Free dining offers are something that many hard-core Disney vacation fans look forward to hearing about each year. People just love free dining!
For those of you who love free dining, here is some good news: Disney has announced its free dining offers for 2014!
Of course, you can’t just show up at Disney World and say, “please give me free food.” There are plenty of details and restrictions, as well as some choices to consider and plans to make in advance.
Let’s take a look at the 2014 free dining offer, answer some important questions about free dining, and talk about whether free dining is right for you.
What Is the Offer?
If you stay at a Disney Value Resort Hotel, you will get the “Quick Service Dining plan” for free.
If you stay at a Disney Moderate Resort Hotel or a Disney Deluxe Resort Hotel, you will get the “Standard Dining plan” for free.
You can pay extra to upgrade your dining plan to a higher level. More on the levels below.
When Do I Need To Book?
For the current offer of free dining, you need to book (reserve) your vacation between May 7, 2014 and August 8, 2014.
Are there Restrictions?
Disney has allocated only a limited number of rooms for this offer.
To get free dining, you need to purchase a minimum of three night stay in a select Disney Resort Hotel as well as a two day Disney park admission ticket.
Your vacation with free dining can’t be longer than 14 nights.
Disney has excluded the following resorts: All-Star Movies, Port Orleans Riverside, Port Orleans French Quarter, Grand Floridian Villas, Fort Wilderness Campsites, Art of Animation Little Mermaid Rooms, and all 3 Bedroom Villas.
The Disney Dining plan is not available at the Walt Disney World Swan & Dolphin, Shades of Green, or any other hotel not owned by Disney, such as those in the Disney Springs area.
All guests staying in the same room must be on the same version of the Dining Plan.
When Do I Need To Vacation?
In order to get this free dining offer, you need to arrive during these dates:
August 31 – October 3, 2014
October 26- November 1, 2014
November 9 – November 20, 2014
December 12 – December 23, 2014
You can arrive at the end of any of these periods and still get free dining for the length of your vacation.
It is interesting that Disney pretty much excluded those folks who will visit for the US Thanksgiving holiday, which is on Thursday, November 27, 2014. However, folks who arrive soon enough potentially be able to use the dining plan for a Christmas vacation.
What Just is the Disney Dining Plan?
The Disney Dining Plan is a way to pre-pay for meals. There are several different versions of the plan, which are covered in the next section. The plan gives you “dining plan credits” which are associated with your reservation. When you arrive for your meal, tell your server you are on the dining plan. Your server will deduct your credits from your account. Your bill always lists how many credits you have remaining, so it is relatively easy to keep track of your balance.
What Levels of Dining Plan Are Available?
For 2014, there are five different levels of dining plan: quick service, regular, deluxe, premium, and platinum. Let’s look at the details for each:
Quick-Service Dining Plan
The Quick-Service Dining Plan includes:
Two quick-service meals per person, per night of your stay.
One Snack per person, per night of your package stay.
One Rapid Fill Resort refillable drink mug per person. The mug is valid for the length of your stay. You can get refills at self-service beverage stations at Quick-Service locations at any Disney Resort Hotel. However, this cup is not refillable in the parks.
Regular Dining Plan
The Regular Dining Plan includes:
One quick service meal credit, per night of your stay.
One table service meal credit, per night of your stay.
One snack per person, per night of your package stay.
One Rapid Fill drink mug per person (same a Quick-Service)
Deluxe Dining Plan
The Deluxe Dining Plan includes:
Three meal credits, per night of your stay. You can use the credits for table service or quick service meals.
Two snacks per person, per night of your package stay.
One Rapid Fill drink mug per person (same a Quick-Service)
Premium & Platinum Plan Details
The Premium and Platinum are similar to the Deluxe plan (three meal credits and two snacks), but then basically add in a bunch of extras, like additional recreation, Cirque du Soleil tickets, tours, access to children’s activity centers, spa treatments, etc.
What About Timing of Using My Credits?
All your credits are available to you at the start of your vacation.
You can redeem as many meals credits and snacks credits per day as you want up until you’ve used up your total. For example, even though the Quick Service plan gives you two quick-service meals per day, you can use three in a single day as long as you have the credits available.
Any unused meal and snack credits expire at midnight of your checkout date.
Can I Get the Dining Plan at Off-Site Resorts?
No. You have to stay at a Disney Resort Hotel, and you also need to purchase Disney admission tickets.
Can I Buy a Dining Plan After I Arrive at Disney World?
No. You need to purchase the dining plan when you make your reservations.
Can I Get Into The Restaurants I Want?
The dining plan isn’t much good if you can’t use it at the restaurants you want. Many Disney restaurants book up far in advance. If you plan to enjoy table service restaurants, make sure you book Advanced Dining Reservations as far in advance as possible. Otherwise, you might spend too much time waiting in line to be seated for your meals, or worse, just skip the table service meals because you don’t want to wait or because you can’t get in to the restaurants of your choice at all.
Is the Dining Plan a Good Deal?
If something is free, it must be a good deal, right? That is often true, but not always.
The value of free dining has been debated endlessly by Disney fans. There is no one single answer to the question of “is it a good deal” for everyone. Free dining is great deal for some and not such a great deal for others.
To tell for sure if free dining is financially right for you, you need to run some detailed calculations. That might give you an answer after two hours of using a spreadsheet, but still won’t deal with your sudden urge for steak on your vacation.
Let’s look at several angles to help you quickly judge if free dining is right for you:
Free dining is probably good for you if your entire traveling party includes big eaters who like expensive food like steak.
Free dining may not be such a good deal for you if everyone eats light, orders inexpensive dishes like pasta, or often skips meals.
Free dining is probably good for you if you take time to make dining reservations and tend to select expensive restaurants and food to get the best value.
Free dining may not be such a good deal for you if you don’t like to plan ahead.
Free dining is probably good for you if you enjoy taking the time to eat full meals, and you aren’t in a rush on a quick vacation where you want to see as many attractions as possible.
Free dining may not be such a good deal for you if you don’t like to spend time eating and prefer to use all your vacation time on attractions.
How To Get Free Dining
You can get free dining directly from Disney by making your reservation on the Disney web site or by calling (407) 939-5277.
However, you might want to use a travel agent who specializes in Disney vacations. As you can see from the information above, there are many considerations with free dining. You might even get a better value by selecting some other type of discount or promotion instead of free dining.
If you want to talk to a great agent and get a $50 gift card for your Disney World vacation, I suggest you get in touch with our partner travel agent. Agents get paid a commission by Disney so there is no charge to you for using their service.