Choices, choices…Well Disney sure didn’t make it easy for us this year!
Not one, bit two money-saving fall promotions for Walt Disney World vacationers.
As anticipated, Disney is offering their annual free dining promotion again this fall. But is that really the best way to save? Not necessarily this year. Here’s why: In previous years, guests who stayed at one of Disney’s moderate resorts could receive a free Disney Dining (used to be called Disney Plus Dining) that offered guests one quick service, one table service and one snack per person, per day. All that changed this year. Guests staying at moderate resorts will now receive a free Quick Service dining plan instead. But with that change don’t assume you are getting less for your money. This is your Disney experience, and as such Disney wants you to have flexibility to have the vacation that best suits your needs. Read on to find out why someone would NOT benefit a free dining offer.
A second offer from Disney, giving guests up to 25% off the cost of their room, is making it a tough choice this year.
We priced several different vacations and found out that the free dining offer is still the biggest savings overall. The only exception is for guests who choose a moderate resort but prefer the upgraded dining plan. Guests have the options to upgrade from a Quick Service dining to Disney Dining. The change in plans will cost you $21.16 per adult/ per day, and $4.07 per child (ages 3-9)/ per day. That amounts to a little over $400 in additional cost for the average family of 4. But still a good deal to get what you want.
Let’s do the math:
We priced a vacation package for the average family of 4 (2 adults, 1 youth(10-17) and 1 child (3-9)). For comparison sake, we added 6-day park hopper passes to the packages. Keep in mind, this is just an average, and rates vary depending on your travel dates.
What should you choose?
As you can see, in general the best value is to go with the free dining offer. If you like moderate resorts, and if you are able to find one that has availability when you want to go (availability is limited, especially with the moderate resorts) we say choose a moderate resort. If you are light eaters, you should be very satisfied with your selection. However, if you are Disney foodies, like us, pick a moderate resort and go for the upgraded dining plan. In that case, the difference is a little over $400, still well below the cost of a deluxe hotel with the free Disney Dining offer.
As with any promotion Disney offers, availability is limited to select room categories, at select resort hotels. And there are always blackout dates too. But if you are flexible about your travel dates, any experienced travel professional can help you to plan a vacation that meets all your needs and saves you money too. Need help, fill out the simple vacation form below.
Don’t assume that a dining plan is a waste of money. Food at Disney is expensive. The average family spends approximately $60-$75 per adult (10 and up), per day on food. So a free dining plan, even if you choose to upgrade, is a great deal. And yes, if you’re family eats light you can survive in the parks for 6 days for a lot less. But we still think the free Quick Service dining plan will save you more.
For example: a breakfast sandwich, a hot dog and chips for lunch and a burger and fries for dinner will run you about $28, oh and cups of ice water are free at Disney, just ask for it at any restaurant or food vendor. For our family of four, that works out to be about $672 for 6-days, but as you can see, choosing a value resort with free Quick Service dining plan is still the best savings.
Value vs Price
In the end, it all comes down to personal preference. Value is what you perceive to be the best blend of quality and price. If value is your objective, you’ll likely be most satisfied with a moderate or deluxe resort package that fits within your budget. If getting the absolute cheapest price is your objective, without a question book a value resort.
So when isn’t the free dining plan a good deal?
Taking advantage of a room discount may be the best option for you for a few reasons:
- If you plan on doing some sightseeing outside of Disney, or plan on eating outside the resort, a dining plan will most likely not benefit you.
- The Free Dining offer requires that you purchase a park hopper pass for every day of your stay. But if you plan on spending some days relaxing poolside at your resort, or walking around Disney Springs, you might not need a park pass for that many days. In that case, go with the room discount which allows you the flexibility to purchase tickets for as many days as you’d like.
- You may be forced to choose the room discount if your travel dates fall in a blackout date for the Free Dining offer. Eligible travel dates for both promotions are different. For example, Free dining is not being offered until August 21, but you can take advantage of a room discount as early as August 1.
Would you like some help?
We offer complementary vacation planning services to our clients, and Disney pays us so you don’t have to. So why not let us sort through all the options and take the frustration out of vacation planning. Here’s a simple form you can fill out to let us know some more information about your vacation. Once we receive your form, it will take us a short time to get get back to you with some information and rates. If you have questions, or want to speak with an agent live, you are welcome to call us at 800-506-6912, or email me personally: firstname.lastname@example.org