2023-2024 Free Dining at Disney World
Free Disney Dining Plan is a special offer that’s a great Walt Disney World vacation package discount. This covers promo info, tips for booking, historical dates, predictions & rumors for 2024 Free Dining, and answers to frequently asked questions including whether Free Dining is “worth it.” (Updated May 16, 2023.)
Let’s start with the bad news, which is that the Disney Dining Plan is not available for booking with 2023 Walt Disney World vacation packages. That means there is no Free Dining–at least in the traditional sense of the term–this year. The good news is that we finally have official confirmation that Walt Disney World is bringing back the Disney Dining Plan in 2024!
As we’ll discuss in our predictions & rumors section below, a lot is changing and fast at Walt Disney World in terms of pent-up demand, discounting, and promotions. Free Dining has not yet been announced for 2024, but the once-annual promotion was a huge driver of hotel bookings. If you want read more speculation about its return, continue reading. If you’re just looking for confirmed or official news and want to be notified immediately when Free Dining is announced, sign up here for our FREE Walt Disney World newsletter.
The good news is that normalcy is returning to Walt Disney World. Most restaurants and resorts have now reopened, with only a handful of hotels and dining options still shuttered. Those that have yet to return likely will within the next few months, and we expect dining capacity to largely be restored by late 2023.
The even better news is that this restored normalcy includes the exhaustion of pent-up demand, and there are signs of softness on the horizon for Walt Disney World. We’ve mentioned repeatedly that Walt Disney World already has released over a dozen different discounts for 2023, which is more than were available for the entirety of last year.
More recently, CFO Christine McCarthy warned of a slowdown at Walt Disney World in the coming quarters. This reinforced what we already knew (and confirmed that there are concerns within Disney about soft future bookings), as the slowdown has already started. We’ve been discussing the higher than normal post-spring break attendance drops in Sharp Shoulder Season Slowdown at Walt Disney World and Low Pre-Summer Crowds at Walt Disney World.
This is all relevant to the return of Free Dining in 2024 because the deal is not offered out of corporate benevolence, but as an aggressive move to help boost resort occupancy numbers. A big part of the reason why Walt Disney World didn’t bring back the DDP (and by extension, Free Dining) in the last couple of years was because it wasn’t necessary. Pent-up demand was fueling record guest spending, and numbers were incredibly strong even without incentives.
That has changed in a hurry over the last couple of months, and now Walt Disney World is pulling several “levers” to try to incentivize demand both in the near-term this summer and for 2024 vacation packages. One lever they’ve already pulled is new Annual Pass sales resuming. Another is the aforementioned increase in resort discounts. Most recently, a summer ticket deal has been released for Floridians, another is coming soon without reservations for the general public, and Annual Passholder appreciation days also start soon.
On that note, here are some predictions about the return of Free Dining at Walt Disney World…
2023-2024 Free Dining Forecast & Rumors
Let’s start with 2023 Free Dining. As indicated above, the promotion won’t be brought back in the traditional sense until the Disney Dining Plan returns, which isn’t happening until January 2024. It thus stands to reason that there will not be Free Dining this year–it would take a small miracle or something going terribly wrong, depending upon your perspective, for Walt Disney World to bring back Free Dining in 2023 at this point!
With that in mind, Walt Disney World has already released the “Free” Disney Dining Card Deal, with travel dates from the late summer through September 2023. Unfortunately, that special offer is no longer available–booking concluded on March 27. That actually ended atypically early, and there was no good explanation for why the Free Dining Card Promo was cut short. There was plenty of resort and room availability, so it wasn’t that.
All of this previously led us to speculate that Walt Disney World would extend or re-release the Dining Card Promo. Exactly that happened 4 years ago when there were three “waves” of Free Dining. It’s possible Walt Disney World ended booking early to create a false sense of scarcity and encourage people to book promptly, and will release more or different dates for the Dining Card Promo in the coming months.
It’s also possible that Walt Disney World will stick to room-only discounts for the remainder of 2023. Since the Dining Card Deal ended, there have been a few resort room discounts released for overlapping travel dates in late summer and early fall. One possibility here is that Walt Disney World didn’t want to strain restaurant capacity, and that is actually why the Free Dining Card Deal was dropped early–that it has nothing to do with artificial scarcity or creating a sense of urgency.
Regardless, that discount is not the “real” Free Dining. For many Walt Disney World vacation planners, it was/is a better offer than percentage savings on a room, but it was inferior to the full Free Dining in every sense. So a step in the right direction, but not still more like “Diet” Free Dining than the original formula.
Looking forward to 2024 Free Dining, we could truly see it going either way. Assuming, for the sake of discussion, that Free Dining does come back next year, it probably will not follow the normal first week of January release pattern established in the last several years of its existence.
For one thing, even though the Disney Dining Plan will be bookable starting in Summer 2023, no one will actually be using it until January 2024 travel dates. So on the one hand, Walt Disney World will be able to glean a lot from forward-looking bookings over the next several months. They’ll know utilization rates and ADR availability, among other things.
On the other hand, booking data is not the same as actual implementation and guest usage. It’s hard to imagine Walt Disney World rolling out the Disney Dining Plan for guest usage and launching Free Dining for future dates during the same stretch of early 2024. It’s more likely that the DDP will only return in paid form for at least a few months, giving Walt Disney World time to test and adjust the program and manage restaurant capacity. Going from nothing to Free Dining is like having your first time driving being in the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Accordingly, there’s likely to be a lag between the Disney Dining Plan actually returning and Free Dining being offered again. If we had to guess, there will be a gap of at least a few months. That would put the release of Free Dining around March 2024 at the earliest given that the Disney Dining Plan is coming back in the second week of January.
Even then, Walt Disney World will want to offer the least favorable special offers possible to meet occupancy targets. Again, the company offers discounts not out of generosity, but out of necessity. If occupancy projections are strong or Walt Disney World thinks it can “get away with” releasing a less attractive discount, they will.
Accordingly, it’s possible that Walt Disney World will bring back the aforementioned Free Dining Card Deal in 2024 or offer “Free Dining Lite” or “Half-Free Dining” as we’ve come to call Walt Disney World’s other marketing gimmicks that trade on the name recognition of the Free Dining offer. Officially, these special offers go by various names, but the most common are “kids eat free” or “stay, play, dine & save.”
However, as discussed above, Walt Disney World is already seeing a significant slowdown for Summer 2024. This is happening against a backdrop of pent-up demand continuing to exhaust itself (first with domestic travelers, next with international visitors), household savings decreasing and debt loads increasing, inflation stinging more, and a potential economic slowdown.
As this happens, consumers will return to being more cost-conscious and price sensitive, and not as free-spending as they were during the period of “revenge travel.” No longer making up for lost time or financially able to afford breaking the bank splurging on travel, Walt Disney World will continue returning to its 2019 “normal” to at least some degree.
Given all of that, it seems increasingly likely that Walt Disney World will continue to see even weaker forward-looking demand in the months to come. That’s especially true if the “levers” being pulled don’t do enough to buoy bookings.
In such a scenario, Walt Disney World may be forced to get aggressive and release Free Dining in early 2024 for travel dates later in the year to boost bookings. For the reasons identified above, this would not be viewed as ideal internally, and we aren’t suggesting this is what will happen.
To the contrary, we think it’s more likely that a watered-down version of Free Dining will be offered early in the year, with the Free Dining ‘classic formula’ coming out later in the spring or summer. It just seems highly unlikely that Walt Disney World would go from “zero to Free Dining.” It’ll be more incremental, with Disney trying to offer the least attractive deals as possible to full rooms. For like the third or fourth time, Walt Disney World doesn’t offer deals out of generosity.
However, the environment has already changed fast in the last few months. Although there were signs earlier this year that summer bookings might be weak, attendance was strong for spring break–and then it was like flipping a switch at the start of May 2023. Already this month, Walt Disney World has done a ton to try to shore up demand…and there’s not yet any indication whether all of that will work. Maybe it will, maybe it won’t.
In short, it’s way too early to offer any sort of credible predictions for 2024 Free Dining dates. There are so many moving parts and variables at play. There are simply too many questions about demand and the broader economy, as well as to what extent the 5 major changes that Walt Disney World has already announced for 2024 vacation packages will move the needle.
With that said, there are a couple of dates you might want to pencil in on your calendar. The first is January 2, 2024 and the second is April 16, 2024. Based on historical data, these two very specific dates are when Walt Disney World’s first round of deals are mostly likely to be released. To the extent that it’s possible to predict when Free Dining (or other discounts) will be released next year this far out, those are the most likely dates.
Past precedent is a strong indicator of Walt Disney World special offer releases, making those dates the most likely for the release of Free Dining in 2024. Of the two dates, we view April as far more likely, which would also be consistent with the release pattern of Free Dining up until 2018.
No matter when released, we’re likely looking at travel dates in Late 2024. Likely August through December 2024, with normal blockout dates and exclusions (see below) if released in April. If released in January, it’s also possible that there are June and July 2024 travel dates included.
All of this depends upon what bookings and occupancy are like for later in 2024–and that’s unknown and unknowable right now. There’s a chance that Walt Disney World will need to act fast in January 2024 to increase bookings, but there’s absolutely no recent precedent to suggest that’ll happen. They’ve been very slow to react and not the least bit proactive in the last few years.
Again, we want to emphasize that this is not a rumor–it’s simply us analyzing resort bookings and past precedent on discounts, and making an educated guess. Walt Disney World could go another direction entirely, as the company has stated repeatedly that they want to reduce discounting.
However, Disney also likes the current high level of per guest spending numbers, and no other special offer helps achieve these high per caps like Free Dining. Despite “free” being in the name, it’s an advantageous promo from Disney’s perspective because it locks guests into full-price hotels and tickets. It also keeps guests on-site for the most part, since they have “free” meals at Walt Disney World. No other discount accomplishes all of these important goals for the company.
Either way, will be closely monitoring the 2024 Free Dining situation, keeping our ears open for more news about a return of Free Dining. Should something–anything–be released or rumored, we’ll send you an alert if you sign up for our FREE Walt Disney World newsletter.
We’ve consistently notified email subscribers when Free Dining and other deals on the day they go live at ~6 or 7 a.m., which is a 2+ hour head start on Disney’s official announcement at 9 am. That makes a huge difference when booking Free Dining–you won’t have to wait on hold for hours on the phone.
Free Dining FAQ
Free Dining is Walt Disney World’s most complicated promotion, and can be a huge headache to book. Between limited availability and navigating a seas of rules and restrictions, it’s easy to make mistakes. This section of the post covers the rules, terms and conditions, and policies that generally govern the Free Dining promotion.
We always recommend that Walt Disney World first-timers (or regulars who just don’t want to deal with the hassle) request a FREE quote from Be Our Guest Vacations, an Authorized Disney Travel Planner. No legit travel agents charge for booking Walt Disney World vacations (and you don’t pay a premium for them–Disney pays them commission), so that’s really the easiest way to go.
With this special offer, Walt Disney World guests booking vacation packages with non-discounted resort hotels and park tickets receive the Disney Dining Plan for each member of their party for no additional charge. For obvious reasons (who doesn’t love free food?!), the promotion is incredibly popular and some resorts that offer free dining tend to sell out quickly.
Guests booking the Free Disney Dining Plan promotion for Value or Moderate Resorts will receive the Quick Service Disney Dining Plan, with guests staying at Deluxe or Deluxe Villa Resorts receiving the standard Disney Dining Plan. Upgrading is possible to the standard Disney Dining Plan or Deluxe Disney Dining Plan by paying the difference in cost.
There are some room exclusions for the Free Dining promo: 3-bedroom villas, campsites, Cabins at Copper Creek Villas & Cabins at Wilderness Lodge, Bungalows at Polynesian Villas & Bungalows, and Little Mermaid Rooms at Disney’s Art of Animation Resort.
These resorts and room tiers are all not eligible for Free Dining. Additionally, room inventory is limited across all resorts. In practice, this means that when you go to book, a particular category (standard view, garden view, etc.) may not be available for your travel dates–or your travel dates may not be available at a specific resort at all.
To take advantage of Free Dining, there’s also the requirement that guests purchase tickets that include either a minimum 4-day Park Hopper or the Park Hopper Plus option. Additionally, a 4-night minimum stay is required with a maximum stay of fourteen nights.
This means you can’t purchase discounted Walt Disney World tickets from an authorized reseller, which we normally highly recommend in our Walt Disney World trip planning advice. This is something to keep in mind when doing the math to determine if “Free Dining” is a good value for you.
When it comes to Free Dining, doing the math is incredibly important. Other discounts (such as a room-only discount) might be better for your family. Remember, there is no such thing as a free lunch; you have forfeit an alternate discount to qualify for Free Dining. We break down some of the math in our “Is Free Dining Worth It?” post.
If you have already booked a vacation package with an arrival date that qualifies for Free Dining, we recommend using the “modify reservation” link in your booking to apply the promotion to your package. This is the quickest and easiest way to apply the promotion.
You might see other advice that recommends calling to book Free Dining. This is outdated. If you call Walt Disney World’s reservation line, you will likely wait on hold for an hour (or hours) until you’re able to speak to an agent. Booking or modifying your reservation online is far quicker and easier.
Even if the online system crashes (which has happened) or moves slowly due to all the traffic, it’s easier to just keep trying online. Unfortunately, booking online isn’t always possible and technical errors do happen…so you might have to call and wait on hold.
If you are wondering which hotel to book for the Free Dining promotion, check out our new Best Walt Disney World Hotels for Free Dining post. It gives our preferred option for each resort tier. Oh, and don’t forget to make some ADRs for the best and most popular Walt Disney World restaurants.
With this Free Dining offer, Value and Moderate Resort guests receive the Quick Service Disney Dining Plan during the promotion. Guests at Deluxe and Deluxe Villa Resorts receive the standard Disney Dining Plan. Upgrading to higher tiers is possible for an additional charge.
We highly recommend making Advance Dining Reservations as soon as possible. Yes, even before Free Dining is offered, if you can. Everyone gobbles up the good ADRs quickly for Free Dining dates, so if you don’t book early, you will be stuck eating counter service or unpopular restaurants for the duration of your trip.
To answer some other common questions: yes, you must purchase tickets with the offer even if you already have them (or an Annual Pass). No, bookings made with Disney Vacation Club points are not eligible for the offer. No, you cannot “stack” this offer with a percentage-off room discount (at least not in the U.S.). For those wondering about other Walt Disney World discounts, check out our Current Walt Disney World Discount Offers post for what’s presently available.
For details about which tier of the Disney Dining Plan includes or for recommendations about which restaurants to book to maximize your use of the Disney Dining Plan, please see our comprehensive Disney Dining Plan Overview Page.
Note that the Free Disney Dining Plan promotion is always based upon arrival dates. For example, if Free Dining runs June 27 to June 28 and you arrive on June 28 and stay until July 5, you are eligible for Free Dining–even though it’s blocked out for July 5 arrivals. (You didn’t arrive on July 5 in that scenario–you arrived in June.)
However, if it’s offered those same dates and you arrive on June 26 and stay for the same dates, you are not eligible for Free Dining, even though more of your stay falls during an “eligible” period than the first example’s. The work-around for this is doing a split stay, with the ineligible arrival nights part of one vacation and a second vacation starting at the first valid “arrival” date and continuing thereafter. Again, arrival dates are what matters with Free Dining.
Guests staying at a Walt Disney World Value and Moderate Resorts receive the Quick Service Dining Plan during the Free Dining promotion, but are able to upgrade to the (standard) Disney Dining Plan or the Deluxe Disney Dining Plan if they pay the difference. Guests staying at Deluxe or Deluxe Villa Resorts receive the standard Disney Dining Plan and may upgrade to the Deluxe Disney Dining Plan by paying the difference, too.
The upgrade cost to go from the Quick Service Disney Dining Plan to the standard Disney Dining Plan for Free Dining is $23.01 per adult and $4.51 per child per night. The upgrade cost from the standard Disney Dining Plan to the Deluxe Disney Dining Plan is $40.99 per adult and $16.99 per child per night. To upgrade from the Quick Service Disney Dining Plan to the Deluxe one, add the two upgrade costs together.
In the section below, we have historical Free Dining dates for the last few years. The rest of what follows is historical information about the Free Disney Dining Plan promotion…
The following is not pertinent to current bookings, but we have found that readers find it useful to have details about past Free Dining promos when planning for the future and what to expect. Note that the dates are pretty consistent from year to year, with slight shifts for holidays, weekends, and special events, or other things that may be excluded from the Free Disney Dining Plan promotion.
Last year, there was no early booking window for Disney Visa cardholders, but there was an expanded date range (see below). The two years before, Disney Visa cardholders did have an early booking window. Exact dates are listed below. Most years, the general public is able to book Free Dining packages 5 days after Disney Visa cardholders can book.
In years past, Free Dining has been announced in late April, with booking opening first for Disney Visa credit card holders and the general public a few days later. The last couple of years, there was no early window for Disney Visa cardholders.
Here are the Walt Disney World Free Dining dates that were available from 2013-2020 for historical reference…
2020 Free Dining Dates (Cancelled):
- June 27 through June 28
- July 5 through July 7
- August 29 through September 8
2019 Free Dining Dates:
- July 5 – September 30*
- September 1 through September 18**
- November 17 through November 27**
- December 8 through December 23**
*First and second wave of Free Dining
**Third wave of Free Dining
2018 Free Dining Dates:
- August 20* — September 29
- November 24 — 27
- December 7 — 23
*Disney Visa Cardholders could book for arrival dates beginning August 2.
2017 Free Dining Dates:
- August 21* – September 30
- November 14 – 20
- November 25 – 27
- December 8 – 23
*Disney Visa Cardholders could book for arrival dates beginning August 13.
2016 Free Dining Dates:
- August 23* through October 1
- November 15 through 21
- November 26 through 28
- December 10 through 21
*Disney Visa Cardholders could book for arrival dates beginning August 14.
2015 Free Dining Dates:
- August 28 through October 2
- October 25 through October 31
- November 8 through November 19
- December 15 through December 21
2014 Free Dining Dates:
- August 31 – October 3
- October 26 – November 1
- November 9 – November 20
- December 12 – December 23
2013 Free Dining Dates
- September 2 to September 25
- September 29 to October 2
- October 18 to November 2
- November 11 to November 23
- December 12 to December 22
Other Free Dining Posts & Resources
If you plan on getting the Disney Dining Plan check out these other Walt Disney World posts:
- Disney Dining Plan Tips & Info
- Top 10 Disney Dining Tips
- Top 10 Counter Service Restaurants
- Top 10 Table Service Restaurants
- Top 10 Themed Table Service Restaurants
- Magic Kingdom Counter Service Restaurant Rankings
- Best-Value Table Service Restaurants on the Disney Dining Plan
- Best-Value Counter Service Restaurants on the Disney Dining Plan
- Best-Value Character Meals on the Disney Dining Plan
- Best-Value Snacks on the Disney Dining Plan
- Drinking Around Epcot’s World Showcase Tips
- Snacking Around Epcot’s World Showcase Tips
Want more dining tips? Check out our 101 Delicious Walt Disney World Dining Tips. For where to eat, read our Walt Disney World Restaurant Reviews. Planning other aspects of a Walt Disney World trip? Learn about hotels on our Walt Disney World Hotels Reviews page. To save money on tickets or determine which type to buy, read our Tips for Saving Money on Walt Disney World Tickets post. Our What to Pack for Disney Trips post takes a unique look at clever items to take. For what to do and when to do it, our Walt Disney World Ride Guides will help. For comprehensive advice, the best place to start is our Walt Disney World Trip Planning Guide for everything you need to know!
Do you think Free Dining will be released in January or April 2024, or will it take longer before Walt Disney World “needs” to get that aggressive with deals? Are you a fan of the “free” dining promotion? Have any tips for free dining rookies? If you’ve booked Free Dining, what did you think about your experience with the deal? If you were unable to get it, where/when were you unsuccessful? Let us know what you think of the promotion and whether you’re planning on taking advantage of it in the comments!
I need an email that will be answered by Customer Service. My last visit was so bad I hesitated when invited back by family. I sent two emails and both were never answered. I know this is the best place on earth but sometimes the best has issues. I want this upcoming trip not to have issues that could have been addressed before hand. Ty
Dining plan is Very important to our trip. We don’t mind paying full price cause of Military.
We just don’t want to reschedule trip AGAIN!!!
Hopefully disney will b Smart and bring back dining plan itself
Will there be discounts for December on dinning plans,% off packages, etc.?
We don’t qualify for FREE DINING cause of Military discount. But as long as we get Dining plan, we don’t mind
What is your prediction for the Dining Plan returning in 2021? Not Free dining, just the plan itself. We are staying at Wilderness Lodge in late Aug/early Sep and like the DDP for the convenience.
This post is so full of info and extra links. I can’t wait to look through every little detail! Thank you. I’m dying to score free dining.
Tom, thanks again for great Insight.
Question: We have a trip planned for Sept 29 – Oct 5 which includes 4 day park hopper tickets. Staying at AOA. We qualified for a small discount on first night of $100 off. What are chances that WDW would offer free dining on any level of any kind during that trip?
Do you think there will be any discounts for fall?
Yeah, look for room-only discounts to be released in late July or early August. I’d expect lower percentages and less availability than normal, though.
Hey.. give me some credit my friend! Even in January, I was saying things would be slowed down by “logistical” issues. Though I didn’t specifically foresee that it would be a labor shortage.
But here is my question to you — Does it look like the labor issues will work out over the next 30-45 days, allowing for more restaurants (and resorts) to open in July/August (selfishly thinking of my upcoming August trip), or will it be September/October before they have enough staff for operational normalcy?
Haha, I definitely give you more credit–you foresaw more than I did!
As for hiring, from what I’m hearing, they are on-boarding and training quickly. Faster than I would’ve expected even a few weeks ago.
However, what I don’t know is what this means for particular positions, which in turn impact restaurants and resorts. Servers, cooks, transportation, and other roles that are all require more training and/or specific skills could slow things down. Your guess is as good as mine there.
Any idea when fall 22 will be open for booking? Our family is waiting to let everything (economy included…which I think is a definite consideration in calculating 2022 attendance) play out and stabilize.
I see my comments in this thread from January help up pretty well….. Though my pessimism in January may have still been too optimistic in some regards.
They aren’t bringing back free dining until after they bring back the dining plan (or a new version of it), obviously.
But they aren’t bringing back the dining plan until dining “normalizes.”
And considering we are a week away from the official Disney summer season, and with apparent strong demand, and with virtually every TS restaurant booked solid almost every day, I’m really shocked we aren’t seeing more of the closed restaurants re-open. With Beach Club and Boadwalk re-opening soon…. what about Yachtsman Steakhouse, Flying Fish and ESPN Club?!? All the Boardwalk area resorts will be fully open, but half the dining remains shut down!??!?
I’m still expecting an announcement of more restaurants opening by July, but this is moving tediously slow. We can confidently say there is no lack of demand for more open dining. (It’s mostly the Epcot area where I fear a crisis brewing with 2 resorts opening and only Cape May being added)
Good predictions, albeit perhaps for the wrong reasons. 😉
I don’t think anyone would’ve guessed back in January–when occupancy was abysmal–that resort bookings for the summer and fall would be incredibly strong, and the reason for more restaurants returning would no longer be lack of demand, but instead a shortage of workers.
It’s a bit reductionist, but Walt Disney World has essentially gone from one type of supply/demand problem to a totally different one.
Hi Tom, do you think they will bring out free dining for 2022 when they have already released the dining credits for UK visitors?
Also do you think they would let you use your dining credits to purchase the DDP?
My guess is that the dining credits are the equivalent of a gift card, and can be applied towards pretty much anything. I don’t think that promo stops Disney from offering Free Dining in 2022.
Another very detailed and helpful review. Two wild card issues that may also be at play. The first being whether WDW guests who have packages booked this summer and fall are actually going to spend that $ and show. Think despite the end of the book with confidence policy earlier this month, the usual cancellation policy is still forgiving with return of deposit 30 days out from arrival. The once in a lifetime big splurge family vacations at GF and the Contemporary have slowed as highlighted by the poor occupancy rates at the deluxes. The big resort draws this year are value and some mod. That reflects WDWs premium pricing and also the impact of covid on vacation budgets. Suspect many families took their disposable income from last year and did home renos including backyard and pool or splurged on an RV or mortgage for lakeside cabin or cottage. Many are still paying off those big ticket items and will be for some time. We may have seen or right now be seeing the diehards getting their WDW fix. But if the revenge travel theory for this summer and fall bursts, free dining is one tool in WDW’s response kit once they get the staffing and restaurant capacity in place. The second issue is another variant that outstrips current vaccines and triggers another wave. And that’s too grim to discuss in detail. Forget free dining. WDW will proactively close. The human toll is horrifying. 2021 is shaping up to be a season of absolute extremes.
On a lighter note, wonder what will happen to the dining plan plus tier that launched months before covid? Will it return? Not a great value for experienced free diners who know how to max the regular plans. But superficially attractive for first timers who want to pay for more flexibility and freedom. Suppose it depends on what the real purpose and value of that plus tier was for WDW when it launched and whether it’s still valid for WDW post covid.
My guess is that Walt Disney World is currently experiencing a higher cancellation rate than normal, but not enough to move the needle one way or the other. So many people put off travel last year and, statistically speaking, the rate of household savings increased. People are now spending that money on trips this year–there’s clearly a willingness to “overpay” for a vacation to make up for lost time.
Unlike FastPass+ (which I think will return in a different form and perhaps with a different name), I suspect that the Disney Dining Plan will return in mostly the same form as last March. Disney has tweaked it numerous times over the years and seemed pretty satisfied with the product and its popularity. No need to mess with something that was not broken.
Hi, I don’t understand to purchase the park hopper when you need to have a reservation to go in a park . How does that work ?
Hi we booked a trip for October 2021 19-23 I’ve looked high and low for deals and breaks it seems like our dates are never ever good for discounted anything we will be at a value resort, and the me and my husband will split and stay at the contemporary.
Tom: We have already booked reservations and park hopper tickets for January 23-30, 2022 at to Polynesian Resort. Should the Dining Plan become an option, once again, before our arrival date will I be able to simply add it onto my current reservation? ( if yes, how do I do it?) Thanks for you help. Pat
Looking for free dining plans.
me too Free dining update. We would usually have heard for next year by now in the UK
hi ton am from England love the updates waiting to book disney for 2022 when will free disney dinning come back thanks
… I just tend to think logistical issues will slow the return of the dining plan, which would slow any possibility of free dining.
Disney dining, and dining plan, has a lot of moving parts that are disrupted by the pandemic. Not an easy switch to flip back on quickly:
– Many dining locations still closed.
– Capacity limited as open dining locations
– Open locations are using more limited menus
– Reservations currently only 60 days out, 180 days remains suspended
-Dining plan contracts would need to be negotiated with 3rd party vendors
-“2021” dining plan would need to be priced, designed, literature and websites updated.
Some of these changes can be fixed quickly but others are going to be gradual changes over weeks and months. I don’t think the dining plan will return until after dining returns to normal. With free dining potentially offered weeks/months earlier.
With some resorts still anticipated being closed in May/June 2021, it’s hard to expect dining to be fulling normal by then either.
If dining starts to get back to normal by summer, then maybe we see the return of the dining plan for fall. But also very possible they just save it as a booking option for 2022 packages — much like they added park hopping back as a 2021 vacation package option.
IMO, restaurant capacity is the biggest limiting factor, with everything else being minimal. Even negotiating with third parties isn’t that big of an impediment–every January, Disney and operating participants are racing to get details squared away, with some not “officially” accepting the DDP right away.
The DDP generates a ton of revenue for WDW, directly and indirectly. It coupled with the return of Free Dining is the easiest/fastest way to bolster resort occupancy rates, which are still abysmal.
You and I are in agreement about the DDP revenue and profits. But profits are even more constrained by the capacity limits. When you are only letting in a fraction of the normal guests… and only serving at a fraction of the available restaurant space.. Those basic factors limit revenue more than the lack of a dining plan.
But we can’t simply look at this as boosting abysmal occupancy rates. Unlike a normal recession/business down turn, this isn’t a matter of just getting more people into the door. BEFORE you can worry about boosting those abysmal occupancy rates with free dining, you FIRST have to get to the capacity where you can even bring back the dining plan… so you first have to re-open most/all dining venues, with menus and reservations returning to normal. You need to insure park capacity and restaurant capacity are in sync, so you don’t deal with a situation where you have inadequate restaurant capacity for growing crowds, leading to dining plan purchasers being unable to get dining reservations.
And while you have those abysmal occupancy rates.. Disney has not been *super* aggressive using the levers at their disposal. Not like they have tried everything else and failed, so they need free dining. 35% off, but only through April. The only spring/summer announcement thus far is a minor ticket package discount.
Comes down to… they won’t do free dining until they bring back the dining plan. They won’t bring back the dining plan until dining normalizes more. Dining normalization comes with capacity normalization which comes with pandemic control. In other words, there are a lot of steps before someone at Disney says, “hey, we should have a free dining promotion.”
Just curious about Tables in Wonderland. Any sense at this early juncture if that dining discount for AP’s and Florida Residents might return?