Is the third time the charm for Disney World's free dining deal?

July 17, 2019, 2:49 PM · The Walt Disney World Resort is offering a free dining promotion for the third time this year, as it looks to boost attendance in what has appeared to become a soft year for visits to its parks.

The deal includes a version of the Disney Dining Plan at no extra charge when you book a five-night, six-day vacation package with a Park Hopper Ticket at a non-discounted Disney resort hotel. Stays at Deluxe-level hotels get you the full Disney Dining Plan for everyone in the room, while stays at Moderate and Value hotels get you the Quick-Service version of the dining plan.

Guests must book by September 29 for stays beginning between September 1-18, November 17-27, or December 8-23, 2019. You can check availability via Walt Disney World's website.

Disney World previously offered Disney Dining Plan benefits in January and in April, and this is the first time that Disney has offered that benefit three times in a single year. In the past, the free dining promotion had been a fall affair, as Disney looked to bridge the gap between the summer and holiday vacation seasons. But Disney moved the promotion forward this year as it looked to guard against fans postponing their trips until the new Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge land opened on August 29.

Disney announced last week that the biggest attraction in Galaxy's Edge, Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, would open at Disney's Hollywood Studios on December 5, so fans who take advantage of this latest free dining offer in its final days could be among the first to experience that new ride. In fact, we're hearing from insiders that it's not improbable that Rise of the Resistance could soft open in mid-to-late November, as well, so fans taking the second slot of free dining dates might also luck out and get in. But that's in no way guaranteed.

If "free" dining isn't your thing, Disney also is offering a 20 percent off deal on select hotel rooms for fans who would rather keep their savings rather than eat them.

As always, we recommend shopping around for the best deals, as hotels near Walt Disney World typically offer much lower rates than on-site properties. It's up to you to weigh the value of staying on site, along with Disney's offered benefits, versus other options for keeping the cost of a Disney vacation within your budget.

Replies (5)

July 17, 2019 at 3:42 PM

Hillarious that people actually think the free dining plan is actually 'free'.

July 17, 2019 at 6:38 PM

If you stay on site and typically eat 2 to 3 meals a day in the parks plus snacks, then I’m sure the free dining plan saves you money. For those of us who stay offsite, eat meals out of the parks, and bring snacks with us, this isn’t going to encourage us to make an impromptu visit. I just have to wonder if Disney has finally found the threshold to high park ticket prices. Probably won’t know for sure until early next year if that is true or not.

July 17, 2019 at 11:35 PM

As always, thanks for the tip, Robert! I was hoping another deal was coming for the Fall. Upgraded our reservation for something better!

New profile picture for you?

July 18, 2019 at 5:35 AM

Guess all of those post-2009 equity loans and credit cards that banks have been handing out like Halloween candy are finally maxed out

July 18, 2019 at 7:58 AM

@AndrewMciveR - The free DDP promotion can be a HUGE cost savings if you know how to use it. It also gives you an opportunity to try restaurants and foods you wouldn't otherwise eat during your WDW trip. We calculated that we lowered our effective on-site room rate to well below $20/night through the free DDP promotion about a decade ago. WDW has tightened the restrictions on the DDP since then, but you can still realize significant savings (beyond the standard 30% room discount) if you take full advantage of the DDP and are willing to make ADRs 4-6 months in advance for popular restaurants and character meals.

I don't think this will make that big of a difference in occupancy. If guests were going to visit in the fall, they would have already planned and booked a trip, especially since Disney already ran free DDP and room discounts for September and October, though those discounts were gobbled up before they announced the debut date for Galaxy's Edge. What I think may happen is that guests with trips booked in September and October may shift their visits to December to not only take advantage of similar discounts now being offered up until the week of Christmas, but to see RotR, which is supposed to debut on December 5. Those shifts will then create occupancy in the early Fall that Disney will now need to fill.

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