Free Dining is back for 2024, but at least for now, it is only available for Disney+ Subscribers.
This is one of the most highly coveted promotions Disney offers, so understanding how it works is key to snagging one.
Here’s what you need to know about Disney Free Dining in 2024:
Free Dining 2024 Disney Offer
Here are the details:
- Disney+ Free Dining Offer: Free Disney Dining Plan for Disney+ subscribers.
- Minimum Package Requirement: 4-night, 4-day package including a Disney Resort hotel stay and Park Hopper ticket. You can book MORE than 4 nights, but 4 nights is the minimum
- Value and Moderate Resorts (including the Ft. Wilderness Cabins): Quick Service Dining Plan
- Deluxe and Deluxe Villa Resorts: Regular Disney Dining Plan
- Booking Start Date: January 3, 2024
- Offer Validity: Arrivals from July 1 to September 30, 2024. Note: As long as you check in by September 30, you can get this promo for the length of your trip.
- Exclusions: 3-Bedroom Villas, The Campsites at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort, Cabins at Copper Creek Villas & Cabins at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge and Bungalows at Polynesian Villas & Bungalows
- Proof of Disney+ subscription required.
- The number of packages allocated for this offer is limited.
- Everyone in the same room must be on the same package.
- Advance package reservations are required.
- Theme park tickets are valid for admission beginning on date of check-in and must be used within a limited number of days, depending on length of stay and ticket.
- Some Table-Service restaurants may have limited or no availability at time of package purchase.
- US residents must be 18+ to subscribe to Disney+. Canadian residents must be 18+ or the age of the majority in their jurisdiction to subscribe to Disney+. Void where prohibited.
- The Disney+ subscriber must stay in the room.
- Cannot be combined with any other discount or promotion.
- Dining plan excludes gratuities.
- Children ages 3 to 9 must order from a children’s menu, where available.
If you’re new to the Disney Dining Plan, it’s a good idea to start with our Complete Guide to the Disney Dining Plan first. It’s got all the info you need, especially on how to use your credits smartly. Remember, this promo is a great way to save cash, but only if you really get how to make the most of each credit.
Keep in mind that there are not an unlimited number of rooms set aside for this promotion, and how many rooms available in each resort will vary.
Typically, the rooms at the least expensive resorts go first. So, if your goal is to snag one of those, you’ll want to be up early and booking as soon as the promotion is released (which is typically in the very, very early morning hours).
What is the Disney Dining Plan (and why would Disney give it away for free?)
Simply put, the Disney Dining Plan is an optional add-on that only guests staying onsite at a Disney-owned resort can purchase as part of their vacation packages.
It is basically a way to prepay for your meals – and depending on which version of the Dining Plan you purchase, it can be quite expensive if paying out of pocket:
|2024 price for ages 10+
|2024 price for ages 3-9
|Quick-Service Dining Plan
|Regular Dining Plan
All of the credits are loaded to your account at once and can be used however you’d like during your trip (you could use 6 credits 1 day, 2 the following day, etc.).
How does the Free Dining Plan work?
Free Dining was originally introduced as an incentive to fill rooms during low attendance periods. During the promotional periods, Disney offers their Dining Plans for free when you purchase a non-discounted room and ticket package.
And truthfully, it works really, really well because it is natural to want something for “free”.
What Dining Plan you get for free depends on where you book:
- Value Resort – Quick Service Dining Plan for free
- Moderate Resort – Quick Service Dining Plan for free
- Deluxe Resort – Regular Dining Plan for free
- Deluxe Villa Resort – Regular Dining Plan for free
Historically, if you booked at a Value or Moderate resort, you could pay the difference between the Quick Service and Regular Dining plan to upgrade.
What makes Free Dining Plan promotion difficult
A lot of people love the Free Dining Plan promotion, but it comes with some complexities.
Firstly, dining reservations are extremely difficult to snag whenever the Free Dining promo runs. It’s not just that more people opt to dine at Table Service restaurants, but those with the Free Dining Promotion often go overboard, grabbing more reservations than they need, planning to cancel them closer to their trip.
This approach to hoarding dining reservations isn’t new, but it certainly feels like the lack of reservations is a bigger problem during Free Dining dates compared to other times of the year.
This means if you book Free Dining but don’t secure your Dining Reservations early, you might struggle to use all your Table Service credits. As you can imagine, this often leads to very upset customers who end up with less-than-ideal reservations or unused credits.
And let’s not forget the operational complexities. Free Dining is like a logistical Rubik’s Cube, straining food service operations to their limits, from chefs to custodial staff. Disney wants their restaurants full, but they don’t want disappointed guests facing longer waits or stressed staff.
Free Dining Tips
Here are our BEST tips for snagging Free Dining:
Tip #1: Travel when Free Dining is typically offered
Free food is awesome. But to get it for free at Disney World, you have to book a trip when Free Dining is usually offered.
Notice any patterns in the chart of historical dates for Free Dining below?
Free Dining is *usually* a summer and fall promotion, so if you want Free Dining, make sure your travel dates fall during that time.
Historical Free Dining Dates
In 2024, Free Dining opened up in 1 batch:
- January 3 for most dates in July, August, and September
In 2020, Free Dining opened up in 1 batch:
- January 2 for dates in June, July, September, and October
In 2019 Free Dining opened up for booking in 2 different batches:
- January 2, 2019 for dates July 5 – September 30, 2019.
- July 17, 2019 for September-September 18, November 17-November 27, and December 8-December 23.
|FREE DINING STAY DATES
|ELIGIBLE BOOKING PERIOD
|Most dates 7/1-9/30/2024
|6/27/2020-6/28/2020, 7/5/2020-7/7/2020, and 9/29/2020-10/8/2020
|1/2/2020 – 1/16/2020
|9/1/2019 – 9/1/18/2019, 11/17/2019 – 11/27/2019, and 12/8/2019 – 12/23/2019
|07/16/2019 – 09/29/2019
|1/2/2019 – 2/10/2019
|8/20-9/29, 11/14-11/20, 11/24-11/27, and 12/7-12/23/18
|4/24/2018 – 7/7/2018
|8/21-9/30, 11/14-11/20, 11/25-11/27, and 12/8-12/23/17
|4/24/2017 – 7/7/2017
|8/23-10/1/16, 11/15-11/21/16, 11/26-11/28/16, and 12/10-12/21/16
|4/25/2016 – 7/8/2016
|4/27/2015 – 7/10/2015
|8/31/2014 – 12/23/2014
|5/7/2014 – 8/8/2014
|9/29/2013 – 12/22/2013
|8/1/2013 – 9/15/2013
|9/2/2013 – 9/25/2013
|5/9/2013 – 7/31/2013
|9/30/2012 – 12/13/2012
|7/12/2012 – 9/29/2012
|8/25/2012 – 9/29/2012
|3/5/2012 – 5/18/2012
|1/8/2012 – 3/31/2012
|8/3/2011 – 10/29/11 and 10/27/2011 – 12/17/2011
|10/2/2011 – 12/17/2011
|8/3/2011 – 10/29/2011
|8/28/2011 – 9/24/2011
|5/2/2011 – 8/27/2011
|8/19/2011 – 9/29/2011
|8/16/2010 – 12/20/2010
|5/27/2011 – 6/2/2011
|8/16/2010 – 12/20/2010
|1/1/2011 – 3/3/2011
|8/16/2010 – 12/20/2010
|8/16/2010 – 12/20/2010
|7/6/2010 – 8/14/2010
|8/15/2010 – 10/2/2010
|5/3/2010 – 8/14/2010
|9/27/2009 – 12/17/2009
|7/27/2009 – 9/26/2009
|8/16/2009 – 10/3/2009
|3/30/2009 – 6/21/2009 and 6/10/09 – 7/26/09
Tip #2: Get online EARLY
As it turns out:
Almost as important as knowing when you’ll need to travel is knowing when the promotion opens.
That’s because there is generally a limited number of rooms available to book with the discount at each resort, so the best resorts and dates for Free Dining usually sell out quickly.
Every year, the moment the promotion is released, people frantically start booking it. It is a near frenzy as people race to snag reservations.
Sounds crazy, right?
But it’s true.
And that means the available rooms get snagged fast – with the lower cost rooms going first.
That chart above also has the historical release dates when the promotion has traditionally opened.
Study them. Follow on social media to get predicted release dates. And then, be ready.
What time will the Disney Free promotion be released?
Discounts and promotions generally go live really, really, REALLY early in the morning. Before the sun comes up early. 2 am, 3 am, 4 am early.
The exact time isn’t always the same, but it definitely is always – say it with me – early.
Booking by computer is almost always faster than by phone
Here’s the deal:
The promotions often come out overnight or really early in the morning.
The phone lines don’t open until 7 am ET.
If you wait until you can call at 7 am, you’ll be behind the hundreds – if not thousands – of people that have been up and on their computers since it opened, snagging up all the best rooms.
You want to maximize your chance of getting what you want? Be prepared to wake up early and book by computer.
But, if all else fails – try the phone
If problems arise, and you must use the phone, try calling as soon as the lines open and be prepared to be on hold.
Wait times on days when promotions and discounts go live are often very long.
Tip #3: Get notified when Free Dining promotions drop
This tip is easy to follow:
When Free Dining opens, those people who are on the email lists and follow us on social media will get notified – day or night – that the promotion is ready to be booked. All you’ll need to do is make sure you have notifications turned on and up so that you’ll hear them!
Tip #4: Use a travel agent
We can’t repeat this tip enough:
If all of this talk about waiting for promotions to open up at 4 am is overwhelming for you, don’t try to do it alone! Instead, use a good, reliable, Disney expert travel agent to book your trip.
One of the best perks about using a Disney vacation planning specialist is that they will work to secure you discounts when they come out – including Free Dining.
In fact, you could be in bed, sleeping like a baby, and they’ll be up working their magic trying to get you the best deal possible for your trip.
Are you guaranteed to get Free Dining if using a travel agent? Nope.
But, are your chances better if you use an expert who knows the ropes? Absolutely.
The agents at Small World Vacations are Disney experts and completely free to use if booking a trip through them.
They work hard every single day to help families create magical memories on their vacations.
If you want their expert help booking your trip, submit a quote today.
Tip #5: Make Resort Reservations BEFORE Free Dining is announced
This only works when Disney is consistently releasing Free Dining dates, but when it DOES work, it could make all the difference:
Book a hotel reservation now, and then you can modify your reservation later.
This is especially true if you’re going to be going to Disney World whether or not you get the Free Dining promotion.
Tip #6: Try booking a new reservation instead of modifying an old one
Sometimes, booking a new reservation makes more sense than modifying an old one.
You’re in bed asleep, when your phone starts buzzing from emails sent out from WDW Prep School.
“FREE DINING IS NOW OPEN,” they say.
So you jump on your computer, log in to your My Disney Experience account, navigate to your reservation and go to modify it only to find out something is wrong.
It won’t work. You try again. And again. And no matter what, you aren’t able to modify the reservation.
So, think about it:
If you run into problems, instead of waiting until the phone lines open, you should, instead, simply rebook the trip.
Waiting could mean losing out on the opportunity to snag one of the coveted rooms for Free Dining, so rebook and cancel your old reservation instead. Cancelling an old reservation will not affect any dining reservations you’ve already made.
Having an existing reservation can sometimes make it hard to book a new one, so try clearing your cookies, opening a browser tab in incognito mode, or using a different browser.
Tip #7: You can sometimes use Free Dining after the promotion dates end
As it turns out:
In most cases, as long as you arrive by the last day of the promotion, you can enjoy Free Dining during your whole stay.
This is an easy way to make Free Dining dates work for you. As long as your trip begins while the promotion is valid, you’ll get the promotion for the duration of your trip.
But, the reverse isn’t true:
If your trip begins before a promotion or discount period starts, you won’t get the promotion for any part of your trip unless you book a split stay.
What is a Split Stay?
Basically, a split stay means you’ll have 2 reservations: one for the dates that span the time before the Free Dining promotion begins and one reservation for the dates that include Free Dining. Only the dates of your trip that fall during that promotion window would be eligible for Free Dining.
The 2 reservations could be in the same resort or different ones.
Coordinating a split stay and making sure you meet all the requirements for a promotion can be a little tricky if you’ve never done it before (and split stays are fantastic vacations to book with a travel agent since they have lots of experience with them). But in some instances, the hassle of booking 2 reservations can save you money.
Be careful, though:
Some promotions (like Free Dining) have minimum ticket length requirements, so you’ll want to really look at the numbers before booking.
Tip #8: Some resorts are never eligible for Free Dining
Ideally, every resort would have some rooms available to book with Free Dining, but that isn’t the case.
There are several resorts that never (or very, very, rarely) offer Free Dining:
- The Little Mermaid rooms at Art of Animation
- Fort Wilderness Campsites
- Grand Villas
This list could always change, but it is safe to say that there will always be some resorts that will be exempt from the Free Dining discount.
Tip #9: Sometimes Free Dining is a part of a Bounceback Offer
If you are already traveling to Disney World (especially August-October which historically has the best chance) and you know you might want to go back, don’t forget to check out the bounceback offers currently running. Sometimes that promotion will include Free Dining for times of the year other than the general public Free Dining promotion that is offered in the fall.
Tip #10: Free Dining often includes ticket and length of stay requirements
You must book tickets as part of your vacation package to qualify for Free Dining. In the past, Disney has required 2 and, most recently, a 4-day minimum ticket and a 4-night minimum stay at a Disney World resort.
Every Free Dining promotion is a little different, so be sure to check the details before you book.
Is Free Dining worth it?
Many people get caught up in thinking that Free Dining is better than any other promotion, but that’s not necessarily true.
Compare Free Dining to other available discounts
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.
Check out this complete list of discounts that have been offered in the past. And then, do the math for your family.
- Using the menus or our Dining Plan data, create a list of what meals would cost you if you were paying out of pocket.
- Make sure to include the cost of beverages you think you’d order, especially now since 1 alcoholic beverage is included.
- Then, see what the same meals cost if you have the Disney Dining Plan.
- Make sure to include the cost of any meals above and beyond the total number of credits you’ll have.
- Oftentimes people find out that the room discount saves them more money.
Disney Free Dining FAQs
What happens if you miss out on the promotion?
Keep checking! When Free Dining is released, many travel agents put 72-hour holds for their clients, but not all of these get booked, so they become available again. So keep checking because you’ll often be able to snag something.
Is the Free Dining offer combinable with other discounts?
Generally, the Free Dining promotion cannot be combined with other offers or discounts. Make sure to read the terms and conditions of the latest offer for specifics.
Are gratuities included in the Free Dining plan?
Gratuities are typically not included in the Free Dining offer. You’ll need to budget for tips separately.
Can I upgrade my dining plan?
Yes, you may have the option to upgrade your dining plan for an additional cost. The possibility of an upgrade usually depends on availability and the specific terms of the current promotion.
Do all members of my party need to participate in the Free Dining plan?
Generally, all guests in the same room must be on the same package, including the Free Dining offer.
Is park admission included in the Free Dining offer?
Park admission is generally not part of the Free Dining package itself. However, purchasing a certain type of park ticket might be a requirement for eligibility.
How do I know which dining locations accept the Free Dining plan?
A list of participating dining locations is usually available on Walt Disney World’s official website. The My Disney Experience app is also a handy resource for this information.
Can I get Free Dining if I rent DVC Points?
No, you can’t do that since Free Dining requires booking a package and DVC point rental is not a package booking.
Can Annual Passholders get Free Dining?
In short, yes, but you’ll still need to purchase park tickets to book Free Dining. People with Annual Passes should book the minimum tickets required for Free Dining (since tickets are a requirement for packages) and then keep them in their My Disney Experience account.
With both an Annual Pass and tickets from your package in your account, you should call Disney and ask them to prioritize your tickets, so they are used in the correct order. You can save those tickets to use at a future date (for example, for a future Annual Pass or a different trip after your current Annual Pass has expired).
Final thoughts on the Disney Free Dining Plan Promotion
Remember the 3 Bs for Free Dining:
- Be realistic – whether you use a travel agent or book it on your own – sometimes there just isn’t availability. It happens every year and we hear stories from families genuinely distraught over not being able to book because there wasn’t availability. Don’t set yourself up for heartbreak by thinking you’re guaranteed the discount.
- Be flexible – the more flexible your dates and resort choices, the better the likelihood you’ll be able to snag the discount. Wait to book flights and be open to trying a resort that’s not first on your list if you want to maximize your chances for Free Dining.
- Be persistent – If you don’t get what you want right away, don’t give up. Many people (and travel agents!) place holds on rooms when the promotion is released, and, if those holds aren’t deposited, they are cancelled 3 days later. That means, if you really want to snag Free Dining you’ll want to keep checking. And checking. And maybe even checking some more. Persistence pays off and every year we hear from readers that kept trying and were finally able to book what they wanted.
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