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Vacation Planning Tips & Tricks Discuss Free Dining - Is it worth it?? in the Vacation Planning forums; My wife and I are planning on taking a last minute trip to WDW either the last week of this month or one week next month (October). We were considering ...
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    kazanski173 is offline A-Ticket holder
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    Free Dining - Is it worth it??

    My wife and I are planning on taking a last minute trip to WDW either the last week of this month or one week next month (October).

    We were considering signing up for the free dining plan but I was thinking that maybe this may not be worth it for us right now. We have an infant and a 3 year old and we feel we will not be using the full service option very frequently. And if we did want to, we would want to do a character breakfast or something like that.

    Bottom line is that with the date approaching fast and the desire to do some of the character breakfasts or more popular full service options, will we be shut out of those by others who have signed up already for the dining plan and made their resevations ahead of time, or will we find decent availability once we have committed to the plan and set out to make our reservations?

    Any feedback on past experiences would be awesome asI am looking to book this weekend. Thanks.

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    Re: Free Dining - Is it worth it??

    I suggest checking out the dining options before you book the plan, mousefan travel did mine, and got every resturant I wanted. Also, you can use your full service meal credits towards quick service, you just have to tell the castmember checking you out at the quickerservice resturant you want to do that. When you use a full service credit at quickservice, you get a coupon redeemable for two snack options, which, if you know where to look, you can get some pretty good snacks, i.e. Dole Whips, ice cream cookies, or breakfast pastries at your resort. You may also be able to use snack option toward food and wine festival stuff.









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    Re: Free Dining - Is it worth it??

    We love the dining plan and got to go to several places we wouldn't have been able to go to if we weren't on the plan, several character meals and fancier places. But I'm not sure if it would really pay off for you because you kids aren't that old. Down the road I would check it out once you kids are a bit older.
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    Re: Free Dining - Is it worth it??

    We just got back and used the free dining. The only turn off for us was, even though the servers were all good, each server blatantly pointed out where and how much there tip was. We even had one server in Epcot point out only the most expensive meals on the menu that we could choose from, which was wrong. The more expensive the meal the bigger the tip. Now on a party of 6 or more, which we had for a few nights, they automatically tack on an 18% for the tip.
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    lobaugo is offline B-Ticket Holder
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    Re: Free Dining - Is it worth it??

    I think its mostly a personal preference. My father and I went in October last year and did the visa free dining, and I can't say I would get the dining plan again. It just didn't fit our dining style. We always eat at least one sit down meal a day, but we are not a big dessert family and eating two desserts a day was too much for us.

    Enjoy going in October though! Its my favorite time to go! You have to go to Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party and make sure you dress up! Have a great trip!

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    Re: Free Dining - Is it worth it??

    Quote Originally Posted by Disney05 View Post
    We just got back and used the free dining. The only turn off for us was, even though the servers were all good, each server blatantly pointed out where and how much there tip was. We even had one server in Epcot point out only the most expensive meals on the menu that we could choose from, which was wrong. The more expensive the meal the bigger the tip. Now on a party of 6 or more, which we had for a few nights, they automatically tack on an 18% for the tip.
    I've got to say I feel the same way, I think I was treated different when servers found out I was on the dining plan. If I ever use it again, I will be sure to say that even though I'm on the dining plan, I'm a great tipper. In the servers defense, a buddy of mine went on the dining plan and felt that since he didn't have to drop cash on his meal, he didn't have to tip, which is absolutely crazy. I wonder how many people think the same way.









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    Re: Free Dining - Is it worth it??

    When deciding if you should go during Free Dining, make sure the restaurants you want are available. If you can't dine where you want, there isn't much point in going for the free dining. On the other hand, it's a great time of year to go so free dining might just be an extra perk.
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    kazanski173 is offline A-Ticket holder
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    Re: Free Dining - Is it worth it??

    These responses were awesome. I actually did totally forget about the tipping needed as well. Glad it came up. I am actually still deciding whether I should sign up for the dining as I have also heard that perhaps those who take the dining plan are also subject to different blocks of available rooms as well? Any truth to this? Also, where can I see the availability of the dining options we may want ahead of time? Any info on that owuld be appreciated and then you again for the responses.

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    Re: Free Dining - Is it worth it??

    For your TS options, you can try the online reservation site or call 404-WDW-DINE to see what is available.

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    Re: Free Dining - Is it worth it??

    We've looked into it a couple of times, though it's not free. We find that it's not worth it, doesn't fit our touring style and we're totally against schedules. we also feel TS restaurants are mediocre at best and not worth the time or money. Disney meals are huge so the wife and I split most meals, we also don't eat alot in the Florida sun and humidity. We don't like to change our eating habits just because we're in WDW either and end up with some stomach disorder.

    We do an in route grocery stop and get items for making sandwiches and enjoy our afternoon pool break picnics, breakfast can easily be a food court shared meal and dinner can be any CS we prefer over a TS. We don't know when we'll be hungry, what we want to eat or where so how do you preplan and make ADR's 90 days out? Some days we hardly eat at all but just munch. So for us, total waste, and when we vacation, clocks don't rule our vacation, we go and do as we please with no commitments, if we're enjoying the resort pool, we'll stay there. Our stays are of the 9-12 night varieties so there's plenty of time to see and do alot without a minute by minute itinerary, whether at the parks or for dining. We like flexibility and the dining plan curbs this. We eat what we want and like but food does not rule our vacations and to us Disney is not about the food, it's the relaxation, parks and amenities. To each their own but for us, the dining plan is a waste of time and money.

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    Re: Free Dining - Is it worth it??

    I don't get the question... I can see asking if the dining plan is worth it, but the FREE dining plan? If you don't use all your meals, so what? Its free... why not get it and then use what you can and then it's not like youre loosing anything if you don't use up all the meals.

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    kazanski173 is offline A-Ticket holder
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    Re: Free Dining - Is it worth it??

    I understand how this could be an oxymoron, but I have 2 small children and this plan could be a hindrance to our day if we are unable to eat where we would like when we like. Also I was not really sure how we can trade meal points for different types of meals throughout the day. And finally, we would like to stay in a deluxe resort if possible, and I understand that those seeking the meal plan would then also be lumped into a different rack rate category at the hotels as well? So maybe a hotel only package is worth it if we eat predominantly small snacks and counter service with the occasional character breakfast and 1 or 2 full service dinners if possible.

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    Re: Free Dining - Is it worth it??

    I still don't really get it lol. The hotel rate thing, ya I guess... if it ends up more expensive than not. But the way the dining plan works, you dont HAVE to use all of your meal points, you just can't save the ones that arent used up at the end of the vacation. But you get one counter servicer and one table service a day... so say you use the counter service everyday for your family and you also use say three of the table services for a couple character breakfasts and a dinner (the character breakfasts count as a table service meal) then you get all those meals for free. As well as a free snack everyday. Thats still a LOT of free food, and if most of the table service points go wasted, then its not really a big deal. For me, even if out of it you use two meals that's still two completely free meals!

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    zippitydoodah's Avatar
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    Re: Free Dining - Is it worth it??

    Also the points dont come per day, they come total.... so... if youre there for 5 nights you would get 5 table service, 5 counter service and 5 snacks TOTAL for the trip. You could use one each on each day, or you could have every single one of those on one day if you want. And you dont HAVE to use the meal plan for all your meals, you can still pay cash if you want and save the meal plan points...

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    zippitydoodah's Avatar
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    Re: Free Dining - Is it worth it??

    Also, you're not more or less likely to get reservations if you do or do not have the dining plan. If all the places you want are booked already then you won't be able to eat there either way... but at least if you have the free dining plan you can still eat a counter service and snack every single day for free.

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