Walt Disney World Free Dining Offer Returns for 2017 with Major Changes for Moderate Resort Stays

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The annual Walt Disney World Resort “free dining package” offering will return in 2017, but not quite as it existed in 2016.

The special package has been quite popular since it was introduced several years ago, but continues to become less and less of a value compared to many special room-only rates guests can find for Walt Disney World Resort hotels.

In 2017, guests booking a Moderate resort stay will now only be receiving free Quick Service Dining, rather than the Disney Dining Plan which includes table service meals. The table service plan will only be “free” to those booking a Deluxe resort.

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In order to get the deal, guests must book a minimum 3-night-stay with 2 days of Park Hopper or Park Hopper+ tickets. Booking for the package will not open until tomorrow, Monday, April 24th, 2017. Available travel dates will be between August 21st (beginning August 13th for Disney Visa Cardholders and Canadian guests) and September 30th, 2017, as well as select dates between November 14th through December 23rd.

To book a stay with Free Dining, contact our friends at Magical Travel at 1-866-207-8387 or MagicalTravel.com and tell them you are a reader of WDWNT.

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About the author

Tom Corless

Tom has been regularly visiting the Walt Disney World® Resort from the time he was 4 months old. While he has made countless visits in the last 28 years, he did not become a truly active member in the Disney fan community until the summer of 2007, when he decided to launch the WDW News Today website and podcast. Tom has since become an Orlando-local and is a published author on Walt Disney World.
Contact Tom at [email protected]

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    • Well, this is rumor at this point since it hasn’t been released, HOWEVER, historically passholders have in the past ALWAYS had the option of adding the minimum ticket to their package, NOT using it, and when it comes time to renew their pass, use that ticket TOWARDS the cost of the pass,,,,,,,,,so they are not “left out”

          • AP holders should buy the required multi-day ticket. Then when it comes time to renew, they should use that ticket to enter the park, and then at that point use it to upgrade to a new AP. By using it once, the ticket is “bridged” to the current ticket pricing, instead of what you paid for it. For example, 5-day ticket costs $370 today and you purchase it. Then 6 months from now Disney prices are raised to where that same 5-day ticket costs $389. If 1 year from now you want to renew your AP and use this 5-day ticket towards it, if you haven’t used it yet you get a $370 credit, but if you use it and then renew at Customer Service (without letting the ticket expire, i.e. 14 days), you get a $389 credit. Starts adding up, especially if you hold on to that ticket for a few years.

        • I am also curious about this as I am an AP. The cost of the two days +PH add on will be deducted from my Annual Pass Renewal? How when I go to the Parks does my Magic Band know whether or not I am using my AP days for that visit or the using the park tickets? My renewal for AP is in March and I can’t renew in December.

          • I have to renew my AP in October. I added Parkhopper Tickets to my package and used my Chase Visa. That way I can use the tickets to pay for part of my AP over 6 months while paying for my package! You need to go to Guest Relations or your Concierge Desk at the Disney Resort to have them use your AP first, as it is loaded on your Magic Band to be used behind any tickets purchased.

          • Call 407 939 7765- Internet help. They “Prioritize”
            the tickets so the correct one gets used first.”

    • I get a tongue lashing when I attempt to use the 2-day toward my annual pass. Disney Cast Member has documented my file saying that my 2016 renewal will be the last they will do that. I don’t see why. It hasn’t been used, I’m not asking for a refund, so just apply it to the renewal. Geezee how difficult can it be.

      I hope you have better luck than I did.

  • So does this mean that the actual cost will increase on the backend to include this “free dining” offer?? And again, no special deal for AP. As an AP, I should t have to but a ticket just to get a deal. There should be special provisions for AP’s, even additional ines who have been loyal 10+ year AP. JS

    • We looked at the free dining versus annual pass discount and our annual pass discount was a better deal than the free dining, but then again this was a couple of years ago.

  • This is no bargain, you have to purchase the pricier Park Hoppers, and usually no deal on the room, so in fact you are paying more to get food included. People are so dumb.

    • Sorry, but I’m not “dumb” and for our family it’s a huge bargain. Free dining saves our family of 5 over $2300 for a week-long stay. We would never save that amount with a room discount and would have the added cost for meals.
      I realize that free dining does not benefit everyone, but it really is a great deal for some.

      • If you’ve got a big family, it can be a great deal. In 2015, we did Christmas week stay in an Art of Animation suite for our family of six adults. Free dining for six and no extra adult fees in a suite. we always get hoopers, so no issue there. We did upgrade to the regular dining plan, but our cost was about $1,050 each for six nights Christmas week with hoppers and dining.

        • How did you qualify for Christmas week if the promotion ends Dec. 23? We go every Christmas but haven’t been able to take advantage because the promotion ends a day or so before we arrive.

      • Megan – You certainly are a wise shopper. Only a non-educated about the all the aspects of your trip person would think free dining is dumb. how can saving any amount of money be dumb?

      • Megan, I agree. When my family of 9 goes and we stay for 10 days, it saves us thousands and we wouldn’t get that with a room discount. When my husband and I go, I don’t buy the dining plan and we pay as we go with the AP discount.

    • It’s not dumb. It’s during value season so the rooms are generally less expensive to start it’s. If you have a family of four, not having to pay for the dining plan for each person usually works out to be cheaper than a room discount. However, the tables could turn a little this year if you have to stay deluxe to get it.

    • Irishmom- We buy hoppers anyway. Surely not for all but free dining for our family of 5 adults in a deluxe IS the best discount. (one TS meal, one CS meal, + snack credits which we use as breakfast. Avg savings- $30 + $20 + $10 =$60/day x 5 persons = $300/day out of pocket for food if no free dining) WHICH room only discount saves you $300/night off the rack rate of a single deluxe room? Do the math please before calling others “dumb”…. or else you end up looking like the one who is not-so-smart.

    • DVC members never get Free Dining because they’re already saving on hotel stays by using their points. That is, if they’re staying in DVC resorts. I sometimes do a quick trip and stay at a value resort and just pay to upgrade the free dining package to the tier that includes TS meals. Usually it’s a time when I’m out of DVC points or they’re already booked for another time.

    • No, we’ve done free dining the past 7 years or so and have always gotten the regular dining plan free when staying at CSR or CBR.

    • Good. Fewer people in the parks for my family to deal with.
      Everything is going up.
      Disney is allowed to and needs to make a profit.
      They never opened a park with the intention of losing money.

    • My family of Four visited in 2015 in September. We initially were looking for a Moderate Resort but there wasn’t anything available that we wanted, so we settled on a Value Resort and upgraded our meal plan to include table service. We have been waiting for the Free Dining offer for this September/2017. So if this is true we know will have to upgrade to a Deluxe Resort Free Meal Plan in order to get Table Service. Many people plan their vacations to Disney during the off season to get the savings from the Free Dining Plan. I figure Disney will see a big drop in their business during the off season if this is true. I know here’s one who will rethink my visit for this Fall. You can get much better savings by staying off sight, This is what my plan will be ..

    • I agree Angela. 2 years ago the free dining was a great deal now it will cost a family of 3 $425-500 more dollars than a couple of years ago. Thats a big jump

    • It is free if you intended to buy or already booked more than the minimum nights stay and park hoppers. We love free dining.

      • Well I hate you Terry, you’re rude to the wait staff and then you don’t leave a tip. Go get a piece of the all day dining at Seaworld, she’s desperate for anyone.

  • I wish they would give free dining around early summer. June July. They are giving free dining when crowds are lower and kids go back to school. No fair. It’s never around the time my family can go. I’ve never received the free dining ☹️I know they need more people to come at those times. But still no fair

      • I get it. I know they do it around slow time to generate more crowds. Wish they could throw a bone out every once in awhile. Even maybe not free. But a discounted dining plan. I mean right now we are going in July and have not purchased a dining plan. Nor do we ever purchase a dining plan because we spend less on food than the price of a dining plan. But… for a discounted price. We would actually consider it as I’m sure many others would too. And Disney would still be ahead. Because instead of me not buying one at all. I would buy one at a discounted price. I mean they already took out the nighttime parade! Come on Disney. Give me something! Please????

        • No offense Sofia, but your comment is basically what’s wrong with society. “Come on Disney, give me something! Other people are getting something at a completely different time and based on a completely different business model, but it’s not fair and I want it too!”

          Just because you pay for tickets and room doesn’t entitle you to free food. You’re choosing to come at the busiest time of the year and then acting offended or cheated that Disney isn’t “giving” you stuff. In all seriousness, why would Disney, or any business, offer up financial incentives when there is absolutely no need? Free dining isn’t out of generosity… it drives demand and profits during what used to be slower times at the parks.

          This is literally Economics 101.

    • I am going in June, staying at POP and got the QS summer meal deal. It was a nice surprise. I fully expected room discounts to be a better deal when they came out, but the room discounts were minimal. We will miss the DDP this trip a little, but it is a little more relaxing not to have to feel like we have to have a table service meal for each day of our 12 days.

      Good luck to those trying to book it!!

  • Shout out to the jerk calling people dumb. I can add and subtract just fine and free dining saves us over $1500 even after the cost for the hopper, which we will now utilize. Have a magical day.

  • Any ideas what resorts will be excluded in the deal? I know in recent years certain resorts have been excluded, and I would love to get an idea of what my options are as far as Value resorts go. Thanks :)

  • I just feel as though Disney is costing us more and more. We usually stay at the moderate resorts and used the free dining plans many times. We like the sit down option for dining and often use the double meals for the signature dining options. If it now only comes with quick serve, it isn’t worth it.

  • We already reserved CBR in December during the free dining proposed dates. Does anyone know how many days I have to buy tickets for? We are staying for 6 days/5 nights, but won’t be flying in until 5 pm that first day. I am aware that they have to be park hopper, but just not sure if I have to get a ticket for that first day when we may not make it to the parks.

    • You just need a Park Hopper ticket for each person in the group for a minimum of 3 days, and if the free dining dates fall on any of your days you get it for the whole trip (free dining depends on the # of nights spent at hotel, not in the parks). You don’t need a park entry ticket for each day of the trip, but you do for at least 3 days to qualify for the deal). We tend to not go into a park on our arrival day either. And the unused meals or snacks from the first night roll over to the rest of the trip if unused (same for any day during trip that not all allotments are used up). Usually 4 days in the parks are enough for us, but if you do a Park Hopper Plus and plan to do a water park or mini golf course, DisneyQuest, etc., that activity has to fall on a day you’re using the PH tickets, too (so, in other words, don’t plan on doing 4 days of just the theme parks with a 4-day ticket and then try on a different day to get into DQ or mini golf and have the ticket work). And I think the mini golf entry is for after 4 pm anyway, so something like that could be done on a day when you leave a theme park and go for a break somewhere (then go back to same park or a different park for night stuff). Hope that helps.

      • Also, I realize DisneyQuest will be closed already when the Free Dining happens (it closes in July, for good) – was just using it as an example because it’s part of the Park Hopper Plus options right now.

      • Your Park Hopper Plus info is COMPLETELY UNTRUE. Those water park/ mini golf/ Disney Quest passes DO NOT have to be used on the same day as the theme parks. YOU CAN buy 4 day park hopper plus tickets and spend 4 days hopping at the theme parks, a 5th day at Blizzard Beach, 6th day at Typhoon Lagoon, 7th day at Disney Quest, and do a round of mini golf on day 8 for example. The “plus” add ons go by number of visits and can be used on any day you choose within 14 days of first ticket use. What you have said about having to use these offerings on the same day as the theme parks had apparently been passed around for a while by travel agents and is false. Call Disney and you will see that I am correct. I’ve had this discussion with two separate agencies who finally called Disney and realized I was right about this. Do your research.

        • I already replied, but here’s a P.S.: I know I asked at the front desk of the Grand Floridian when we checked in last December about the add-on when it was “Water Parks & More” and they told me what I described already, that we had to go into DQ or the water park on a day included in the # of days on our tickets. Maybe it has changed NOW with the new Park Hopper Plus rules, but DISNEY told us what I described before. So it wasn’t COMPLETELY UNTRUE as you said. It was a DVC check-in person who told us, so maybe they didn’t know as much as the rest of the CMs on property.

          • The way the water park add on works has not changed. Back when it was the Water Park Fun and More option, you could go on separate days than the theme parks. I did this in 2009. I had 5 day water park fun and more tickets and spent 5 days in the theme parks, went to the water parks on 4 separate days and disney quest on another separate day. I actually called Disney myself in February of this year to confirm that this was still the policy after two travel agents told me I had to go on the same day as the theme parks and Disney assured me that you could still go on any day(s) you choose. After WPF&M was replaced with Park Hopper Plus, I called Disney again and they confirmed that the policy on this had not changed. I believe you when you say you were told differently- my guess is people who haven’t used this add on don’t understand it, but I am telling you from personal experience having done so that you absolutely can use those passes on any day within 14 days of first ticket usage. I apologize if any of this comes across as rude, that’s totally not my intention. I’m just trying to share information here.

  • Man, I can’t unfollow this thread fast enough. What a bunch of Negative Nancy’s. I have no idea why anyone would begrudge another a Disney vacation because they are too poor to afford it without discounts. Im not a fan of entitlement at any pay grade. We are all lucky to be able to give our kids these experiences as some never can. Being hateful, rude, and judgmental is not a good look for any of you. Sending love and pixie dust to everyone just trying to plan a beautiful memory for their families. And I’m not even touching the fat people comment. I’m fat and I’m kind. Sheesh.

  • This “free” dining deal has never been that good a deal for folks who are not looking for so much food. Pass holders should book cheaper room rates and use TIW. That way you get approximately the same discount on the meals you choose to consume and you are not paying for food you neither want nor enjoy. TIW puts you back in the Flying Fish and California Grill type of choices when you so desire. That way you can enjoy Manny’s Chophouse and Ciao Italia as well and not be chained to the parks and resorts. (Of course, you need a car for off-site and TIW costs $150 but most passholders have it already.) Plus TIW gives you the discount on wine and cocktails as well. Passholders should avoid these deals. Encourages over eating and when you consider the higher room rates, it just doesn’t seem like the way to go.

    • If you’re retired, shouldn’t you have planned sufficiently to not need free dining to go on a Disney vacation? I would hope that several hundred dollars would be peanuts to anyone retired from the work force.

  • Is there an upgrade fee for getting the Disney dining plan (ts and qs) while staying at a value resort? Since the value resort won’t have a free dining plan offered, there isn’t a difference between the two plans.

  • My vacation is November 12th through the 19th. If the free dining plan starts on the 14th how will that work? Would I have to call a Disney agent to fix it or can I do that online?? I know you can’t call until 7am.

    • Crystal, your check in date is not eligible for free dining. You can’t book Nov. 12 and get the free dining plan with it as is.

      The only thing that you could do is what they call a “split stay” and you would literally have to book 2 reservations.
      In this case, your first reservation would be check in Nov. 12, check out Nov. 14. (You would have no free dining credits to use at this time because these dates are not included). Note, you may have to switch rooms on the 14th, and wait until another room is “available”. I have heard of this happening.
      Your second reservation would be check in on Nov. 14 and check out Nov 19th. On the second leg of your vacation, you would have to purchase your tickets as well.

    • You can talk to a Disney agent and ask about that, because in the past if ANY of your trip dates fall during the time they’re offering Free Dining, you’d get Free Dining for your whole trip (after having it added to the reservation). But confirm it with a CM, as they might have to do something to your existing reservation (add a code)…or through a travel agent if you originally booked with a specific travel agent. What Hannah said below may be true, but it’s good to confirm anyway.

  • Is it possible to book a room today and then call tomorrow to add the dining plan for free or does it have to be a new reservation to qualify?

  • Please be kind to the cast members you talk to tomorrow. Please? Pretty please? They have no say in what is offered, how it is offered, or what availability is. Please be respectful, and understand that they are forced to work crazy hours every year just for this promotion, and 12 straight hours of being told how awful Disney is and how terrible it is that there’s no availability and how they are unhelpful or aren’t trying hard enough can be very taxing both mentally and physically. Know what you want when you call, have a backup plan in place if what you want isn’t available, don’t have the cast member play a guessing game of what it is you are looking for, and please, for the love of God, answer the questions they (are required to) ask. If they are asking you a question, it’s for a reason. Just answer it, don’t get angry, don’t fight them, just answer the questions, and everything will go a lot smoother for you and for them.

  • Still speculation and promoting it as if it has happened, makes it hard for agents to convince customers that it isn’t pure speculation at this point.

  • Who exactly is your source that knows the dining promotion comes out on the 24th? I see no other chatter about this on popular WDW forums.

  • I am a huge Disney fan and this is just BS. Now they.are again shutting out the family if 5. Forcing them into delux, to pay higher prices. Because yes a 7 day trip at $8k wasn’t quite enough….. let’s jack it up a bit more and see if we can go for broke!!!! Stay off property people. their ” resorts” are dated, looks like Walt himself built them. if ypu are going to pay $350 A night it should be bigger than a shoe box. The food sucks anyway. That’s why it’s free. Have a magical day!!!

    • Based purely on your grammar, I do not remotely believe you have ever had $8K of disposable income, let alone spent that amount on a Disney vacation.

  • Does anyone know if the $75 gift cards per night that were authorized for Caribbean Beach Resort back in March will still be honored with the free dining plan?

  • I agree with you Annie, staying this year at Old Key West with dining plan and tickets £1,700 per person, next year it will cost us the same to stay in Coronado Springs for the same time of year (September) with only a quick service dining plan.

    They really are pricing people out, a Disney holiday costs enough as it is!

    • They aren’t pricing people out. They’re running a business. Look at Disney’s Q1 results, and tell me if you would be discounting at the parks:

      Parks and Resorts
      *Revenue YOY up 6%
      *Op Income YOY up 13%

      People are coming in droves and spending lots of money. And when you factor in the relative weakness throughout the rest of the company, Disney needs every dollar they can get from the parks to continue to grow the business.

  • What does availability is limited mean?
    I already have my reservation at Yacht Club and my dining plans set.
    I am trying to call and having no luck to get the free dining.
    Can i guarantee that once i connect it will be available or is the above statement give me problems.

    • Some resorts offer it, some won’t. Some resorts may only have it on one type of room. All resorts put a block on a very very limited number of rooms, and those book fast. It can also vary based on check in and check out dates. If you want to even try to get it, my advice would be to consider changing resorts. But then the hassle of doing that and the price difference might be enough to change your mind. Plus keep in mind that a resort like Old Key West might have it, but is very inconveniently located on property, vs. Beach Club where you can walk or take a boat to EPCOT and HS.

  • Granted, Disney does not have to offer any type incentive to get people to go to there parks. With that said in reference to the offers that they do put out there – they keep taking and taking away, applying more restrictions, and prices keep going up and up.
    We have been going to WDW every year since 1987 and have taken advantage of free dine in many different ways to include “Bounce Back”. Always received free dine if our stay was within the date range. Not anymore. Always received regular dine plan staying at a moderate resort. Not anymore. We will be arriving 11/12/17 free dine is for arrival date of 11/14/17 – who begins a vacation on a Tuesday. We were told in order to get the free dine option we would have to arrive on the 14th AND change our resort (PO Riverside). We are being ousted for staying at the resort of our choice.
    Sadly, we have had it and this will be it for us with WDW, shame really. LOL – I’m sure we will not be missed…………..

  • Although it took 4 days and refreshing the page every 10 minutes I finally got what I wanted. What a deal! Got the all star sports for 2 adults and a pair of 2 year old twins for 6 nights and 5 days park tickets with an upgraded to the regular dining service for $1955.80. Disney is adding aviliblity for the room at very random times with very limited amounts daily so they will not sell out all at once. Good luck and keep tring.

  • Disney free dining used to be a great value but not so much anymore. 2 years ago moderate resorts had the free table dining and wasn’t forced to buy park hoppers on tickets. Now staying at a moderate resort for my family of 3 and 1 infant would cost somewhere in the ballpark of $425-500 more dollars than 2 years ago. The price hike with no discounted rooms, tickets and forcing people to take park hoppers and upgrading to table dining for the “free dining” is too much. I will be staying outside the resort and buying the 4 day ticket to 4 park deal or spend 2 days at Disney and 2 at universal for now on.