Which Days Can You Eat At Disney World For Free In 2018? The "Free Dining Dates" May Be Worth Scheduling A Trip Around

Joe Raedle/Getty Images News/Getty Images

Are you planning a trip to Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla. before the end of 2018? Then you might want to hop on this offer: With the Disney World Free Dine deal, there are days you can eat for free at Walt Disney World during select times in 2018. Free Dine, which is offered annually, tacks a free Disney Dining Plan onto your trip package — although as you might expect, there are rather a lot of stipulations that apply. Here’s what you need to know before you book your trip.

Disney World has offered the Free Dine deal primarily as a fall promotion for the past several years. There are exceptions, of course — occasionally it shows up as a spring or New Year’s deal — but generally, it’s in operation for trips made during the last few months of the year. According fan-run Disney vacation planning site WDW Prep School, the offer has popped up each year since at least 2009. It has become a highly coveted deal during that time, because, I mean… free Disney dining. Grey Stuff, here I come.

As The Daily Meal notes, free dining may not necessarily be the best or most cost-efficient option for a Disney World trip; you’ll still have to shell out for a full-priced room and Park Hopper tickets, which can add up. If it floats your proverbial boat, though, it’s a hard deal to pass up. Keep these details in mind as you get planning:

1You Have To Book Your Trip By July 7, 2018

Giphy

That gives you a little more than two months to get all your plans in order. Aaaaaaand go.

2Your Arrival Date Has To Fall During These Windows

Giphy

Free Dine only operates during very specific windows of time: You have to arrive for the first day of your trip between Aug. 20 and Sept. 29, Nov. 24 and Nov. 27, and Dec. 7 and Dec. 23. If you were planning to arrive outside of those three windows, then… well, no dice. Sorry.

3Your Trip Details Have To Meet Certain Qualifications

Giphy

Your trip has to be a non-discounted, five-night, six-day Magic Your Way package including a room at specific Disney Resort hotels and Park Hopper passes. You also can’t combine the Free Dine offer with any other discount or promotion. The deal’s page on the Disney website does note, however, that “packages for other lengths of stay may be available,” so it might be worth calling a Disney “vacation planning expert,” as the company puts it, to see what your options might be.

4The Free Dining Plan Is Only Available For Stays At Select Resort Hotels

Giphy

The offer isn’t good for every single Disney World Resort vacation, so if you’re planning to stay at, say, Port Orleans – French Quarter, you’re out of luck. Luckily, though, there’s a detailed list of exactly which resorts have the Free Dine offer; what’s more, they cover the entire range of price points. Here’s where you need to book your stay if you want to take advantage of the freebie:

  • Disney Deluxe Villa Resort Hotels: Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas – Jambo House; Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas – Kidani Village; Disney’s Beach Club Villas; Disney’s BoardWalk Villas; Disney’s Old Key West Resort; and Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa.
  • Disney Deluxe Resort Hotels: Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge; Disney’s Beach Club Resort; Disney’s BoardWalk Inn; Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa; and Disney’s Yacht Club Resort.
  • Disney Moderate Resort Hotels: The Cabins at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort; Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort; and Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort.
  • Disney Value Resort Hotels: Disney’s All-Star Music Resort; Disney’s All-Star Sports Resort; Disney’s Art of Animation Resort (Family Suites only); and Disney’s Pop Century Resort.

5Certain Types Of Rooms Aren’t Eligible For The Deal

Giphy

Worth noting: Even if you book your trip at one of the resorts above, the deal is not applicable for campsites, three-bedroom villas, or Little Mermaid Standard Rooms at the Art of Animation Resort.

6The Free Dining Plan You Get Depends On Where You Stay

Giphy

Disney World offers three prepaid dining plans you can add on to your package when you book your trip: The Disney Quick Service Dining Plan, the Disney Dining Plan, and the Disney Deluxe Dining Plan. However, only two of these options are part of the Free Dine offer — and what’s more, which one you get depends on the resort tier at which you book your stay.

If you stay at one of the Value or Moderate resort hotels that have the offer, you’ll get the Disney Quick Service Dining Plan, which includes two quick-service meals and two snacks per night at select dining locations; meanwhile, if you stay at a Deluxe or Deluxe Villa resort, you’ll get the Disney Dining Plan, which include one quick-service meal, two snacks, and one table-service meal per night at select dining locations.

7The Dining Plans Are Only Usable At Specific Restaurants

Giphy

Luckily, though, you’ve got lots of options for each. If you’re on the Disney Quick Service Dining Plan, you can choose from the roughly 100 different dining locations listed here, while if you’re on the Disney Dining Plan, you can choose from about 150 different dining locations, which you can see here.

And yes: The Disney Dining Plan is good for Be Our Guest in the Magic Kingdom — although it’s also worth bearing in mind that there might not be any availability at it during your trip. According to This Is Insider, usually you need to book a reservation about six months in advance if you have any hope of getting a seat at the enormously popular restaurant; however, it’s also worth checking in regularly if they’re all booked up the first time you try. Sometimes people cancel, opening up a coveted spot.

8Other Stipulations Apply

Giphy

More details you’ll want to know: Advance reservation is required; you’ve got to use your tickets and options within 14 days of first use, with the first use being on or before Dec. 31, 2019; kids between the ages of 3 and 9 have to choose from the children’s menu, if the restaurant you’re at has one; all guests staying in the same room have to be on the same dining plan; and gratuities aren’t included in the dining plan (don’t forget to tip your servers!).

9Availability Is Limited

Giphy

According to the details of the Free Dine deal, “the number of rooms allocated for this offer is limited” — so, uh, you might want to act fast if you want to nab one of those rooms. Just sayin’.

You can check out the highlights of the offer here and the full details here. Happy vacation planning!