Promotional Title: A Delicious Deal: FREE Disney Dining!
Discount Type: Free Add-on
Who Can Book: This discount is open to everyone
Book By: August 14th, 2010
Stay Dates: August 15, 2010 to October 7, 2010; October 22 to October 28, 2010; November 12 to 18, 2010; November 27 to December 2, 2010; December 10 to 21, 2010
Dates Discount is Not Available None, but there are a limited number of rooms available at each resort that will qualify for this promotion. 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 TF5 or book online at http://bookwdw.reservations.disney.go.com/ibcwdw/en_US/specialOfferDetails?name=Promo&promotionCode=fy10q4dine&market=fy10q4dine&int_CMP=ILP-WDW_ChoicePage_FY10Q3FreeDineGetDetails
Offer: Buy a 5-night/6-day Magic Your Way package that includes a room at a select Disney Resort hotel and theme park tickets and get a FREE dining plan for stays most nights August 15 through October 2, 2010. Receive the Disney Dining Plan for free with a reservation at a Disney Moderate, Disney Deluxe and Disney Deluxe Villa Resort or receive the Disney Quick Service Dining Plan for free with a reservation at a Disney Value Resort.
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 in the room 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 in the room 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.
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. 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.
What is the Potential Savings?
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.
Is This The Best Deal Available?
This is where it can get tricky. There are three major promotions available during this time period – Free Dining, the Percent-off Room Rate, and the Kids Stay and Play Free offer. Luckily, it’s easy to price out your vacation with each of the offers by visiting http://bookwdw.reservations.disney.go.com/ibcwdw/en_US/specialOfferDetails?name=Promo&promotionCode=fy10q3offerchoice&market=fy10q3offerchoice&int_CMP=WDW_Homepage_FY10Q3ChoiceGenericOfferTile, clicking “get details,” clicking “check availability,” and then inputting your party size, resort choice, etc. You can open separate browser windows and check each offer in a different window as well.
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 then the normal cost per night is $340. At 40% off, the cost would be $204 per night, or a savings of $136 per night. According to our calculations above, the party of two adults, one 12-year old, and one 7-year old would save $138, which is $2 more per night. While this is almost too close to care about, other Deluxe resorts are an even bigger savings with the 40% off code. Let’s say you booked a Magic Kingdom View room at the Polynesian Resort, which has a cost per night of $510. With the 40% off code you would pay “only” $306 per night, which is a savings of $204 per night. This is a significant additional savings compared to the $138 saved with Free Dining. You also have to take into consideration whether you want the Dining Plan. While you might be able to “save” more money with Free Dining, if you aren’t going to take advantage of the Dining Plan then 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 then you will have to decide if you want the Dining Plan or would rather save the cash and pay for food out of pocket.
This Sounds Like A Great Deal, What’s The Catch?
There’s no catch per se, but there are some detractions. First, the time period that this discount is available is 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.
Second, Free Dining makes it virtually impossible to walk in to any sit-down restaurant at Disney World and get a table. This means you will have to book all of your sit-down meals in advance and virtually plan your vacation around where you will be eating each day. You will want to book reservations as soon as possible and chances are many of the most popular restaurants are already virtually booked at convenient dinner times for the entire promotion. 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 so don’t be fooled into thinking the most expensive restaurants are also the best. Be flexible and you should be able to get many great reservations, even if it means eating dinner at 3:40pm or 8:30pm. 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 hot sun 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.
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 $168 per night, or $840 over a five night trip. If you’re staying at a Value or Moderate then it is probably the “best” discount, as long as you plan to take advantage of the Disney Dining Plan and use 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.
Have fun and good luck.