Promotional Title: Three Enchanting Experiences. Three Ways to Save. FREE Dining Plan on Select Dates.
Discount Type: Free Add-on
Who Can Book: This discount is open to everyone
Book By: December 20, 2010
The travel dates in 2010 are:
- October 1 to October 5
- October 22 to October 28
- November 12 to November 18
- November 27 to December 2
- December 10 to December 21, 2010
In 2011, the travel dates are:
- January 1 to January 5
- January 9 to January 13
- January 21 to February 3
- February 11 to February 17
- February 25 to March 3
- May 27 to June 2
- August 19 to September 29
Dates Discount is Not Available: The promotion is only valid for stays that begin on a night that is included in the dates above. As long as the first night of your stay falls into one of the ranges, you will receive Free Dining for the entirety of your stay. For example, if your vacation is February 16 to February 25, you would receive Free Dining for each night of your trip. However, if your dates were February 18 to February 25, you would not receive Free Dining for any part of your stay because none of those dates are within the valid promotional ranges. If a resort has “sold out” or is unavailable, keep calling back and check online each morning for availability. Rooms may become available through cancellations or an increased room allotment. You can always switch your resort by calling Disney or your travel agent. Generally, the quickest Value to fill up is the Pop Century followed by the All-Star Movies. The quickest Moderate to sell-out is the Port Orleans French Quarter. The last Value to sell-out is generally All-Star Sports and the last Moderate with availability is usually the Caribbean Beach.
Other Restrictions: Suites at all resorts other than the All-Star Music are not included in this promotion.
How to Book: Call (407) 939-7918 and ask for code NL7 or book online at http://bookwdw.reservations.disney.go.com/ibcwdw/en_US/specialOfferDetails?name=Promo&promotionCode=fy11dine&market=fy11dine&int_CMP=ILP-WDW_ChoicePage_FY11DineGetDetails
Offer: Buy one of these Magic Your Way room and ticket packages and get a FREE dining plan. Staying in the middle of the magic is the best way to experience Walt Disney World Resort. Visit when the lines at the theme parks may be shorter and enjoy this great offer!
Explain This Promotion to Me….
Disney’s “Free Dining” promotion is fairly easy to understand. First, you cannot use this promotion with any other discount or savings, including a percentage-off room discount, AAA discount, Annual Passholder discount, or any other savings. You must pay full price for the room and the tickets. Second, you must book a minimum stay of three consecutive nights and a minimum of a two day Magic Your Way base ticket. Like last year, guests staying at a Value Resort receive one day of the Quick Service Dining Plan “for free” for each person on the reservation for each night of the stay (i.e. if you book a five night stay then you will receive five days of “free dining” for each person on the reservation). Guests staying at a Moderate, Deluxe, or Deluxe Villa resort receive one day of the Disney Dining Plan “for free” for each person on the reservation for each night of the stay. The Dining Plan may be used starting the day you check-in and expires at midnight on the day you check-out of the resort. All credits must be either used or forfeited at that time.
For 2010 dates, guests staying at Value Resorts may upgrade their Quick Service Dining Plan to the “regular” Disney Dining Plan for $10 per night for adults and $2 per night for kids ages 3-9 for 2010. In addition, they may upgrade to the Disney Deluxe Dining Plan for $40 per night for adults and $12 for kids ages 3-9. Be aware that you must upgrade all guests staying in the same room. Guests staying at Moderates, Deluxes, or Deluxe Villas, may upgrade to the Disney Deluxe Dining Plan for $30 per night for adults and $10 per night for kids ages 3-9. These costs represent the normal cost to upgrade the plans. You may also upgrade your Magic Your Way base ticket to a Park Hopper or Water Park Fun & More, or No Expiration for the normal upgrade cost as well.
For 2011 dates, the prices are slightly more expensive because the Disney Dining Plans will have increased in price. Guests staying at Value Resorts may upgrade their Quick Service Dining Plan to the “regular” Disney Dining Plan for $11 per night for adults and $0 (no additional charge) per night for kids ages 3-9. In addition, they may upgrade to the Disney Deluxe Dining Plan for $44 per night for adults and $10 for kids ages 3-9. Be aware that you must upgrade all guests staying in the same room. Guests staying at Moderates, Deluxes, or Deluxe Villas, may upgrade to the Disney Deluxe Dining Plan for $33 per night for adults and $10 per night for kids ages 3-9. These costs represent the normal cost to upgrade the plans. You may also upgrade your Magic Your Way base ticket to a Park Hopper or Water Park Fun & More, or No Expiration for the normal upgrade cost as well.
What is the Potential Savings?
For 2010 dates, the savings is equal to the cost of adding the Dining Plan to a Magic Your Way vacation package. For guests staying at a Value Resort, the savings is $32 per night for adults and $10 per night for kids ages 3-9. For guests staying at Moderate, Deluxe or Deluxe Villa Resorts, the savings is $42 per night for adults and $12 per night for kids ages 3-9. For a party consisting of two adults, one 12-year old, and one 7-year old, the savings would be $106 ($32 + $32 + $32 + $10) per night at a Value Resort and $138 ($42 + $42 + $42 + $12) per night at a Moderate, Deluxe, or Deluxe Villa.
For 2011 dates, the savings is equal to the cost of adding the Dining Plan to a Magic Your Way vacation package. For guests staying at a Value Resort, the savings is $35 per night for adults and $12 per night for kids ages 3-9. For guests staying at Moderate, Deluxe or Deluxe Villa Resorts, the savings is $46 per night for adults and $12 per night for kids ages 3-9. For a party consisting of two adults, one 12-year old, and one 7-year old, the savings would be $117 ($35 + $35 + $35 + $12) per night at a Value Resort and $150 ($46 + $46 + $46 + $12) per night at a Moderate, Deluxe, or Deluxe Villa.
Is This The Best Deal Available?
Generally speaking, Free Dining is almost always the best discount for guests staying at a Value or Moderate resort, at least as far as total savings is concerned. Depending on your party size and resort choice, the 40% off code may be better at a Deluxe, but that isn’t always true either. For example, if you were staying at the Beach Club in a Standard room from January 11 through January 17, the normal cost per night for a Standard Room with Water View is $420 for January 11, 12, and 13 and $450 per night for January 14, 15, and 16. At 40% off, the cost would be $252 per night for the first three nights and $270 for the last three nights. This represents a savings of $168 per night on the first three nights and $180 per night on the last three nights. According to our calculations above for the Free Dining Promotion, the party of two adults, one 12-year old, and one 7-year old would save $150 per night or the cost of adding the Regular Disney Dining Plan. I n this scenario, you would save an additional $18-$30 per night with the 40% off code. However, if your party consists of four Disney-adults, you would be saving $184 per night with the Free Dining Plan ($46 per person per night for the Disney Dining Plan multiplied by four adults). In that situation, Free Dining is the larger potential savings by $16 per night for the first three nights and $4 per night for the last three nights. The “better” savings depends on how much the room costs and how many people are on the reservation.
The more expensive the room, the bigger the potential savings will be with the percent-off discount. In almost all scenarios, Free Dining is the bigger savings when staying at a Value or Moderate Resort. Other than the evening of January 1st, the most you could hope to save per night at a Value resort would be about $80, and that’s only if you’re staying in the All-Star Music Family Suite. Otherwise, 25% off the highest rate saves only about $40 per night per room. At the Moderates, the most you could hope to save with 30% off is about $75 per night per room and that’s only if you book the most expensive room with availability, the Pirate Themed Room at the Caribbean Beach Resort with a Water View. Considering two adults save $70 per night with the Free Quick Service Dining Plan ($35 * 2 adults) at the Values or $92 per night at the Moderates ($46 * 2), the Free Dining savings will almost always be greater.
The Gift Card offer may also be better, but it depends on when you’re going and what room category you select. Since the gift card requires a five night stay and doesn’t increase in value as you add more nights to your stay, you’re better off from a savings per night perspective to book exactly five nights. Every night after five means you’re saving less per night because the savings stretches over more nights. It’s much more likely that the Gift Card promotion will be a bigger savings at the Values or Moderates in a Standard or Preferred room during Value Season. For example, a Standard Room with Standard View at the Caribbean Beach Resort costs $154 per night. With the 30% savings code, you’re only saving $46 per night, or $230 over a five night vacation. You would receive a $300 Gift Card with the Gift Card promotion, which is $70 in additional savings. However, if your stay was seven nights, you would save $322 with the 30% off code and only the same $300 with the Gift Card promotion. Generally speaking, the lower the nightly rate, the more likely the Gift Card Promotion will be a bigger savings, provided you are only staying the five night minimum. Any additional nights makes the Percent-Off promotion more and more likely to be advantageous over the Gift Card promotion. Of course, if your stay begins on a day when the Free Dining promotion is valid, you’re probably saving more with Free Dining over either of the other two promotions at the Values and Moderates.
You also have to take into consideration whether you want the Dining Plan or a Disney Gift Card over a cash savings. While you might be able to “save” more money with Free Dining, if you aren’t going to take advantage of the Dining Plan, you might not really be “saving” the entire cost of the plan. If the savings is similar for both Free Dining and the percent-off room code, you will have to decide if you want the Dining Plan or would rather save the cash and pay for food out of pocket. The same is true for the Gift Card promotion. While it’s likely you’ll find a way to spend that $200-$500 during your vacation, if you also pay for the Disney Dining Plan, you might not use the whole amount. You’re then left with a Disney gift card that’s only good on Disney merchandise at the Disney Store or you’ll have to wait for your next trip.
This Sounds Like A Great Deal, What’s The Catch?
There’s no catch, per se, but there are some caveats that go along with the Free Dining Promotion. First, Free Dining drastically increases the amount of reservations people make at the table service restaurants. This makes it virtually impossible to walk up to one of the top restaurants and get a table without a reservation at popular dinner times. You will need to make your dinner reservations as quickly as possible and ideally right now. If you’re having trouble finding places to eat for dinner, consider making a reservation for lunch. Many of the restaurants offer similar menus for both lunch and dinner, including:
You can click any of those highlighted links for my full reviews.
Even though the menus may not be the same at other restaurants for lunch and dinner, there are still plenty of tasty items at the recommended restaurants for lunch. Lunch at a recommended restaurant will also beat an “expensive” dinner at the worst restaurants at Disney. Don’t be fooled into thinking the most expensive restaurants are also the best. If you’re unfamiliar with Disney restaurants and counter services, look to the top of the list to the right for the “Best of Disney World” category which includes a rundown of the best restaurants and quick services in a variety of categories. Be flexible and you should be able to get many great reservations, even if it means eating dinner at off-peak times.
You might also consider exiting the Park to a nearby resort for a meal. The Grand Floridian, Polynesian, and Contemporary resorts are easily reached via monorail from the Magic Kingdom. The Beach Club, Yacht Club, and Boardwalk are only a five to ten minute walk from the International Gateway exit at Epcot or a short boat ride away from the Hollywood Studios entrance. The Animal Kingdom Lodge is only about five minutes away from the Animal Kingdom by bus as well. Resort restaurants are generally easier to reserve than Park restaurants, so give them a look if you can’t find anything. It will result in a loss of Park time, but it may also be a nice break from the crowds and an opportunity to see some of the beautiful resorts on Disney property.
Third, some visitors return from Free Dining swearing that the food, service, and menu change for the worse during Free Dining in order to cut costs. While it’s been shown that menus don’t change much specifically for Free Dining, it’s always possible that your server will be busier than usual and service will suffer because of it. Most problems guests run into with service aren’t the fault of the people you see, but rather the management that has spread the staff too thin. In general, the quality of food isn’t lowered either, but the increased pressure on the kitchen may erode quality a bit, especially as staff is pressured to get visitors in and out of the restaurant as quickly as possible.
Fourth, the months of August and September are known as “hurricane season” in Florida. Although Orlando is inland and doesn’t usually get hit hard by hurricanes, it’s always possible that one will disrupt your travel plans. You may want to consider adding insurance, either through Disney or a trusted third-party to protect yourself from airline cancellations or other problems. Even if there isn’t a hurricane, the weather in Florida in August and September is described by many as miserable. Humidity is routinely in the triple digits, highs are in the low 90′s, there are thunderstorms most afternoons, and the temperature is rarely under 70 degrees. On the plus side, crowds are usually lower in September because kids are back in school and the later you get into September the cooler the weather will be. Remember, as long as the first night of your vacation is October 2nd or earlier, you will receive Free Dining for your entire stay, even if your dates are past the official end of the promotion. For example, if you booked a seven night stay starting October 1st, then you would receive Free Dining for each night of your stay even though the promotion ends October 2md. You just need to check-in by the last day of the promotion.
The Free Dining promotion is probably Disney’s most popular annual discount. Visitors can save a tremendous amount of money, especially with a room full of four or five people. A family of four Disney-adults would represent a savings of about $184 per night at a Moderate or Deluxe Resort, or $920 over a five night trip. If you’re staying at a Value or Moderate , it is probably the “best” discount, as long as you plan to take advantage of the Disney Dining Plan and use all of the credits. Using the Disney Dining Plan, especially during the Free Dining promotion, means you will need to religiously plan your vacation down to the specific time you will be eating at a specific restaurant each day. There is very little room to “wing it” because of the demand for table-service reservations from everyone else who has Free Dining. Finally, don’t assume that the Free Dining Promotion will save your group more money. Enter your vacation information into each of the promotions at http://bookwdw.reservations.disney.go.com/ibcwdw/en_US/specialOfferDetails?name=Promo&promotionCode=fy10q3offerchoice&market=fy10q3offerchoice&int_CMP=WDW_Homepage_FY10Q3ChoiceGenericOfferTile and compare the prices.
If you have a specific question about a reservation, feel free to post it in the comments and I will take a look at it.