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Free Dining! Free Dining! Free Dining! – PREP004

Free Dining! Free Dining! Free Dining! – PREP004
free dining

The title of this post is a recap of the subject lines of most of the emails I receive.

I have some info on who should use Free Dining and tips on making the best use of it.

I also have a couple of other tips for people wanting to use Child Swap and a room request tip for people staying at Art of Animation.


Can you use Child Swap if your child is tall?

If your child is too short or too scared to ride a ride, most rides that have a height requirement will offer a Child Swap/Rider Switch option.

To read more about how that works, check out my article on child swap.

All about Free Dining

What it is
Free Dining is a promotion typically offered in the fall. It allows people to book a hotel and tickets and get the Disney Dining Plan for free.

Since 2009, Free Dining has been offered every fall (the dates have varied). Disney has also offered it twice at the beginning of the year (January – March) and once at the end of May for 1 week.

People who book a Value Resort will get the Quick Service Dining Plan for free during Free Dining (2 Quick Service credits per night of the trip). People at Moderate and Deluxe Resorts will get the Basic Dining Plan for free (1 Table Service and 1 Quick Service credit per night of the trip).

Who should use it
Most people will benefit from using the Free Dining promotion but people staying in Deluxe Resorts will save more money by using a room-only discount (a 30% off discount is often available).

Some things you should know if you want to use Free Dining:

  • People who arrive by the last day of the promotion can usually use it for their whole trip
  • You have to book all of your Advanced Dining Reservations way in advance if you’re going during a Free Dining period
  • Book your package before Free Dining is announced. After it’s announced, you’ll need to call ASAP to have the promotion applied to your reservation. There are only a certain number of rooms available for the promotion. Just because you have an existing reservation doesn’t mean you’ll be able to use Free Dining. Call ASAP to get it.
  • The best deal during Free Dining is usually for people who book a Moderate Resort and get the Basic Dining Plan
  • If Free Dining begins in the middle of your trip, you won’t be able to use it unless you book 2 separate reservations (1 before Free Dining and 1 during)

Quick tip

People staying at Art of Animation can request a room that’s located on an upper level with a lake view. This allows people to have a great view and it means less noise since you’ll be facing away from the swimming pools and away from the lower floors where it tends to be louder.

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Wednesday 21st of December 2016

Just stayed at Art of Animation and, without even knowing to request it, got a top-floor lake-view room in Lion King and it was AMAZING. I've stayed pretty much exclusively at deluxe resorts thanks to my DVC family so I was worried when booking that AoA would be disappointing and, honestly, it was easily on par with my DVC experiences. Yes, a little smaller and no kitchen or laundry but I never used those amenities anyway. But the view was beautiful, it was dead silent, and the walk to the room was SO MUCH SHORTER, a major factor after a 12-hour day at the park! Honestly if you were to offer me the same AoA room or any deluxe room I'd probably take AoA. Maybe my feelings would be different if we'd gotten a bottom-floor room with a bad view or something but I'm not sure. It really was a fantastic place.

Darrin Whitley

Sunday 17th of July 2016

We are planning on going to WDW in November 2016 and the free dining has expired I think on July 8th. Will they possibly do anymore promotions for november 2016 before we go.


Sunday 26th of June 2016

I have a tripped planned for 12/21-12/26. I have all my dining reservations, but have have been reading that during Christmas week, many parks reach maximum capacity and close further admission by as early as 10am. If I have a dining reservation for 5pm will we be allowed in if park is at max capacity? Any other help for visiting during Christmas would be appreciated. I'm becoming concerned that my dream of Disney at Christmas might not be so great.

Jennifer W.

Monday 2nd of May 2016

We stayed at Old Key West resort last year during the free dining promo and it was worth every penny for our family! We had four adults and three children and the room discount couldn't touch the dining promo. We used all of our table credits for character dining. With the prices of character dining for adults (and children for that matter) it was the right choice for us.

This year we jumped on the free dining promo again but are staying at Caribbean in a preferred room with bunk as it's only two adults and three kids. Again it makes the most sense for us as the room is moderately priced and we don't have to worry about the high costs of character dining. We have Cinderella's Royal Table, Akershus, Ohana, and Chef Mickey. Just remember CRT takes two dining credits. We are staying five nights so we allocated two for that dining event. And make sure you take advantage of Be Our Guest still being counted as Quick Service. The castle is beautiful and the food is great (try the "Grey Stuff" - it's fun and delicious). The reservations fill up quickly!

You have to do your homework and calculate what discount works bests for you and your family considering where you want to eat, where you want to stay. This site has great tools to help you in doing so. Hope this helps!


Sunday 24th of April 2016

what number do we call when free dining is announced for 2016?

Shannon Albert

Monday 25th of April 2016

Free Dining is out now! You can modify an existing package or book it online at