One of the most popular promotions that Disney has historically released just about every year is the free dining package. This promotion adds on the Disney Dining Package for free if you book a non-discounted (full price) Magic Your Way room + park ticket package. Disney announced the free dining promotion for 2015 a few months ago but I have already started getting inquiries from readers who are looking into their 2016 trips if Disney will be releasing a package for next year.
Is Free Dining a Good Deal?
Yes it is a very good deal, one of the best promotions that Disney releases. Even though you have to book a full price package, getting in on a free dining package can save you big bucks when it comes to your vacation, you’ll still come out way ahead.
The quick service dining plan for costs $42.84 ($17.47 children) and the full dining plan costs $61.84 ($20.96 children) per person per night. If a typical family of 4 (3 adults and 1 child) were to pay for the dining package for their trip it would cost them and additional $583.96 for the quick service and $825.92 for the full service dining plan.
The Quick Service dining plan comes standard with value resort bookings, the regular dining packages comes standard for moderate and above resorts. You can pay to upgrade from the quick service to regular dining (if you need all of that food) but I would recommend against it.
Will We See Free Dining in 2016?
Disney generally releases the free dining promotion during the slow times of the year to help drive visitors which I’m sure helps keeps rooms full. The biggest issue with the free dining packages is there is no guarantee that they a) will release a free dining package and b) what dates the free dining promotion will be.
Looking back historically here are the dates for the past few years that Disney has released free dining promotions:
- August 2010
- May 2011
- August 2011
- March 2012
- July 2012
- May 2013
- August 2013
- May 2014
- April 2015
Again those were the months/years that Disney announced the free dining packages, most times the dates were for the following season. As you can see from the dates there are a few months during the course of the year that you can hope to expect a free dining package announcement.
Since 2010 August and May have been the months of choice for free dining announcements which were for travel dates in the fall. If we group April with May and the July dates with August you’re looking at a late summer or early spring announcement dates.
There are many factors that could change when the free dining packages are announced, Disney uses them as marketing tools to help fill rooms during slow periods – such as the fall which is why we see it during the fall most years.
The biggest complaint that I hear from guests every year is the very limited number of rooms and dates that are available for the free dining packages. Disney chooses specific dates at specific resorts that are showing lower capacity to offer the package for. I have heard from guests calling up just a few days after the promotion was announced only to find that most of the dates were taken already.
Since this is such a popular promotion many of the rooms and dates are booked immediately when the announcement is made; the very limited number of rooms are taken very quickly. You’ll need to book as quickly as you can and be flexible with the dates you go.
Tips for Scoring a 2016 Free Dining Package
- Keep an eye out for an announcement on here on Frugal Mouse (http://www.frugalmouse.com) in the August/July or April/May timeframes during 2016. Usually we’ll start hearing about some rumors in the few weeks leading up to the official announcement, I’ll post all information and rumors as soon as I hear about them.
- Be flexible – if a free dining promotion is announced be ready to book that day, you’ll also need some flexibility on where you stay and when you go. Disney releases packages on specific rooms on specific days, to take advantage you’ll need to adjust your vacation dates to match the promotion dates.
- Act quickly – Since this is such a popular money saving promotion, available rooms will go quickly, usually a bulk of them within a few days. Ideally if you are able to book the same day the promotion is announced to give you the most flexibility.
Don’t wait for a free dining promotion announcement to book your package if you are planning to stay on-site. Disney allows you to change the dates of your package as well as apply promotions to existing bookings as they are announced. I always recommend to book on the dates you want then keep an eye out for a free dining announcement.