Everyone waits for when Free Dining is announced at Disney! Then the number one questions seems to be, will free dining apply to my already booked vacation?
I have seen this post on numerous message boards and it usually leads to misinformation and hard feelings. It seems that people always tell them “Yes, sure! Disney will change your package for you and you will get the free dining.”
Ok, let’s chat about this. I have been that cast member that has to tell the guest that no, free dining, cannot be applied to their package. It isn’t a pleasant conversation. Some people are very understanding, but others get down right mad. I wish they had some information before they made that initial reservation, or at least before they called to have it changed.
Yes, sometimes it does work out that way. And then there is true Disney Magic and everyone is happy!
But as that first day of free dining comes to a close, chances are you have been waiting on hold for at least an hour and your chances go up that you are not going to get what you want.
Let me clarify some points.
Disney only offers free dining with qualifiers. It has changed in the past, but it is usually things like, you have to have Park Hopper Tickets, or you have to stay a certain number of nights. It also only applies to certain resorts. There are resorts that it rarely applies to, like Port Orleans, French Quarter or the Little Mermaid rooms at Art of Animation. Each offer comes with different qualifiers.
You can see HERE for details of the January 2019 offer. You have to have a 4 night stay, Park Hopper tickets and they emphasize select resorts.
Disney also only has a certain percentage of rooms that can be booked for free dining. Once those rooms are booked, they are gone.
So if you have a vacation booked and call to take advantage of Free Dining (or any other discount, this applies to the military as well), you may not be able to get it applied to your vacation. Please don’t think it is a given. That cast member who has answered the call is trying their hardest to make your vacation magical. They really don’t want to tell you they can’t make it work for you, but sometimes it just doesn’t.
So what can you do to get it to apply to your vacation?
I have 3 key pieces of advice.
#1 Be flexible.
If the cast member has told you there is no availability, don’t get mad, get flexible. They will try different dates, different resorts and a host of things to get it to work for you. They have in front of them the qualifiers and will tell you exactly what you need, just work in those parameters.
#2 Be willing to call back.
This actually works, though it may take a call or two. Unfortunately people have to cancel their plans. I know, sad right? But if you are persistent enough with the call backs you may get a cancelation. You may have to change resorts or dates still, but if free dining or a military discount is what you want, you may be able to score it.
#3 Be one of the first to call.
I can’t emphasis this enough. You may have your reservation and think that you are good and don’t need to call the first day of the free dining announcement, but the sooner you call, the better your chances are to get what you want. The longer you wait, the more those rooms fill up.
And a bonus – Be nice to that Cast Member!
Let me tell you about a little Disney Magic! I had a reservation, and was waiting for the Military Discounts to drop. I called the afternoon they day that they did. There were none available for my dates and resort. I really couldn’t change my dates and there weren’t any other resorts that were on our wish list available. I was very disappointed. But I tried to remain positive. Told her I would keep calling, and she was like hold on just a minute, let me look and see here.
She was super nice and did everything she could. She eventually found me another discount. It wasn’t the same amount, but still a savings. She really helped me out. I did get to keep my resort and dates. I truly believe it was because I was patient and tried to be nice, I am sure I sounded horribly disappointed, she found that Disney Magic.
In Conclusion Free Dining at Disney
If you are really wanting a certain resort at a particular week, go ahead and book. Call for the free dining as soon as possible, but be prepared it may not happen. What is the old saying? “Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst.” Always keep in mind, you are going to Disney! There are other great ways to save money. And in the end you will still have a great family vacation!
As always Go out and do something Great and have a Magical day!