By far, the most popular discount Disney offers is the Free Dining discount. It’s the #1 discount everyone wants, waits for, plans around, and asks me about.
I have a lot of the same questions pop up as we wait for free dining, usually with the same theme: “What’s our best shot of getting free dining?”
While there’s never a guarantee that free dining will be released, if it is, here’s the top 5 things YOU can do to better your chances of getting your food for free when you vacation in Disney World in 2018:
TOP 5 things YOU do to get FREE DINING 2018:
- Know when to go & where to stay
Paying attention to the historical free dining information of years really helps you decide when to go and where to stay to give you the best shot of getting a free dining discount for your 2018 Disney vacation.
Normally, it’s announced in late April/earlyMay. In 2017, Free Dining was released on April 24, 2017.
Here are the Walt Disney World Free Dining dates that were available for booking in 2017, which should give you some insight into what will be offered in 2018:
• August 21* – September 30, 2017
• November 14 – 20, 2017
• November 25 – 27, 2017
• December 8 – 23, 2017
*Disney Visa Cardholders can book the Free Disney Dining Plan promotion for arrival dates beginning August 13, 2017.
Here were the room exclusions for 2017 (and I would expect to see the same for 2018): all suites, campsites and 3 bedroom villas have been excluded from this offer, as are the Little Mermaid rooms at the new Art of Animation Resort, Port Orleans French Quarter, All-Star Movies, Villas at the Grand Floridian Resort and the new Villas and Bungalos at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort. All other Disney resorts, including value resorts are included in the offer. Also, Port Orleans Riverside was available, but only for arrivals August 21 through September 20, 2017.
Trying to plan your trip with a check in date that coincides with the previous year’s free dining discount dates & staying in a resort that wasn’t excluded last year helps a lot!
2. Book your vacation NOW.
There is no reason to wait for free dining to be released before you book your trip. If you know you want to go, and you’ve decided on dates that have a good chance of being included in free dining, then book your trip!
Disney World vacations only require a $200 deposit to book and that deposit is 100% refundable up until 30 days before your departure date. Since we expect free dining to be released at the end of April and we’ll know all the details of Fall 2018 then, there is NO risk to you to book now.
Having your trip booked in advance is SO helpful for something else I highly recommend: making Advance Dining Reservations (ADRs) as soon as possible (ADRs can be booked 180 days in advance of your check in date). Yes, even before Free Dining goes live. Everyone reserves the good ADRs quickly for potential Free Dining dates, so if you don’t book early, you can be stuck eating counter service or unpopular restaurants for the duration of your trip if you don’t plan ahead.
3. Be flexible, as much as you can
Historically, Free Dining has been a fall/early winter promotion and based on past promotions, you can plan your visit to give you a good chance of being included in 2018’s free dining discount. But predictions are obviously just that, and all of this is subject to change based on occupancy trends and projections. Being flexible with your travel dates and where you stay helps increase your chances of a great free dining discount!
4. If you have a Disney VISA card, use it for your $200 deposit
It’s not necessary to have a Disney Visa card to get free dining. But if you do already have a Disney Visa card, I recommend using it for the deposit just in case being a Disney Visa cardholder helps your chances of securing free dining.
Last year, there was no early booking window for Disney Visa cardholders, but there was an expanded date range. The three years before, Disney Visa cardholders did have an early booking window. 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. Last year, there was no early window for Disney Visa cardholders. However, Disney Visa cardholders were able to book free dining starting August 13 vs. the general public start date of August 21st.
5. Book your vacation with me or Email me to be notified about free dining 🙂
If you need personalized help with planning any aspect of your vacation, or want someone to book the Free Dining promotion for you and provide other assistance along the way–I recommend contacting me, a no-fee vacation planner working for an Authorized Disney Vacation Agency, Fairytale Journeys, to get a quote and to help you plan. I’ve been planning people’s dream vacations for almost 6 years now and LOVE it!
I am not just saying this to get your booking, but having your trip pre-booked with a good travel agent (such as myself), helps get the discount for your preferred dates/resort. 🙂
I receive my commission from Disney, so I will never charge you extra for booking your trip and helping you get the most our of your vacation, discounts, planning, etc..
Last year I worked tirelessly for all my clients to get the discount applied to their vacations. In order to grab the free dining discount, I checked very very early in the morning (3am!) & had emailed all my pre-booked clients before I moved to new bookings & quote requests. The longer it takes to book/apply the discount, the less availability there is. Being pre-booked made the process go much faster!
Have questions? Email me with any & all questions, I am SO happy to help🙂
Thinking about a trip to Disney World? I’d love to help! As a travel specialist working for an authorized Disney travel agency, my services are completely free to you! Disney pays my commission directly, which means that you can take advantage of my planning and advice absolutely free of charge! If you have questions or want to chat more about this, you can email me anytime!