• On Feb 26, 2017
    Nina from DE Asked Note: This answer was provided prior to the change to planDisney and may still contain references to Disney Parks Moms Panel.

    Experiences, policies, pricing and other offerings are subject to change and may have changed since the date of this answer.

    Hi, we are about to book our 2017 vacation. We are hoping to get the free dining plan when it's released. Can you please tell me if you need to have a park hopper ticket to qualify for the free dining? Is a base ticket acceptable?

    Hi Nina,

    Welcome to the Disney Parks Moms Panel! Hooray! I am excited that you are about to book a trip to Walt Disney World!

    In the past, to qualify for free dining, guests only needed to purchase a package that included a Walt Disney World Resort Hotel with base theme park tickets. Since package offers can change, you will need to read the special package stipulations if free dining is offered again. 

    I will offer another piece of advice. Go ahead and price your vacation package with dining now. There are several Special Offers that you might be able to use. Compare that price to the price of your package if free dining is offered. Past experience has taught me that free dining might not actually be the cheaper offer. 

    Consider also that certain room categories may be sold out by the time Disney releases a free dining offer. Since dining reservations can be made 180 days in advance, we always book before that window opens. Doing so allows us to get our first choice of dining times and locations. So I typically prioritize our Resort Hotel and room category, price our vacation with the current specials and then book a package. If a special offer comes out later, I call back to see if it can be applied to my reservation. 

    Here is the dilemma. If you wait until the free dining offer is released, your preferred room category may not be available. If you reserve and then ask to have a special offer applied later, they may not be able to apply it to your reservation. There is also the possibility that free dining will not be offered for your trip dates. If you are flexible with your resort, room category and trip dates, then you can wait to book.

    Sending pixie dust your way that free dining is offered for the dates you plan to visit!

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Meet the Panelist: Donyell, North Carolina

Hello from North Carolina! I am a mom of twin girls, wife, and university professor who has been inspired by the creativity of Disney for a lifetime. Since my first Disney visit when I was 12-years-old, I have been drawn to the adventures crafted by Disney Imagineers. Planning Disney vacations helps connect me to families who will find in Disney the kind of joy my family has experienced over the years. Allow me to help you map your own Disney journey so that you, too can create the memories of a lifetime! Learn More About Donyell

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