Skip to Content

Free Dining worth it? + maximizing Extra Magic Hours – PREP086

HomeFree Dining worth it? + maximizing Extra Magic Hours – PREP086
Free Dining worth it? + maximizing Extra Magic Hours – PREP086

Lots of people get excited about the possibility of Free Dining for their trips, but what if it’s not the best deal? I’ve got info today on who usually saves more by using Free Dining and who doesn’t.

I also have a quick tip about maximizing Extra Magic Hours (including which attractions are open at each park).


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.

Become a WDW Prep To Go Patron

WDW Prep To Go Patrons pay a little to unlock even more content than what’s on the main podcast feed, such as a private FB Group and exclusive audio that’s released on a private podcast feed.
Become a Patron Now

Is Free Dining worth it?

With the regular/basic Disney Dining Plan costing $60/day for adults and $19/day for kids 3-9, sometimes the room-only discounts work out better than Free Dining (when/if it’s available).

In addition, not everybody eats the same amount of food provided on the Disney Dining Plan so paying out-of-pocket and using a room-only discount might make more sense.

For people who do eat the amount of food provided with Disney Dining Plan credits, here’s what promotion usually makes the most sense during times when Free Dining is offered:

  • Families/groups of 5 – Free Dining is usually the better deal no matter where you stay
  • Families/groups of 3 or 4 – Free Dining is usually the better deal unless staying at 1 of the more expensive Deluxe Resorts
  • Families/groups of 1 or 2 – Free Dining is usually the better deal at Value and Moderate Resorts, but the room-only discount will save more at Deluxe Resorts

If Free Dining is announced, be sure to listen to my podcast about preparing for Free Dining and check out my charts on maximizing Disney Dining Plan credits.

Recent news

  • Beginning on April 20, a new bus route from Magic Kingdom to Hoop-Dee-Doo Revue and Mickey’s Backyard BBQ is being tested.
  • The Sounds Like Summer concert series (which runs from June 7 – July 25) lineup has been announced.

Quick tip of the day

Brittany called in with a tip that not all Extra Magic Hours are as valuable as others, as she found out when visiting Epcot during a morning Extra Magic Hour.

Here’s what’s open during AM and PM EMH. Pin it or save to your phone to have as a reference later.

Have a quick tip of your own? Call it in at

Subscribe to get new episodes

There are a few ways to get new episodes of WDW Prep To Go (if you’re used to listening on the website, subscribe so you can take new episodes with you on your phone)

Related News
Shannon Albert


Monday 27th of April 2015

How easy are RO discounts to get? Are they limited like the FD discounts? I have currently have two reservations - one w FD in a more expensive room and one without FD in a cheaper room. I'm leaning toward keeping the reservation w/o FD, dropping the DDP and trying for a RO discount in July. I just don't want end up unable to get the RO discount after this morning's disappointment.

Brianna Rhodes

Monday 27th of April 2015

Hi! You mentioned that the meals sometimes include tons of food. When you are on the dining plan do you get to take leftovers back with you?


Tuesday 21st of April 2015

Thanks for the tips! I wanted to add that when you think about how your family eats, also consider whether you like to order appetizers and alcoholic drinks at sit-down restaurants. Those aren't included in the cost of the regular dining plan. Tips aren't included either (whatever you order).


Monday 20th of April 2015

You can still share while using the dining plan (except for buffets/character meals I think). This is a stategy we use to do a two credit meal, then share some other meals to make up for that extra credit used. Also, quick service meals are not allocated between child/adult meals. So if you have a child who doesn't eat much (or any it sometimes seems!), get an adult meal for that quick service to share with your child. This also generates extra credits which can be used for more meals. Essentially subbing some quick service for table service and saving table sevice credits to do a two credit meal or two.


Monday 20th of April 2015

We are looking at going to WDW the first week of December. I noticed that free dining was blacked out during this time last year. I am leaning towards Art of Animation, Little Mermaid rooms, since we can't get free dining during that time. Are those usually part of the room discounts offered? Are the room discounts blacked out the same time as free dining? IF free dining happens to be offered during that time we might switch to Pop Century or a moderate resort.

Shannon Albert

Monday 20th of April 2015

Little Mermaid discounts have never been part of a promotion. They're popular and don't need a discount to get people to stay there.