It’s not Free Dining with the Disney Dining Plan, but Disney is once again offering a “Stay, Play, and Dine” promotion to guests of the Walt Disney World Resorts.
Guests booking a minimum 4-night stay and minimum-4-day ticket will receive a Dining Promo Card that can be used to pay for expenses. The amount on the Card depends on the length of stay and resort level.
For Arrivals 7/1 – 7/10 & 8/1 – 9/14:
- Value Resort $50 per night
- Moderate Resort & Cabins $100 per night
- Deluxe Resort & Deluxe Villa Resort $150 per night
For Arrivals 6/25 – 6/30 & 7/11 – 7/31:
- Value Resort $35 per night
- Moderate Resort & Cabins $75 per night
- Deluxe Resort & Deluxe Villa Resort $125 per night
Pay close attention: “per night” here means “per reservation per night”. It does not mean per guest per night. And it also doesn’t mean per room per night – if you’re booking two rooms, you’ll want to make them separate reservations or you will only receive one Dining Promo Card.
Packages with this offer can be booked on Disney’s website, or the agents at TouringPlans Travel can do it for you at no extra cost. You can book this offer through March 27, 2023 and as usual, the offer is limited by availability.
How Does It Work?
When checking in, guests receive an email with a Dining Promo Card. The card can be used to pay for food at a large number of Disney World Dining locations.
Since the Dining Promo Card will be sent by email, make sure that your email address is correct in My Disney Experience. (And check your spam folder if it seems to have gone missing.) Once you’ve received it, you can use it for payment by:
- Allowing the vendor to scan the barcode
- Adding it to your Apple or Samsung Wallet and using it at touch-to-pay locations
- Entering the number when appropriate, such as when using the card with Mobile Order
The remaining balance will display on the bottom of your receipts, or you can call or manage the card at DisneyGiftcard.com. If you have questions or problems, check at the Front Desk of your resort, or use the contact information provided in the Promo Card email.
Some Nitty Gritty Stuff
The card can’t be added to your My Disney Experience account, so no paying with MagicBands or MagicMobile. It also can’t be applied to your resort bill—it must be present at the time the payment is made and you can’t apply it to any payments that were already made.
If you were a user of the Disney Dining Plan, take note. With a similar UK promotion last year, the card could be used to pay your whole bill, including tips and alcohol that the Dining Plan didn’t cover. We believe this will be the same. It’s fair to say that the Dining Promo Card is probably simpler to use and has fewer rules than the Disney Dining Plan. There are no per-day spending limits, and you can even continue to use any balance that remains after checkout until September 30, 2023.
Is It The Right Offer For You?
This is a very nice-sounding offer, but it might not be the best you can do. As usual, the Dining Promo Card offer can’t be combined with any other offer such as a room discount. So the question you have to answer is whether the Promo Card saves you more than a room discount that might be available. (We crunched some numbers on this: How Good Is the 2023 Disney World Dining Promo Offer?)
There are currently room discounts available through July 10, 2023. The Promo Card will frequently be the best offer, but you’ll still want to do a little math to check.
If you’re traveling later in the summer, it’s likely that similar room offers will be released for the later part of July and August. But since a limited number of rooms are available on this offer, waiting on that possibility could leave you empty-handed.
Modifying An Existing Reservation
If you already have a reservation that you could rebook to this offer, there’s an additional wrinkle. Disney raised ticket prices on December 8, 2022, and all packages booked before January 4, 2023 used the pre-increase prices.
When you rebook, the new ticket prices will be applied to your package and the package price will increase. It may still be cheaper when you account for the value of the Dining Promo Card, but some of the Promo Card savings will be wiped out by the more expensive tickets.
How Does it Compare to Free Dining With the Dining Plan?
When it was last offered in 2020, the Quick Service Dining Plan was $55 / $26 (adult/child) per night. The Standard Dining Plan was $78.01 / $30.01.
The maximum per night value of $150 at a Deluxe resort would cover about 2 adults and a child on the Quick Service Plan, or 2 adults on the Standard Plan. At a Moderate, the $100 per night benefit is close to the 2019 cost of two adults on the Quick Service Plan. Unless you’ve got a small group, free dining would have been a larger comparable dollar value. At Value resorts, you’d have to be flying solo to come out roughly even with the old style Free Dining.
At the same time, a common complaint about the Disney Dining Plan is that it was more food than many families could eat. When you really dug down to the numbers, most of the time it turned out that you had to be pretty careful what you ate in order to save money on the plan. And many users of the Standard plan weren’t fans of the fact that you still had to tip at Table Service.
Spend it on what you want – even alcohol or tips. Choose Table Service or Quick Service in the mix that’s right for you. And if you normally eat a rainbow diet full of vegetables, there’s no need to order steak every night to max out the value of your Dining Plan credits. The Dining Promo Card won’t offer most guests the same dollar value as free dining did, but some visitors may feel that the Promo Card suits their style better.
What do you think about this new kind of dining promotion? Would it be an improvement over the Dining Plan for your vacation? Let us know in the comments!