Consider this the finale in the Free Dining Promotion Trilogy. We explored the requirements and perks of the Free Dining Promotion in “Free Dining 2019: FAQs and Requirements.” We dug deeper in “Free Dining: Fact vs. Fiction.” And now, our journey will end as we answer the greatest question of all: “How Do I Get Free Dining at Disney World?”
Free Dining is undoubtedly the post popular promotion at Walt Disney World, but that doesn’t mean it is impossible to snag for your trip. Here are the top three ways you can get Free Dining.
1. Book through a Travel Agent.
Going through a Disney Certified Travel Agent is hands down the most hassle free way to do things. Why? Because your involvement is minimal, which means your stress is minimal. I can say this with authority because I have done it myself. I said to my TA, the fantastic Kari O’Dell, “Hey Kari. We were thinking about going durning Free Dining. What does that look like for us?” Kari immediately sent me back several options that worked with my trip dates and family’s needs.
When you work with a TA, anytime you have a question, or concern, that goes straight to your personal TA. They not only help you maneuver around your obstacles, they get to know you and your needs. They want to accommodate those needs. Because if you have a great trip, you’ll book through them again.
Having a TA before Free Dining is released is even better because then your TA is on the lookout for the promotion so you don’t have to be. She is the one waking up at 3am to book Free Dining for your family, while you dream away in bed. And remember, a Disney Certified Travel Agent’s services are free on your end. If you’re the type of person who wants all the perks but none of the stress, this is a great option for you.
2. Book Yourself through the Disney Website.
I’ve done this too, because I like to know every little detail and comparing dates and room prices is my kind of fun. I’ve never met a data point I didn’t want to put on a list. The benefit of booking yourself through the Disney site is that you can see all the options in real time, comparing and contrasting to find what will work best for your family.
The only downside is that Disney’s site is known to get glitchy when traffic is high, ie when Free Dining is released. It can also be hard to navigate if you’re never done it before, which is why we’re going to walk through it step by step, right now, with pictures!
Let’s start at the very beginning, a very good place to start. On your browser of choice, head to the Disney website. Once there, click on “Parks & Travel” in the menu bar. You’re then shown pictures of your travel options. Click on “Walt Disney World.”
Once you’ve done that, put in your trip info. Dates and party size are the big things here. Don’t worry if you want to look at other dates as well. You’ll be able to do that once you’re in offers.
Here are your offers! Look how pretty. First, notice your trip info at the top of the page. If you want to change dates or party size, you can do that here without having to go back to the homepage. Now, you may automatically get shown offers with the Free Dining. If so, great, skip down a few pics.
But what if it doesn’t? You’ll notice that on this search, Disney has automatically shown you options with the Room Discount, Sun & Fun. But you wanted Free Dining! Not to worry. Choose a resort, any resort. (But probably one you would at least consider, because hey, time is money.)
That takes you to the resort offer page. And as you can see, it is also showing you the other available promotions. Delicious Free Offer! That’s the one for you! Click on it!
Okay, so here are your offers for this resort. But you wanted to see all Free Dining offers for all resorts. No sweat. Go back to that handy bar at the top of the screen with your trip info, select “All Resorts” and it will bring you back to a list of all resorts with the Free Dining option. Choose your fave.
Once you’ve chosen your resort and room, you can choose your tickets. Note, for 2019 Free Dining the requirements are a minimum of 4 Day Park Hopper tickets, so that will be the lowest option you can choose.
After that, you get to decide on food. With Free Dining, Value and Moderate resorts get the Quick Service Plan, while Deluxes automatically get the Disney Dining Plan. However, for a charge, you can upgrade to the plan of your choice. You could even go crazy and get the Deluxe Disney Dining Plan! (But be warned: that is a LOT of food. ;) ) All the details of what is included in each plan is conveniently located on the page when you make your choice. Thanks, Disney!
If you’ve never booked Free Dining for yourself, it can seem like a lot. But really, once you get into the system and play around for a few minutes, you get the hang of it. Bonus points for bring able to look at all the room pics and compare prices from the comfort of your couch.
3. Book through Disney over the Phone.
Truthfully, this is my least favorite option. Disney Cast Members are awesome. They are amazing and lovely to deal with. But they don’t know you. They aren’t motivated to get you the best deal, like a TA is. They aren’t inspired to make this the most cost effective trip, like you are for yourself. Because their job, at the end of the day, is to sell vacation packages. They’ll do so warmly and kindly, but they aren’t going to go out of their way to help you find the best, most price friendly option for you.
Does that mean you can’t get a great deal booking with Disney our the phone? Not at all. There have been reports of Cast Members saving people money, for sure. But it’s all luck of the draw. When you call Disney to make a reservation, you might get connected to a CM who has lived through dozens of Free Dining promotions, and they know the ins and outs and ups and downs, and are amazing. But you might also get the CM who is on their first Free Dining rodeo and just trying to hold on for dear life. Plus, you don’t deal exclusively with one cast member. You might book with one, only to call back a few days later wanting to make changes, and deal with a completely different CM.
Booking with a Disney Certified TA gets you the personal service from someone who is motivated for you to have a great trip, because it is literally their job to make your vacation awesome. Booking on the website gives you control and an eye towards the big picture. Booking on the phone gives you neither of these. But it does give you crazy wait times. The phones are bananas when Free Dining is released.
Like all things when planning a Disney Vacation, find the option that works best for you. These are big vacations and planning them has a lot of moving parts. It’s important to go with whatever planning choice makes you the most comfortable. The more comfortable you are when booking, the happier you’ll be with your choices when you’re watching the parade from Main Street, waving to princesses and savoring a Mickey Bar. That you got for free.
Have you scored Free Dining for 2019? What’s your favorite way to book Free Dining? Is there a promotion you prefer to Free Dining? Gimme all the deets down below!
Kristen B. is wife to the best Prince around, mama to the spunkiest little princesses, and lover of all things Disney. She started her savings journey three years ago and is now dedicated to making her family’s wishes come true one coupon at a time. She is so excited to take her love of saving to the next level and share her journey with you! Click here to catch up on Kristen’s Savings and join in on your own savings adventure!