10 lessons learned from Free Dining – PREP127

Free Dining is a crazy popular promotion, but things don't always go the way people think the will.

Today, I have 10 lessons we can learn from Free Dining, along with lots of news and a quick tip of the day.


These are notes from this episode. There's much more info included in the audio so be sure to listen to the episode for a better explanation.

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10 lessons learned

  1. Existing hotel reservations don’t help you when promotions are announced. Promotions have certain availability. New vs. existing reservations have the same chance. Might want to make a reservation beforehand to make ADRs, but only pay the deposit.
  2. Promotions are created for less busy times and many dates in fall aren’t unbusy anymore. Supply and demand.
  3. Compare apples to apples. Upgraded rooms and tickets might end up costing too much. (And, no, Disney didn’t increase prices just before releasing Free Dining.)
  4. Room-only discounts might save more money. You'll have to do the math.
  5. Online is usually better than phone. Free Dining was released online at 4 a.m. eastern/3 a.m. central. Phone lines open at 7 a.m. eastern and had long wait times and disconnected calls. Website has some issues, but you can always try to book a new reservation online and cancel the old one later.
  6. If booking a new reservation while also having an old reservation, use a different browser or clear cookies/cache in your existing one.
  7. If modifying an existing reservation, click the “change reservation” link, then try to change all elements of your reservation to find the promotion. Don’t see the change reservation link? Hit refresh.

  8. However, you can’t change package reservations online if you have Memory Maker. Might wait to add it after promotions are released. Travel insurance and Magical Express can cause issues online as well.
  9. Flexibility with resorts, rooms, and dates will help. Don’t book flights until after a promotion is released. Have backup resorts in mind. As long as you check in during promotion dates, you can get it for your whole trip.
  10. Be careful when choosing an agent. They need to be up early, and make sure they’re following promotion rules. No guarantee they’ll get you Free Dining or any other promotion though.

News

  • Toy Story Mania third track opens Memorial Day weekend. That just means that the ride will have more capacity, and therefore shorter lines.
  • Soarin' Around the World at Epcot opens June 17. FastPass+ is now available.
  • Frozen Ever After and the new Anna/Elsa meet-and-greet at Epcot are also opening in June, but no specific date was announced.
  • New Star Wars fireworks at Hollywood Studios are coming in June.
  • Finding Dory characters are coming to Turtle Talk with Crush at Epcot in May.
  • Tiffins restaurant at Animal Kingdom opens Memorial Weekend.
  • Mickey's Royal Friendship Faire, a stage show at Magic Kingdom, begins in June.
  • Though Rivers of Light at Animal Kingdom has been delayed, "The Jungle Book: Alive with Magic" has been confirmed to begin Memorial Weekend while they continue to work on Rivers of Light.
  • Updated park hours for May, September, October, and November were released this week (here's what changed). AK extended until 11pm starting May 27. Some FP+ for later AK hours have recently opened up.
  • TheDIBB’s FastPass+ link is no longer active.

Quick tip of the day

Jedi Training Academy signups have recently been allowed before Hollywood Studios opening time. Look for the separate line for that at the entrance.

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