Free Disney Dining Plan: Really Free? Really Worth It?

Posted by Nick & Lete on


The Disney Dining Plan, certainly has its flock of loyal followers.  Some of the plans biggest advocates claim that it is a good value.  Others insist that it is only good value if you wait to take advantage of the Free Disney Dining Plan.  However, is Free Disney Dining actually free?  What do you get on the plan and how does it work.  More importantly, does it save money.

What's the Free Disney Dining Plan?

The free Disney Dining Plan is a promotion during slow season to get more people to stay in the hotels.  The regular Disney Dining Plan is offered as a free add on.  Normally the plan is a prepaid extra.  The Dining Plan differs by resort based on which tier you are staying at.  The value resorts feature quick service.  The moderate resorts incorporate table service; and the Deluxe resorts have a plan that is good for any food service place you wish to dine at.  You are allotted credits for meals based on how many nights you stay at the hotel, and not the number of days.

What's Included in the Free Disney Dining Plan?

Disney Dining Plans whether they are prepaid or not offer guests the ability to order whatever they like with no variance in charge.  Table service credits include dessert and now, even alcohol.  In addition to full table service meals, quick service entrees are included with a quick service credit. Snack credits are also provided and you get a refillable mug that is good for unlimited use at any of the Disney World resorts.

What's Not Included in the Free Disney Dining Plan?

Tips are not included under the plan.  Also, the number of meals under the plan does not allow for three meals per day.  You are likely to wind up paying for additional meals during your stay. This is especially true considering that some table service venues require the use of 2 meal credits rather than only one.

What's the Catch?

The primary catch in accepting the free Disney dining offer is that you can't use it with any other offer.  The free dining always comes along at a time when there are other better promotional offers on the table.  Dining expenses are highly variable, but Disney prices the Dining Plans at a very high premium, which makes getting a value from the plan difficult to do.  Even without paying for the plan the cost can likely be higher than if you got a better deal on your hotel and choose to pay as you go.

Is Free Disney Dining Worth It?

The Free Disney Dining Plan has some psychological benefits for some who feel more free to order whatever they want off the menu.  But the true test of the plan's value lies in how much money you would save by taking a different offer.  There is always a cost associated with the Disney Dining Plan, even when it is billed as a free extra.  The limited credits and the cost conversion still make it very difficult to do better than you otherwise would do on your own.  To estimate your food budget compare the prices at your choice restaurants and compare dining credits.  Disney World offers all of this information freely on their website.

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