For several years Disney has been running a promotion during certain times of the year that offers the Disney Dining Plan to guests for FREE with the purchase of a paid vacation package (room and tickets).
The Disney Dining Plan allows guests to pre-pay for their meals and then use the “credits” when dining at Disney World. The credits are encoded on your MagicBand or RFID-enabled Key to the World card, which is also your room key.
When paying for food at a Disney restaurant, your server will scan your MagicBand. Simply inform him or her that you are paying with Dining Plan credits instead of paying with cash. Dining Plan credits will be deducted from your account.
What is Free Dining
Free Dining is exactly what it sounds like – you receive a Disney Dining Plan for free when you purchase a vacation package at full price. Guests staying at a Moderate or Deluxe resort receive the Standard Disney Dining Plan, while guests at Value resorts will receive the Quick Service Dining Plan. The free dining offer cannot be combined with any other offers so you will be paying full “rack rates” for your resort hotel room. Also, a minimum stay is required when you take advantage of the free dining offer. You must be staying at a Walt Disney World Resort hotel in order to purchase a Disney Dining Plan (including the free dining offer).
When is Free Dining Offered?
In the last few years Disney has announced its free dining offer in the early spring (in 2018 it was announced in late April) for dates in late summer, fall, and early winter (before the holiday season). The dates normally begin in late August and run through September, October, most of November (excluding Thanksgiving week), and the early part of December (excluding the week of Christmas). Historically, free dining has not been offered in the summer months. When free dining hit the scene it was a way to get guests to visit Disney World during the “off” season and summer is most certainly not an “off” season.
Is Free Dining a Good Deal?
The short answer is yes, it is usually a good deal. This year the prices on the Disney Dining Plan went up, so a free dining offer will likely save you money. Just remember that you’ll be paying the “rack rate” (non-discounted rate) for your hotel room so that will be the most expensive component of your trip. Check out our Disney Dining Plan FAQ page for more information on the Disney Dining Plan. And keep an eye on the Disney Food Blog for news about this year’s Free Dining Offer!
DFB Guide to Walt Disney World Dining
We break down and compare the costs and options for several Disney World discounts, including the Free Dining offer, in our fully updated DFB Guide to Walt Disney World® Dining 2018 e-Book to help you save the most money possible.
Along with over 600 pages of great Disney World dining advice, full color photos, and details, this book is a great deal.
Headed to Disney World Soon? Learn More With a Free Vacation Planning Video from Disney!
We highly recommend checking out the Free Vacation Planning Video that Disney creates every year. It’s SO much fun to watch. There’s tons of info on every park and resort, and it’s the perfect way to start getting excited about your trip…and maybe even see a few must-dos that you don’t have on your agenda yet! You can order it or live stream it right now. (I do it every year :-D) You can find out more about the free planning video here!