Cheapskate Princess Pros & Cons for FREE Disney Dining

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By Erin Johnson


These three words, when put together, create magic and pixie dust for all vacationers dreaming of their next Walt Disney World adventure! You are saving so much money when you buy the Disney Dining Plans for your vacation. But, getting them for free? Are you kidding? That sounds perfect, right? Well, it can be. And sometimes it can be…a little less than perfect.

I have put together a list of pros and cons to help our Cheapskate Princess readers answer some very frequently asked questions. If you are planning your Disney vacation around a possible free dining offer, or you are just trying to learn what free dining is all about, these pros and cons will definitely help!

Save Money on Food at Walt Disney World

Free Disney Dining Pros and Cons

How Does FREE Disney Dining Work?

PRO: If you are staying in a room or villa in one of Walt Disney World’s Villa, Deluxe or Moderate resorts, then you are eligible for the free Base Plus Dining Plan (which includes 1 table service meal, 1 quick service meal, 1 snack per person over the age of three, per night of stay, and a resort refillable mug). With this option, you have the ability to pay the difference to upgrade to the Deluxe Dining Plan (which includes 3 meals a day (any combination of table service or quick service, 2 snacks and a resort refillable mug).

If you are staying in a room at one of Walt Disney World’s Value Resorts, then you are eligible for the free Quick Service Dining Plan (which includes 2 quick service meals and 1 snack, per person over the age of three, per night of stay, and a resort refillable mug). With this option during free dining, you only have to pay the difference to upgrade to the Base Dining Plan.

CON: Not every resort and every room category is going to be included in the free dining offer. Historically, several villas, the campsites, Little Mermaid Standard Rooms at Art of Animation and some moderate and deluxe resorts are totally excluded from free dining. So, just because your vacation is “during free dining” your choice of resort or room might not be included.

Disney Food Tip: Share This Meal!

is the FREE Disney Dining Plan really free

Is Free Disney Dining Really Free?

PRO: Your dining plan is FREE! (Unless of course you are upgrading to a different one; then it’s half free.)

CON: Your gratuity is NOT free at table service meals. You still need to pay gratuity and tip your wait staff, (unless your party size is over six people, then it is automatically included) but this is not technically a con. All wait staff needs to be paid. The reason this is in the “con” section is many, many people do not tip during free dining. Please remember if you are using free dining to TIP your servers.  It is always a good idea to let your server know, when you sit down and they ask if you will be using the dining plan, that you will be tipping them!

When is FREE Disney Dining Available?

PRO: The booking months for free dining every year, typically, have included dates in August, September, October (limited), November and December.

CON: The actual dates of free dining are very limited during holiday months, and the room inventory for this discount is also very limited. Your check in date is what matters most. You have to check in during the available discount dates

*This is one of those times booking with a travel agent is a must. If you already have a vacation booked with one of our agents, we are ready to switch you over to the discount the second it is available.

Disney Food Tip: Adults Save Money Ordering This Meal!

Disney World free kids' meals

What About Booking My Restaurant Reservations?

PRO: You can book your vacation over a year in advance and have your dining reservations ready to go when your dining window opens at 180 days. This way, everything will be ready for you when the free dining discount comes out. Your agent can help get you the discount and tweak your dates or vacation to make sure you are paying the least amount possible.

CON: If you wait to book your vacation UNTIL the actual discount is released, there is a good chance you are not going to get what you want in terms of dining reservations.


Free Dining saves many travelers money every year, and now you are prepared to decide if the free dining offer will work best for you and your family.

To see more of our Cheapskating Guides, use this link.

Amanda Major Cheapskate Princess


Disney’s Cheapskate Princess


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Amanda Major CheapskatePrincess.comAmanda Major is the creator of She remembers her first visit to Magic Kingdom like it was yesterday, because she had a ham sandwich tucked in her shorts pocket. The whole family snuck in their lunch; you can’t make that kinda stuff up. 40 years worth of trips to Orlando later, she is still trying to save money on vacations.

Amanda is a Disney Vacation Club Member and Annual Pass holder. Her amazing husband, band director Carl Major, plus three teen children and two dogs keep her busy. Amanda teaches Leadership to high school seniors in the almost-coastal town of Foley, Alabama. Read about her cheapskating local vacations with this link. When she’s not writing, she’s reading, walking somewhere, or paddling a kayak. Life is indeed a blast. 

We hope we can help save you some money too. Use this link for a free no obligation vacation quote from our Travel Consultant with Pixie Vacations, Mike Ellis. You can also e-mail him at