Category Archives: Free Dining

Is It Time to Retire Free Dining

For the last several years, Disney has offered a free dining promotion during what are “slower traffic months” for Walt Disney World.  Free Dining started in the early 2000’s when people were travelling a lot.  Free Dining was designed as way to get people to the parks.  My family took Disney up on the Free Dining offer in 2009 and we’ve made eight more trips since that first trip.  As years have gone on and more and more people have come to expect free dining in the fall, Disney has made the dates more restrictive, resort availability more restrictive, and increased the number of days or type of ticket that you need to qualify for free dining.

I have spent many years as avid Disney follower, one year as independent Disney blogger, nine months as an independent travel agent specializing in Disney vacations, and will be soon coming out with my first guide-book for Walt Disney World.  Nothing getting more people, in my opinion, excited about a Walt Disney World vacation than the prospect of Free Dining.

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Reported Changes to Be Our Guest Lunch Queue

BOG #1

Reports are coming in about a stand-by queue change for lunch service at Be Our Guest.  In the past, a queue formed to gain access to the lunch service if a guest was not selected for a Fastpass+ reservation. Now, guests will be given a paper ticket with a return time much like a legacy Fastpass. Once all the tickets have the handed out , the restaurant will be considered closed for lunch, for the day, unless you have a Fastpass+ reservation.

It has not been reported if this is a permanent change, a change for a brief period of time, or a short test. Disney tested the paper system with the Anna and Elsa meet and greet in Magic Kingdom and at Soarin’ in EPCOT. This announcement, if it is a permanent change, continues the return of the legacy Fastpass system for Disney Parks.  Keep in mind the “test period” for the paper ticket system at the Anna and Elsa meet and greet was only supposed to last three days and they are still handing out paper tickets over two weeks after the end of the test.

Be Our Guest Fastpass+ reservations are available only to guests who are staying at a Disney property. Off-property guests will have to arrive to the park early to ensure the obtain one of the paper return tickets to have lunch at Be Our Guest.

It will be interesting to watch this change unfold since it has not been reported if cast members are checking if a guest already has a Fastpass+ reservation when they obtain a paper return ticket. If they are not, this reported change could only encourage double dipping on access into the Be Our Guest Lunch. While this looks like a good idea in theory, this double dipping could become an untended consequence of this new queue management.  Stay tuned.

Thanks for reading!

What’s New

Just this week, Disney has announced the completion of a new ride and three new items around Walt Disney World.

The Seven Dwarfs Mine Train has been completed and will open to the public starting on May 28, 2014.  There could be soft openings between now and the 28th but nothing is guaranteed.  The Mine Train completes the New Fantasyland construction project.  The project added a second Dumbo ride, Under the Sea – a Journey of the Little Mermaid, Ariel’s Grotto (an Ariel meet and Greet), Enchanted Tales with Belle, the ever popular Be Our Guest Restaurant, the Barnstormer roller coaster, Pete’s Silly Sideshow where guests can meet Donald, Goofy, Minnie and Daisy in vintage county fair attire, and the Princess Fairytale Hall where guests can currently meet Anna and Elsa from Frozen, Cinderella, and a rotating fourth princess (usually Rapunzel).  It was quite the expansion project and took over two years complete and attractions opened in three different stages.

A preview of the Mine Train ride can be found here (courtesy of Theme Park Review):


If you are a Disney Visa cardholder, you are eligible for Free Disney Dining on a select dates in the fall.  This promotion will be available to the general public starting on May 7, 2014 for stays booked before August 8, 2014.  Since it’s a new blog and I haven’t talked about it yet, here’s the scoop on Disney Dining.

First of there are three levels of Disney Dining Plans:

Quick Service Disney Dining Plan: 2 counter service meals (per night), 1 snack (per night), 1 refillable mug (per stay)

Price per night in 2014: $41.99/adult, $16.03/child aged 3-9

Standard Disney Dining Plan: 1 counter service (per night), 1 table service (per night), 1 snack (per night), 1 refillable mug (per stay)

Price per night in 2014: $60.64/adult, $19.23/child aged 3-9

Deluxe Disney Dining Plan: 3 meals at your choice of counter or table service (per night), 2 snacks (per night), 1 refillable mug (per stay)

Price per night in 2014: $109.53/adult, $29.86/child aged 3-9

If you stay in a Value resort like the All-Star Resorts or Pop Century, your stay qualifies for Free Quick Service Dining.  For stays in Moderate, Deluxe, or Villa Resorts, your stay qualifies for the Standard Dining Plan.  This promotion is what made my family take their first Disney vacation.  For a family of four (2 adults, 2 kids) that stay for six nights at a Moderate resort, it can save that family $958.44 using this promotion.  That’s quite a savings.    This is Disney’s most popular promotions and each resort that is eligible (All Star Movies, Port Orleans Riverside and French Quarter, and 3-bedroom villa are not eligible) only has a select night of “Free Dining” rooms are they fill up quickly.

Disney is bringing some nightlife to the Animal Kingdom park with the introduction of “Harambe Nights” for the summer.  This show will run from June 7, 2014 to August 9, 2014.  The evening starts with a reception featuring appetizers, wines, beers, and soft drinks.  After the receptions, guests will be brought into the new Harambe Theater for a new show, “The Lion King in the Wild.”  This show will feature celebrity narrators, a live orchestra, along with dancing and sings in a 55-minute stage show.  After the show, the night moves back to Harambe Village for a street party where the guests can participate.  The night ends with dessert.  The event runs from 7:00-10:30 pm.  General admission tickets are $119 for ages 10 and up and $79 for ages 9 and under.  Floor seats are $134 for ages 10 and up and $94 for ages 9 and under.

The last bit of new information is a nod to Disney’s past.  Disney’s Polynesian Resort will be reverting to its original name Polynesian Village Resort Hotel.  The name change is part of multi-year reimagining project which includes the addition of Disney Vacation Club villa and bungalows, guest room renovations, renovations to the pool and the Grand Ceremonial House.  The resort will also see the addition of Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto which will feature tiki-styled drinks and polynesian-themed small plates.

That’s all for now.  Thanks for reading.