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Walt Disney World's 'Free Dining': Ten Frequently Asked Questions Answered

Disney's 'Free Dining' vacation plans open up a lot of questions!
Disney's 'Free Dining' vacation plans open up a lot of questions!
ELO Travel

Walt Disney World is currently in one of it's most busy promotions, offering 'Free Disney Dining' for visitors to Orlando on select fall dates. From an online forum for travel agents who specialize in Disney vacations, here are ten questions that have been asked a lot about this promotion.

  1. Q: "I have an existing reservation during this time frame. Can I change it to a free dining plan?" Answer: Yes. Contact whoever you made the original booking through and they'll be able to take care of this for you. Keep in mind that room costs may be different, etc.
  2. Q: "Currently, only Disney Visa holders can book the plans. Can someone else use their Disney Visa to book this for me?" Answer: Maybe. In the forum, both answers were given. It seemed that the majority of the answers were that you could indeed do this. Basically, Disney doesn't care who's paying as long as you use a Disney Visa. Other replies were that the card holder would have to be traveling in the party, and one person said they were told flat out you couldn't do this. But the bottom line is that they HAVE been doing it, so it appears it depends on the customer service rep you get. (Sales to non Disney Visa holders opens up this Wednesday, May 7th, so after that it's a moot point.)
  3. Q: "If I'm calling using a Disney Visa, do I have to pay the deposit immediately?" Answer: Yes. Normally, you have 24 hours to call back with the reservation on hold, but under this promotion, the deposit has to be placed at the booking.
  4. Q: "Do I have to worry about this promotion selling out?" Answer: Probably not. Past experiences have shown that during the times offered, Disney has plenty of room space to accommodate travelers. You might see individual resorts fill up, but with over 30,000 rooms on Disney property, you'll more than likely get in.
  5. Q: "I've heard there are 'carry over' days. I can get the deal during non deal times. True?" Answer: True. (Check the easy to follow free dining chart here) Suppose you want to go the week of October 4th, but see that the week of October 4th is NOT available for the free dining plan. All you would have to do is make a slight change in plans and arrive on the October 3. As long as you arrive during the period where the plan is offered, you can extend it through the non offered period of your stay up to the maximum of fourteen days. This doesn't work if you flip it though. If you are booked in an offered period, but want to arrive early in a non offered period, you have to make two separate bookings.
  6. Q: "Regarding question 4, what if I book an extra day to get in on the promotion, but arrive a day late?" Answer: Great idea, but it won't work. If you don't show on the day you have booked, you are labeled a "no show" and your reservation is cancelled and you lose your money.
  7. Q: "Are character meals included in the Free Dining packages?" Answer: Yes. Each character meal requires one (1) Table-Service meal, so you will need the regular Disney Dining plan and NOT the Snack plan. (Find out more about Disney Dining plans here, or download the free Walt Disney World FAQ Travel Guide in either PDF or audio book here.)
  8. Q: "I'm an Annual Pass Holder, yet I'm required to purchase park tickets?" Answer: Yes. But here's a way to not have to double dip. When you purchase your plan and get your park tickets, don't use them. When it comes time to renew your annual pass, you can put the cost of these unused tickets toward your renewal. One suggestion was to get your tickets in paper form, especially if your annual pass is using one of the 'Magic Bands'. Clever, huh?
  9. Q: "With all these crazy dates, can I be sure to get in all the special promotions? Answer: Absolutely. There's plenty of time to get in all the Halloween festivities and the EPCOT Food & Wine Festival in late September or late October. And all the Christmas activities and decorations will be out in force during December dates.
  10. Q: "Do I still have to buy extra event tickets?" Answer: Yes. If an event requires an additional ticket like 'Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party' or 'Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party', an additional ticket is still required.

There appeared to be the 'hot topics' for vacationers during the early stages of booking using the 'Free Disney Dining' promotion. If you have a question that isn't answered, contact me via twitter (listed in my bio) and I'll try and find you an answer.

Start packing and 'Let's go to Walt Disney World!!!"