Free Disney Dining Plan Deal
Will It Be Offered for 2011?by Jennifer Marx, PassPorter Guidebooks Author
Last modified 02-20-2011
The big question we hear this time of the year is, "Will Disney have a free Disney Dining Plan promotion?"
The simple answer is that right now, we do not know.
Best Snack on the Disney Dining Plan!
This has gotta be the best snack available on the Disney Dining Plan! It's from the Main Street Bakery and has two huge scoops of ice cream between two giant cookies!
But fear not -- there is a longer answer to the "will there be a free dining plan this year?" question! First, rest assured that if and when Disney does offer a free dining promotion, they tell the world about it! Free Disney Dining is not going to be a secret. Travel agents are often the first to know, and it quickly spreads across the Internet and by word of mouth. If you're listening and watching, you'll know. Here are the ways to keep your Mickey ears to the ground:
Check Disney's Special Offers page at http://disneyworld.disney.go.com/special-offers/ (and while you're there, register on their site for e-mail announcements and snail mail, which may include a special PIN code for deals).
Check PassPorter's Feasting & Snacking forum at http://www.passporterboards.com/forums/feasting-snacking-eateries-walt-disney-world/ (and sign up for our newsletter)
Check MouseSavers.com at http://www.mousesavers.com/disneyresorts.html#codes (and sign up for their newsletter)
The most recent free Disney Dining Plan offer was for 2011 dates, but had to be booked by December 20, 2010.
Historically speaking, the free Disney Dining Plan was first offered in summer 2005 as a means of drawing in guests during the typically low-crowd season of mid-August through September. Free Disney Dining was first offered as part of a package (requiring at least a 3-night stay) and included the "regular" Disney Dining Plan -- with 1 table service (TS), 1 counter service (CS) and 1 snack per person per night of the reservation.
The notice of this promotion has often been released first to Disney Visa Cardholders a few days prior to it being released to the general public -- typically, the announcement has come in the spring and had to be booked by early summer. Additionally, it was offered to UK travelers and became an indicator if it would be offered to everyone.
Then came the global economic downturn and Disney began offering all sorts of promotions to increase bookings -- Free Dining being one of their offerings. Disney began offering the promotion according to different levels of resorts. If you stayed in a Disney value resort, you got the Quick Service Dining Plan (QSDP) for free -- with 2 QS meals and 2 snacks per person, per night of the reservation. Guests could pay to "upgrade" from the QSDP to the regular DDP or the Deluxe DDP -- all they had to do was pay the difference in price between the QSDP and the plan they wanted.
However, note that these free Disney Dining promotions seem to be slowing and Disney has said they will be reducing them significantly this year.
Tip: Free Dining Isn't Always the Best Deal
The "free" Disney Dining plan can seem like an amazing deal at first, so you may be surprised to learn it isn't always the biggest money-saver. For example, it can sometimes be less expensive to purchase a package and add the Disney Dining Plan on it for an additional fee. And if you just aren't big eaters, it's entirely possible to do your vacation for less money by skipping a dining plan altogether. The key is to compare prices of various packages and prices, and find what works best for you and your pocketbook. - tip contributed by Jennifer
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Epcot - World Showcase - Teppan Edo
Nemo Shrimp - Teppan Edo
In terms of booking, you can book your reservation now and then hope for Free Disney Dining to be offered during your timeframe. When it's announced, quickly try to add the promotion to your reservation. (Promotions are first-come/first-served, so act fast.) Hopefully, there will be available promotions for your resort during your timeframe, but you may need to try different dates or a different resort to get the promotion.
Here are the dates when free Disney Dining plan deals became available, and the dates the deals were applicable, in the past:
|Booking Period||Vacation Dates||Intended For|
|6/2-7/3/05 & 7/21-8/20/05||8/21-10/4/05||General public|
|4/1-6/4/06 & 6/2/-6/25/06||8/13-9/30/06||General public|
|11/8-12/31/06||8/5-9/29/07||"Bounceback" Package Discount only for guests staying at WDW Nov-Dec 2006|
|4/9-6/24/07||8/26-9/22/07||Disney Visa cardholders offer|
|8/31-10/12/07||8/30-9/27/08||"Bounceback" Package Discount only for guests staying at WDW Aug-Oct 2007|
|4/7-6/22/08||8/24-9/20/08||Disney Visa cardholders offer|
|8/24-10/24/08||8/30-10/8/09||"Bounceback" Package Discount only for guests staying at WDW Aug-Oct 2008|
|3/26-6/21/09||8/16-10/3/09||Disney Visa cardholders offer|
|7/24-9/26/09||9/27-12/17/09||Disney Visa cardholders offer|
|8/16-10/24/09||8/15-9/30/10||"Bounceback" Package Discount only for guests staying at WDW Aug-Oct 2009|
|4/29-8/14/10||8/15-12/21/10||Disney Visa cardholders offer|
|5/3-8/14/10 & 8/16-12/20/10||8/15-12/21/10||General public|
|8/6-12/20/10||1/1-3/3/11, 5/27-6/2/11, & 8/19-9/29/11||General public|
Finally, if you're searching for news about availability this year, check the comments at the bottom of this article -- if and when free dining is made available again, no doubt someone will note it here!
Thank you to PassPorter Guide Caldercup (Eileen) for inspiring and contributing to this article!
Updated 02-20-2011 - Article #581
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