3rd Disney vacation in March of 2014…we took one in March of 2012 and got the free dining plan. My question is when will be able to start looking at prices for 2014 and when do you feel they might release the dates for the free meal plan for 2014.

Thank you,
~Tammy~

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Kristina August 20, 2013 at 7:44 pm

I am also very interested in hearing the response to your comment. We are looking to go in Spring of 2014 as well and would LOVE to take advantage of the free dining.

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Shannon Albert August 20, 2013 at 7:57 pm

All of the dates it’s been offered are listed above. I wouldn’t count on it for spring, though it’s happened a couple of times.

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Julie May 1, 2013 at 8:56 pm

Hi Shannon,

We are planning our first ever Disney trip in early October. A friend forwarded your info on the free dining. If I book a trip now and they offer free dining in a month, can I really have my plan changed to get the dining package for free? What if they don’t offer it, can I cancel my vacation altogether without a penalty?

Julie

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Denise May 1, 2013 at 1:55 pm

Hi. We are already booked at POR in a preferred room. Thinking now I would rather have a standard or a Royal Guest room. I am afraid to make any changes before they put out a room only discount or free dining because I know they have only inluded certain rooms. What are your thoughts?

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Shannon Albert May 1, 2013 at 2:01 pm

When you call to have a discount applied to your room, they are basically rebooking you anyway. I’d wait until a discount is announced and then you can make a room switch when you call about the promotion.

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ashley April 28, 2013 at 10:45 pm

so if i book a trip to disney nov 23-27 will i get free dining?

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Amanda Power July 10, 2013 at 12:20 am

Ashley,
Your TA can call in and see if you have a PIN code available. Otherwise, we have received no word that there will be free dining past September. I hope they do offer it, but until (if) they announce it, plan like they are not…
-Amanda

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Kara April 28, 2013 at 9:17 am

We will be going on our first Disney trip this year during September 15-21, 2013. Have they released any special offers or free dining during that time?

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Tiffany April 25, 2013 at 9:11 am

Hi! I was wondering… we are planning a trip in Sept. and a friend of mine had heard that the Disney Dining would probably run in Sept this year. We actually have reserved a condo off property but were going to do some of the character meals for our girls. There are 5 in our family but the youngest will be 2 while we are there so she is technically free anyway. I was thinking of maybe splitting our trip up and staying part time at a resort (probably a value) and part time at the condo to get the free dining to use for our character meals. would this make sense price wise? I know it SOUNDS like a huge hassle, moving our things around but if it saves money I’m all for it! haha. thanks for any input!!

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Shannon Albert April 25, 2013 at 9:18 am

Free Dining at the Values is usually for the Quick Service Dining Plan only. You can pay to upgrade but you may not end up saving money by doing it that eat.

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Tiffany April 25, 2013 at 9:24 am

ok…thanks!

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Brian April 19, 2013 at 2:51 pm

I just booked my Disney Trip for September 7-12. I took your advice and booked in advance to my dinner reservations early. The agent flat out told me that the FREE Dining plan would not be offered this year because Disney is doing so well and is booking up fast. Has anyone else heard this? I have been for the last 6 years and always got it.

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Jenny April 26, 2013 at 5:52 am

Hi Brian,

I was told by a Disney agent that they don’t have any insiders information about upcoming promotions. I did speak to my friend and travel agent who told me that it was coming shortly. It seems logical to me since their last promotion is ending mi-August. This will be our first Disney vacation and I am counting on the free dining plan… so I will keep my fingers crossed. In preparation, I have booked some dining.. you can do so by simply creating an accound on Disney.com

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Brian April 29, 2013 at 6:51 pm

Yeah I already made all of my dinner reservations. I am also keeping my fingers crossed.

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Scubabare April 8, 2013 at 1:27 pm

Hi we are a group of 12 and are looking to book Disney from October 24-November 3rd 2013. Rumours have us very worried that the Disney Free Dining will not be offered due to other promotions etc, have you heard anything about this? Is there any truth to it? If the FDP is not offered then we will not be going this year what would you recommend we do?

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Cassy April 11, 2013 at 12:23 pm

Hi Scubabare,
Disney will let you cancel without a penalty up to 45 days before your trip. I would recommend booking your trip now and make your dining reservations. If Disney ends up having free dining during those dates then you can have it applied at that time. If Disney does not offer it then you can cancel the trip. Disney should be announcing the Free Dining (if they are having it) no later than early June. This should give you plenty of time if you need to cancel the reservation.

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Pam April 1, 2013 at 5:00 pm

I have booked a trip for first week in Dec. at value resort and paid for dining plan but I am a pass holder so I did not buy a package with tickets so my question is.. If free dining is offered during my stay will I still be eligible for it? I sure would love it if I was!

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Cassy April 11, 2013 at 12:15 pm

Hi Pam,
Free dining plans typically require that you purchase a package from Disney including park tickets.

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Julie Cusiter March 20, 2013 at 2:27 pm

We are planning a trip to WDW November 16 through 25th, we love the dining plan and already have the reservations with our friends through their DVC member points. Will we still qualify for the free dining?

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Amanda Power July 10, 2013 at 12:16 am

DVC are not able to book dinning plans :(

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Shannon Albert July 10, 2013 at 7:02 am

I used a dining plan when I rented DVC points in April. *Free* dining is not an option for people using DVC points.

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Julie March 19, 2013 at 9:18 pm

Hi, my family and I are booking a trip for November 9th to the 16th 2013 we were wondering if you think the dining plan would be free then. Thanks for your help!!!
Julie

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Ally March 18, 2013 at 10:56 am

If I book my trip for October 20-26, 2013 but the dining plan is only offered until say October 15, will disney let me change my vaca dates so I can get the fd? Would I be charged a fee to change dates? I’m afraid to book before knowing the exact dates fd is offered.

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Cassy April 11, 2013 at 12:13 pm

Hi Ally,
Disney will let you modify or even cancel your reservation until 45 days beforehand without any fee. If you make a change after then you will lose your $200 downpayment.

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Bj March 16, 2013 at 3:03 pm

Is it true that only a limited number of FD is offered? Is it a “first come” type of deal? We are booked for AoA in October 2013, is the FD offer good no matter which resort we stay at? Thanks!!

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Shannon Albert March 16, 2013 at 6:54 pm

There is a limit and it may not be offered at AoA. Be prepared to switch if needed.

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James April 7, 2013 at 6:52 pm

Hmmm… what about an early-mid Jan visit?

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James March 10, 2013 at 2:47 pm

How does one become aware of these free dining promotions? Is there an email list from Disney we need to get on? We are planning on a February 2013 visit to WDW so I figure I have plenty of time to see what emails come in and what promos they offer.

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Shannon Albert March 15, 2013 at 9:19 am

Hi, James –
Free Dining will not be offered during your dates. I recommend Mousesavers.com for keeping track of what’s new. She also sends a newsletter on the 15th of each month that’s very helpful.

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Amanda Power July 10, 2013 at 12:15 am

Free dinning wint be offered but the spring discount may be offered during that time. Depending on where you stay and the duration of your trip, this discount may be more than a free dining promotion for you!
Amanda Power

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Gary March 3, 2013 at 7:16 pm

I was reading through your posts and you seem to suggest that people should book a disney trip before the free dining promotion is announced. I am wondering why you suggest this? I am looking into a Disney trip for 8/20/13 to 8/27/13 because I found good airfare for those dates. Based on history, these dates may or may not be included in the free dine promotion. It seems we are very close to an announced offer at this point. What do you suggest? Without the free dine offer, we willl likely hold off on Disney.

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Shannon Albert March 3, 2013 at 7:29 pm

I suggest booking now so dining reservations can be made 180 days in advance. That’s important for the hard-to-get reservations, plus restaurants are particularly full during Free Dining. I wouldn’t book your flights until after Free Dining dates are announced.

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Sabrina M February 28, 2013 at 10:13 am

I was wondering if it is possible to upgrade to the deluxe dining plan if you are staying at a value resort during the free dining promo.

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Shannon Albert February 28, 2013 at 10:25 am

Yes, you would just pay the difference!

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Sabrina M February 28, 2013 at 11:07 am

Yea!!! Doing the happy dance :)

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Gina February 26, 2013 at 4:00 pm

We were gutted at the weekend when we found out we had missed the offer of the free dining – have had it in the past & now feel we can’t go without it . We’re hoping to go in October 2013 do you think it may be offered again this year for free ?
Many thanks & site is fab !

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Shannon Albert February 26, 2013 at 4:41 pm

Yep! I assume it’ll be offered again. Book your trip and then apply the discount after it’s announced (probably between March and May).

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Megan February 26, 2013 at 12:52 pm

I am wondering if you are pretty confident that the dining plan will be offered for the fall of 2013. I want to go down from 9/11 to 9/16 and the only way I can afford it is if the free dining plan is offered. Just hoping to get your opinion.

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Shannon Albert February 26, 2013 at 4:40 pm

Yes! I’d look for the announcement between March and May. Go ahead and book your trip and apply the promotion after it’s announced.

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Megan February 26, 2013 at 5:38 pm

I also have the Disney visa does that mean I may receive the offer earlier than people who do not have the card? And if I do book in advance and pay using the card how will they reimburse the price for the meal plan? Thanks this site is so helpful!

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Shannon Albert February 26, 2013 at 9:37 pm

Yes – the promotions are usually available a few days early for Disney Visa cardholders. When you book, you can just pay a deposit and then pay the balance after Free Dining comes out.

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Rosie February 11, 2013 at 10:26 pm

Hi Shannon! My family and I are planning to stay at a value resort during the last week in August 2013. We want to wait for the free dinning promotion. However, I don’t know if I should just book it without the meal plans and then add it on when the promotion comes along (if it does this year). I also wanted to know if the dinning promotion is provided for the general public. If not, where should I search for the code? Thank you for your help ;)

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Shannon Albert February 11, 2013 at 10:30 pm

Hi, Rosie –
Yes, book it now so you can make your dining reservations 6 months in advance (coming up soon!). When Free Dining is announced, you can call and just ask them to apply it to your reservation. I think the only resort that wasn’t included in last year’s promotion was Art of Animation. Not sure what it will be this year.

Value resorts usually only get the Quick Service plan for free but can upgrade to the higher level ones for a fee. Look for the Free Dining announcement sometime between March and May.

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Meghan McG April 7, 2013 at 4:51 pm

I stayed at Art of Animation in the little mermaid room last september and the disney dining plan was free (well the quick service was- we upgraded to the dining plan)!

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cara February 10, 2013 at 5:22 am

We have already booked a trip (including dining) for
mid/late October. If the free dining option is announced, will our
TA be able to apply the discount to our reservation or is it only
valid if you book during the booking period?

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Shannon Albert February 10, 2013 at 9:34 am

Your TA can apply the discount. It’s important for you to have your reservation in place now so you can make dining reservations at the 6 month mark. On-site guests get to make them slightly earlier than the general public so it’s a nice advantage.

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Kristi February 1, 2014 at 12:24 am

If I’m not using a TA would I be able to have the discount applied without losing any reservations I have already made? We’re planning on going September 2014 so my 180 days will be in March…thanks!

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Shannon Albert February 1, 2014 at 11:54 am

Yes, but you’ll just need to be sure to call when it’s announced because they only allow so many rooms to use a promotion so you want to get in early to make sure you’re 1 of them.

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Debby Martin February 3, 2013 at 3:06 pm

We are staying at the Wilderness Campground the first week
of Dec. Would the campgrounds be included in the free dining
promo?

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Shannon Albert February 3, 2013 at 4:47 pm

The campground has never been included in the Free Dining promotion. It might be worth it to stay at a Value or Mod and get free dining, depending on your group (the more people, the more value you get from free dining).

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Robin May 12, 2013 at 7:43 pm

The free dining is included if you stay in the cabins at the campground but not if you stay in your own camper.

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Taylor January 28, 2013 at 9:30 am

My family normally shares meals when at Disney World. Would we be able to get a dining plan for two people and share the meals between four people? We figured we could buy tickets for just two of us under the disney package, but we were afraid that we might face problems from servers at sit-down restaurants. What do you think?

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Shannon Albert January 28, 2013 at 9:34 am

Hmmm. I think you technically could do it if your number of tickets = number of people with the Dining Plan. I think you’re right that the CMs would say something or think it’s strange that you’re sharing and only have 2 people on the plan. For you, it might just make more sense to pay out-of-pocket. Look into the Tables in Wonderland card which gives you a discount on food.

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Debbie March 19, 2013 at 3:23 pm

I believe you have to have it for the same number of people in your room reservations…. so if you have two rooms you could do this, but not if all four people are in the same room…. it would only work for quick serve only, as it states that you can’t use it for anyone not on the plan.

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Melissa December 2, 2013 at 12:45 am

Hi, When purchasing the Disneyworld Dining plan you have to book it with your package that includes room and park tickets, so if you are booking a room and park tickets for four you would have to pay for the dining plan for four people as well, and you cannot customize the number of nights, it is for each number of night you are there.

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Crystal December 30, 2012 at 6:02 pm

My family is planning for Thanksgiving 2013 (11/24-11/29).
Our travel agent said she has never seen the DDP offered FREE
during this week, as it is always blocked out. But, based on your
comment about arriving on the last day of the promotion – do you
think it will be offered during that time period? BTW, this site is
fabulous!!!

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Shannon January 7, 2013 at 9:53 am

Typically, you’d have to check in by the Thursday or Friday before Thanksgiving (when the Free Dining wasn’t blocked out) to get it for free Thanksgiving Week.

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Tina September 11, 2012 at 9:43 am

Have you ever booked a trip ahead of time thinking free dining might be available then call back in once it has been offered? I read a little about that somewhere and wondered if it is a save option of booking dates but getting free dining “if” it was offered.

Thanks,
Tina

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Shannon September 11, 2012 at 11:29 am

Yes. I recommend doing it that way.

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Kristin March 26, 2013 at 10:46 am

I’m thinking about booking in September. Would I go ahead and get the dining plan now or just make my reservations and get my tickets then wait to see if they offer the free dining? Or do i go ahead and get the dining plan now and have it adjusted once they announce the free dining? Also according to your chart above you listed that they usually announce free dining between March and May if you are staying in September….Is that correct?

Thanks!

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Annmarie May 8, 2013 at 11:58 am

I have been in this situation as I had previously booked dining in anticipation of the free dining plan. I was told that they need to “release” the earlier booking (not on the dining plan) and then re-book the dining. The problem with it is that when they release the booking(s), ANY operator can book those tickets, so if your operator isn’t fast enough, you will lose those bookings.

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Sabrina June 10, 2013 at 4:11 pm

That is how we do it all the time. Disney is routine with their free dining promotions at times when bookings are low.

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Kimmy January 12, 2014 at 7:50 am

Be careful if y0u choose to add free dining after you book your trip early. I called to add the free dining option after they chose to run that promotion. Doing that is considered changing your reservation. If prices have gone up since you booked, you now have to pay the difference….. “Free Dining” would have cost me an additional $700.00.

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Amy February 11, 2014 at 12:27 am

Kimmy,

How far in advance did you book? and did you go directly through Disney or through a travel agency? We are planning a Nov 2014 trip and have sent in our $200 deposit to the travel agent, with the understanding that if/when free dining is offered, we’d take it. Wondering now if this would fall under your description of changing the reservation.

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