The free dining promotion is one of the most popular of the discounted promotions that Disney offers for Walt Disney World. The promotion tends to break the website and cause crazy wait times for reservation agents in order to apply the promotion to vacation packages. You have heard of the promotion, but have you heard these 6 points about it?:
6. It is usually offered for fall dates.
When the free dining promotion was first offered, it became an instant hit and the most popular of the promotions that Disney offers for vacation packages. It used to be offered for some late winter and early spring dates and then again the fall. Now as Walt Disney World gets busier and busier, in later years the free dining promotion has only been offered in the fall. Fall is usually the slower times for guests to visit since all the kids are back in school and just came off of their summer vacations. Guests wait every year to see when/if the free dining promotions will be announced so that they can take advantage of the great promotion.
5. The quantities offered at each resort are limited.
Many guests get confused when they try to book the promotion and see that it isn’t available for the resort and room category that they selected, but they see that there are openings at the resort without the promotion. The way that Disney offers the promotion is that it is available for a set number of rooms in each category at each resort. Once that quantity has been reached, the promotion is no longer available at that resort and room. You will have to either try a different resort or try different dates if you are set on finding the free dining plan. This is where using an authorized Disney travel agent could be extremely helpful and help ensure that you get the best deal.
4. You can change a vacation package you already booked to a free dining package.
So you have already booked your vacation, and now the free dining promotion is available. You are out of luck, right? Well that would be wrong! Disney won’t automatically apply discounts and promotions, but once a new promotion is announced you can call in and they will apply it to your vacation package if it is eligible. They will help walk you through the options and you can determine if you want to update your package. Just remember that the quantities are still limited, so you may not be able to update the promotion if they are already gone. This is why the phone lines are busy with 3 hour waits when the free dining promotion is announced.
3. There are usually requirements for the package to qualify for free dining.
There are basic requirements that are usually required in order for your vacation package to be eligible. The first is that you must purchase park tickets as part of your package. Typically this is a minimum 2-day park hopper park ticket for each member of your party. There are also usually room category limitations, too. The standard rooms usually have none or very little dining promotions. You have to book one of the premium rooms or rooms with more expensive views. Some guest find that these requirements make free dining not as valuable if they weren’t purchasing these options anyway. If you like a better view/location and you like the flexibility of park hopper, then you will definitely benefit from the promotion and requirements.
2. The type of dining plan you get is based on your hotel tier.
The value and moderate resorts get the Quick-Service Dining Plan with the free dining plan promotion. The deluxe resorts get the standard Disney Dining Plan with their promotion. If you like more table service dining or what to experience the character meals, you may want to consider this when making your selection. The cost to upgrade may be worth it and you get more amenities with your stay. If you are on a tight budget, it may not make sense, but run the numbers both ways while also keeping the cost of meals in mind and it may balance out to make sense for your family and get you into the perfect resort for your family, too.
1. You can upgrade to another Disney Dining Plan.
If you don’t want to change your resort category, or if you just want a higher level of dining plan, you can still upgrade to a higher level of dining plan options. You can call in and request the upgrade be applied when you are on the promotion. You will just have to pay the difference in the cost of the dining plans to upgrade, which is great!
Bonus – DVC members aren’t eligible for free dining packages when using DVC points. If you are a DVC member or considering renting DVC points for your upcoming stay, don’t get too excited about the free dining promotion. DVC members and the DVC resorts aren’t eligible for the promotion. You have to book your package through one of the available resorts in the promotion in order to be eligible.