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Free Disney Dining Plan Basics

People who are in the midst of planning a Disney trip often hear this term thrown around, but what does it really mean? Can you really get free food at Disney? The answer is – yes, sort of. Let me begin with a quick overview of the Disney Dining Plan, because that’s really where this whole thing starts.

Disney Dining plan logo

Simplifying the Disney Dining Plan

With the Disney Dining Plan (or DDP), you are purchasing a certain number of meals ahead of time on a "voucher/credit system."  For each night of your stay, each guest on your resort reservation receives an allotment of quick service meals (similar to fast food), table service (sit-down) meals, and snacks; the number of which is dependent on which specific plan you choose.  Most, but not all, restaurants are included - here's a list of participating locations.

Min and Bill's

Disney offers a variety of Dining Plans. We have a great overview of each plan’s details here, but here’s a quick run-down of what you get with each plan:

Quick-Service Dining Plan:
Disney Dining Plan: Deluxe Dining Plan:

A lot of people really like the Disney Dining Plan because it allows them to easily budget for their dining in advance. Instead of having to look through the menus and decide what they can afford to order at each restaurant, they know that they will pay XX amount per day with the Dining Plan. Others enjoy it because they may try out restaurants they may not have eaten at without the Plan. When you know your food is already paid for (or at least budgeted for), you feel you have more flexibility to try out a higher-priced meal.

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So, what is “Free Dining?”

Free Dining is a discount that Walt Disney World has offered for quite a few years, typically in the fall as a way to fill up their hotels in the slower season. When you book a package (which includes your hotel room and tickets) during the Free Dining discount period, you can take advantage of the Free Dining Promotion. Typically, these are the options available during a Free Dining promotion:

When will the Free Dining Promotion be offered?

It’s never guaranteed to happen, but generally, the promotion begins in August or September and is for travel dates through the fall, sometimes even into December. In the past, the discount has been announced in March and May and has been available to book through the summer. However, the availability of the plan (both in when you can book AND when you can visit) has varied, so it’s hard to predict exact dates.

What are the requirements to be eligible for the discount?




You must stay at one of the hotels that is eligible for the discount.  This promotion is also based on inventory, so even if your desired hotel is available, there may not be any rooms left that qualify for the discount.

Typically, there are some resorts that aren’t included in the promotion. In the past (this could obviously change), the following resorts have NOT been included in Free Dining:

Availability at the remaining resorts included in the promotion is often limited, so if you want to book this deal, you should do so as soon as it’s announced.

If you already have a resort reservation, your Dreams Unlimited Travel Agent will work to add the Free Dining Promotion if/when it’s announced.

You must arrive within the dates of the promotional period and stay for the required number of nights which has typically been a minimum of three nights.

You must buy tickets as part of your package (in the past Disney has required every guest to purchase a minimum 2-day base ticket and these may need to be Park Hopper or Water Park Fun & More tickets.)



Is it worth it?

Free Dining is generally a great deal. BUT - The catch is that to take advantage of this discount, you will pay “rack rate,” or full price, for your hotel room. So, you’ll have to do the math.  How do you know if it’s a good deal for your family?


Tortuga Tavern


Any other details you need to know?

 

Wrap-Up



Now that you understand all the ins and outs of how the Dining Plan and the Free Dining promotion work, make sure to bookmark this page and check back to see if the discount has been released.  Or, if you have a resort reservation with Dreams Unlimited Travel, your travel agent will be watching your reservation and will be able to apply the Free Dining discount if they see that it will save you money.

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If you have any discrepancies or corrections, please email us.