The big news right now is that Disney Visa cardholders can book a Magic Your Way package for September and get the Dining plan for free. This is of course not a new promo, but it is the most popular one that Walt Disney World offers, and with good reason: it’s awesome.
I mean, the one thing that is a given at Disney is that you’re going to have to eat. And, yes, you COULD bring your own food but there’s a pretty good chance that you’re going to want to at least try one or two of their restaurants, and if you don’t, you’re going to sit there and wish you were. And that food you’re bringing yourself, it’s not free either.
So the Free Dining offer is a great way to pare down your budget and sample some of the best dining at Disney. Honestly, I do feel like there are times when the Dining Plan is not the most financially sound choice to save you money (and I’m going to write a post about that), but when it’s free, it’s THE BOMB. You have nothing to lose!
Anyway, this offer in September is the first time the free dining plan has been offered for 2013, and thus far it’s only for vacations which are starting between September 2 and September 25. Will it be extended? I don’t know. No word on that, literally none, so far. I think they’re looking to see just how much it boosts attendance this year. Traditionally it’s offered through the Fall, so if it has a major impact I’m crossing my fingers that we’ll see it offered at least through October as well!
But yes… as you’ve probably noticed, this offer is currently for Disney Visa cardholders only. If you don’t have a Disney Visa, you have two options: A) wait for it to open to the general public (which it will), or B) get a Disney Visa. Let’s talk about Option B for a second.
I love my Disney Visa card. I use it all the time. Yes, I am a Disney fanatic, but honestly it’s a great card. 🙂 It’s a Chase card, and they’re well-run. The Disney benefits are terrific. It’s easy to manage and there is no annual fee. You get $1 in Disney Rewards for every $100 you put on the card. If you use it for groceries etc and pay it off right away there’s no interest accumulation. And the Disney Rewards can be redeemed on pretty much ANY kind of Disney purchase, from a movie, a CD, a Disney store purchase, or park reservations or purchases. You can get a Disney Visa Card at this link. Thank me later. (No, full disclosure, I do not get ANY kickback at all if you get one or not. It’s just a benefit, I love mine, and I recommend it!)
Now there is fine print, stuff you need to know before booking this offer.
1) It’s only valid on non-discounted reservations. So if you’re using a AAA discount, or a Florida Resident package, or the like, you can’t get free dining without switching your deal; there’s no discount stacking. That’s OK. Trust me. Under most circumstances, Free Dining wins, unless you really only plan on eating only one meal in the parks each day and bringing all your own snacks and other food.
2) Moderate, Deluxe, and most Deluxe Villas are eligible for the Basic Dining plan (ie, one Table Service meal, one Counter Service meal, and one Snack per night of your stay); most Value resorts are up for the Quick Service dining (2 Counter Service meals, one Snack).
3) Campsites at Fort Wilderness, 3-bedroom Deluxe Villas, and Art of Animation rooms do not participate in this offer. Why? I don’t know for sure but my guess is because the first is already exceedingly inexpensive and they stand to lose money with this offer, and the second and third are getting the bulk of the business of those particular resort types this year, so they’re looking to spread the clientele a bit farther.
4) The fine print on the offer:
Advance reservations required. With the Disney Dining Plan, children ages 3-9 must choose from children’s menu if available. Excludes gratuities and alcoholic beverages. Some table service restaurants may have limited or no availability at time of package purchase. Deposit must be made at the time of booking with your Disney’s Visa Card or Disney Rewards Redemption Card. Subject to availability.
This means: You pay tips; you pay for alcohol; you have to prove that you have an active Disney Visa so you may have to make a $200 deposit when you book this deal, even if it’s on an existing reservation you’ve already made a deposit on. I’m not sure of that last one, but I’ve heard it. I do know that the vacation has to be booked on the Disney Visa card, though, so if you’re making a new reservation, you’ve got to use that. Alternatively you can use a Disney Rewards card with the Rewards Dollars you’ve saved up by USING your Disney Visa Card! 😀
5) I love my Disney Visa card. I so, so do.
6) Although I can’t find any details on dates that aren’t available for this offer, I did notice that the offer says “This special offer is valid for arrivals most nights between September 2 and September 25”. This means two things: first, there might be blackout dates. Second, note that it says arrivals, so that means that as long as you start your trip by September 25, you can keep the Dining Plan going for up to two weeks (14 days is the limit)!
7) If you are at a Value and want a Basic DP, instead of the Quick Service, you can upgrade by paying the difference between the two plans for each night. That comes out to about $18 per adult, per night. You can upgrade from any plan to a higher one by paying the difference!
8) And finally, the DDP is good for everyone ages 3 and up, so what about kids under 3? Well, it’s kind of like they don’t exist, basically. *G* They aren’t charged for park entry, and they aren’t charged on the DDP. BUT that doesn’t mean they eat free, it only means they don’t charge you on the DDP. If you go to a buffet and pick up a plate for your baby, have at it, go to town! However if you go someplace ala carte, you have two options: share your meal with your youngster, or pay for something extra for them. Same goes for counter service restaurants. It’s really not hard to keep your little ones fed, but it’s important to know going in how that’s going to work.
Okay, some sample pricing just to give you an idea. Disney gives sample pricing for mid-September on, with the note “lower prices may be available” for the first half of the month. Let’s look and see:
From Monday September 2 until Monday September 9, for two adults, one 10-year-old, and one under-10, we have:
Pop Century: $2288.65 – $81 a day, per person. This includes the Quick Service dining.
Caribbean Beach: $2839.87 – $101 a day, per person.
Animal Kingdom Lodge, standard room: $3698.31 – $132.08 a day, per person.
Contemporary, Atrium Club level: $6300.35 – $225 a day, per person.
Boardwalk Villas, 1-bedroom villa: $5543.31 – $198 a day, per person.
These prices all include 7-day park hopper passes, and of course FOOD. 🙂
As I said, the offer should be opening to the general public in a few days so non-cardholders can get in on it too… however the offer is going to fill up fast, especially because it’s only for a month! But here is a plus of using a travel agent, okay? Okay hear me out. Okay:
If you book NOW, and make a deposit NOW, then in a few days when the offer opens to the public I can call and add the DDP for you, for free. I’ll take care of it and you don’t have to do a THING, and you’ve got your dates all lined up in advance. It’s what I’m here for! It’s what I like to do! Let’s go for it! 😀
Any other questions? Leave a comment and I’ll answer! Want a quote for different days, different resort, or different set of party members? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org!