How To Score Disney World Free Dining in 2018!

It’s that time of year again – when we’re all eagerly awaiting the announcement of the 2018 Free Disney Dining Plan! The Free Dining offer is super popular – for good reason – and we’ve been talking about WHEN the Free Dining dates might be announced for a while now!

free-dining

The Disney World Free Dining offer includes a free Disney Dining Plan with the purchase of a Walt Disney World Resort hotel and ticket package. The “free” part of the name pulls you in, but just remember that you’ll be paying full price for your resort hotel room and a minimum number of ticket days when you book free dining.

We are expecting the Free Dining dates to be announced VERY soon, and today we have five tips for how to score the Free Dining offer!

In recent years, Free Dining was announced for less crowded (non-peak) times during the year – late summer, early fall, and early winter (before the holiday season). But there’s really no such thing as a non-peak season anymore, so we’re expecting the options for this year will include more summer dates.

If you’re hoping to get the Free Dining offer as soon as it is announced, we recommend doing these five things!

1. Watch the DisneyWorld.com Special Offers Page

The Special Offers page is where you’ll find all the current room discounts and other special offers for Disney World – including Free Dining when it is announced! As soon as the Free Dining offer is announced it’ll be listed on the Special Offers page with details on the travel dates, restrictions, and much more.

Mickey Waffles!

Mickey Waffles!

Be sure to read the fine print for length of stay requirements, what hotels are excluded from the Free Dining offer, and what dining plans are available based on which hotel you choose. Last year, guests staying at Deluxe resorts were offered the free Standard Disney Dining Plan, while guests at Moderate and Value resorts were offered the Quick-Service Disney Dining Plan for free.

2. Join the DFB Newsletter and DFB Social Media Channels for Breaking News

Here at DFB we are always watching for details on when Free Dining is coming and we’ll post information AS SOON AS we hear about it! If you want to stay on top of the Free Dining Plan info and release dates, sign up for our newsletter! We’ll let you know as soon as booking is available for Free Dining. And be sure to follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram for updates, too!

3. Look at Past Free Dining Offers

You’ll want to check out past Free Dining offers to see which hotels were included in the offers and which were excluded. In 2017, campsites, 3-bedroom villas, Disney’s Art of Animation Resort – Little Mermaid Standard Rooms, and Bungalows at Disney’s Polynesian Villas & Bungalows were all excluded from the Free Dining offer.

Make sure your hotel of choice isn't excluded from free dining!

Make sure your hotel of choice isn’t excluded from free dining!

Those hotels may be excluded again this year and other hotels may be added to the list — keep this in mind when you’re thinking about which hotel you want choose!

4. Book NOW with a Travel Agent so they can update your reservation FOR YOU when Free Dining is released.

Book your trip NOW with a travel agent. If you already have your trip booked when Free Dining comes out, your travel agent may be able to add free dining to your package (if applicable) without you having to lift a finger!! Our favorite people over at Small World Vacations are ready to help you save time, headaches, and best of all, money, when you book. They’re the recommended agency for me, personally, and for Disney Food Blog.

There is always a VERRRRY limited number of rooms available during Free Dining — and if recent years are any indication, they’ll go very quickly! A travel agent can both discount hunt for you to make sure you’re getting the biggest bang for your buck, and be on the phone at 6AM to add Free Dining to your package when/if it comes out.

Remember, too, that on Free Dining morning, hold wait times when calling the Walt Disney World Booking number can be hours. Why wait yourself when your travel agent can be doing that for you??

Remember alcohol is included in the Disney Dining Plan now!

Remember alcohol is included in the Disney Dining Plan now!

Booking your Disney World vacation with a travel agent will save you time, money, and make your vacation planning stress free – which is always a bonus!

So book that trip now, then sit back and relaxClick here for a no obligation price quote today from Small World Vacations, and let them know DFB sent you :)

5. Look for Disney Visa Cardholder Access

In the past, Disney Visa Carholders have been first to get access to Free Dining before it is announced to the general public. If you’re a Disney Visa Cardholder keep an eye on your inbox for that Free Dining email. This doesn’t happen every year, but it has happened enough that it’s still worth checking!

For more tips on how to get Free Dining check out our How to Get the Free Disney Dining Package Video

We anticipate 2018 Free Dining information will be released VERY soon. So stay tuned to DFB and the DFB Newsletter for details as soon as we have them.

The Free Disney Dining Plan can be a good deal, but we always recommend crunching the numbers, especially when “free” dining is involved. Check out our DFB Guide to Walt Disney Dining for a full chapter on whether it makes sense for your family.

Are you planning on booking free dining this year? Let us know in the comments.

Don’t Miss Out on Any Disney Fun!

The 2018 DFB Guide to Walt Disney World Dining, is now available!

2017 DFB Guide to WDW Dining Cover March 6

With more than 650 pages, the 2018 DFB Guide to Walt Disney World Dining is full of tips and planning tools developed by Disney World experts over 20+ years of visits. We’ve done the research for you, so you’ll know just which spots will uniquely suit your family’s needs! We’ve also crunched the numbers in a full chapter on the Disney Dining Plan and Free Disney Dining Plan, so we can help you decide if the Dining Plan is right for you!

With mini-reviews of every single restaurant, bar, lounge, kiosk and more; an entire chapter on the best snacks in Disney World; full Disney Dining Plan analysis (and how to get FREE dining); and a full chapter on discounts and deals; you’ll have everything you need to plan your best vacation yet. Click here to order your copy of the 2018 DFB Guide to Walt Disney World Dining E-book with code WDW2018 to save 25% today!

Use code WDW2018 at check-out for a 25% off the cover price! Our guides are backed by a 100% money-back guarantee, so you have nothing to lose. :-)

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Comments

  1. Corrie says

    Hi AJ, I was just wondering do you stand a better chance of getting in on the free dining offer if you are book through a travel agent? We were just discussing this today and thinking of booking with one.

  2. says

    Corrie — Travel agents don’t get preference over guests booking on their own. But travel agents have honed their skills and are on the phone at zero dark thirty on free dining opening day working on adding the offer to their guests’ bookings. So, experience counts :-D

  3. Christine says

    Hello AJ,

    Greetings from Canada! We’re so excited for our first Disney Trip and crossing our fingers that our Dec. 22 check-in date will be included in the date range for the Free Dining Plan. With that being said, so far we have 8 park day tickets, but we have read somewhere that to qualify for the free dining plan, we would need the park hopper. Can you please confirm if this information is accurate? In addition, once the free dining has been added to our package, are we able to upgrade to different meal plans? Your advice is very much appreciated!

  4. DFB Sarah says

    Hi, Christine! Thanks for your comments and questions! Historically, Free Dining has required at least a 2-day Park Hopper. You can pay to upgrade your Free Dining once you’ve locked it in for your trip. Good luck — and have fun!

  5. Ca says

    Currently, I have a room only reservation at a Deluxe resort for mid-August. Do you recommend adding our park tickets now (before any announcement) or at the same time as long as our dates our included? And have deluxe resorts typically needed to have the hopper plus with their tickets?

    Thanks!

  6. DFB Sarah says

    Ca, adding Park Hopper tickets either now or at the time you contact Disney Reservations for the Free Dining offer should be fine, although having your tickets already attached to your reservation might reduce the amount of time you’ll need to be on the phone. And historically, yes, all Free Dining recipients must have Park Hopper tickets included in their reservations. When the announcement comes, we’ll confirm whether or not that is still the case in 2018. Good luck!

  7. Henry says

    Hi AJ, didn’t know we needed a hopper ticket for free dining. We are going for 6 days and plan to purchase 5 day park ticket (base). Its our first time there so figure we didn’t need to hop. If free dining requires minimum 2 day park hopping, is it possible to purchase 2 day park hopping and 3 day park ticket and then combine the uses for 5 days?

    Thanks.

  8. says

    Is there typically a certain time of the day free dining is announced? Is it as soon as it is posted from WDW as a general rule? Thank you., crossing our fingers!

  9. Brandie says

    Does this post mean DFB is leaning towards an April 23rd promo start date like the rumor buzzing currently on other Disney fan sites?

  10. Henry says

    Hi, we plan to purchase 5 day park pass. If the free dining require minimum of 2 day hopper, is it possible to purchase 3 day base and 2 day hopper to minimize the spend?

    Thanks.

  11. Phoenie says

    We’re planning our first family WDW trip for late September. We haven’t booked yet but are planning to stay at the contemporary. I’d really like to use a travel agent because we would love to score the free meal plan. We also want to use our Disney rewards visa to hopefully get added points and other benefits. My husband called Disney and asked if we would still get card benefits if we use a travel agent. He was told that we get benefits only if we book directly through the WDW travel company. Do you know, if we use a travel agent to help us does that negate other Disney visa travel benefits? I’m so confused about the whole thing.

  12. DFB Sarah says

    Hi, Henry! We can’t say for sure what will happen for 2018, but in the past we have been able to do a version of what you’re asking: purchase a 2-day Park Hopper, then use an Annual Pass (you’d use Base Tickets) for the duration of the stay while obtaining Free Dining for the entire stay. We really can’t say with complete certainty, but it’s possible!

  13. shannon says

    I thought about having my travel agent trying to get this for me but then I am Type A personality and I’m afraid she has too many clients wanting it and that I would be better off to do it myself because I could be quicker than doing multiple and then hand my reservation to her… Am I overthinking it?

  14. Autumn says

    Hello and thank you for the great info on the site. Do you know if the free dining would apply to a military discounted resort reservation (and tickets were purchased on base)?
    Thanks!

  15. DFB Sarah says

    Autumn, in the past Free Dining has only been available for those booking packages directly with Disney Reservations — but give them a call to find out for sure!

  16. DFB Sarah says

    Shannon, there’s really no way to know which option is right — so I understand that (not so) overthinking!

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