Just yesterday, the most anticipated Disney World promotion every year was announced – the free dining promotion. On stays of three nights or more, guests receive the free dining plan when booking a stay at most Disney World hotels (guests also have to purchase a park-hopper ticket). The dates the plan is offered are:
- August 28 – October 2
- October 25 – October 31
- November 8 – November 19
- December 15 – December 21
As long as you check-in on or between one of those dates you will receive the free dining plan added to your stay at Disney World.
Before I get into why I’m a fan of the dining plan, let me get through a few negatives of the dining plan and this promotion.
First of all, the free dining plan promotion isn’t actually free. Most times throughout the year Disney has discounted hotel rooms as part of a promotion. A guest can either get the room discount or the dining package. So, by paying more for your room then you get the dining plan. In that way, the dining plan isn’t technically free. Do the research when booking your trip and see what works best for you. Typically, the more people who are staying in your room, the more valuable the dining plan will be for you.
The other downside to the dining plan is that it takes a lot of time and may serve you more food than you actually want. I’ll get into why that might be a positive later but it can also be a negative. When people are at Disney World, especially first-timers, there is a time crunch to get everything done. Sitting down for a table-service meal once a day takes up an hour of each day. If eating more quality food at Disney World simply isn’t important to you, then the dining plan probably isn’t for you. And while I might not agree with how you are vacationing, I can certainly understand wanting to get everything in.
Now, let’s get to why I’m a fan of the dining plan. First of all, there’s the food. The dining plan comes with a counter-service meal, a table-service meal and a snack once a day. The meals come with a drink and dessert. You typically get the most out of the plan by doing the meals for lunch and dinner and packing an easy, cheap breakfast to eat in the hotel room. The food that typically is associated with a theme park, while still at Disney World, isn’t the main option. There are many different types of cuisine and most are of at least some quality. If you are trying to branch out in your taste in food, Disney World might be a good place to try it. The food has been somewhat Americanized (assuming that you try some foreign food) so it may seem a little safer than an extremely authentic restaurant. The chefs at these restaurants will also be happy to work with you. Whether you have dietary needs or simply don’t like your dish, be sure to tell someone and they will help you out.
When trying the dining plan, you also get to experience different theming within the World. There is great theming all around Disney World and by missing out on the restaurants you will miss out on some of the best theming around. There is nothing like dining at Be Our Guest or Sci-Fi Dine-Inn Theater. Restaurants like those are experiences that you can’t get anywhere else. Again, research where to eat and pick restaurants that appeal to you. That makes the dining plan worth it to me.
The last reason that I’ll get into today is that the dining plan makes you sit down and relax for a little bit. A guest can enjoy good food, great themes, and a dinner with the people they are on vacation with. Some of my favorite memories at Disney are during these times. While not on the dining plan, you may decide to just go for a quick bite to eat and then run to the next attraction, the dining plan forces you to sit down and soak it all in. I think that’s a good thing. I would imagine parents would enjoy this, as well, because of the break it gives from chasing kids all around the parks.
In short, I think the dining plan forces people to notice a part of the parks that they might miss otherwise. In my opinion, the restaurants in Disney World are one of the best parts about it.
If you have questions about the dining plan, restaurants or booking a trip please leave it in the comments and we’ll be sure to answer it. You can also send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you for reading!