Guests tend to have a strong opinion of the Disney Dining Plan. Whether good or bad, there is always something to be said about it. But, regardless of how you feel about the Dining Plan, the Free Dining Promotion is still one of the most anticipated Promotions Disney has.
The Rumor that we’ve all heard
There have been rumors swirling around that Disney is doing away with this Promotion. However, this is the same rumor that I’ve heard for years. While it’s Disney’s right to cancel the Promotion whenever they feel like it, they’ve always come through for me and released the Promotion anyway. They’ve also released BounceBack offers and smaller promotions that include some free food already this year, so maybe it’s false hope, but I don’t believe this Free Dining Promotion has hit its end yet.
When will the 2018 Free Dining Promotion be released?
Disney is pretty tight-lipped on dates like this (even to us Travel Agents), so if you found us because you tried to find the answer on Google, unfortunately you’re not going to find it. 🙁
But, if past years are any indication of when Disney will be announcing the dates for Free Dining, the good news is that we should (hopefully) hear when those days will be within the next few weeks.
Past Release Dates for Free Dining Promotions
- 2017 – April 24
- 2016 – April 25
- 2015 – April 27
- 2014 – May 7
- 2013 – May 9 and August 1
- 2012 – March 5, July 12, August 3, and October 27
- 2011 – August 16, 2010, May 2 and August 3, 2011
- 2010 – May 3, July 6, and August 16
- 2009 – March 30, June 10, July 27
What can you do to get prepared for Free Dining?
As you can see, Disney tweaks the Promotion every year. Not only has the number of Free Dining Promotions changed, but they’ve also started requiring more and more things to be included in order to be eligible for Free Dining.
In 2017, Disney required Guests to book a minimum of 5 Night / 6 Day Package including a room at one of the qualifying rooms at a Walt Disney World Resort and Park Hopper or Park Hopper Plus Park Tickets.
Will it be the same this year? Only time will tell…
One piece of advice I like to give is to know when you would like to travel and book it. When the Free Dining Promotion is released, you could be on hold for hours trying to get ahold of a cast member. Yes, I said hours! (Last year I was on hold for just about 2 hours before I made it to the head of the Travel Agent phone line) After waiting all that time on hold, the last thing you want to do is wait for a Cast Member to take information and type everything in. It will be so much easier…and quicker…to add the promotion if you already have a Reservation for them to pull. When you think of how many people are also going for the same promotion, and the fact that Disney only allows a certain number of rooms per resort to be designated towards Free Dining, quickness is key!
Another reason I suggest booking ahead of time is because of the Advance Dining Reservations (ADR). 180 days before your arrival at Disney World, you are allowed to start booking your dining reservations. If you wait until Free Dining is announced and booked, your 180 days could have already passed. If you plan on only eating at Quick Service Restaurants that do not require reservations, then it is not such a big deal to book that far in advance. However, if you have been dreaming of Character Meals and other popular restaurants, you may have a hard time booking the restaurants you want.
You can also prepare for this anticipated day by getting in touch with an Authorized Disney Travel Agent. You know all those things I just mentioned? Your Travel Agent will go to work, waiting on hold, and making the magic happen while you get your beauty sleep.
Can A Travel Agent Book My Free Dining If I Booked My Vacation Myself?
Well, yes and no…
If you booked your vacation yourself, whether it’s directly through the Walt Disney Travel Company or through another outside vendor, then you are responsible for calling Disney World and booking the Free Dining promotion. We are not able to pull or modify anyone’s reservation unless we have helped you book your reservation in the first place.
However, if you booked a reservation from the Walt Disney Travel Company (think DisneyWorld.com or by phone) within the past 30 days and have not paid for it in full, we can transfer your reservation to our agency, so you can get all the benefits that come with having a Disney Travel Agent. (Reservations from another agency or through an outside vendor is not eligible for a transfer, out of respect for those companies).
So, if you are not sure how to get Free Dining, or you are just feeling a bit overwhelmed, transferring your reservation may be the best solution. If you have any questions about Transfers, please email us. We will talk to you first, to ease your mind, before we begin any transfers.
That is why I have decided to announce that I will be running my own promotion. April 8th through April 14th, 2018 will be Transfer Week. If you transfer your reservation during this time, not only will you get personalized help, you will be entered in a drawing for a chance to win a $50 Disney Gift Card to use however you’d like. (including payment towards that vacation!) 🙂
I have heard concerns over giving up power of your vacation to someone else, so I would like to put your mind at ease. This is your vacation. You still have access to all of your information. You can log into My Disney Experience and see everything that has been booked on your behalf, just as if you had booked it yourself. If you want, you can also book your own dining reservations and your own fastpasses. However, if you need help, we are able to help you. We don’t want to take your vacation away from you. We just want to assist you to make it as stress free as we possibly can. 🙂 And since Authorized Disney Travel Agents do not charge you for these services, you have nothing to lose (except stress and aggravation).
I look forward to working with you!
**While I work with the agency, Destinations In Florida, this is my own promotion, therefore, you will only be entered to win the gift card if you transfer your reservation directly through me.