When it comes to planning a trip to Walt Disney World, there are three important things you have to worry about: the hotel stay, park tickets, and food. Fortunately if you’re thinking of vacationing at the resort later this year, you might be able to cross food off your list of expenses.
Disney World is offering its immensely popular free dining plan promotion for stays on select dates between August 28 and December 21 – essentially giving you free food for your entire stay. That’s a savings of at least a $42 per person, per night, depending on which dining plan you choose.
To be eligible for the promotion, you must purchase a non-discounted, three- to 14-night Magic Your Way package with either the Park Hopper or Water Park Fun and More options for stays between August 28 and October 2; October 25-31; November 8-19; and December 15-21. Just book by July 10.
If you’re staying at one of the participating Deluxe Villa, Deluxe, or Moderate resort hotels, you’ll get the standard Dining Plan, which comes with one table-service meal credit, and one quick-service meal credit per person, per night. Guests of select Value resort hotels will receive the Quick-Service Dining Plan, which includes two counter-service credits per person, per night. Both plans also come with one snack credit for each traveler per night, along with a refillable mug to be filled at their resort’s quick-service outpost.
Table-service credits are accepted at more than 70 restaurants property-wide -- reservations are strongly recommended -- while there are more than 100 places where you can trade in those quick-service credits. We like to get the most use out of table-service credits by using them towards dinner at character meal locations and/or buffets -- many restaurants offer both.
Here’s one caveat: depending on when you purchase the package and make your dining arrangements, you may find there isn’t availability at your preferred restaurant or in the worst case scenario, no tables available at all. (You can try your luck and just walk in, but wait times are often long, and many restaurants don’t accept walk-ins.)
We recommend checking online to see which restaurants have availability on your desired dates and booking them the same day you purchase the package. And of course, it’s much better to make all reservations -- hotel and dining -- as soon as possible.
Disney World has tons of fun on tap between August and December. Foodies can get their fix at the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival, running from September 25 to November 16. Eat your way around the park, stopping for samples at dozens of booths, or set aside time to attend one of the nightly performances from popular artists. There's no additional fee to attend the event but samples are priced around $3 and up.
Fall also ushers in two ticketed holiday events at the Magic Kingdom: Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party and Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party. The Halloween celebration (from $68) runs on select nights between September 15 and November 1, and invites all guests to dress up and go trick-or-treating around the park. Revelers at the Christmas Party (from $74) are treated to hot cocoa and cookies, photo opportunities, and snow on Main Street USA. Catch it on select nights between November 8 and December 18.
Other festivities later this year include a contemporary Christian music festival, race events, and holiday events throughout the three other theme parks.