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Will There Be Free Dining for Fall 2013?

Right about now, people start to get nervous: Historically, Disney has offered free dining for the fall and early spring for almost a decade, but that doesn’t stop people from worrying that it won’t happen. This year there’s even more reason to be concerned since Disney did not offer free dining for the January through March time period. As we get closer to the time (mid-March) when free dining opens up for September and there’s not even a whisper of it happening, I start to worry as well. 

First, let me say that I do not have any inside information, nor have I seen any credible rumors.  Having said that, I do think you’ll see free dining at least in September. Historically, this had been one of the slowest times of the year prior to the advent of free dining, with kids having just gone back to school.  However I, as well as most of the travel agents I know, have doubts about free dining being offered after September.  I certainly hope it will be, but Disney has been promising to end it for years. Why not now, when they have the Fantasyland expansion up and running?

Where does this leave the guest?  First don’t panic and cancel your vacation.  Instead, book the vacation you can afford now, that way if the discount you’re offered isn’t what you expected, you’re not strapped financially.  Further, take the first discount you get. A lot of people say they’re going to wait until free dining is announced before they book their vacations and there are some good reasons behind doing this, but since there’s no penalty for switching discounts later, take what’s available.  This is especially important now because in recent years, the first discount offered for a time period is usually the best.  Finally, make sure you get your discount the day it’s announced because we never know how many rooms will be available under the offer.

Best of luck.  I’ll be waiting along with you.


  1. Great article! I have often thought that free dining was the be all end all for our trips, until I realized… Yeah, it’s great, however – we can still go! It may not be for as long as we wanted or the higher priced resort, but sometimes, you have to suck it up and make it work! Hello! You’re still going to be at Disney!

  2. Thanks Sheena. Oh, that reminds me . . . . When are you free today?

  3. I love the “free dining”. Part of the Disney experience to me is picking out the restaurants, looking at the menus and going to places that I might not normally go. It really takes the fun out of it since it isn’t “free”.

    And I wouldn’t pay out-of-pocket for the dining plans – doesn’t make sense for my family (we normally don’t drink pop or get desserts).

    So honestly, if we go during a time when “free dining” isn’t offered, we will probably go to Disney World, but not stay on site, eat at QS, and go to the other theme parks.

  4. Going to DisneyWorld in September. Hoping for free dining plan or great resort discount.
    Plan on going for 10 days.

  5. Already booked for this year and free or not we never go without the dining plan! Even if I have to pay for it, and we have based on time of travel, we still save money AND I don’t have to think about “how much is this going to cost” every time we eat.

    I have a child who likes to order from the right column on the menu (always picks the most expensive thing) and I don’t have to say no because it was already paid for!

    I would ask everybody to really do the math, on our last trip we figured out what we spent on the plan, then kept track of what each meal cost when we got the bill and discovered we ate for free two full days. Just something to think about.

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