The Walt Disney World Resort has largely returned to “normal” since the pandemic shook the entire theme park and Resort industry in 2020. With the return of traditional character meet and greet experiences, increased capacity, and parades and nighttime fireworks spectaculars, things have been looking up for the past couple of years at Disney World.
Still, some pre-pandemic experiences have yet to return, with the most painful for fans coming down to the continued pause on sales of new Annual Passes and the hold on the Disney Dining Plan. These pauses are also running alongside pandemic-era changes that many Guests have not been fans of, including the continued requirement of theme park reservations and limits on Park Hopping.
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Earlier this year, while fans were hoping to hear about the return of the previously offered Disney Dining Plan, the Disney Dining Promo Card offer was released instead. Under the Dining Promo Card offer, Guests would need to book a package, including accommodations at a Disney Resort and theme park tickets, in which they could receive up to $750 on a card to spend on dining (with the specific amount varying based on other booking options like which Resort they stay at and when they plan their trip.)
Disney’s official website states that bookings for packages with the Dining Promo Card must have their Resort stay booked by March 27, 2023. The actual trip could take place later, but Guests only have until almost the end of next month to actually book their stay with this offer.
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The limited timeframe of the offer is not necessarily surprising. Prior to the announcement of the Disney Dining Promo Card, it seemed the company was testing the waters with this form of a Dining Plan Replacement by offering a similar deal to Guests visiting the Resort from the U.K.
With an end date in place for the temporary replacement for the Disney Dining Plan for domestic travelers, we have to wonder if the original Disney Dining Plan (or at least a similar form of it) is gearing up to return.
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Disney’s website also lists the Disney Dining Plan as “temporarily unavailable,” implying that it will one day return. It is also worth noting that while changes to the Dining Plan are certainly still possible, the page has been updated since the plans were paused as the Spirit of Aloha dinner show, which closed in 2021, has been removed. Other experiences that have permanently ended have been removed from Disney’s website, so it is promising to see that the Disney Dining Plan is still listed as just “temporarily unavailable.”
When it comes to the Disney Dining Plan vs. the Dining Promo Card, it is difficult to say which promotion offered the better deal. For some Guests, past “free dining” offers made the plan worth it especially if they chose to eat at some of the more expensive dining locations in a Disney Park or Resort. The “free dining” offer, however, came at the expense of a more expensive Resort stay and ticket package, as hotel room discounts could not be combined with the plan. (Under this savings, Guests staying at any level of accommodations from a Disney value Resort to a Deluxe Villa Resort, would only see savings on the cost of the plan and not their stay.)
As for if (or more likely when) we’ll see the Disney Dining Plan return, your guess is as good as ours. We are, however, curious to see what happens after all of the reservations that include the Dining Promo Card have passed (or at least after the booking window closes next month).
As always, we will continue to keep you updated on dining at Walt Disney World and will report back with more information as we have it here on Disney Tips.