Last month, my husband and I booked a family vacation to take place later in 2017 at Walt Disney World. (As you may have noticed, I’ve been writing about resources for Disney planning and Disney child care in recent posts. I’ve got Disney on the brain…) I’ve especially been thinking a lot about dining at Disney. As it turns out, we’ve got good Disney planning luck. We were able to take advantage of the free dining at Disney in 2017!
Here’s how it all happened…
When we booked our Walt Disney World vacation, we didn’t know that Disney opened up its free dining offer in April. We weren’t prompted to select a reservation that would allow us the free dining option during the booking process. Disney didn’t draw our attention to it in any way, shape or form when we booked our vacation online.
Then, in early June, I discovered the amazing YouTube channel called DFB Guide, companion to Disney Food Blog. One of their videos I watched describes how to get free dining at Disney in 2017. The information in the video proved to be invaluable, as it indicated that our reservation was likely eligible for the free dining package.
Here’s how we scored free dining at Disney in 2017:
On the Disney website I found more information about free dining. I found out that our resort, duration of stay and the date of our arrival should make us eligible for the free Quick Service Disney Dining Plan offer! A phone call to a Disney reservations specialist would reveal whether I was right. The cast member I spoke with was very friendly, but she told me was that because our reservation included a Standard room, we weren’t eligible. Then she told me the cost to pay out of pocket for the dining plan, which I already knew.
Next, I went to the live chat feature on the Disney website and the cast member I chatted with said I could edit my reservation in My Disney Experience. I’d be shown whether upgrading our room would allow us to add on the free dining package. She assured me that I wouldn’t lose our original reservation until I finalized my changes.
When I looked at this option, I found we could upgrade to a Preferred room for about $350, which would would make us eligible for free dining for our entire stay. We decided that the cost to upgrade our room made it well worth the upgrade to get the free Quick Service Dining Plan! Since we’d already paid our deposit, I didn’t have to pay anything extra when I upgraded. Only our balance remaining for the vacation changed. We received an e-mail verifying the upgrade and the addition of the free Quick Service Dining Plan. Later that day, the changes appeared in our My Disney Experience account. The next day, the changes were visible in the My Disney Experience app.
What would the Quick Service Dining Plan have cost if we paid for it?
Initially, we decided the price of the Disney Dining Plan wouldn’t be worth it for our family at full price. Here’s what it would have cost our family of three:
- 7 days x 48.19 per adult x 2 adults = $674.66
- 7 days x 20.88 per child = $146.16
- Total = $820.82
When Nate and I visited Walt Disney World last year, I tracked our spending. I knew that my family wouldn’t eat enough each day in the parks to make the dining plan worth it. I didn’t want to waste food or money.
However, the upgraded price for our room was less than half the value of the dining plan. This made it worthwhile for us to upgrade.
- Cost of the Quick Service Dining Plan if we had gone out of pocket: $820.82
- Cost to upgrade our reservation to a preferred room, making us eligible for the free dining plan: $335.75
- Difference/savings thanks to the free dining plan: $485.07
Now we’ll each have two Quick Service meals and two snacks per night of our stay at Walt Disney World. We can’t wait for our trip, especially now that we’ll be enjoying free dining at Disney in 2017! Back to ogling those online Disney menus…