This is the time of year when everyone starts to question whether or not Disney will release its Free Dining offer. Guests want to know their chances for saving money, even before booking their trip. This is totally understandable and even though no discounts have yet been released, I do have several thoughts on the subject. I hope this information might help you when booking your Walt Disney World vacation.
What is Free Dining?
Free Dining is a discount Disney has released in years past. With the Free Dining Offer, guests get a free dining plan with their stay. There is a required number of nights and number of ticket days to qualify, and some resorts and dates are not included.
The dining plans normally offered are the Quick-service Dining Plan for value and moderate resort guests, and Regular (Plus) Dining Plan for deluxe and deluxe villa resort guests. Guests can choose to upgrade their dining plan for an additional cost. The first thing everyone must realize is that the Free Dining Offer is not really “free dining” as a stand-alone offer.
What does that mean for you?
If you have a room-only booking at a discounted rate of 20-30% off your room you will have to forfeit that discount, and pay full rack-rate for your room, in order to get the dining plan for free. Sometimes that is still the best deal, but sometimes it’s not.
The best deal will depend largely on your family size and your chosen resort. A general rule is that for parties of 2 (or 1) in one room, the room-only discount is often the better deal for some deluxe and deluxe villa resorts. Also, room-only discounts are normally even better at the deluxe properties at EPCOT and on the monorail route. For parties of 3 or more in one room, the Free Dining Offer is usually the best discount at all resorts. Still, don’t assume it’s the best discount for you without first checking every avenue.
Don’t always assume that a discount with the word “free” in it is automatically the best deal.
Be sure to check all available discounts and don’t let the name of the discount sway your decision. This may sound strange but I have actually run into the scenario a couple of times. A guest will actually want to book the Free Dining Offer just because everyone told her that was the way to go. Even though the total package price was a couple hundred dollars more than booking the room discount and adding a dining plan, she wanted to book the Free Dining Offer. Words matter, yes, but the bottom line for making your decision should be the cheapest price, no matter what the deal is called.
What other discounts may be offered?
Disney sometimes releases a modified dining offer called Stay, Play and Dine. WIth this discount, Disney gives a little off the room, a little off the tickets and a little off the dining plan. This is not the same as free dining. Disney also usually releases a room-only discount at the same time as a package offer.
If you are booked with me, I will always run the discounts every way possible in order to get you the very best deal. This is part of my free service to you!
Are these the discounts of yesteryear?
I have found that the deals released during the past couple of years have not been as good as those in past years. Room-only discounts for Disney’s Contemporary Resort and Disney’s Beach Club Resort (2 of my favorites) used to offer 25% off. The more recent releases offered only a 10% discount for those resorts.
Also, only a certain number of rooms at the included resorts get the discount. When the discount came out last year, some of the resorts that were included were already sold out. That meant that most guests who traveled last October did not get the discount. Even if the offer says it covers those dates, it doesn’t mean there will be availability. Disney doesn’t release previously blocked rooms for the special. It just depends on what is already available.
The Disney Parks are undergoing some major changes with the addition of Star Wars Land and Toy Story Land in Hollywood Studios, along with the recently opened Pandora – The World of Avatar in Animal Kingdom. The truly awesome deals that we veteran travelers once enjoyed are no longer forthcoming. My best advice is to book the vacation you can afford with the best deal available, and be thankful for the savings. Last year certain dates and certain resorts received no discounts at all.
I want you to get the best possible deal so if you have any questions, post a comment. I’m happy to help.
Thanks for stopping by and have a magical day!
Let me sprinkle some pixie dust on your next vacation by booking with me. You can contact me at Brenda@pixievacations.com.