This time of year, you can’t read a Disney message board without seeing rumors about free dining being released for September. There are even “free dining prognosticators” who are minor celebrities on these boards, people who seem to know when it’s coming out long before anyone else. Whether they have an inside edge or they’re just good at utilizing past data and making predictions, these posters are great at whipping their fellow posters into a frenzy. And you know what? Some of them get it right. Right now, the vibes, as it were, are really good for free dining. Of course there’s been no real indication from Disney yet. Here’s why I think the rumors are true.
1. September is a slow month. Even adding an extra week to Epcot’s Food and Wine Festival won’t bring in enough guests to counter that.
2. Historically, Disney has offered free dining in September for the last decade.
3. In the last two years, Disney has added two new resorts, Art of Animation and the Disney Vacation Club Villas at the Grand Floridian. This translates to roughly 11,000 pillows that need heads on them every night without also bringing a corresponding number of guests from off property to hotels to on property. In fact, the number of guests traveling to Orlando each year remains fairly static. The real goal is to get those off site guests on property–and Disney does that pretty well with promotions like free dining.
4. Free dining keeps lesser known Disney restaurants running during slow times, ensuring that the staff stays trained and gainfully employed–which includes making tips.
And here’s the big one:
5. Competition from Universal Orlando. In the last few years, theme park fans have been the beneficiaries of the competition between Disney and Universal: Universal opens up Harry Potter, Disney opens up the Fantasyland Expansion. And back and forth with minor attractions since then. Disney, of course, is set to debut the much-anticipated (you don’t know the half of it) Seven Dwarfs Mine Train ride in just a few weeks (perhaps even days), but Universal is opening up an entirely new section of Harry Potter.
Now, for me, Universal will never beat Disney. The theming isn’t the same and the resorts aren’t as nice (and they’re all pretty uniformly expensive). Really, it just misses that certain something that Disney delivers time and time again. But I’m a diehard Disney fan so I’m quite biased. However, even I can see the allure of heading over to Universal. This new Harry Potter addition is going to be quite impressive.
Given that more theme park dollars are going to be lured over the Universal, Disney is going to have to make staying on property more attraction. And they’re going to do that by offering free dining.
Let me just say this: No one really knows if free dining is coming out for September. That’s my nice way of adding the caveat “please don’t come yelling at me if it’s not offered!” But I would be really surprised if it didn’t happen, so get ready! If you’re one of the many who are waiting for free dining, my suggestion is that you jump on it the first day it’s offered. Last year, the pickings were awfully slim, especially for resorts like Port Orleans, although this was a bigger issue for the October thru December time frame than December.
Want a quote when free dining comes out? I’m only doing holds for free dining this time since the first day is so busy and rooms go quickly. A hold doesn’t commit you to anything, it just ensures that you get your room. For a hold I need the following information:
Everyone’s names plus the kids’ ages
Your travel dates
Type of tickets
We can change everything later as we work out the details, but this at least gets you started with a guaranteed spot. Feel free to contact me prior to the release so I can have all your paperwork ready to go, then I’ll just email you the confirmation on the day of. Just use the quote request form on the right or email me at ChrisW@PixieVacations.com or call 919-889-5281. As always, most clients qualify for a Disney tote and gift card.