I'm happy to tell you that one of the best offers of last year is…
Free Dining in Disney World? Is it really possible? Yes it is, and this special promotion comes around annually for guests to take advantage of. But is Disney Free Dining worth it?
We’re going to break down the dates and pricing for Disney Free Dining in 2020 including newly released dates, rumors, the 2020 Disney World Free Dining for Kids offer, 2020 Disney World Closure Free Dining, plus all of our favorite Tips on How to Book Disney Free Dining so you can get this special offer!
In this complete guide, we’re going to explain to you what Free Dining is and all the tips you need to know before coming to Walt Disney World.
(UPDATED 5/9/20): Some weeks ago, Disney came out with a New Disney Free Dining offer, only available to guests who had to rebook their Walt Disney World vacation because of the Disney World closure. This was great news as it gave more incentive to rebook their trip in 2020.
That offer was supposed to last through May 31, 2020, but it has now been removed and no longer available to book. In fact, a look on the Walt Disney World website confirms it is no longer there.
Instead, guests can book the Sun & Fun Room Offer which gives up to 25% off on rooms select resorts and available to all guests through August 31.
If you are reading this you are probably then wondering what this means and if Disney will be running another Free Dining offer at some point in 2020. We’ll cover what this news means and if there will be another Free Dining offer.
Disney also had regular Disney Free Dining Dates for 2020, though the booking window on this round of dates has already expired. No worries, this is most likely only the first wave of Free Dining in 2020 and we will probably get more later on in the year.
In 2020 Disney also added new dates for the Disney Kids Free Dining Package which is currently unavailable for booking.
In 2019 Disney didn’t just offer their free dining package once, but towards the end of the year, they also added more Disney World Free Dining Dates for booking for the Fall and Christmas 2019. We expect things to be similar in 2020.
What is Disney World Free Dining?
Free and Walt Disney World usually don’t go hand-in-hand, however, there are a few exceptions. Most every year Walt Disney World runs its Free Dining special promotion, usually in the Late Summer – Early Fall period, essentially as an incentive to get people to come to Disney World during the “slow” periods of the year (though those are slowly disappearing.)
So Disney includes their Disney Dining plan for free with the price of your hotel room package, that way you don’t have to pay for your meals and snacks, they are essentially…free. Most guests looking to book a Walt Disney World vacation are more inclined to come if they are getting their meals for free.
Of course, if you tell people they can get their meals in Disney World for free, they are going to jump at the chance!! So when does Disney Free Dining take place?
Since writing this article, some of the offers for Free Dining have since expired. The advice is still valid and will help you understand how the Free Dining promotion works. We are leaving the dates so you can see how past offers have worked while we are waiting for Disney to announce the next round.
2020 Disney World Closure Free Dining Offer
The Disney World Closure Free Dining offer was available for guests who booked a vacation package or room reservation to stay at a Disney Resort hotel from March 16 through May 31, 2020 (even if the park opens before then).
We don’t have an official name for this new Free Dining plan, so we are calling it the “Disney World Closure Free Dining Offer.” It is only valid if you had a reservation during the Disney World closure period and rebooked to one of the new select dates.
Unfortunately, at this time the offer is no longer running as Disney took it down 3 weeks earlier than it was supposed to expire. We’ll leave the details of the offer down below for anyone who has already booked it, and since we think Disney might soon run another similar offer.
To take advantage of this Free Dining plan guests must book a vacation package offer that includes accommodations at a select Disney Resort hotel, park admission, and a Disney dining plan. The offer is available for most nights from June 1 through September 30, 2020.
- This Free Dining Offer must be booked by May 31, 2020.
Other details include:
- This plan cannot be combined with any other discount or promotion
- Length of stay must be between 2 – 14 nights
- Guests MUST purchase tickets that cover the length of stay
- All ticket types are good with this offer including Base, Park Hopper, Water Park & Sports, Park Hopper Plus
- Children ages 3 to 9 must choose from the children’s menu, if available.
- Every guest staying in the same room must be included on the plan.
The level of Disney Dining Plan available with this offer depends on which Walt Disney World Resort hotel you are staying at.
- Guests staying in a Disney Value or Moderate level resort will get the Quick Service Dining Plan for free.
- Guests staying in a Disney Deluxe or Deluxe Villa Resort will get the regular Disney Dining Plan for free.
Most of the other standard Disney World Free Dining rules apply to this offer as well.
- One note for Annual Passholders – Usually it Free Dining doesn’t help annual passholders because you need to buy park tickets with the package. However with this new recovery dining plan annual passholders still have to buy park tickets, but they can then use the money paid for them toward a discount on their next annual pass renewal. This is a nice option that doesn’t leave out this group of Disney World guests.
Our first reaction is that this is a great offer for anyone thinking of rescheduling your Disney World trip in 2020. It’s nice that Disney is making this plan available to you and a great incentive to commit to coming back soon.
As we mentioned in our article When will Disney World Reopen? Disney is now starting to make some nice offers to guests in 2020 in hopes of bringing them back later this year. Before Disney World reopens, it needs to make sure there will be enough people actually on-site to make it worth it to them.
Deals like this one are the first step in getting people to fill in Summer 2020 and it looks like Disney is anticipating lighter-than-normal crowds already from June – September, assuming everything is back to normal by then.
From our experience, Free Dining can be a big money saver, and it’s doubly awesome if you already were booked on the Disney Dining Plan before the cancellation. Now you get to eat free.
We do recommend calling Disney immediately or contacting your Disney Travel agent ASAP to get this deal booked now. The availability is limited to first-come-first-served, so if you don’t act quickly you might miss out.
You can learn more about Disney Free Dining throughout the rest of this article where we cover the basics and answer any common questions you might have about it. I encourage you to read through it.
2020 Disney World Free Dining Dates
Does Disney still do Free Dining? Yes, absolutely. Free Dining is back in 2020, and Disney has just released the first round of dates for the event throughout the year, with the current dates for Summer 2020. Right now it’s happening in the months of June, July, August, and September 2020.
Here are the 2020 Disney World Free Dining Dates:
- June 27 – June 28, 2020
- July 5 – July 7, 2020
- August 29 – September 8, 2020
- June 1 through September 30, 2020 (Recovery Dates)
Booking must be made between January 2 and January 16, 2020 (This offer has since expired).
This first group of dates was released early this year and was made available on January 2. It’s not out of the ordinary for Disney to release the Free Dining dates in January and these dates will be booked immediately.
Traditionally though, Disney offers the free dining for dates in the Fall, so it’s somewhat surprising to see these dates happening earlier in the year. That doesn’t mean these will be the only ones though, and like 2019, we fully expect there to be another wave (or two) of free dining at some point later on in 2020.
We can’t emphasize the urgency enough of booking these dates immediately! The supply of rooms for Free Dining is extremely limited, so if you want to get it, you must book it as soon as possible!
How to be Eligible
Even though Free Dining in Disney World sounds amazing, unfortunately not all vacations are eligible to use this promotion. Here is a list of the requirements to use Free Dining in 2020:
- Your trip must be booked between: January 2 and January 16, 2020.
- Any Disney World Free Dining package must be a non-discounted 5-night/6-day vacation package in a Walt Disney World Resort Hotel. You can’t use multiple promotions at the same time, one or the other.
- All guests in the room must have a ticket with a Park Hopper Option or Park Hopper Plus Option.
It’s all about the Arrival Date:
Keep in mind your eligibility for the Disney World Free Dining package depends on your ARRIVAL date and not your checkout. That means that if you arrive on June 28th and leave July 5th, you are eligible for Free Dining your whole trip.
What’s included in the Disney World Free Dining Package?
Of course, each guest gets the Disney Dining Plan for free with this promotion, but which one depends on which Walt Disney World Resort Hotel you are staying in. Each Resort Level offers a different Free Dining package.
- Guests staying in a Disney Value or Moderate level resort will get the Quick Service Dining Plan for free.
- Guests staying in a Disney Deluxe or Deluxe Villa Resort will get the regular Disney Dining Plan for free.
In both cases to be eligible for Disney World Free Dining you also need to purchase a minimum 4-Day Park Hopper Ticket or the Park Hopper Plus option.
Disney World Dining Plan for Free in 2020
This offer is for guests staying at a Disney World Deluxe or Deluxe Villa Resort during the previously mentioned dates. With the normal Disney Dining Plan you get per day:
- 1 Table Service Meal
- 1 Quick Service Meal
- 2 Snacks
- Plus 1 Re-fillable Mug
The Free Dining offer includes the following hotels:
- Bay Lake Tower at Disney’s Contemporary Resort
- Boulder Ridge Villas at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
- Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas – Jambo House
- Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas – Kidani Village
- Disney’s Beach Club Villas
- Disney’s BoardWalk Villas
- Disney’s Old Key West Resort
- Disney’s Polynesian Villas & Bungalows
- Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa
- Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge
- Disney’s Beach Club Resort
- Disney’s BoardWalk Inn
- Bay Lake Tower
- Disney’s Contemporary Resort
- Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
- Grand Floridian Villas
- Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort
- Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
- Disney’s Yacht Club Resort
This Offer EXCLUDES the following hotels:
- Copper Creek Villas & Cabins at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge *
- Polynesian Village Resort and Villas *
- All 3-bedroom Villas *
Quick Service Dining Plan for Free in 2020
This offer is for guests staying at a Walt Disney World Value Resort during the previously mentioned dates. With the Quick Service Dining Plan you get:
- 2 Quick Service Meals
- 2 Snacks
- Plus 1 Re-fillable Mug
The Free Dining offer includes the following hotels:
- Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort
- Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort
- Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – Riverside
- Disney’s All-Star Music Resort
- Disney’s All-Star Sports Resort
- Disney’s Art of Animation Resort – Family Suites only
- Port Orleans Resort — French Quarter
- Port Orleans Resort — Riverside
- Disney’s Pop Century Resort
Are all Disney World Hotels Included?
Unfortunately, there are always exceptions and not all Walt Disney World Resort Hotels are eligible for Free Dining. Make sure to look at the list of excluded Walt Disney World Resort Hotels as this year there are quite a few of them.
In 2020 this Offer EXCLUDES the following hotels:
- All Star Movies
- Fort Wilderness campsites
- Art of Animation Little Mermaid Rooms
Can I Upgrade Offers?
Yes, you can. If you book a value or moderate resort package with the Free Dining offer, you can upgrade to the normal Disney Dining package for an additional fee. Check the latest prices with your Disney travel agent to see what the difference will be and if it’s worth it for you.
Why is Disney Running this Free Dining Offer?
It’s not uncommon for Disney to have special promotions and the Free Dining offer is a staple that guests can take advantage of every year. Why do we have ANOTHER Free Dining Offer in 2020?
The main reason is that hotel occupancy is lower than normal for the included dates, and they want to tempt guests as much as possible to book during that time. With an offer like this, it should give guests a nudge who are on the fence about booking a vacation. In fact, it’s usually offered in the part that we consider the best time of year to visit Disney World.
In 2019 Disney offered Free Dining 3 times in one year, and that’s even with Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge opening up. Rooms should have been flying out of inventory, but Disney still felt the need to offer Free Dining to sell the rest of the rooms.
While it is surprising to see Free Dining offered only about a week before Independence Day, for the most part, the limited room supply tells you that Walt Disney World hotel booking is pretty solid so far for 2020. The entirety of this offer only includes 16 real days, which means there are very few holes to fill in the calendar.
This is no surprise as Disney is planning on a big year in 2020 at the parks. Right now you have Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance in Galaxy’s Edge that is a huge hit with guests.
These attractions already are drawing huge crowds, which is the reason we have limited Free Dining dates for 2020.
Even though there are only 16 dates available right now, it’s still a great offer because it’s the full Disney Free Dining package, and those dates are the arrival dates, which means that as long as your trip STARTS on one of those days, the offer counts through the rest of your vacation up to 14 days.
2020 Disney World Free Dining for Kids Offer
Before we get to the rest of the 2020 Disney Free Dining information and rumors, it just so happens that Disney has already announced the new 2020 Disney World Free Dining for Kids plan!
All kids in your hotel reservation ages 3-9 are eligible for this offer.
What Included in the Plan?
Children ages 3-9 who are using the Disney Free Dining for Kids offer will get one of the three Disney Dining Plan options for each day of the stay (Quick Service, Regular Disney Dining Plan or Deluxe).
All guests on your reservation must buy the non-discounted “Magic Your Way” package. This includes your hotel stay, park tickets and any level of the Disney Dining Plan for all eligible children on the reservation.
When is it and What’s Required?
- This package is eligible for most nights from May 25 – August 28, 2020.
- You must book by February 26, 2020, to get the offer.
- All 3 levels of the Disney Dining Plan are eligible: Quick Service Dining Plan, Disney Dining Plan and Deluxe Dining Plan.
- All guests on the reservation must purchase the same Disney Dining Plan package. If you get the Quick Service Dining Plan, then everyone must get it.
- There is 4-day and 4-night minimum length of stay requirement.
- You must be staying at one of the participating Walt Disney World Resort hotels to use this offer. At this point, it looks like most of them are participating.
Excluded hotels include: 3-bedroom villas, campsites, Cabins at Copper Creek Villas & Cabins at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge, Bungalows at Polynesian Villas & Bungalows, Little Mermaid Standard Rooms at Disney’s Art of Animation Resort.
- Children using this offer must order off the children’s menu if available
This is the second Kids Free Dining offer so far in 2020. The first one was from May 25 – March 7, 2020.
If you are interested in this Kid’s Free Dining offer, then I’d move on it quick as it’s only available ass long as there are hotel rooms left in those participating resorts. Once they’re gone, that’s it.
But will the regular Disney Free Dining offer also be available for MORE dates in 2020?
2020 Disney Free Dining Rumors and Dates:
Will there be MORE Free Disney Dining in 2020? What are the latest rumors for dates?
(UPDATED 5/9/20): As has been confirmed, there is a Free Dining promotion in 2020. There has been one in Disney World every year since the start in 2009, so there was no reason to think that trend wouldn’t continue. We also just recently got a new Free Dining offer, exclusively for those who had their stays canceled due to the Disney World closure.
Even in 2019 with the opening of Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge in August and even more so Rise of the Resistance in December, there shouldn’t have been a need to fill resort hotel rooms, but Disney still offered Free Dining, and 99% they will continue to do so in the years to come.
Now, will Disney offer more dates for 2020 on top of the ones we already have now? In light of the Disney World closure, our first guess is that’s highly likely.
Though the most recent offers have now expired, we are expecting more promotions in 2020.
This first group of dates only covers Summer 2020 for the months of June, July, August, and September. The dates for September are early in the month, however, and traditionally Disney always includes dates throughout the rest of September, that being the slowest time of the year at Walt Disney World.
What about October, November and December? October is always a busy time in Disney World and isn’t always included, so it’s hard to say what will happen in 2020. Usually, the second wave of Free Dining includes dates into October and November at least.
There are some slower points in November and December we could see them including, but it’s still to early to be 100% positive.
We think having a second or even third wave of regular Disney World Free Dining is possible in 2020, especially after Disney will be desperate to bring back visitors to the parks after losing so much money in the Spring. The problem right now is that no one knows when Disney World is opening back up, not even the company.
Until Disney announces when the parks are reopening, don’t expect there to be any more announcements about Free Dining. However, once that happens, they will need to bring the hotels back up to as close to full occupancy as possible for what’s left in the Summer and Fall, so be on the lookout for more deals coming soon.
Usually, by looking at a Crowd Calendar for Disney World, you can figure out when they might offer Free Dining by looking at when crowds are expected to be the lowest.
I don’t have any insider info on when the rest of the dates for Disney Free Dining in 2020 will be yet, but our best guess is that we will get a second wave of dates at some point in Summer 2020 for Fall 2020 availability.
When to Book Free Dining?
While “Free Dining” sounds great, it can be hard to figure out when it will be. Here is some info on when the Disney Free Dining offer usually happens both to book it and when the stay dates will happen.
When Does Disney Offer Free Dining?
If you want to book it, you need to know when Disney offers Free Dining so you can plan your vacation around that. There is no exact science to knowing when the promotion will be every year but keep in mind Disney usually offers Free Dining in the Fall season. Historically, planning your vacation for September or October will likely be when Free Dining occurs.
When does Free Dining usually become available to book? Disney usually releases the dates and makes booking available in April, though in 2020 the first round of booking started in January. In 2019 we had one round in January and the second round began in July.
Finding out exactly when the next round of Dinsey Free Dining offer is coming out is crucial to being able to book this package. If you sign up for our FREE Weekly E-Mail Newsletter, we will let you know right away when the next offer comes out! You can sign up here: Join our E-Mail Newsletter
Does Disney Ever Offer Free Dining In January?
Disney does not typically offer Free Dining in January for stay dates. Free Dining is most likely to happen in the Fall of any given year.
The last time stay dates for Free Dining were offered in January was in 2012 and it hasn’t happened since.
At times, however, Disney does release the booking dates in January as they keep releasing dates earlier and earlier every year. This happened in 2019 and 2020.
Historical Free Dining Dates
Though it won’t necessarily help for 2020 and beyond, looking at the past Disney Free Dining Dates you can get a good idea of when the stay dates are and when the booking period begins. Let’s look at the most recent history of Disney Free Dining to see:
2019 Free Dining Dates:
- July 5th – September 30th (Round 1)
- September 1-18, 2019 (Rounds 2-3)
- November 17-27, 2019 (Rounds 2-3)
- December 8-23, 2019 (Rounds 2-3)
Booking Period: July 16 – September 29 (Rounds 2-3)
2018 Free Dining Dates:
- August 20 – September 29
- November 24 – 27
- December 7 – 23
Booking Period: April 24 – July 7
2017 Free Dining Dates:
- August 21 – September 30
- November 14 – 20
- November 25 – 27
- December 8 – 23
Booking Period: April 24 – July 7
2016 Free Dining Dates:
- August 23 – October 1
- November 15 – 21
- November 26 – 28
- December 10 – 21
Booking Period: April 25 – July 8
2015 Free Dining Dates:
- August 28 – October 2
- October 25 – October 31
- November 8 – November 19
- December 15 – December 21
Booking Period: April 27 – July 10
2014 Free Dining Dates:
- August 31 – October 3
- October 26 – November 1
- November 9 – November 20
- December 12 – December 23
Booking Period: May 7 – August 8
2013 Free Dining Dates:
- September 2 – September 25
- September 29 – October 2
- October 18 – November 2
- November 11 – November 23
- December 12 – December 22
May 9 – July 31;
2012 Free Dining Dates:
- January 8 – March 31
- August 25 – September 29
- September 30 – December 13
Booking Period: August 3 – December 17, 2011; March 5 – May 18, 2012; July 12 – September 29, 2012
2011 Free Dining Dates:
- January 1 – March 3
- May 27 – June 2
- August 28 – September 24
- October 2 – December 17
Booking Period: May 2 – August 27, 2011 ; August 3 – October 29, 2011
How to Book Disney Free Dining and Tips:
Now that you know when Disney Free Dining will be, half the battle is won. The other half, however, can be just as hard if not worse and that’s actually booking Free Dining.
There are a few things you have to do to make sure you can book this package. Here are some tips to keep in mind about the offer so you can get the Free Dining promotion when it becomes available.
Book Ahead of Time
You can’t wait until they announce the promotion because most rooms will probably already be filled by that time. This is a little Free Dining hack for you, but crucial to getting the dates you want. Book your Walt Disney World vacation BEFORE the dates come out for the Free Dining promotion, and then modify the package after if need be.
You can always add on the Free Dining promotion to your normal vacation package after, so there’s no reason not to secure your spot. It will ensure you already have your dates locked in because if you wait until the morning of the offer, it will be next to impossible to get the dates you want.
You can always rebook your trip if you have difficulties modifying your package to add Free Dining to it. You don’t have to worry about losing your ADR’s either, you will still keep your dining reservations.
Book Immediately When Offered
If you haven’t booked your dates already before the dates are announced each year, then I suggest to you to book your Free Dining Package ASAP if you want to have the best choice of dates available to you.
Room inventories are limited throughout Walt Disney World for Free Dining with some hotels or room types not even being offered during the promotion. It’s first-come, first-serve, so once the travel dates are gone, they’re gone. Don’t wait or you will miss it!
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Arrival/Departure Dates and Split Stays:
This part is very important because mess up your arrival date by one and you could miss the Free Dining offer entirely. Your arrival at Disney World is the most important date and what really matters to use this discount.
Remember, whether you are eligible or not for Free Dining depends on if you arrive at your resort on the same day that Free Dining is being offered. That means if the travel dates for the Free Dining promotion are August 20 – September 20, if you arrive anytime in that date range you will eligible for Free Dining for the entirety of your trip.
I want you to concentrate on that. This means that if you arrive even one day early on August 19, you will NOT be eligible and you will lose out on Free Dining for the entirety of your trip. You won’t get the discount on the other days either. On the other hand, if you arrive on September 19 and leave on October 1, you will still get Free Dining for your whole stay!
So make sure your arrival is in line with the promotion!
The only way around this is by doing what we call a “Split Stay.” This means splitting up your vacation into two reservations, one for the days before the Free Dining offer and another once it starts. You can do this by switching hotels, or making two separate reservations in the same hotel.
So for example again if Free Dining is running from August 20 – September 20 and your vacation is from August 18 – August 26, you can make the first reservation covering Aug 18 and 19, and then a second reservation from Aug 20 – 26. You won’t get Free Dining for the first two days, but the rest of your trip will be covered.
Just keep in mind your second reservation has to last the minimum length of stay to be eligible for the offer that year. So if it requires a 5-night stay, you can only start counting from the second reservation.
Should I Call or Go Online to Book Free Dining?
This is one of the easiest questions about Free Dining and the answer is you should go online. There are very few reasons that you should call to book Free Dining. If someone gives you this information just smile and nod and then go straight to your computer.
Phone calls to book Walt Disney World offers can take upwards of an hour or more and booking online is so much faster and easier. Even if there is a system crash due to high traffic that day (which is likely) it will STILL be faster than trying to call. Simply keep trying to get back online until the system comes back online.
In a worst-case scenario that your computer explodes or the internet stops working, then you can pick up the phone and try calling to book your package.
Make Your Advanced Dining Reservations Immediately:
Even if Disney hasn’t released info about this year’s Free Dining offer, please make your Advanced Dining Reservations immediately, 180 days before your arrival. This is crucial!
You don’t want to wait until Disney has announced the Free Dining offer to make your reservations. During the Free Dining period the best restaurants always fill up quickly, so unless you want to be stuck eating at the Nine Dragons or Tony’s Town Square Restaurant every night you need to plan out your trip right away!
If you Already Booked a Vacation Package…
If you already have made a Walt Disney World Resort booking before this offer came out, don’t worry. You can log in to your My Disney Experience account and modify your reservation. This is much faster than trying to call up the morning that the Free Dining offer comes out as you’ll spend half the day waiting on the phone!
If you have already booked a vacation package with an arrival date that qualifies for Free Dining, we recommend using the “modify reservation” link in your booking to apply the promotion to your package. This is the quickest and easiest way to apply for the promotion.
Can DVC Members Book Disney World Free Dining?
Yes DVC members can be eligible for Free Dining, but they can’t use DVC points to book their hotel room, they would have to pay the advertised market rate for a room with money. For that reason, DVC members usually decide the Free Dining offer isn’t worth it to them.
To answer some other common questions: yes, you must purchase tickets with the offer even if you already have them (or an Annual Pass). No, bookings made with Disney Vacation Club points are not eligible for the offer. No, you cannot “stack” this offer with a percentage-off room discount (at least not in the U.S.). For those wondering about other Walt Disney World discounts, check out our Current Walt Disney World Discount Offers post for what’s presently available
The coveted “free” dining promotion is very popular and only offered at select Disney resorts usually during the off-peak season. Disney Vacation Club members who use points for their resort stay are not eligible for the free dining promotion. In order to take advantage of this kind of promotion, you would have to pay cash or the advertised market rate for your resort accommodations.
Are Annual Pass Members Eligible for Disney Free Dining?
Anyone can book the Disney Free Dining promotion but you have to remember that purchasing a park ticket with the minimum days required is necessary to receive the offer. That means even though an annual passholder has a park ticket, they would have to purchase another one which would be a waste of money.
For that reason why they can, annual passholders usually don’t opt for the Free Dining offer.
Annual Passholders are better off looking for hotel room discounts which usually are running around the same time as Free Dining. You can sometimes find discounted rooms with a savings of up to 30% which when you combine that with the dining discounts Annual Passholders already receive, it’s often more advantageous than Disney World Free Dining is anyway.
Can I Stack Walt Disney World Offers and Discounts?
No, absolutely not. You cannot combine the Disney World Free Dining offer with other discounts on your resort hotel room. For that reason, you should calculate which is the best offer for you and your family and go with that one.
If You Miss Out on Free Dining?
What happens if you follow everything I’ve written above and you still can’t get a reservation for Free Dining? Don’t despair…
- Keep Checking – Just because there are no rooms available for the Free Dining offer the first time you check, doesn’t mean things won’t open up for you. Many Disney Travel Agents put rooms with this discount on hold for their clients for 72 hours. However, they go back into inventory if the client doesn’t actually keep it.
This is a perfect opportunity for you to swoop in and take the newly released hotel room!
Don’t Forget about Bounceback Offers!
Bounceback offers are given for guests to book their next trip to Walt Disney World while they are still on property. What’s nice is that sometimes the promotion includes a Bounceback offer with special Free Dining dates outside of the public dates usually offered in the Fall.
This can be another great discount to take advantage of and a way to utilize Free Dining to save money.
Is Disney Free Dining Worth It?
This like many Disney World budgeting questions is hard to answer and will vary greatly on you and your family and how you like to vacation. Let’s go over some of the positives and negatives which might make the Disney Free Dining offer worth it for you or not.
First, the rooms tend to be more expensive during Free Dining, which means you’re going to be paying more than you normally would. (You didn’t think Disney was just going to give you something for free did you??) This higher room cost off-sets the fact that your meals are free.
Therefore you might be able to get a better room rate at another time of year, or there also might be a better room-only discount going on so you’ll want to check all your options. Don’t just assume that Free Dining is going to save you money, there might be a better offer.
- You see the most savings with the Disney Free Dining offer staying at a Value Resort and the worst at a deluxe resort. This is because since you have to pay the full price for the room, the room often ends up being more expensive than Free Dining.
- You get the best deal for Free Dining, the more people you have in your room. The savings will probably outweigh the costs of the room if you have 4-5 people there, rather than if you only have 2 people.
- The type of room matters. Again since you’re paying the full price for your room, always go for a standard room and not one with a view if you are trying to save the most money possible.
- Also keep in mind that the Disney Dining Plan does include the tax on the meal, but it doesn’t include the tip. Make sure to budget for this as it could mean hundreds of dollars depending on where you eat and the size of your group.
If you are a DVC member keep in mind that any bookings made using Disney Vacation Club points are not eligible for Free Dining either, so you have to weigh the additional cost of the hotel room against what you could save going the Vacation Club route.
Also, you must buy your Park Tickets from Disney and they must have the “Park Hopper” option. That means you can’t use any third-party discounter where you might save money and you may not have otherwise bought them with the hopper option either, again costing more money.
And since buying the tickets in the package is a must, this won’t be advantageous for Annual Passholders seeing they already have their tickets booked. Annual Passholders are much better off waiting for a deal which discounts the hotel rooms only.
Then you have to also consider the eating habits of you and your family. Some families don’t save any money being on the Disney Dining Plan because they don’t end up using all the credits they paid for in advance. If you are a family that doesn’t eat a lot you might not even need the Free Dining plan and another offer might be a better bargain for you.
Disney Free Dining Pros and Cons
- You get the Disney Dining Plan at no cost (this could save you a bunch)
- It’s easy, all your meals will be covered during your whole stay
- You can’t combine it with other discount offers
- The offer runs out fast
- You have to follow the minimum stay guidelines and purchase theme park tickets (not good for Annual Passholders)
- Not all Walt Disney World Resort Hotels participate (Port Orleans French Quarter/Port Orleans Riverside, Fort Wilderness Campground, Polynesian Villas and Bungalows, Little Mermaid Rooms at Art of Animation.
I know there is a lot to weigh and tons of math involved, but don’t just assume Free Dining is better for you just because the word “free” is in there. It may be worth it for you, but you need to check.
In the end, you can see that Disney never gives you anything for free, and each family needs to add the cost of the Free Dining offer against other discounts or ways of booking your Walt Disney World vacation to see which way is less expensive for you.
Don’t forget to check out the 2020 Disney Free Dining Dates for UK Residents. This covers all residents of Europe not only the UK, but not U.S. residents, and has proved to be a good way to save money through the years.
For Suggestions on where to use all those Disney World Free Dining credits, you can check out my Walt Disney World Dining Guide with extensive Reviews on many of the Disney World Restaurants! And my In-depth FastPass+ Overview will give you a good strategy on how to get FastPass+ reservations for the attractions you want the most!
Need help planning your Disney Vacation? Contact René from Show You the World Travel for all your trip planning needs. All of the agents there are certified Disney Travel Agents and are super helpful with all your planning needs. I highly recommend them and the best part about it is they are FREE to use!
I want to know what you think about the new 2020 Disney World Free Dining Offer…
- Have you ever used one of the Disney Free Dining Promotions before?
- Do you think it’s a good promotion? How can they improve?
Let us know in the comments section below!
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