How Much Can You Really Save? FREE Dining Plan at Walt Disney World 2017

Every year, Disney World releases a variety of Special Offers for reservations made through their website or phone. One of the best offers by far is the annual Free Disney Dining Plan, especially for families who plan to visit the table service or character dining restaurants when they head to Disney World. Free Disney Dining Plan is a promotion Walt Disney World offers every year for select dates in the fall and winter. It is now available for select dates between August and December 2017 – as long as you book before July 7, 2017!

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WHAT IS A DINING PLAN

One of the most expensive things you’ll likely spend on when you visit WDW is the food. Each character buffet lunch/dinner will run you about $45-$60 (before gratuity) per adult and a quick/counter service meal will run you between $15-$25 depending on what you order for drink/dessert.

For guests who stay on property and book through Disney, the Dining Plan is an option you can add to your reservation. The condition is that ALL members of your party MUST purchase a Dining Plan.* Here is a highlight of the 2017 Dining Plan prices you’d be paying WITHOUT the Free Disney Dining Plan promotion.

* PRO TIP: If you have a family member who is only coming for 1-2 nights, you can add them as a “day guest” to avoid booking and paying for a Dining Plan for the entire trip. 

 

DISNEY DINING PLAN 2017 (NON-PROMO RATES)

PER ADULT, PER NIGHT (ages 10+) PER CHILD, PER NIGHT
(3-9yo)

Quick Service Dining Plan

2 quick-service meals
2 snacks
1 refillable mug

$48.19 $20.88

Regular Dining Plan

1 table-service meal
1 quick-service meal
2 snacks
1 refillable mug

$69.35 $24.95

Deluxe Dining Plan

3 table service meals (can be applied to quick service, but you’d be losing money)
2 snacks
1 refillable mug

$106.68 $38.75

 

WHEN IS THE FREE DISNEY DINING PLAN PROMO VALID

August 21* – September 30, 2017
November 14 – 20, 2017
November 25 – 27, 2017
December 8 – 23, 2017

*Disney Visa Cardholders can book the Free Disney Dining Plan promotion for arrival dates beginning August 13, 2017.

This promotion is valid for booking through July 7, 2017.

 

WHAT ARE THE CONDITIONS

Guests booking the Free Disney Dining Plan promotion for Value or Moderate Resorts will receive the Quick Service Disney Dining Plan (a $48.19/$20.88 value per night), with guests staying at Deluxe or Deluxe Villa Resorts receiving the Regular Disney Dining Plan (a $69.35/$24.95 value per night). You can, however, choose to book a Value resort and pay the difference to upgrade from the FREE Quick Service Dining Plan to the Regular Dining Plan which upgrades 1 quick service meal per day to a table service/buffet/character dining meal.

Minimum Stay: 3-night/4-day “for domestic markets” according to phone reservation CM, 5-night/6-day according to website*
Minimum Ticket: 2-day Park Hopper per guest ages 3+

* I was able to search and apply the offer to search for a 3 night stay in September.

Get a FREE dining plan when you purchase a minimum of 3-night/4-day Magic Your Way room and a minimum of 2-day Park Hopper tickets per person. I spoke to a Cast Member about not needing a ticket due to being an annual passholder, and they told me that EVERY guest staying at the hotel would need a minimum of a 2-day Park Hopper ticket regardless but that if I purchased one, I could apply the amount spent on it towards the cost of my annual pass when I renew my Premier pass through Disney World OR exchange it for another ticket that would be used on a future visit. Mitchell, a CM from the Ticket Services/Ticket Research department of WDW, told me it would be no problem to exchange & upgrade the 2-day Park Hopper for myself with a 10-day Park Hopper for my daughter to use on a future trip.

 

RECOMMENDED TIME TO GO

With the chosen dates of the special offer, Disney allows you to apply your snack credits to the many delicious offerings at the Epcot Food & Wine Festival (Aug 31-Nov 13), one of my favorite times to go to Disney World. It also happens to be one of the least crowded times of the year to go – September. BUT, how do you pass on Christmas at Disney World? (Seriously, it’s MAGIC.) Christmas decorations go up in early November, so you’d have plenty of time to take advantage of this offer while enjoying the magic of the holidays at Disney World. Keep in mind that some of these dates also mean more expensive resort rates.

 

HOW TO CALCULATE YOUR ACTUAL SAVINGS

When booking special offers like these through Disney World online or by phone, they typically don’t break down the cost of the trip for you.

I did a brief search to see a comparison of what my package total would be for a 7 night trip:

Date: September 17 – 24, 2017
Resort: Value, All-Star Sports
Room Type: Standard Room
Tickets: 6-day Park Hoppers for 1 adult & 1 child
Dining Plan: Regular Dining Plan*

*The Regular Dining Plan is a small upgrade from the free/included Quick Service Dining Plan for Value resorts.

Free Disney
Dining Plan
Separate Bookings (w/Dining Plan) Separate Bookings (No Dining Plan) Price Difference
(w/Dining Plan)
Standard Room  Included $985.19 $985.19  –
6-Day PH Tickets  Included $971.94 $971.94  –
Regular Disney Dining Plan  Included $660.16  –
TOTAL $2132.98 $2617.29 $1,957.13 $484.31

You may actually save more when you’re applying this promotion to something other than the Value resort.

To calculate whether or not the Free Disney Dining Plan promotion is really worth it for your family, feel free to use the following guide:

 

FREE DISNEY DINING PLAN 2017 VALUES
PER PERSON/PER NIGHT

RESORT TYPE 3N/4D 4N/5D 5N/6D 6N/7D 7N/8D 8N/9D 9N/10D
Quick Service Dining Plan $144.57/10+
$62.64/3-9
$192.76/10+
$83.52/3-9
$240.95/10+
$104.40/3-9
$289.14/10+
$125.28/3-9
$337.33/10+
$146.16/3-9
$385.52/10+
$167.04/3-9
$433.71/10+
$187.92/3-9
Regular Dining Plan $208.05/10+
$74.85/3-9
$277.40/10+
$99.80/3-9
$346.75/10+
$124.75/3-9
$416.10/10+
$149.70/3-9
$485.45/10+
$174.65/3-9
$554.80/10+
$199.60/3-9
$624.15/10+
$224.55/3-9

FREE DISNEY DINING PLAN 2017 VALUES
PER 2 ADULTS

RESORT
TYPE
3N/4D 4N/5D 5N/6D 6N/7D 7N/8D 8N/9D 9N/10D
Quick Service Dining Plan $289.14 $385.52 $481.90 $578.28 $674.66 $771.04 $867.42
Regular Dining Plan $416.10 $554.80 $693.50 $832.20 $970.90 $1,109.60 $1,248.30

FREE DISNEY DINING PLAN 2017 VALUES
PER 2 ADULTS + 1 CHILD AGE 3-9

RESORT TYPE 3N/4D 4N/5D 5N/6D 6N/7D 7N/8D 8N/9D 9N/10D
Quick Service Dining Plan $351.78 $469.04 $586.30 $703.56 $820.82 $938.08 $1,055.34
Regular Dining Plan $490.95 $654.60 $818.25 $981.90 $1,145.55 $1,309.20 $1,472.85

FREE DISNEY DINING PLAN 2017 VALUES
PER 1 ADULT + 1 CHILD AGE 3-9

RESORT TYPE 3N/4D 4N/5D 5N/6D 6N/7D 7N/8D 8N/9D 9N/10D
Quick Service Dining Plan $207.21 $276.28 $345.35 $414.42 $483.49 $552.56 $621.63

Regular Dining Plan

$282.90 $377.20 $471.50 $565.80 $660.10 $754.40 $848.70

 

 

Stop Paying Full Price: 5 Easy Steps to Saving Money

The San Francisco Bay Area is a ridiculously expensive place to live.

So how does my kid have all those Disney costumes and way more skinny jeans than I’ve probably ever owned in my adult life? And how do you think I managed to afford taking 12 trips last year? Sure, some of them were only for 2 nights, but they still add up pretty quickly if you’re paying full price for everything. I don’t ever pay full price. STOP PAYING FULL PRICE. Seriously, though. (Yeah, see how I busted out the caps and italics there. It’s that important.)

I just have one simple request in exchange for these AWESOME savings that I’m certain you’ll thank me for later if you are an avid online shopper; please use the links below so I can get a referral bonus. You also get $5-$15 when you sign up using my referral link(s)!

___

There are 5 things I NEVER fail to do when I’m spending money online, whether it’s on diapers, clothes, laundry detergent, or hotel reservations:

STEP 1: USE A PRICE COMPARISON TOOL

Google Shopping (90% of the time) – This is my favorite tool, though it generally does not include Amazon.com so I tend to check Amazon.com manually on a separate tab.

Shopping.com (Under 10% of the time)

Price Grabber (Rarely)

… and exclusively for travel,

Kayak (60% of the time) – I only use this for price comparisons, but I never book through kayak because pro tip: hotels.com does price matches. AND you save more money when you book there through a combination of their Welcome Rewards program, MrRebates, and reseller gift cards.

Trivago (40% of the time)

Google Flights (90% of the time) – This is always great because their tool allows you to scan all available flights with flexible dates while selecting multiple departure and arrival airports. I’m a Delta Medallion member so I typically want to fly Delta on longer routes, but occasionally this tool helps me out when I’m flying shorter domestic routes or finding tickets for family members and friends.

STEP 2: SIGN UP FOR FREE CASHBACK AND GET $5 NOW

MrRebates (90% of the time) – Since 2011, I’ve collected $3,878.41 in cashback through MrRebates.com. Sometimes I choose to shop at sites that provide cashback through MrRebates instead of popular big box stores on Amazon simply because of the extra savings through cashback and to avoid added sales tax.

$4000 Cash Back from MrRebates

BeFrugal (Under 10% of the time) – Since 2015, I’ve collected $35.44 in cashback through BeFrugal.com. It’s rare that a site that’s also on MrRebates will offer less of a % cashback than BeFrugal, but it has happened.

$35.44 Earned at BeFrugal

No, it’s not a hoax. No, this is not a credit card offer. No, you don’t have to spend any money or even provide credit card information to sign up. You receive your payments by simply providing your Paypal e-mail address.

If any of you have ever built a website or worked on a blog, you’re probably familiar with ads that provide incentives for successful purchases made through successful clickthroughs. These days, sites like these are making a % of that revenue available to their users.

STEP 3: LOOK FOR A COUPON

MrRebates (+/- 50% of the time) – Yep, they not only offer cashback but also list the available/active coupons for the site you’re shopping from.

4% Cash Back at Hotels.com

RetailMeNot (+/- 50% of the time) – Occasionally, there will be coupons here that aren’t listed anywhere else.

Hotels.com Discount Codes

STEP 4: TAKE ADVANTAGE OF UNWANTED GIFT CARDS

GiftCardGranny (+/- 90% of the time) – This is absolutely my favorite tool for buying gift cards, because it also searches through Raise.com’s inventory. I buy gift cards for a variety of things that I buy online and in person, including Starbucks (18% off as of this moment, but note that this is ever changing based on supply/demand), Jamba Juice, Panera Bread, and other popular chain restaurants and fast food places.

Starbucks Gift Cards for 18% off

Raise (+/- 10% of the time) – Since GiftCardGranny also searches Raise’s inventory, the one real plus side to signing up at Raise is that you can also set alerts when certain gift cards are discounted at more than any specific %.

STEP 5: SIGN UP FOR REWARDS

There are so many rewards programs for travel, fast food, chain restaurants, and even things like Starbucks and Jamba Juice that it likely deserves it’s own post. The ones I find I’ve profited the most from are listed below:

Hotels.com – Their Welcome Rewards program is simple. For every 10 nights you book without a coupon, you get 1 free night at a rate based on the average price you paid for the 10 nights. I keep saving my rewards for a big Europe trip I’d like to take when Zee is old enough to appreciate it, so as of now I have collected 22 free nights since 2008. Their customer service is also unparalleled. I’ve had many positive experiences with them but one in particular sticks out. Once, they moved me from the Hampton Inn Times Square ($158/night) to a suite at the W hotel ($470/night) because the Hampton Inn had run out of the room type I had paid extra for.

22 Free Nights at Hotels.com Welcome Rewards

Delta – They’re not quite as profitable anymore since two years ago, they changed the way you earn miles and made it based on dollars spent as opposed to miles flown. A trip to Indonesia that would’ve earned me 18,000 miles now earns me only 7,500 or so miles. If you consider the fact that a domestic round trip flight costs only 25,000 miles, it’s still a good deal. Reaching Medallion Status (collecting a minimum of over 25,000 medallion-qualifying miles per year) also gives you a few extra perks.

STEP 6: GO SHOPPING, PLAN A TRIP, ENJOY!

Thanks for stopping by! Like I said, you’ll thank me later. (Or you could also buy me a coffee today in the form of a gift card…….)

Please kindly sign up using any of the above referral links.

 

This is a parenting and lifestyle blog that discusses a wide variety of topics from my personal perspective. This blog is for entertainment and/or informational purposes only. My posts contain my opinions and do not reflect the opinions of any organizations that I may have been or may become affiliated with. Any information I provide on my blog is true to the best of my knowledge but please recognize that there may be omissions, errors, or mistakes and that you assume all risk and responsibility from any decisions made based on what you read here. I also reserve the right to change how I manage or run this blog and may change the focus or content on this blog at any time.