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[Walt Disney World] Walt Disney World - 2019 Free Dining Promo Released (Valid July 5-September 30)

  • Last Updated:
  • Jun 24th, 2019 3:00 pm
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I would advise against using a Travel Agent for this. The first time we went, I thought it would be easier to go with a travel agent since everything seemed overwhelming. I ended up using Small World Vacations, which is a Disney Authorized Travel agent. We gave her our preferences for Free Dining hotels when we knew the day it was anticipated to drop thinking she could just modify our existing reservation without us having to wake up early to do it ourselves. The day came and she was unable to get us the free dining. We ended up going online that day and was able to secure it ourselves. I suspect Canadians are allocated a certain number of slots for the free dining that is separate from the US. She was unable to find any availability while we were able to see some. I think it probably had to do with our IP address. (Just a hunch with no real evidence to substantiate this claim).
I also learned that if a Travel Agent is managing the reservations, you cannot make any changes to the reservation. Everything has to go through the Travel Agent. In the end, I like having full control over my reservation. For those that used a Travel Agent, I believe there is a form you can complete if you want to take over the reservation.

Another great resource other than this thread is Disboards. The folks over there are really helpful and super knowledgeable with all the tips and tricks to ensure you have a wonderful vacation.

Just like others have echoed here, do your research ahead of time and you will likely have a much more enjoyable vacations.
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mrtvgame wrote:
Jan 11th, 2019 4:21 pm
I'll try to answer for you.

First off they do not charge 13% tax on gift cards anywhere! It is essentially cash like any other gift card you would buy, let's say from Shopper's Drug Mart.

Character Dining can be more expensive than table dining because they are mostly buffet breakfast/lunch/dinner. Around $50 - $60 per adult and $30 - $40 per child in US dollars. If you get the upgraded meal plan, you should be able to use some of the dining on those kind of meals. I recall a princess dining experience at Epcot that was not buffet, Akershus Banquet Hall at Norway does ordering from menu for lunch and dinner. Pricing varies for what you eat and drink. We did a couple of buffet character meals over the holidays there and they ran us with tip $180 - $220 US. IMO, one of them was definitely not worth it and we would not do it again. Our kids are getting older and probably will not be interested in these kind of dining experiences much longer. Smiling Face With Open Mouth And to give you an idea on quick service meals, aka burgers, chicken, tacos, salads etc. 2 adults, and 8 year old and a 5 year old, we were averaging $44-$55 per quick service encounter. Ice Cream runs about $5-$7 per piece. Beer I think was about $8-$10 at the stands. You get the idea.

Yes Pop Century is better than the All Stars.

Renting DVC points is not a bad way to go depending on what you are looking for. Are you a family of 4 or less? When are you planning on going?

A travel agent might be able to price out a couple of options for you. They could go and show you a meal plan package with either quick meal or the upgraded one. And then create a package with room and tickets only. Then you can figure if the price difference is what you will spend on food etc. I think with these meal plan packages they are forcing you to take hopper tickets. If you are a first timer, I think most on here will agree, you will not be going to more than one park per day. As such, you are paying for something you do not need. Check the CDN pricing on 4 day or more, 1 park per day pricing to see what I mean.
Thanks for your response!

So character dining involves the characters being present at the restaurant while you dine and they circulate while you are there, right? They are not found at the quick service locations are they? We would get one table service dinner a day if we go with the middle dinner plan.

Do you agree with this ranking of the best character dining locations?

If we get one quick service meal and one table service dinner a day with the middle dining plan that would be worth over 200 USD a day for a family of four it sounds like from your estimates and it sounds like we would come out ahead by a decent amount of money by getting the free dining plan and upgrading it to the middle one.

We are a family of four (parents and two girls that will be 9 and 7 at the time of the trip).

We are planning on going in the last two weeks of August to avoid crowds. The heat has been noted more than once.

I have tried changing the Disney cart to see how much each option would cost and also briefly looking at using DVC rental points and paying for food on our own. It looks like our total cost would be higher if we used DVC rental points but we would be staying at a much nicer resort (AK studio or 1 bedroom) than All Stars or Pop Century.

We are leaning towards Pop Century and the Dining Plan for the lower total cost and the simplicity. We are thinking of staying for 6 nights right now.

The park hopper plan is free with the current offer but the park hopper plus plan would cost another 100 dollars or so but I think we need it to go to the water parks, don't we?
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I don't see an option to upgrade our tickets to Special Event tickets on the Disney website as part of the package. Is there a way of doing this that you know of on their website?
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BobClarke wrote:
Jan 11th, 2019 3:50 pm
Make sure you get a fastpass+ for Avatar Flight of Passage (Animal Kingdom). By far and away one of the most enjoyable "rides" I've been on. People were clapping after the ride. Without the fastpass, you'll have to wait 3.5 Hours. The other thing to note about getting on this ride is that the lineup is shortest within an hour of closing. Anyone in the line will still get to go on even though the park may officially be closed. Still probably a 1.5 hour wait though. Mind you, we went over Christmas and New Years which is probably the busiest time to go.
One thing to add to this - when you get off the ride you'll be one of the few people left in the park and the security guards will not kick you out. They'll stay with you and keep you from walking further into the park but they won't hustle you out the gates.

This can lead to some fantastic shots of you and your family in an otherwise empty park. And the security guards have no problem taking the pictures for you if you ask, if you want a group shot. This applies to all of the DW parks.
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ash137 wrote:
Jan 11th, 2019 5:39 pm
Folks, this discussion has been very helpful for a first timer like me ..... thanks for all the tips ....

Wanted to gather inputs on which rides should we book first on Fastpass (30 day window) ... have a 4 yr and 8 yr old with us .... and we will have a 5 day pass in DW...

Gathering notes to ensure i am all prepared D day - 30 :)
I would recommend Google Disney guides, tips, plans.

Certain rides will book up quickly and these are usually the ones you want to gun for on the app right at 7am (especially if you only get 30days). Take whatever the earliest time slot is available, even if it doesn't work initially in your plan. You can always go into the app and modify your times afterwards.

MK rides that always fill up include: Big Thunder Mountain, 7 Dwarf Mine Train (though at 30day you'll unlikely get a FP), Peter Pan, Pooh, Enchanted Tales, and a few of the meet & greets (especially if it's a princess). Check the height of your 4yr old ahead of time to make sure he/she meets the minimum.

AK is the Pandora rides.
HS is the rock and roll, tower of terror, Toy Story mania & Slinky.

You can always modify your times if slots become available. One of things I would do though is to have a game plan and know your map before you start randomly picking FP. Don't forget you have to walk from one attraction to the next, you don't want to be criss crossing the park with a 4 & 8 yr old all day long.
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redboy69 wrote:
Jan 11th, 2019 5:47 pm
I would advise against using a Travel Agent for this. The first time we went, I thought it would be easier to go with a travel agent since everything seemed overwhelming. I ended up using Small World Vacations, which is a Disney Authorized Travel agent. We gave her our preferences for Free Dining hotels when we knew the day it was anticipated to drop thinking she could just modify our existing reservation without us having to wake up early to do it ourselves. The day came and she was unable to get us the free dining. We ended up going online that day and was able to secure it ourselves. I suspect Canadians are allocated a certain number of slots for the free dining that is separate from the US. She was unable to find any availability while we were able to see some. I think it probably had to do with our IP address. (Just a hunch with no real evidence to substantiate this claim).
I just want to point out that our agent from Small World has noted that we can make dinner reservations ourselves online or through the Disney App, and that she sent us a large information package for all the restaurants including material from the Disney food blog, she also offered to help us with any questions regarding the dinning, provide us with recommendations and walk us through the process but it sounds like we'll be the ones making the dinner reservations, not the agent.

In regards to the package being handled through the travel agent, I think that's accurate. Personally I don't mind if they know what they're doing better then me, and they're not charging me a fee for it so I don't have any issues with this but this definitely comes down to personal preference.
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feminazi wrote:
Jan 11th, 2019 6:09 pm
I don't see an option to upgrade our tickets to Special Event tickets on the Disney website as part of the package. Is there a way of doing this that you know of on their website?
Special Event tickets are a separate purchase and can be found here.
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Winkle wrote:
Jan 11th, 2019 8:48 pm
I just want to point out that our agent from Small World has noted that we can make dinner reservations ourselves online or through the Disney App, and that she sent us a large information package for all the restaurants including material from the Disney food blog, she also offered to help us with any questions regarding the dinning, provide us with recommendations and walk us through the process but it sounds like we'll be the ones making the dinner reservations, not the agent.
One of my friends booked a trip through a travel agent last year and they made all of their dining reservations for them. Most of the picks weren't restaurants I would've recommended so booking them yourself is probably for the best. I always recommend eating at Ohana. It's been the most consistently good dining experience for me over the past 10 years and is a great use of a table service credit.
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TomRFD wrote:
Jan 11th, 2019 10:32 pm
I always recommend eating at Ohana.
Bread Pudding - Mmmmmm - One of my favourite desserts on property!
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countysat wrote:
Jan 11th, 2019 10:46 pm
Bread Pudding - Mmmmmm - One of my favourite desserts on property!
The hardest part for me is trying to find room in my stomach for it after stuffing myself with all the other food before it! :lol:
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ash137 wrote:
Jan 11th, 2019 5:39 pm
Folks, this discussion has been very helpful for a first timer like me ..... thanks for all the tips ....

Wanted to gather inputs on which rides should we book first on Fastpass (30 day window) ... have a 4 yr and 8 yr old with us .... and we will have a 5 day pass in DW...

Gathering notes to ensure i am all prepared D day - 30 :)
Don't know what time of year you are planning to go so wait times will vary considerably. As a guide, you can look at Historical Wait times for a particular day from Touringplans.com. Eg. this one for August 18, 2018.
Obviously, each year will be different especially since Star Wars and Free Dining will impact wait times. Also, with kids your interest in particular rides will be different. At least it will give you an indication of the rides with the longest waits and plan accordingly. I wouldn't waste any FastPasses on wait times less than 30 mins.
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ash137 wrote:
Jan 11th, 2019 5:39 pm
Wanted to gather inputs on which rides should we book first on Fastpass (30 day window) ... have a 4 yr and 8 yr old with us .... and we will have a 5 day pass in DW...
How tall is the 4 year old? A lot of rides have minimum height restrictions, usually 38"- 48". Check here
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countysat wrote:
Jan 11th, 2019 11:12 pm
How tall is the 4 year old? A lot of rides have minimum height restrictions, usually 38"- 48". Check here
If you're under 40", theres quite a few rides you'd miss out, but also many of those might be too scary anyways. My daughter was on the tower of terror at age 5 and absolutely loved it, so really depends I guess. We waited until the kids turned 5 before going as that seemed a good starting age. Lots of breaks required, and going back to the hotel in the afternoon and returning at the evening is great.
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feminazi wrote:
Jan 11th, 2019 6:04 pm
If we get one quick service meal and one table service dinner a day with the middle dining plan that would be worth over 200 USD a day for a family of four it sounds like from your estimates and it sounds like we would come out ahead by a decent amount of money by getting the free dining plan and upgrading it to the middle one.

We are a family of four (parents and two girls that will be 9 and 7 at the time of the trip).
I find Disney Dining Planner is a godsend in these situations
You can rough out your plans (or go seriously in depth if you want) and it will give you a breakdown of what the costs are and which, if any dining plan is right for you

We loved doing the (middle) dining plan. We did a load of character dining (which is pricey if you dont have DDP) and it was some of the highlights of our trip. We also altered our park plan to do less character meet & greets when we had a character lunch etc ( thus saving us 30min line-up etc)
Its not for everyone and at times it felt like we were planning our whole park day around a dining reservation we'd had to make 6 months previous but the experiences were epic
(With 9 & 7 y.o. girls can I recommend Akershus in Epcot - the food is a little different but getting to see 5 Disney Princesses was a fun experience and a great use of 1 dining credit)

We found on our many trips to Disney the ball park figure usually ends up the same its how you tailor your experience to suit your needs.
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countysat wrote:
Jan 11th, 2019 10:23 pm
Special Event tickets are a separate purchase and can be found here.
Thanks! So we would have to pay an additional 125 dollars per person on top of our tickets to enjoy after hours park service at the Magic Kingdom?

If so, that is far too much money per person per day for us to afford . . .

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