2018 Disney World Free Dining: Possible Details and Dates

It’s that time of year again – time to start placing your bets on when the 2018 Free Disney Dining Plan will be announced. We all know how popular free dining has become in recent years and we’re betting that this year won’t be any different!

Mickey Waffles!

Mickey Waffles!

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 when you book free dining. And this year – for the first time ever – alcohol is included in the Disney Dining Plan, which might be a game changer as far as the offer is concerned!

In the past, 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 let’s be honest, there’s really no such thing as a non-peak season anymore. So if an offer comes out this year, we’re expecting the options will include more summer dates.

In 2017, free dining was announced in mid-April, so that could be when we can expect it this year. And, based on previous years, we’re thinking that check-in dates for 2018 might include mid-August through September, the second half of November (excluding Thanksgiving week), and some of December.

Brown Derby Lounge Margarita Flight

Brown Derby Lounge Margarita Flight

As we mentioned, the 2018 Disney Dining Plan now includes alcohol, which means guests ages 21 and older can can choose either one non-alcoholic beverage (including specialty beverages where offered) or one single serving mixed cocktail, beer, or wine (where offered) with their meal entitlement. This applies to the Quick Service, Standard, and Deluxe Dining Plans! The question is – does this impact Disney’s need to offer Free Dining? Will the dining plan be more popular with alcohol added? We’ll see!

How to Get Disney World Free Dining

The key to planning around the Disney Dining Plan dates is to book as soon as the offer is released. There is always a limited number of rooms available during free dining — and if recent years are any indication, they’ll go very quickly. 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.

A good tip is to book one of the resorts usually included in the offer ahead of time. When free dining is announced, simply add free dining to your vacation package (quickly — it does sell out).

We anticipate 2018 Free Dining information will be released this spring, perhaps in early-to-mid April. In years past the dates have been announced in late April or early May, but anything can happen. So stay tuned to DFB and the DFB Newsletter for details as soon as we have them.

The 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.

If you want to stay on top of the 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.

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!

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!

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Comments

  1. Ben Taylor says

    We actually got free dining for our trip this coming August 2018 at the Poly. We called around November about a different offer and the cast-member we were working with got us set up. I don’t think I every saw it advertised. When we booked it was for particular levels of rooms (Pool/Marina View or better I believe, not sure how dates and length of stay factored in). I’m willing to bet it’s already snapped up, but wanted to share! We’re of course waiting to see what discounts on room prices come for our time at the resort, but we’re sort of excited to try DDP for the first time, and right now I think the value of free-dining is at least on par with other discounts we would become eligible for.

  2. Naomi Juarez says

    If you book a vacation in the tine frame but as a DVC member can you still qualify for the free dining plan?

  3. Toni Nolan says

    We already have our stay at the Polynesian booked for week before Thanksgiving and we are hoping to get free dining when it’s announced. Last year the dates didn’t line up, so we missed out.

  4. Larry Johnson says

    We have booked Port Orleans Riverside June 2-June 9 2018. With the quick service dining plan for 10 people.

  5. Janey says

    Is it expected that this year Disney Visa holders will have the opportunity to book a couple days in advance before free dining comes out for everyone?

  6. DFB Sarah says

    Janey, we haven’t heard that this will be the case, but it hasn’t been ruled out for 2018. Just need to keep an eye out for announcements!

  7. DFB Sarah says

    Naomi, unfortunately it looks like Disney does not allow reservations made with DVC points to add free dining.

  8. Ben Taylor says

    When we called Disney back in November to check for deals on our upcoming August trip, we got free dining with our Polynesian reservation. It required moving up to the “Pool/Marina View” room from standard.

  9. Jessica Garner says

    We are staying at Pop 12/9-19th 2018 and already booked the package. Based on historical dates we’re hoping this lines up if it is offered. From what I found I didn’t think they usually offered a room discount during this time frame so we’d pay full rates anyway so fingers crossed for free dining. Question – has anyone added the free dining to an existing reservation in the past? I was wondering how to do it if and when it comes up. After I select “change reservation” there is a Vacation Offer “change” option that looks for available offers – would it be here or would I add a dining plan? Thanks for all the help! So far overwhelmed with DW as we’ve never been, but the more I read the more excited I get!

  10. DFB Sarah says

    Jessica, that’s a good question! The most straightforward way to add Free Dining to an existing reservation is to call Disney Reservations as soon as you hear that Free Dining is released (and see if it coincides with your current dates!). Find reservations contact info here!

  11. DFB Sarah says

    Judy, the rule of thumb for free dining is that you have to book a room and ticket package in order to qualify, so it’s available to you, but you’ll have to purchase tickets in addition to making a hotel reservation.

  12. Chris F says

    Unless something has changed, booking in advance will not guarantee you get free dining. The rooms allocated for free dining are separate, so you would still need to book a brand new room from that pool of rooms regardless of whether you already had a reservation there.

    This, in fact, makes booking in advance counterproductive since Disney will base available dates and rooms on what is already booked, so if enough people have already booked your dates or resorts, even if they intend to cancel or change later, Disney may not offer free dining for those times/resorts.

    Like I said, this is how it has been, so something may have changed, but as recently as last year we had to settle for a location we didn’t want at Caribbean beach that we had booked in advance because that room and section wasn’t part of the free dining pool of rooms. This has been the case for all our trips in the past.

  13. Ashley says

    Is there a way to add the free package through the website when it’s offered? Or do you have to call ?

  14. DFB Sarah says

    Ashley, as far as I know, the only way to add free dining to an existing reservation is to call Disney directly.

  15. Ashley says

    I went last Sep. with the free dinning which was great! We did have are trip booked three months before the dates came out and had no problem adding it online, that is once we could get online ,the server and phones are very busy that day. I would get on as early as possible that day if I do it again there was a lot of anxiously waiting and hoping. But once on it took two seconds to add it.

  16. Jessica says

    Thanks for confirmation Ashley! We’re going regardless of free dining so we already booked – if it isn’t offered we at least get it booked before the package prices go up tomorrow. Any chance you remember what you selected to add it to existing reservation?

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