Let’s jump right into our post today, because there is a lot of information and I truly think it will be insightful and helpful as you plan and book your next Disney trip!
Free dining is here for 2018. Walt Disney World’s favorite discount is in the house and up for grabs. Dates for the 2018 Free Dining in Walt Disney World are as follows:
- August 20 – September 29, 2018
- November 24 – 27, 2018
- December 7 – 23, 2018
Free dining is not available at all resorts and for the resorts that are a part of this year’s discount, it is not available for all rooms. Only a specific allotment of the specified rooms in the designated resorts are available for this discount. For this reason, it is one of the most sought after discounts available.
But is it worth it? We are going to examine free dining and also discuss other discount plans that are available to see which discount truly gives you the best savings. So, what exactly is free dining? Let’s break it down.
Guests who book at a Value or Moderate resort will receive the Quick-Service Dining Plan for free with the discount. Guests who wish to upgrade to Regular or Deluxe Dining can pay the difference between the Quick-Service Dining Plan and the upgraded plan. Guests who book at Deluxe Resorts will receive the Regular Disney Dining Plan for free.
Certain qualifications must also be met in order to qualify for free dining. You must purchase a five night 6 day Magic Your Way ticket which includes a park-hopper ticket (you must have a minimum of four day park hopper option ticket) and your stay must be a minimum of four nights and a maximum of fourteen nights. Vacations must be booked by July 7, 2018.
Also important to note, if you book free dining, you are not able to combine that with any other offers at Walt Disney World. So, you cannot take advantage of room discounts or any other discount offer.
Here is a list of which resorts are included with which free dining plan:
- Value Resorts eligible for Free Quick-Service Disney Dining Plan:
- Disney’s All-Star Music Resort
- Disney’s All-Star Sports Resort
- Disney’s Art of Animation Resort– Family suites only
- Disney’s Pop Century Resort
Moderate Resorts eligible for Free Quick-Service Disney Dining Plan:
- The Cabins at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Lodge
- Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort
- Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort
Deluxe Resorts eligible for Free Disney Dining Plan:
- Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge
- Disney’s Beach Club Resort
- Disney’s Boardwalk Inn
- Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa
- Disney’s Yacht Club
Deluxe Resort Villa Resorts eligible for free Disney Dining Plan:
- Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas – Jambo House
- Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas – Kidani Village
- Disney’s Beach Club Villas
- Disney’s Boardwalk Villas
- Disney’s Old Key West Resort
- Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort and Spas
What is included in the different Disney Dining Plans? Great question! The two types of Disney Dining Plan’s available for this deal are the Disney Quick-Service Dining Plan which includes two quick-service meals and two snacks per person, per night of your stay. Each person also receives a refillable drink mug that can be used at any quick-service dining location throughout Walt Disney World.
For the Disney Dining Plan: Guests receive one quick-service meal, one table-service meal and two snacks per person, per night of your stay. Table-service meals include character dining, signature dining and dinner shows. Each person also receives a refillable drink mug.
Something new for all dining plans in 2018, all guests 21 and over are able to receive beer, wine or specialty cocktails as part of their dining plan at table-service restaurants that serve such fare.
Now to the crux of this post; is free dining at Walt Disney World really worth it? The short answer is that it depends on the size of your party and where you stay. For a party of three or more paying guests, so over the age of three, who are staying in the same room or suite, the free dining is a better deal than a room-only offer. The more people you have in a room, the better the free dining offer is for your party.
We did some comparison shopping to investigate where you can get the best deals and this is what we found!
We did several different date options to get a range of prices collected. First, let’s start with August 20, 2018 through August 25, 2018. If you stay at Art of Animation in a Cars Family Suite for those dates and your party is two adults and zero children, you can stay on the Free Disney Dining discount with a five-day parkhopper pass and get your quick-service dining plan included for $3,309.04.
If you book the same resort for the same dates and the Cars Family Suite and your party size remains the same, but you do not include the Free Dining and instead use the Enchanted Escape Room Offer and book that same five day park hopper but do not opt for a Disney Dining Plan, you will pay $2,848.01. If you opt for the Quick-Service Dining Plan, you will be paying $3,372.95.
If you don’t opt for the dining plan and you use the Enchanted Escape Room Offer you “save” $461.03 but you are unlikely to be able to eat for two adults in the parks for just $230.52 per person for that length of time. I’m not saying that is impossible, but unlikely.
If you use the Enchanted Escape Room Offer, and opt for the Quick-Service Disney Dining Plan, you are only paying $63.91 more for the Enchanted Escape Room Offer than you would for the “Free” Dining. Although the free dining is still less expensive, it certainly isn’t this steal of deal people make it out to be, especially in this scenario.
Let’s change the dates. We are going to look at September 16-21 for two adults and zero children. For this scenario, we are going to look at booking at Animal Kingdom, Kidani Village. With Disney Free Dining, and a five day park hopper you will pay $3,945.79. For this same scenario, using the Enchanted Escape Room Offer, you will pay $2,864.95 with no Disney Dining Plan, with the Disney Dining Plan that is included in the Free Dining Offer, you will pay $3,619.83.
Yep, you read that right. If you are booking this and you use a different discount offer than Disney Free Dining, you are actually going to save $345.96 by using that other discount offer and still getting the five day park hopper and the Disney Dining Plan.
Let’s switch it up. Let’s say you are a party of four adults and two children and you are staying at Art of Animation for September 16-21. Using the Disney Free Dining Offer, staying in a Card Family Suite and getting that five day park hopper, you will pay $5,271.75. Using the Enchanted Escape Room Offer and no Disney Dining Plan, you will pay $4,760.10. Using the Enchanted Escape Room Offer with the Quick Service Disney Dining Plan, you will pay, $6,027.46.
With this scenario, your best bet would be to either take advantage of the Free Disney Dining or to use the Enchanted Escape Room Offer and opt out of a dining plan. If your group is planning on packing a lot of food to take to the parks and to not take advantage of the quick service and snack locations in the parks, this could make sense for you. Otherwise, although technically cheaper, you would save money in the long run using the free dining offer.
This has been a lot of information but I hope that this has encouraged you to shop around and play around with different offers and resorts and really see what is the best deal for your party, because just because it says “Free”, nothing is free in this world and there is a good chance you could save money using another offer. We don’t want to discourage you form jumping on board with this offer, simply to show that there are other discounts that may work well for group as well and may even save you MORE money! And who doesn’t want to save more money!
That’s it for this post. We’ll see ya’ real soon and for the love of the mouse, never forget, that it all started with a mouse.