Walt Disney World Free Dining 2018

How to Visit Disney World Solo

Free Dining Offer at Walt Disney World is Now Available!

After many rumors have spread like wildfire the past few weeks, it became official today, April 24, 2018! The free dining offer for late summer and fall travel to Walt Disney World was released. Guests are eligible for free dining plans with select non-discounted 4 night Magic Your Way package. Packages must include a room at a select Disney Resort hotel and at least 4 day  tickets with Park Hopper or Park Hopper Plus.

Free Disney Dining Dates

  • August 20 – September 29, 2018
  • November 24 – November 27, 2018
  • December 7 – December 23, 2018

The dining plan offer depends on which resort level you are staying at: Value and Moderate Resorts have complimentary Quick Service Dining Plans. Deluxe Resorts or Deluxe Villa Resorts will receive the regular Disney Dining Plan for free. You can make upgrades to whichever plan you qualify for, and pay the difference.

There are LOTS of room excluded from the Free Dining promo this year, including all of the following: All Star Movies, Bay Lake Tower, both Port Orleans Resorts, Wilderness Lodge, Polynesian Village Resort (villas & standard rooms), Contemporary Resort, Fort Wilderness campsites, Art of Animation Little Mermaid Rooms, Villas at Disney’s Grand Floridian, and all 3-bedroom Villas. Why so many exclusions? Simple enough reason…Disney doesn’t have to offer a discount to fill those rooms to capacity.

What’s the Catch?

Why wouldn’t someone want free dining? As someone who has traveled to Disney twice with free dining offers, I personally know the value this offers to a family traveling on a budget. We have eaten like kings at Disney with the free dining. I know that I would have been pinching pennies if we were paying out of pocket.

Crowds and Blocked Dates

Many people have come to expect free dining offers in the fall at Disney and with that comes larger crowds. Larger crowds mean more time waiting in lines and it’s harder to obtain reservations at your first choice restaurants. Disney has also blocked out the entire month of October  and most of November this year, which had historically been open for free dining.

It seems as though Disney has caught on to the high number of school systems that have fall breaks now, and they have no reason to discount that season anymore. Many people have spent hours and hours on hold with Disney only to find out that due to limited availability at each resort, they couldn’t have the discount applied.

Is it worth it?

It’s a tough call on whether or not the value of the free dining is worth it anymore. For many it is. For others, it would mean changing travel dates or choosing a different resort with availability. If you hadn’t budgeted for adding park hoppers it could make the cost of the trip more expensive.

For reference on the value of free dining, here is a breakdown of the prices for the 2018 dining packages at Disney.

2018 Disney Dining Plan Pricing

My Personal Experience

When the free dining dates the last year I booked I tried for free dining for us, I found out that our reservation was outside the booking window. Out of sheer curiosity, I played around with our reservation dates and checked out the prices. That year was the first time that Disney has had the caveat that in order to qualify for free dining, guests must purchase either a Park Hopper pass or a Water Park Fun and more option. They did the same thing for 2016, and for 2017 and 2018 added in the Park Hopper requirement.

We were staying at a value resort, and I would have had to upgrade to the regular dining plan (personal preference here) and pay the difference, as well as upgrade our tickets to a Park Hopper pass. Because of this, I was actually going to end up paying more out of pocket, just for the “perk” of free dining. It took our $1600 vacation to just under $1800, so I would have ended up paying almost $200 more for free food.

Is a Room Discount better?

It was an easy decision for me for that trip and every trip since then– no free dining. However, when free dining isn’t an option look for a room discount to come out to save a little money.  All things considered, with the right availability and some flexibility with your arrival dates, you can save money with a free dining vacation.  And don’t forget that utilizing a Disney vacation planner like Jolly Holidays by SarahMain Street Memories by Meredith or Tomorrowland Travels with Amy can make the hassle of booking free dining something your TA worries about for you.

When considering the value of free dining at Disney ask yourself if the discount is worth it to your family. In our case for us it wasn’t, but it might be perfect for your family! What are your thoughts on free dining at Disney? Let’s chat in the comments. ~Amy ºoº

News Around The World 5.1.15

Here is your weekly recap for news around the world!

  • Disney has released their room discounts through October 3rd, and free dining for select dates through 12/21. These offers are going fast, and exclusions apply.
  • The monorail schedule has changed for part of the summer. Beginning May 3rd through July the monorail will run on a limited schedule. Buses and Magic Kingdom watercraft (weather permitting) will continue to operate as usual. The monorail will operate a full schedule from May 24 to 27 for Memorial Day weekend.
  • Disney’s Hollywood Studios is testing pre-ordering of food and merchandise using mobile apps at Backlot Express and during Fantasmic. This could dramatically reduce wait times for quick service food, and this test will use the guest’s phone as an ordering and delivery tracking device.
  • New high-tech laundry machines are now available for guest use at most Walt Disney World Resort hotels. The new machines let guests check availability via the internet, where guests can view the status of each machine, and receive notifications of machine availability and when a cycle is completed. You can view the machine status for each resort at http://www.laundryview.com/disneyworld. If I have to do laundry on vacation, this will definitely make it less painful! laundry
  • Pirates of the Caribbean refurb has been pushed back to June 8th. The ride is expected to reopen to guests on September 26th.
  • Marvel Avengers: Age of Ultron releases in theaters today, May 1st.
  • Disability Access Service at Walt Disney World is now tied to your MagicBands, and paper disability access cards are no longer available.

That’s the news around the world this week. Have a great weekend, and we’ll see you back on Monday! ~A ºoº