FREE DINING, FREE DINING, FREE DINING. There, we said it. That is what EVERYONE wants to know about! Walt Express is asked A LOT about the “free dining” promotion that Disney offers (sometimes). Join us as we break it down for you, right here in: 10 Secrets You Should Know About FREE DINING in Disney World.

10 Secrets You Should Know About FREE DINING in Disney World

The “free dining” discount has become the most anticipated, most requested AND sometimes, the MOST hard to get promotion that Disney World offers. Here’s the thing though… well, let’s just jump right into “secret” number 1.10 Secrets You Should Know About FREE DINING in Disney World

  1. It is NOT guaranteed that Disney World will offer a “free dining” promotion. Yes, you read that right. Over the past few years, the “free dining” promotion has changed since it was first introduced. Now, there are stipulations. This can and will change. Past stipulations included having to add PARK HOPPER to your tickets. This can add an extra expense.
  2. FRENZY: Free Dining creates a HUGE frenzy when it’s released. The phone lines and online outlets are clogged for days and will occasionally “go down”. Make sure you have a plan in place, whether you are doing it all by yourself, or using a travel planner.
  3. If you already have a reservation and the “free dining” discount comes out, you can get the discount applied, IF there is availability. Be prepared to be on hold for a long time. Don’t wait and know what you want! Free Dining availability goes very fast. Be sure that you know what resort type and specification you need before you book. I know this is sometimes difficult, but it will be extremely difficult to make changes to a free dining reservation once it has been booked.
  4. In the past, if you are staying in a value resort, you would receive the “quick service” dining plan. If you are staying in a moderate or deluxe resort, you would receive the “regular” dining plan. You would still be able to stay in a value with the “free dining” promotion, but if you want the “regular” dining plan, you would pay an up charge (again, adding an extra expense).
  5. Even though “free dining” is typically a fall discount, sometimes Disney will offer this discount as a “bounceback” offer. Bounceback offers are for guests who are currently staying in a Disney World Resort and book their next vacation before they checkout. This past year, the bounceback offer was free dining during a couple of very specified weeks during the summer.
  6. BE FLEXIBLE on your dates. This past year, MOST of October was “blacked out”, meaning the promotion was not valid during that time.10 Secrets You Should Know About FREE DINING in Disney World
  7. Also, be flexible on your resort choices. Sometimes, certain resorts, like the Art of Animation resort (Little Mermaid rooms) are usually ALWAYS excluded from discounts,
  8. Restaurants fill up very fast when hopes of “free dining” is on the line.  People sometimes “hoard” reservations in hopes of getting free dining, therefore making it extremely hard to grab a reservation. Start looking and booking those restaurants you want up to 180 days prior to your travel dates. Also, keep checking! People begin to cancel reservations and they will open up daily once the 30 day mark has passed.
  9. If you receive the “free dining” discount, you will be paying full, rack room rates for your room. Discounts cannot be “stacked”. But, for a larger party, the “free dining” promotion WILL save you money, even with the added stipulations.
  10. Know the cost of the dining plan and then you will really know how much you ARE or ARE NOT saving! These prices are current 2018 prices and are per person, per night of reservation.
  • Quick Service Dining: ADULT $52.50 CHILD $21.74
  • Dining (Regular plan): ADULT $75.49 CHILD $25.75
  • Deluxe Dining: ADULT $116.25 CHILD $39.99

Learn more about the Disney Dining plans right here and find the one that is right for you and your family! DINING PLANS 101

Free dining can be a great money saving discount for your Disney World vacation. But, always remember, that it’s not guaranteed. Just because a promotion has the word “free” in it, does not mean it’s always the best deal for your family. Ultimately, you will need to do the math yourself and figure out if it’s going to save you the most money.

Just remember, Disney World does not guarantee ANY discount and the discounts can and will change from year to year.

Looking for a reason to visit Disney World in 2018? How about 18 reasons?!?!

Join us in our Facebook group: DISNEY EXPRESS LANE to discuss this and more Disney topics!

photo credit: Jeff Krause Photography Magic Kingdom – Be Our Guest – The West Wing via photopin

Dining at Tony’s via photopin (license)


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Vanda Bean

Vanda is a Mom of 2 boys who is always thinking about or planning a trip to Disney World! Thanks to them and her work as a travel agent, she has become an expert on planning the perfect Disney trip and making wishes and dreams a beautiful reality. When she's not planning trips for others or visiting Disney herself, she graciously shares her knowledge and experiences here on Walt Express with our readers to help you plan your very own magical Disney vacation!