2020 Walt Disney World Free Dining is coming soon for UK residents! In this post, we share dates and details, what this could mean for future U.S. general public WDW deals, whether the promo makes sense to book, and more.
First, the details of the 2020 Free Disney Dining Plan discount for UK residents. You’re eligible for this promotion if you book a full-price Walt Disney World hotel and ticketpackage for a minimum of 5 nights for travel datesJanuary 1 through March 29, 2020 and April 19 through October 3, 2020. Booking begins April 25, 2019 and you must book the Free Dining promo by July 2, 2019.
As part of this offer, you can also take advantage of Walt Disney World’s 14-Day Ultimate Ticket for the price of a 7-Day Ticket, which includes Memory Maker and is available exclusively to UK and Ireland residents. Guests booking the 2020 Free Dining deal will also receive a $200 Disney gift card.
One wrinkle as compared to the U.S. version of Free Dining is that for this promo, guests staying at Value Resorts will receive free breakfast, which should actually be a generic quick service credit that you could–and should–use for a different meal.
Consistent with other versions of Free Dining, Moderate Resort guests receive the Quick Service Dining Plan. Deluxe and Villa Resorts receive the standard Disney Dining Plan. Unless I missed something, the only resort or room exclusions are pool view rooms at Animal Kingdom Lodge and Pop Century, Little Mermaid Rooms at Art of Animation, and the entirety of Disney’s Riviera Resort. However, that last one could simply be an oversight since it’s not yet open.
You can read more about the details, exclusions, and terms of the offer on DisneyHolidays.co.uk. (Don’t miss the “exciting” pdf with the large section of conditions surrounding Brexit!)
Aside from a slight shift in the blockout period, which varies every year and is based upon the weeks around Easter, this 2020 Free Dining promo for United Kingdom residents is pretty similar to offers from previous years. The biggest changes from what I can tell are that booking ends earlier (July 2019 as compared to November last year) and the end booking window ends nearly two months earlier (October 3 versus November 30).
Neither of these things should be much of a surprise. It’s been several years since Walt Disney World offered Free Dining to U.S. residents for the month of October, and November has likewise become an increasingly busy travel period. Shortening the booking window likely reflects the room inventory dedicated to this promotion and/or Disney’s projections about when that inventory will sell out.
If anything, UK residents should be happy that the deal is being offered at all. Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge is not suddenly going to be unpopular a year after it opens. To the contrary, Summer 2020 will be the first chance to see it for guests who can only travel during the summer. Likewise, early Fall 2020 will be the first fall that the entire land is open.
Even without Star Wars land, we’ve been getting to a point for the last several years where Walt Disney World doesn’t “need” to offer Free Dining to fill rooms. In part, this is why we’ve seen a gradual erosion to the promo the last several years, and why inventory has seemed paltry.
I wouldn’t bet one way or the other as to whether Free Dining is offered to U.S. the general public in 2020 quite yet. On the one hand, I doubt it’ll be a strict necessity, barring something happening with the economy. It just seems unlikely that Walt Disney World will need to do much extra to fill its hotel rooms.
On the other hand, those two words–FREE DINING–have enormous marketing value, and even if the promo is significantly scaled back, many people would book over the excitement of the offer alone. Given the power and recognition of those words, it’s hard to imagine Walt Disney World eliminating Free Dining entirely.
While I do not think this deal is indicative of a U.S. Free Dining offer, it’s at least promising. If there were no 2020 Free Dining deal for UK residents or no 2020 Bounceback, that’d be a strong sign of no general public offer next year in the United States.
Every year when this UK deal is released, we inevitably see Disney fans from the United States perturbed that we don’t receive as good of an offer. Basically, it boils down to something we always stress on this blog when discussing discounts: Disney never offers promotions out of corporate benevolence. Discounts exist to incentivize people to fill hotel rooms.
Disney does more to attract “holidaymakers” from the United Kingdom for a few different reasons. First, that long flight over the Atlantic means UK visitors need a greater incentive to head to Florida instead of, say, Disneyland Paris. Second, the pound is historically weak versus the dollar, which means the purchasing power of UK residents is diminished as compared to what it was only a few years ago.
Finally, UK guests are generally some of Disney’s biggest whales. (I mean that in the flattering way–it has nothing to do with how those Disney Dining Plan credits are used!) These UK guests come for two or more weeks–hence the 14-day ticket–and drop a lot of money on Walt Disney World vacations. If they’re staying that long, they are also less likely to spend all of those Dining Plan credits or spend every waking hour in the parks. In essence, they are less costly guests in terms of utilization.
The average length of stay for guests from the United Kingdom is significantly longer than the 5-day average for Americans, so Walt Disney World does what it can to entice these lucrative guests to come to Walt Disney World. It’s a pretty straightforward business practice of catering to desired demographics.
Moreover, it’s always odd to me that Disney fans are upset about promos to international visitors when these guests are a boon to the U.S. economy. In fact, if you’re a Floridian, you might consider personally thanking UK visitors for being a large contributor to the local economy…and your lack of state income taxes. 😉
If lengthy vacations were commonplace in the United States, you can bet Walt Disney World would try to attract domestic guests with comparable promotions. Before you reply in the comments that you do visit Walt Disney World for vacations of that duration–demographically, Americans do not. Plus, you’re a fan who just read all the way to the end of a blog post about a promotion that is not applicable to you. They’ve already got you.
That’s about it in terms of the 2020 Free Disney Dining Plan promo for UK guests. As always, deals for the United Kingdom are not exactly our wheelhouse, so if you’re a European who can offer any insight into how this offer stacks up to other promotions targeted at your region, we’d love to hear your thoughts!
What do you think about the 2020 Free Dining discount for United Kingdom residents? Wish we got offers like this in the United States, or do you prefer getting the Quick Service Disney Dining Plan at the Value Resorts? Any questions we can help you answer? Hearing your feedback—even when you disagree with us—is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!