June 25, 2024

Free Dining is Now Available for July to December 2024 at Disney World


Walt Disney World has released the Free Dining Plan discount for select travel dates in July through December 2024, including Independence Day and the Christmas season. Here are dates & details, tips & tricks, everything

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Walt Disney World has released the Free Dining Plan discount for select travel dates in July through December 2024, including Independence Day and the Christmas season. Here are dates & details, tips & tricks, everything you need to know about booking this discount.

This is one of a growing number of special offers that has been released thus far for 2024 Walt Disney World vacations. The other big discounts being released (or re-released, as the case may be) offer Up to 35% Off Walt Disney World Resort Discounts in Summer & Fall 2024 for APs or FL Residents and the general public Stay Longer & Save Up to 30% Off Disney World Resorts in Summer & Fall 2024.

For all previously-released discounts that are still available, see All Current Walt Disney World Discounts for 2024. There are promos available for most dates between now and October plus some dates during the holiday season. There are also bouncebacks and PIN codes that run pretty much uninterrupted through Christmas 2024. So that’s worth checking out if you’re debating when to travel.

Per Walt Disney World, here are the deal details: Disney Visa Cardmembers can Enjoy a FREE dining plan when you use your Disney Visa Card to purchase a non-discounted 4-night, 4-day Walt Disney Travel Company package that includes a room at a select Disney Resort hotel and a theme park ticket with a Park Hopper option—for arrivals most nights from:

  • July 1 to July 31, 2024
  • September 1 to September 7, 2024
  • December 9 to December 21, 2024

Packages may be available for longer lengths of stay.

With this offer, you can discover the convenience and flexibility of dining plans—which include a certain number of meals and snacks during your stay. And with more than 200 participating dining locations, there’s something to delight nearly every taste!

Here’s the discount chart provided by Walt Disney World to show participating resorts and which tier of the Disney Dining Plan each receives:

There are a bunch of terms and conditions, all of which are common for Free Dining. Table service restaurants may have limited or no availability at time of package purchase (a common complaint with Free Dining in past years has been the lack of ADRs for those who arrived without booking anything in advance).

Cannot be combined with any other discount or promotion. Disney Dining Plans exclude gratuities, which will need to be paid out of pocket at table service restaurants. Children ages 3 to 9 must order from a children’s menu, where available. The number of packages allocated for this offer is limited. Everyone in the same room must be on the same package.

The big one is the exclusions, with a longer list for the ‘second wave’ than the first time Free Dining was offered this year. This offer excludes the following room types:

  • 3-Bedroom Villas
  • Treehouse Villas at Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa
  • The Campsites at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort
  • The Cabins at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort (Disney Vacation Club)
  • Cabins at Copper Creek Villas & Cabins at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
  • Bungalows at Polynesian Villas & Bungalows
  • Club Level and Suites at Disney Moderate and Deluxe Resorts
  • Deluxe Studios – Club Level at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas – Jambo House
  • 1-Bedroom Villas – Club Level at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas – Jambo House
  • 2 Bedroom Lock-Off Villas – Club Level at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas – Jambo House

The major additions is the across-the-board exclusion of Club Level and Suites at Moderate and Deluxe Resorts, which encompasses a ton of room options. On the plus side, Free Dining paired with Club Level is a bad idea–so Walt Disney World taking away that option isn’t the worst thing. (Unfortunately, those categories are also excluded from the general public room-only discount.)

The Disney Dining Plan included in this special offer depends on the Walt Disney World resort hotel you select. The Disney Dining Plan is included when you choose a stay at a Disney Deluxe or Disney Deluxe Villa Resort hotel. The Disney Quick-Service Dining Plan is included when you choose a stay at a Disney Moderate or Disney Value Resort hotel.

Although the above verbiage doesn’t include anything about paying the difference to upgrade, that is possible. You should be given the option during the booking process to pay the difference to upgrade to the regular Disney Dining Plan if you book a Value or Moderate Resort. (Currently, the Disney Dining Plan Plus and Deluxe Disney Dining Plan are still unavailable for 2024, so you can’t upgrade to those.)

You can book the deal directly via Walt Disney World’s official site here. (This link might come in handy if you’re not seeing Free Dining on DisneyWorld.com’s special offer’s page, which we’re told is a common issue.)

2024 Free Dining Analysis

First, this is not “Free Dining Lite” or “Half-Free Dining” as we’ve come to call Walt Disney World’s other marketing gimmicks that trade on the name recognition of the Free Dining offer. This is the real deal–full or OG Free Dining.

While Walt Disney World has offered a number of dining-related discounts in the last year, 2024 marks the first year that Free Dining has returned (for real) since 2019. This is significant because, pre-closure, Free Dining was far and away the most popular discount that Disney offers (based on booking volume).

With the first wave of Free Dining that was released, we didn’t really see that. I was expecting a ton of pent-up promo demand, but that really wasn’t the case. The virtual queue wait to enter DisneyWorld.com was never that long on drop day, and there seemed to be ample availability–at least early-on during the special offer released window.

This is now the ‘second wave’ of Free Dining, and it encompasses a subset of the same dates as the first round. Accordingly, we’re expecting that entire room categories are already sold out from day one for many of the July and September travel dates. December is always a popular month for fans to visit, so availability then might also go fast–but it should start out better. (If you’d be willing to help me crowd-source this data, I’d love to hear via the comments what dates and resorts you were able–or were not able–to book!)

We’re not saying this to scare you into booking before you’re ready or to foster FOMO. It’s simply always a best practice to book early rather than to wait. You can always cancel later if you book something now about which you’re uncertain. You cannot wait and then book something that’s already sold out once you become certain. That is, unless you have a time machine…and there are probably better uses for that technology than booking WDW deals.

That’s the nature of the beast with Walt Disney World discounts whenever there’s high demand and low availability. As always, those who are willing to compromise with hotel choices, room categories, and even travel dates are in the best position. If you are dead-set on a certain type of room at a specific resort and are entirely unwilling to consider anything else…you’re setting yourself up for disappointment.

With that said, before hearing the siren song of free food and instantly booking this, you should really compare this to the above-mentioned room-only discounts that are available for most dates between now and October 3, 2024. The underrated upside to those is that they can be paired with the 4-Park Magic Discount Walt Disney World Ticket, whereas you’re required to buy a (full priced) Park Hopper ticket with Free Dining. As always, this special offer is NOT free food with no strings attached.

If you’re wondering why Free Dining is being offered for these dates but not others, the answer is always hotel occupancy. We want to once again reiterate that Walt Disney World does not offer any promotion out of corporate generosity. The Disney Dining Plan is “given away” to entice guests to travel at times of year that have lower hotel occupancy rates.

You might wonder why Walt Disney World is giving the discount to tourists taking week-long vacations during the Independence Day holiday and the heart of the summer season. It’s because occupancy is lower! Summer ceased being peak season a long time ago, and last year’s Independence Day holiday was among the slowest stretch of the entire summer.

We discussed that phenomenon at length at the time, but in a nutshell, the reasons for this were ticket blockouts, higher hotel rack rates, and travel over a holiday weekend being more expensive (airfare, gas) generally. Many Americans also might actively avoid those weeks because of the reputation that these are the peak of the busy summer season. (At least at Walt Disney World, they aren’t.) That belief coupled with a spike in rack rates that weekend might necessitate some discounting.

To that point, there’s no such thing as a free lunch–you receive the Disney Dining Plan for “free” because you pay full price for your hotel room and park tickets. This is also why Free Dining is often not such a great deal. For many families, taking the room-only discount is superior. Always do the math, because the comparative value varies based upon resort, party size, and eating preferences.

When it comes to doing the math, I want to put in a plug for reaching out to a travel agent. Any travel agent! As always, we’d recommend requesting a FREE no obligation quote from Be Our Guest Vacations, an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner and having them book for you.

They’ll assist you with the planning process, help you choose the most economical dates, best add-ons, etc. Notably, they also monitor reservations and can retroactively apply new discounts if a better deal is released to save you more money. (A big thing right now, since better deals keep coming out and supplanting the old ones!)

Equally as important, they’ll help you with discount comparison shopping. As mentioned above, there are several different discounts currently available for Walt Disney World in 2024, with more likely to come in June. What you see now isn’t necessarily everything that’ll be available for your travel dates–especially in October, November or December 2024.

Walt Disney World makes these special offers confusing on purpose so that comparison shopping is more difficult. This is done in a bunch of little ways, which I assume is for marketing purposes or to appeal to different consumer psychologies. I really don’t know. Regardless, we highly recommend using a travel agent–even if it’s not Be Our Guest Vacations. (Just don’t use a Big Box or MLM–see Why You Should Use A Disney Travel Agent for more.)

For reference, here are package prices for various resorts during early September 2024 travel dates for a party of 2 adults and 1 kid:

It would be impossible for me to run through the math for everyone, so I’ll make some sweeping generalizations. Free Dining is likely to work best for the following guest demographics:

  • Almost all families staying at Value Resorts
  • Most families in standard rooms at Moderate Resorts
  • Parties of 3 or more Disney Adults at Deluxe Resorts

Free Dining is likely to work worst for the following:

  • Parties of 3 or fewer at Deluxe Resorts
  • Couples or solo travelers at Moderate Resorts
  • Smaller parties in Family Suites at Value Resorts

From that, you should have a decent sense of who benefits most and least from Free Dining. Basically, you want to look at party size (the larger, the better!) and age (the older, the better!), and room cost (the lower, the better!). That’s pretty much it…but it sounds simpler than it actually is.

You really, really need to do the math for yourself to determine whether Free Dining is right for you. I cannot stress this enough. Even though it’s the more “boring” deal, the room-only discount very well might be the better choice for you. You also need to determine if the Disney Dining Plan is a good fit for your eating habits in the first place–not everyone dines in a way that’s conducive to the DDP!

Among a lot of Walt Disney World vacation planners, there’s a sense that all of those considerations are only relevant to the paid Disney Dining Plan. But that’s not true, as booking Free Dining comes at the expense of another discount. So it may not matter to a party of 4 staying at the All Stars, who are obvious winners with Free Dining–but it does with the borderline cases.

There are plenty of parties who will be better off by simply taking the room-only discount–that’s always the case. Although it’s the “boring” discount, we are strong advocates of the room-only deals in borderline scenarios. Taking the up-front savings and not being “forced” to buy extras just to (supposedly) save more money is usually the best way to go if it’s a close call, in my opinion.

That’s even more true this go-round, as that 4-Park Magic Ticket can be a great option for a lot of families–and one that offers additional savings on top of the room-only discount. With Free Dining, you won’t save money on tickets. Not only are they full-priced, but you’re required to purchase the Park Hopper option…which you may not need!

Walt Disney World offering more special offers to the general public is great news, and definitively demonstrates that travel trends are normalizing now after running hot for way too long. During that period of pent-up demand, Walt Disney World was able to ‘get away’ with pretty much anything and still see record guest spending and insatiable demand. Consumers now appear to once again have more leverage, and companies need to entice them to visit.

This should be an interesting saga to follow, and it’s almost certain that we haven’t seen the end of Walt Disney World’s efforts to woo back former fans and pull “levers” to incentivize more demand and guest spending. If bookings remain soft for the rest of 2024, it’ll be interesting to see what type of more unique promotions are released for October through December 2024. Or even if Walt Disney World releases more for August and September–two months that are historically the slowest of the year and yet, for some reason, only are offering 1 week of Free Dining during this second wave.

It sure feels like things are trending in the right direction for even more aggressive offers, which is why we expect to see a second wave of Free Dining along with other unique discounts and not just room-only offers. We will be closely monitoring what’s released and will notify subscribers of our free email newsletter when any Walt Disney World discounts are released or rumored. Stay tuned!

Planning a Walt Disney World trip? Learn about hotels on our Walt Disney World Hotels Reviews page. For where to eat, read our Walt Disney World Restaurant Reviews. To save money on tickets or determine which type to buy, read our Tips for Saving Money on Walt Disney World Tickets post. Our What to Pack for Disney Trips post takes a unique look at clever items to take. For what to do and when to do it, our Walt Disney World Ride Guides will help. For comprehensive advice, the best place to start is our Walt Disney World Trip Planning Guide for everything you need to know!

Your Thoughts

What do you think about these new Walt Disney World discounts? Surprised to see a ‘second wave’ of Free Dining for late 2024? Think we could see even more Free Dining for August through November 2024 dates? Have you booked this Free Dining discount or other deals for 2024? Do you agree or disagree with our analysis? Any questions we can help you answer? Hearing your feedback–even when you disagree with us–is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!

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