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Top 8 Disney Pro Tips for Free Dining At Walt Disney World

Free Dining is a popular promotion that Walt Disney World occasionally offers during the slower times of the year. As the name implies, guests who book a room and ticket package at eligible resorts receive one of Disney’s Dining Plans for free. Here are eight tips for your next visit during Free Dining!

8. Pack in the People

With the Free Dining deal, you’re only paying for the hotel room and park tickets, since the dining plan comes with your room. So, double down on the savings and fill up those hotel rooms. Or, use extra money to splurge, and get two or more hotel rooms for your family.

7. Upgrade

Guests at Value hotels get the Quick Service Dining Plan, while guests at the Moderates and Deluxes get the regular Disney Dining Plan during the Free Dining Plan. If you are staying in a Value hotel, but want the regular Dining Plan, you can upgrade for the the cost of the difference between the two plans. For the 2016 Dining Plan, that difference is $19.57 per day per adult, and $3.81 per day per child. Sure, it’s no longer “free dining” but how else are you going to pay only $20 per day for food or each person?

6. Save Drinks For Later

The Rapid Fill Mug comes as part of the Dining Plan, which gives you unlimited fountain drinks at Disney Resorts. But you still get a drink as part of your quick service meal. So if you eat a meal at your resort, you get double the drink. That could be orange juice and coffee with breakfast, or milk and iced tea with lunch. Even better though, is to just use your refillable mug for meals, and save those extra bottled drinks for later in the evening. It’s really nice to have a cold drink waiting for you when you get back to your room after a long day in the parks.

5. Use Snacks for Breakfast

Not a big morning eater, but want a little something in the morning? Just grab a snack from your resort’s quick service, or a kiosk in the parks. Items like a muffin, danish, or fruit cup make a nice breakfast and can count as a snack credit on your meal plan. Just look for the little purple Dining Plan logo next to products to find items that count as a snack credit.

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4. Bring Your Mug and See Decorations

Free Dining is often run during the Holiday season just before the kiddos get out of school for break. One of my favorite Holiday activities is visiting the Deluxe Resorts to see their Christmas decorations. The decorations are amazing and over the top, with the added bonus that you can use your Rapid Fill mug to get drinks. Because what’s better than looking at Christmas decorations while drinking hot chocolate? Drinking free hot chocolate, that’s what. This is a great activity for a down day during your vacation. Bonus points if you use snack credits to get some seasonal treats while you’re there!

3. Try New Things

Use the opportunity of Free Dining to try new foods and restaurants that maybe you wouldn’t try normally. Read up on the menus online, or find reviews of restaurants you’ve never visited. It’s easy to get stuck in a rut with Disney restaurants, when you have favorites that you always return to. So walk into a different quick service place, or make Advanced Dining Reservations for a new restaurant. Or, play it a little safer and try a new dish at a buffet you’ve eaten at before.

2. Snatch it up Fast

Free Dining is a very popular promotion. It’s typically offered during the slower times of the year. I suggest keeping that in the back of your mind, with several possible vacations in check. That way, when Free Dining dates and eligible resorts are announced, you have a plan to work from. Be ready to book within a week of the Free Dining announcement, because the eligible rooms book up very fast!

1. Run the Numbers

Free Dining is a fantastic promotion– for some families. It may not be the best deal for your family. Do the math. Look at the other promotions. Look at menus. There may be another promotion that could save your family more. Don’t just assume that Free Dining is the best promotion. While you’re looking at those menus ahead of time, get an idea of what your tip while be at sit down restaurants. The Free Dining Plan does not cover tips, so you’ll need to factor that into your vacation budget.

Have you ever visited during Free Dining? What is your favorite part of the promotion? Do you have any other tips?

About Robin Swanson

Robin’s Disney journey began with Beauty and the Beast bedsheets, a Jasmine dress up set, and a purring Nala plush. As a child in the 1990s, the renaissance and classic animations alike captivated her imagination. In 2008, Robin visited Walt Disney World for the first time, and the obsession really took hold. Since then, Robin has enjoyed visiting the Happiest Place on Earth many more times. She lives in the Chicago suburbs where she is wrapping up a Masters in writing. When not at Disney World, Robin enjoys researching fairytales, eating ice cream, Netflix binging, reading and, of course, planning the next Walt Disney World vacation!