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Disney World’s Solution: Free Food Offered Amid Ticket Change Uproar in 2025

Chip and Dale with child at Garden Grill
Credit: Disney

The domestic Disney parks came under fire recently after a controversial ticket change was shared with the public. The changes will usher in a new dynamic for both Walt Disney World Resort and Disneyland Resort, but a new food and beverage announcement may see attendance not dip at all.

a photo of Cinderella's castle inside of Magic Kingdom at Disney World

Credit: Disney

Disney’s Major Operational Changes

Earlier this month, The Walt Disney Company announced it would change how it works its Disability Access Service or DAS. After enrolling into the service before a Disney vacation via video or in-person at Guest Services, guests with DAS can gain a return time from most attractions or experiences instead of having to wait in line.

However, after a surge in DAS usage at Walt Disney World Resort and Disneyland Resort–with some estimates suggesting that 60% of Lightning Lane scans are DAS, putting it three times higher than just five years ago–Disney will officially change how it runs the service this year.

Guests walking around World Showcase at EPCOT

Credit: Inside the Magic

Commencing on May 20, 2024, at Walt Disney World and June 18, 2024, at Disneyland Resort, Disney will now partner with the third-party group Inspire Health Alliance to enroll and manage guests needing to use the service. There is still confusion regarding how this third party will manage guest inquiries, with official Disney literature stating that DAS is intended for those with a “developmental disability like autism or similar.” This, of course, has led to major controversy with Disney park fans, ushering a new wave of outrage towards the House of Mouse. Furthermore, Disney has stated that anyone caught abusing the DAS service will be permanently barred from the parks.

A family of four looks at their phone while visiting Magic Kingdom Park at Walt Disney World.

Credit: Disney

As parkgoers have seen time and time again, Disney’s operational changes can be highly controversial, but attendance rarely wanes dramatically. With DAS, though, this could see vacations become dangerous and challenging for certain guests. However, is the DAS chatter about to get buried? Disney recently announced that a major deal is back on the table, and commencing April 18, 2024, select guests will be able to book their 2025 Disney vacation and get free food and drink for their entire stay.

Lines outside Peter Pan's Flight attraction

Credit: Inside the Magic

Guests Will Still Flock to the Parks Despite Operational Changes

The popular Disney Dining Plan options were suspended for several years following the pandemic shutdown in 2020. However, on January 9, 2024, Walt Disney World Resort brought the beloved offering back, meaning guests can now add the Quick-Service Dining Plan or Disney Dining Plan to their booking moving forward. Saving guests hundreds, if not thousands, the dining plan options allow guests to use their MagicBand or Disney card to purchase meals, snacks, and beverages from over 170 locations on Disney World property. The flexibility of both the Quick-Service Dining Plan and the Disney Dining Plan is why the service was missed when it disappeared.

A joyful character meet-and-greet at a themed restaurant, where a woman and a young girl share a smile with Donald Duck in a safari outfit.

Credit: Disney

Now, Disney is once again targeting one of its biggest international consumer groups by offering those based in the United Kingdom a free Disney Dining Plan for bookings in 2025.

“Gather friends and family in a place where all are welcome and the memories we make together last forever. Walt Disney World Resort in Florida. Where magic finds its way into every moment,” reads the official Disney Holidays website. “Book your Hotel & Ticket package by 7th November 2024 for selected arrivals between 7th January – 17th December 2025 and you’ll enjoy FREE Disney Dining & Drinks and so much more when staying at selected Disney Resort hotels. Available during most school holidays!”

Space 220 Restaurant sign at EPCOT

Credit: Disney Dining

Related: “Total Greed,” Disney World Completely Changes Entire Park System

This offer will save guests over £1,000 per booking (approx. $1,250) depending on the selected accommodation. Guests can choose from either the Quick-Service Dining Plan, which includes two Quick-Service meals, one non-alcoholic/alcoholic drink per meal, one selected snack or drink, and one Resort-refillable mug, or the Disney Dining Plan, which includes one Quick-Service meal, one Table-Service meal, one non-alcoholic/alcoholic drink per meal, one selected snack or drink, and one Resort-refillable mug. Both are per person.

So from restaurants like Le Cellier Steakhouse at EPCOT to Tony’s Town Square Restaurant in Magic Kingdom, Ronto Roasters in Disney’s Hollywood Studios’ Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge to Animal Kingdom’s Pizzafari, there are near endless options for guests to choose from when it comes to eating and drinking on their 2025 vacation.

Spaceship Earth st EPCOT in Walt Disney World Resort

Credit: Disney

Despite recent controversies, whether it is the removal of the current DAS process or the cultural war happening in Florida between Disney and Governor Ron DeSantis, Disney always seems to come out on top. It would take a lot for a real dent to be made in Disney’s stronghold, and as the recent Spring Break season proved, with the sold-out park passes and long wait times, demand for the Walt Disney World Resort is most certainly still there.

The next few years, though, will seemingly be the real test. Next year, Disney’s Florida theme park competitor, Universal Orlando Resort, will debut its brand-new third theme park gate, Universal’s Epic Universe. The sprawling destination will introduce multiple new lands into the Universal canon, including the Dark Universe, Celestial Park, and the Isle of Berk from the How to Train Your Dragon franchise. SUPER NINTENDO WORLD will also open on the East Coast after opening at Universal Studios Hollywood last year and Universal Studios Japan in 2021.

Guests walking into Universal Studios Florida

Credit: Universal

Related: Part of Walt Disney World Is Now 4,200 Miles Away From Orlando

Predictions suggest that Universal will eat into some of Disney World’s attendance numbers as, in a world of rising prices and socio-political conflict, guests opt to visit Epic Universe over the likes of Magic Kingdom or EPCOT. That said, the Disney Experiences brand is ramping up development over the next few years as Chief Executive Officer Bob Iger’s $30 billion investment into parks and resorts officially moves forward.

While Iger may not have spoken about the possibility of a fifth theme park gate at Disney World at the most recent earnings call in April, shortly after, news broke that permits were being filed for the area behind Frontierland in Magic Kingdom. Known colloquially as the “Beyond Big Thunder” project, the development was first presented as a concept by Disney Experiences head Josh D’Amaro at the 2022 D23 Expo in Anaheim, California. Similarly, work is officially underway to bring the Tropical Americas to Animal Kingdom. The area featuring the Encanto and Indiana Jones franchises will eventually replace DinoLand, U.S.A. at the Disney park.

What do you think about these recent operational changes at Walt Disney World Resort? Let us know in the comments down below!

This post originally appeared on Inside the Magic

About Thomas Hitchen

When he’s not thinking about the Magic Kingdom, Thomas is usually reading a book, becoming desperately obsessed with fictional characters, or baking something delicious (his favorite is chocolate cake -- to bake and to eat). He's a dreamer and grew up on Mulan saving the world, Jim Hawkins soaring through the stars, and Padmé Amidala fighting a Nexu. At the Parks, he loves to ride Everest, stroll down Main Street with an overstuffed pin lanyard around his neck, and eat as many Mickey-shaped ice creams as possible. His favorite character is Han Solo (yes, he did shoot first), and his favorite TV show is Buffy the Vampire Slayer except when it's One Tree Hill. He loves sandy beach walks, forest hikes, and foodie days out in the Big City. Thomas lives in England, UK, with his fiancée, baby, and their dog, a Border Collie called Luna.

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