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Disney World Free Dining Plan for Fall 2012

By Dave Shute

Updated 8/1/2012 with new December arrival dates!


My friends at Destinations in Florida confirmed this morning that a free Disney World dining deal has opened to the general public for the fall of 2012.

Eligible arrival dates include:

  • Sunday September 30 through Thursday October 4
  • Friday October 19 through Thursday November 1
  • Friday November 9 through Thursday November 15
  • Friday November 23 through Thursday November 29
  • Monday December 10 through Thursday December 20

These dates must be booked by September 29th, and include a three night stay minimum.

For more, see Disney’s Special Offer page here.



1 rose { 07.19.12 at 8:19 am }

Hi, can i book this offer if i live in the UK?

2 Dave { 07.19.12 at 9:37 am }

Hi Rose, US offers are available worldwide, so yes, you can…

3 Michelle { 07.26.12 at 8:38 pm }

We booked our trip back in January for Oct. 20-28th at the Port Orleans Riverside for 5 people. As soon as we saw the free dining go up for these dates, we called to switch and they said they were limiting the number of rooms that could get this deal. So I am bumming that we couldn’t take advantage of this deal especially since we are staying during the right dates. Any advice?

4 Dave { 07.27.12 at 8:42 am }

Hi Michelle…Disney limits the number of rooms it’ll sell under these offers, and word is that the moderates sold out in days.

However, there’s a good chance it’ll have a room rate offer for these dates as well–e.g. 20% off. Come back to this page every couple of days, as if it does do such a deal, I’ll post about it there within 12 to 36 hours…:

5 Michelle { 07.29.12 at 12:13 pm }

Thanks for the information! I will keep waiting patiently 🙂

6 Lily { 08.02.12 at 1:00 pm }

I would keep checking sometimes people cancel and rooms become available.

7 Dave { 08.02.12 at 6:07 pm }

Thanks, Lily!

8 Dave { 08.02.12 at 6:07 pm }

Great point, Lily!

9 Debbie { 08.04.12 at 11:26 am }

Dave, I already have my entire trip planned – airfare, hotel, park tickets and dining plan for December 6 – 13. What are the chances that Disney will add a few dates in early December for the free dining plan? I hate to change everything to plan around the free dining and then they add a few dates to the free dining and I could’ve kept my plans as is. Any advice?

10 Dave { 08.04.12 at 5:27 pm }

Debbie, I can’t recall the last time Disney had discounts during Pop Warner week, so my guess is they will not add them this year, either…see this:

11 edith { 08.23.12 at 9:59 pm }

Dave any chance the ( FDP ) could be offered week of Thanksgiving 2012 ?. My trip 11/18/12—11/24/12 has all ready added up to over 4,000 dollars stay at pop centry.

12 Dave { 08.24.12 at 8:52 am }

Hi Edith, nope. They never do discounts during wildly crowded times like Thanksgiving, as they already have enough demand to fill their hotels…

13 Wade { 08.24.12 at 8:34 am }

We have booked our flight and hotel through Priceline Oct 24-26 3 night stay @
Caribeen Beach Resort. No dining plan purchased. Can we still take advantage of the free dining plan?

14 Dave { 08.24.12 at 8:57 am }

Hi Wade, free dining at the moderates sold out in the first week it was offered…

15 Suzanne { 01.15.13 at 11:36 am }

Hi Dave,
I’m planning our family’s first trip to WDW for October 2013. 2 adults+ kids are 8, 6 and 6. 2 questions: I’m hoping to get in on the free dining plan – should I wait until dates are announced, or should I make a room-only booking for an AofA suite now to be sure we have a room? Question 2: all of my kids are picky eaters. If I can’t get the free dining plan, is it worth it to purchase it or should we just pay cash as we go?

16 Dave { 01.15.13 at 3:28 pm }

Hi Suzanne! Coupla things.

One is that yes you can book now and convert later, but its easier to convert a “package”–that is room and something else you pay for, most commonly tix–than a room only deal. This has to do with arcana of Florida travel tax laws and resulting differences in how Disney accounts for the reservations. If you book a “package,” it’s easier to transfer it to free dining, which is also a “package.”

But if you can’t get free dining, don’t buy the dining plan with young picky eaters. If a children’s menu is available, they’ll have to order off it, and there’s often not much more than nuggets, burgers, and mac and cheese on it…(of course if they always like burgers/nuggets/mac n cheese, then get the dining plan!)

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17 Nicole { 01.16.13 at 4:07 pm }

Hello Dave,

Your site is just awesome! We are planning to take our 2 year old to WDW for one week in early December 2013. Our current thought is to stay at the Wilderness Lodge Villas (the thinking being that it would be convenient to have a kitchen available to make things easier with a two year old??). I know from reading your site that Disney sometimes offers a free dining plan for this period given that it is low season – I am not sure when that might start to be offered for 2013 (if it is to be offered in 2013). When is it best to book our hotel stay (don’t want to miss the hotel but getting the free dining would be terrific). Two other questions – I assume our son would be able to swim in the hotel pools with us if he is in a swim diaper, correct? I know you cannot get a dining plan for those under 3 – how does it work for 3 and under (just ordering/paying off the menu I expect?). Thanks so much.

18 Dave { 01.16.13 at 4:21 pm }

Hi Nicole and thanks!

First you can book now–it’s easier to convert later if you book a package with tickets–and then convert it later (by calling) if a deal comes out. If such a deal does come out–and I’d not bet on it–it could come out anytime between the summer and late fall.

You would feed your son either from your own plate, with special foods you brought with you, or with stuff you bought for cash.

And yes your son can swim with you!

See also this:

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19 Scott { 01.25.13 at 5:38 pm }

Hi Dave,

So you do not think it is likely that a free dining plan will be offered as it was in 2012? With Pop Warner week beginning December 7 I was hoping an offer including a free meal plan might include the week starting December 2.

I am trying to convince my wife we should go in December.



20 Dave { 01.26.13 at 8:23 am }

Scott in 2012 Disney offered free dining for almost all dates into June, just skipping a few holiday weeks.

So far this year it has offered it for none. And it has said many times in the past 24 months that it is cutting back discounts, and expects to get an economic return on its investment in New Fantasyland.

So my guess is that we’ll see a lot less free dining the rest of 2013.

Now every day I’m wrong six times before breakfast, and may be wrong on this too, but that’s my guess…

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21 Scott { 01.26.13 at 2:31 pm }

Dave…..Thanks as always. Love your site.

22 Karen D { 01.30.13 at 12:26 am }

Dave, We are going in November 2013, the week prior to Thanksgiving for 7-9 days. We are considering a split stay between Art of Animation and the Polynesian. We are hopeful for free dining for the first part of our stay. Is there a simple explanation on how to get the best rate for a split stay and how long to stay at each resort? Thank you!

23 Dave { 01.30.13 at 5:59 am }

Karen, you won’t get a better rate for the split stay than you could get for each individually, with one exception–each of these has an up-charge for Friday and Saturday nights, and the up charge at the Poly is higher than that at AofA, so it’s cheaper to do the Poly on Sun-Thurs.

However, if you are thinking Little Mermaid 4 person standard rooms, then the way to plan your trip is to figure out how much in total you can afford for lodging, and then do the math to allocate the maximum number of nights to the Poly. I’d advise–despite the point above–to start at Little Mermaid, then shift to the Poly, because if you do the Poly first you may be really disappointed by Little Mermaid. If you are doing a family suite at AofA, the order matters much less.

Figuring out the balance between the two requires solving a simple set of simultaneous equations, and all you need to know is your total room budget, total planned nights, and the nightly cost for the Poly and whichever room group you are targeting at Aof A. With that, here’s how to solve the equations:

B = lodging budget (given)
N= total nights (given)
X = Poly nightly cost (given)
Y= Art of Animation nightly costs (given)
A = Art of Animation nights (to solve for)
P= Poly nights (to solve for)
Note that A+P= N, so A = N-P

So you are solving the simultaneous equations for P (Polynesian nights):
A*Y + P*X= B

Doing the algebra yields the following answer for Poly nights:
P = (B-N*Y)/(X-Y)
And thus for A of A nights you can plug in your answer to P:
A = N-P

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24 Troy { 02.09.13 at 11:02 am }

I think it’s funny that you didn’t get any response from Karen D after this post. I can imagine her looking shocked after she reads to the bottom, blinks, pauses, then clicks on her Facebook link and moves on… 🙂

25 Dave { 02.09.13 at 2:19 pm }

Troy: “reads to the bottom, blinks, pauses, then moves on”–isn’t that the effect I have on everyone?

More seriously, I’m betting that the comment is the first time a Disney site has published a solved simultaneous equation!

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