Free Disney Dining Plan Deal: Will It Be Offered for 2011?

by Jennifer Marx, PassPorter Guidebooks Author
Last modified 02-20-2011

Photo illustrating Walt Disney World - Dining

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! photo
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
related tip

related tip Save This Tip


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
4/12-6/24/07 8/26-9/22/07 General public
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
4/10-6/22/08 8/24-9/20/08 General public
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
3/30-7/26/09 8/16-10/3/09 General public
7/24-9/26/09 9/27-12/17/09 Disney Visa cardholders offer
7/27-9/26/09 9/27-12/17/09 General public
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
Data thanks to MouseSavers.com (Historical Data)


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!



Epcot - World Showcase - Teppan Edo photo
Epcot - World Showcase - Teppan Edo

Nemo Shrimp - Teppan Edo




About the Author:
Jennifer is the co-founder and webmistress of PassPorter.com, as well as author of more than 50 books about Walt Disney World, Disney Cruise Line, and Disneyland.


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Reader Comments:

Very interesting - thanks for this. smiley for :waytogo:

     chezp on February 21, 2011 @ 1:25 am
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The Full article is much tastier with great images like.
an image
YUM

     ChipNDale on February 21, 2011 @ 6:59 pm
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Got an e-mail from Disney Destinations today offering a Free Disney Dining Plan with 5-night/5-day Deluxe Resort or Villa & a Free Disney Quick-Service Dining Plan with 5-night/5-day Value or Moderate that is booked through 4/30/11.

     Bec on March 2, 2011 @ 2:17 am
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I received a pin code today for free dining also. Need to book by 4/30/2011 but it good through most nights from 4/23/2011 to 8/13/2011, IMHO opinion I believe they will offer something for 2011. I also agree if they do EVERYONE will know it. My TA says they usually make an annoucement around end of March beginning of April from what she recalls.

     tessatilli on March 2, 2011 @ 4:30 am
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Excellent! Thank you for the updates on your e-mails/pin codes. smiley for :)

     Jennifer Marx on March 2, 2011 @ 9:31 am
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Pretty much am saying the same as the other folks. Got a pin code earlier in the week from Disney Destinations for Free Dining throughout the summer (ends 8/13). % night stay is required and the type of plan you get is basd on your level of resort.

     arielsrl on March 4, 2011 @ 10:20 am
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We received a pin code earlier this week offering free dining for WDW stays that originate by 8/13/11. But I found that even though it said the PIN was only good for a minimum number of nights, I priced it out for less than that number, and it still seemed to work.

     HallsofVA on March 5, 2011 @ 3:51 pm
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My family has been taking advantage of the free dining plan for the last several years, and we were planning to do the same this year, but when I looked at the Disney website in early January 2011 and started pricing vacations (thinking that I could always have the dining portion of the vacation credited to me when the free dining plan offers became available), I called Disney to ask a couple of questions, and during the course of my conversations found out that the free Disney dining plan was offered in the fall of 2010 for vacations through fall 2011; the deadline to reserve was sometime around December 20, 2010. At that time, the cast members I spoke to could not tell me for sure if the free dining plan offer was going to run again in 2011 (like others here, I had reserved in March-April of previous years for vacations in August). We still managed to book a great deal, taking advantage of the 40% off deluxe resorts, so we're staying at the Wilderness Lodge this year (my husband's "dream hotel"), and we included the dining plan, because it's STILL a great deal, even if one has to pay for it!

     elmo5159 on March 31, 2011 @ 6:26 pm
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I called Disney on 03/30/11 to see if Free Dining might be offered for our November 2011 trip. He said they had been authorized to tell customers that Free Dining would not be offered any more for 2011.

     TSheffield on April 2, 2011 @ 2:45 pm
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Welcome TSheffield, and thanks for the info!

     Dave Marx on April 2, 2011 @ 4:40 pm
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I talked to someone today regarding my reservation (4/21/11) and I asked the CM if there would be another free dining plan and she said "wait and you shall see." Keeping my fingers crossed that they didnt get enough interest in the first offer and will run it again!

     mrswhitbey on April 21, 2011 @ 9:23 pm
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Yes I think it may be back a few other sites have announced the return of free dining for 8/28 to 9/?21? Value for Quick and Mods and up get Basic with 3 Night and 2 day ticket and purchase of a photo pass book.

     ChipNDale on May 1, 2011 @ 11:00 am
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I don't get it.This is not that a deal.I did the numbers and discounted room is better. My wife and split meals. We also eat breakfast in the room.We have a coffee maker ,microwave and toaster. Unless you want to overeat, the room is better.

     mike0062 on May 20, 2011 @ 10:10 am
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mike0062;3662426 >I don't get it.This is not that a deal.I did the numbers and discounted room is better. My wife and split meals. We also eat breakfast in the room.We have a coffee maker ,microwave and toaster. Unless you want to overeat, the room is better.

Yes, for some guests a room discount is a better deal than free dining. There are a lot of variables to figuring out which deal is better if when multiple offers are out for the same travel dates - eating habits, resort, room discount %, number and ages of guests, travel dates, etc.

     lukeandbrookesmom on May 20, 2011 @ 10:17 am
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mike0062;3662426 >I don't get it.This is not that a deal.I did the numbers and discounted room is better. My wife and split meals. We also eat breakfast in the room.We have a coffee maker ,microwave and toaster. Unless you want to overeat, the room is better.

Yes, usually the room discount works better for me, but like the pp said, it really depends on so many different factors as to what discount is best for you. I'm just happy that they are still offering discounts! smiley for :)

     arielsrl on May 21, 2011 @ 11:54 am
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Updated 02-20-2011 - Article #581 



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