Have you ever wondered how much you actually save with Walt Disney World free dining? Or which discount offer is the best value for your family?
Well, Disney’s just released three HUGE discount offers for this summer that are worth taking a look at. These deals include the Summer 2019 Room and Gift Card Offer, the 2019 FREE Quick Service Meal Plan, and the Visa Cardholder Free Dining Offer. But don’t just assume that the free dining option will save you the most. There are a lot of factors that affect which discount is going to bank you the most cash. And we want to look at those with you today!
Oh, and if you’re wondering WHY Disney’s offering all of these discounts right now, basically it’s because the late August opening of Galaxy’s Edge is sucking SO many guests into the last four months of the year that Disney is having trouble selling rooms in the summer! That means that if you’d like to go when your kids are out of school, this is likely your least expensive and least crowded opportunity…at least for the next few years.
The discount or offer that will save you the MOST money right now depends on your resort, your party size, your family’s preferences, and your length of stay.
Let’s take a look…
With the Sumer 2019 Room and Gift Card Offer, guests may save up to 25% on rooms at participating Disney World Resort hotels for most stays arriving May 28 through August 28. When you book this offer for stays May 28 through June 30, you’ll ALSO receive a Disney Gift Card at check-in with the value of the card based on your Resort category as follows:
$25 per room per night for Deluxe Villas
$20 per room per night for Deluxe Resorts
$15 per room per night for Moderate Resorts
$10 per room per night for Value Resorts
- The room discounts are where you’re really getting big savings because 25% is great for the summer season.
- Receiving a gift card is nice because they often provide peace of mind for spending. This can help pay for meals/snacks or merchandise (but note that the dates to get the gift card are limited — they only go through June 30, while the 25% off savings goes through August 28th). Gift cards also mean the savings are not locked into food as they are with the Quick Service Meal Offer (i.e. you might save $30 a day on food with the QS offer, but with the gift card, you can apply it to anything). If you prefer to eat small and cheaply, you might prefer this offer so you can get the room discount, too — and then you can use the gift card on anything you want).
- This offer is also good for an additional week (up to August 28 vs. August 21 for QS Meal Offer and Visa cardholder offer), so guests hoping to do The Epcot Food and Wine Festival and/or Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge could apply that 25% room discount to a stay that extends into the timeframe when both of those open.
- If you plan on using this offer, we suggest booking soon, as hotels at Disneyland are already sold out for their opening of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge and we wouldn’t be shocked to see a similar situation occur at Disney World.
For more details and info on the Gift Card offer, click here.
The 2019 Free Quick Serice Meal Plan is booking now through June 30, 2019, for arrivals most nights from May 28 through August 21, 2019. Guests’ will receive one FREE quick service meal per day, per person. Each meal includes one entree, and one non-alcoholic beverage OR one beer, wine, or cocktail for guests 21 and over with a valid ID. This plan is available at participating Disney World Resort Hotels (click the link above to see details).
- If you order expensive quick service meals, you might save $20-30 per person per day. But, this is a big maybe and really depends on where you eat, what you eat, and how much you eat. Compared to the Value, Moderate, and even Deluxe resort gift cards available in the Room and Gift Card offer, the Quick Service Meal Plan offer has the potential to save more money.
- If you don’t eat much, prefer Table Service to Quick Service, or simply don’t like the highest-priced Quick Service menu items, this one might not work out to be a bargain.
- There is something to be said for the peace of mind of not having to pay out-of-pocket for a meal while on vacation. And it’s possible to share meals to stretch this plan as well and increase its value.
- However, note that you must pay full price for the resort hotel room and have a room/ticket package with 5+ day tickets. If you’re traveling solo, this meal plan would not be a great bargain (only saving $20-$30 per day versus saving 25% on your hotel room), but if you are a party of 2+ that’s a $40+ to $60+ savings per day and might be worth taking the offer. If you have a bigger party, this may add up to be a bigger overall saving than the room and gift card offer. Remember, you should crunch numbers to see if this is a good deal for you, because each deal varies depending on a family’s individual needs and circumstances.
If you’re looking for more tips and information on the Quick Service Disney Dining Plan as well as its value — click here!
The Disney World Free Dining offer is available to Disney Visa Cardholders ARRIVING most nights from August 1 through August 21, 2019. This offer can be booked NOW through June 16th, 2019.
Note that a 4-night minimum length of stay and 5-day Park Hopper ticket purchase are required to book this offer, and that guests must pay full price for their hotel. Guests must use a valid Disney Visa Card or Disney Rewards Redemption Card to pay the deposit.
- Requires full price resort reservation and 5+ day Park Hoppers — no additional discounts. That’s the crux of the comparison: with this discount, you need to make sure that the extra money you’re spending on the rack rate, full price hotel is being mitigated by the savings from the free dining plan.
- As with any Disney Dining Plan, it’s a MUCH better deal if you plan to enjoy some pricy Quick Service and/or Table Service meals. But the difference between getting value out of the free dining plan versus the regular dining plan is significant. With the regular dining plan, you’ve got to spend and eat with a purpose to make it worthwhile — focusing on the most expensive food and eating ALL the food on the plan! But with the FREE dining plan offer, ANY dining you enjoy while using the plan just adds to the value. So there’s less problem making it worth your while.
- If your family is larger, you’ll likely save more per night than you would with a room-only discount.
- To know if you’ll really save money, we’re going to again say make sure you calculate how much the full rack rate of the room is versus how much you could save with a different room-only offer and/or how much the full rack room and Park Hopper is versus what you’d ordinarily buy. (For example, if you wouldn’t normally buy Park Hopper, that would end up being an added expense. It ultimately wouldn’t be saving you money.) Therefore, you should see what the price of a regular reservation during this time looks like and compare it to a reservation with the FREE dining offer.
Making the most of your money
You can potentially find bigger savings with a room-only discount versus a free dining option. Sometimes Disney offers savings of up to 30% at select Disney Resorts. And you always have the options to add the Dining Plan and park tickets on to these room-only offers.
Wanna see the real number crunching? We’ve done it ALL for you in our DFB Guide to WDW Dining e-Book. We have found that free dining is very often a good deal — some of our readers save thousands of dollars on their vacations because of it. But it depends on how many people are in your family and how big the discounts are for room-only bookings. Right now, the room-only bookings being offered — especially with the additional gift card option — are pretty hefty discounts and MAY compare favorably to free dining depending on your family’s needs.
If you can, do a few mock reservations on the Disney World website with the different offers to see what fits your family best and which one saves you the most money. You really want to make sure that the offer, whether it be free dining or a gift card, is worth it for your family. Are you going to be saving money, or will you somehow be spending more money than anticipated due to necessary deal requirements?
And most of all, make sure you are maximizing whatever offer you receive. If you have the Gift Card, use it on something that you would normally not be able to purchase, or spend it on snacks or a really big and fancy signature meal with your family. If you’re receiving the Quick Service deal or Free Dining, purchase the most expensive options to get your money’s worth. Check out all our tips on How To Maximize The Disney Dining Plan by — clicking here!
Also, check out our video on if the Disney Dining Plan is worth it! This is great advice, whether you are getting Free Dining through a promotion or if you are deciding if your family should add it to your trip!