So in my previous post about the Disney Dining Plan I stated I would never pay for the dining plan yet I have used it once before and plan to use it again in November. I know the anticipation has been killing you so I will explain…
Throughout the year, Disney will offer the dining plan for free for the duration of your stay on select dates. As much as I would like to believe Disney does this out of the kindness of the their generous little hearts, we all know there is more to it than that. The free dining plan is only offered to those staying on Disney property. That’s right, the free dining offer is just a way to get you to spend money on Disney hotels rather than hotels throughout Orlando (who knew there were hotels off Disney property?). Now as you know I am a huge supporter of staying on property anyway so the free dining offer is a bonus that doesn’t cost me any more money than I would already be paying. To be honest, you are not going to spend that much more by staying on site than off. Plus the benefits you receive are totally worth the extra money but that is a post for another day!
If you read my post about the Disney Dining Plan you will know that there are multiple plans so which plan do they offer for free? When staying at a value resort you will receive the Quick Service Dining Plan and the Disney Dining Plan when staying at a moderate or deluxe resorts or villas.
The free dining is only offered for select dates and your check in date must be one of these select dates. If your check in date does in fact line up with one of the available dates then you will receive free dining the entire length of your stay even if your check in date is the last day it is offered. If your check in date happens to be before they are offering the free dining and the length of your stay will carry you into the free dining period there is a way you can finagle your way into get a few free meals.
If your check in day is the day before the offer, then you would not be eligible for the free food…UNLESS… after your first night you check out and then check back in the next day. I know, sounds shady but it has been done. It get’s a little tricky because you do have to book them as to separate packages from what I understand.
My advice is to plan to check in during one of the available dates. If you are somewhat flexible on the dates your are traveling to Walt Disney World then you can end up saving quite a bit of money and eat like kings and queens (or princes and princesses) while you’re there. The offers are usually for the slower season and usually appear two to three months before the available dates. You can check out historical Walt Disney World discounts one MouseSavers.com.
Tips for getting your hands on such an offer:
- Pin codes: These are codes handed out to a specific person or household that can only be used if the person who it is addressed to is in the party. These codes are sent via the mail and email to those who have registered an account on Disney’s website. What triggers these mailings is pure speculation because some people will get them, others will not or they may receive them at different times. Some believe frequent visits on the Walt Disney World website can increase the odds or receiving one of these coveted codes. A code arrived in my email the day I had planned to book our trip for May 2011 and I have received at least four codes in the mail and two via email since then.
- Disney Visa: Sometimes free dining is offered to Disney Visa cardholders before it is offered to the general public. This can be advantageous if you need a little more time to plan your trip but if you are not a cardholder I wouldn’t worry about missing out on the offer since it is offered during the off season. I am a Disney Visa holder (go figure) and plan to review some of the offers out there.
- Historic dates for free dining: Planning your trip around dates when the free dining was offered in the past is a win-win! Because it is offered in the slow season rates are cheaper, smaller crowds, and its usually cooler during that time of year! Here is a link to historic discount offers at WDW
- Upgrading: If you receive the Quick Service Dining Plan while staying at a value resort you can pay the difference to upgrade to the Disney Dining Plan. We did this on our May 2011 trip and it was a great investment! My budget would not allow me to eat at as many table service restaurants as we did that trip!
Whenever I suggest to people they should take a trip to Walt Disney World (and I do suggest a lot) most usually say, “It is too expensive!” Where it can be more expensive than going camping or to your local amusement park, if you play your cards right you can experience a lot at a great price. Free dining beats packing your lunch or paying out of pocket and may just be worth planning your trip around.
Be sure to check out the Promotions and Special Offers page to see if Disney is offering free dining!