Free Dining FAQ from our Free Dining Head Quarters!


If you are any sort of Disney Parks fan you know that there are two words that every fan waits all year to hear and they are not Mickey Mouse. Free Dining is an offer put out by Walt Disney World for stays that are usually in the fall and early winter.

Currently I am fielding daily questions on Free Dining from how it works to when will it be released.  Because of this I have decided to address many of these questions! Keep in mind to receive up to the minute alerts on the official release of Free Dining or any other offers you need to join my mailing list!

Dining plan

1. When will free dining be released? This is the big one! The answer is that officially we do not know what day this offer will be released and beyond that we do not even know if this offer will be released at all! Historically it is released at the end of April or Early in May.

2. What dates are covered by Free Dining? Another great question! We can look at history to make a good guess on this, but have to remember that anything is possible and Disney is known to change things up! If you are dead set on getting free dining do not book your airfare until the offer is released! Another thing to keep in mind is that last year you had to check in on a qualifying day and got free dining for your entire stay. That could change at anytime as well! There has been talk about the entire stay needing to fall on qualifying dates. Just rumors as of now! Last years dates were:

  • August 28 through October 2
  • October 25 through October 31
  • November 8 through November 19
  • December 15 through December 21

3. How does free dining work? You have to book a package that includes room, ticket and dining at a qualifying resort. The package must cover at least 3 nights and included at least 2 days of park tickets. You will pay full price for room and tickets and receive a dining plan for free. If you are at a value resort you will get the quick service dining plan free. If you are at a moderate, deluxe, or deluxe villa you will receive the Disney Dining Plan for free.

4. You said I have to stay at qualifying resort…what does that mean?  There are several resorts on property that do not offer free dining. These include Art of Animation in the Little Mermaid Rooms, The Campsites at Fort Wilderness, The Grand Floridian and Bay Lake Towers Villas, 3 Bedroom Grand Villas, and usually one of the All Star resorts and Port Orleans French Quarter are excluded. Anything else is fair game.

5. If I am already booked will I get free dining applied to my stay if it qualifies? Another great question! The answer is yes! And no! Here is why. Disney only releases free dining to fill rooms that other wise are empty during what is supposedly a slower time of year. This means that only a certain number of rooms are released for free dining. Inventory is not endless and is in fact, quite limited. You may be booked in September at Caribbean Beach Resort with 5 guests and attempt to get free dining only to be told it is not available at your resort. This could very well be true! Many times we see that the rooms that sleep five fill up for free dining quickly and the pirate rooms that sleep 4 are available. If you absolutely must have free dining you absolutely must be flexible. Be willing to change resorts, room type, category or even your dates!

6. How can I be sure I get free dining? You cannot ever be sure you get free dining, but you can do a few things to help! First and foremost as stated before you must be flexible. Be open to any resort, dates, room category, etc.  Another thing you can do is to book your stay with a travel planner like myself (get your quote request in NOW). I am on the phones and computers changing my clients over to free dining and booking new clients before you even think about waking up! Not to mention my clients not only get free dining, but a gift card bonus as well! Both of these things being said, it is most advised to book the vacation you can afford without a discount and look at it is a sprinkle of pixie dust if you get something!

7. When should I book my trip? With Disney the sooner you can book the better! For example if you are planning to travel with free dining in early September and you wait until a late April release of the offer to book you have already missed you window to book your dining reservation with the 180 days plus ten bonus given to onsite guests! Also, the sooner you book the sooner you can start paying your trip off in installments. The other side of this coin is that people say that if you wait to book the rooms stay empty which helps persuade Disney to offer Free Dining. I say, by this time they already know what they are offering and when so go ahead and book so you can plan. Nothing is more important than planning when it comes to your Disney Vacation right now!

8. If I am staying at a Value resort can I opt to get the Disney Dining Plan instead of the Quick Service Plan? You can absolutely pay to upgrade your dining plan! You will simply pay the cost to upgrade from Quick Service to the Regular Dining Plan and thus get the Dining Plan at a large discount! Still a great deal!! You can also upgrade to the deluxe plan from the quick service or regular plan!

9. Is free dining really that good of a deal? The word FREE makes it seem like it is best deal of the year, and for many it can be! However it is important to compare all offers. Disney usually offers a room discount along with its package offers. This means resort rooms are discounted a certain percentage and you pay full price on the elements of the package you add on. If you are two adults staying at a deluxe resort you will save $123.68 per night with free dining at a moderate or deluxe resort. However, if you are that same couple staying at the Grand Floridian and the room rate is heavily discounted you could be saving well above this rate per night by opting for the room discount! Make sure you look into all options regardless of the word free!

10. Anything else I need to know about Free Dining? Yes, if you are planning to travel during a time when free dining is offered you need to start planning now. Character meals and popular dining experiences will book up. Park attendance will increase and you will need a good solid touring plan.

There is my run down on FREE DINING for you! If you want to book your Disney resort stay for this fall or anytime please reach out to me or fill out my quote request form. I am always happy to assist my clients with getting free dining and all other offers!

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