About The Rumors That There Will Not Be A Free Dining Promotion This Year
UPDATE: Disney did release a free dining promotion for August 14 – December 21, 2010. For full details, please see: http://www.buildabettermousetrip.com/freedining.php
If you spend much time on any of the Disney forums, you’re going to read rumors that Disney is not going to release a Free Dining Promotion for 2010. I don’t think these rumors are based on any factual information, Instead, I suspect that they’re based on the fact that Disney did not release any fall promotions as early as they did in years past. Disney has typically announced Free Dining in April but they were really early last year, releasing the promotion in late March. So everyone started looking for a promotion in late March this year and it hasn’t happened so far. This is causing a lot of wild speculation now that we’ve reached mid-April with no Free Dining Promotion.
Here’s the thing – no one expected to see two more summer promotions released right now (a room discount and the “Kids Stay Free” promotion). Some are theorizing that the June 18th opening of “The Wizarding World of Harry Potter” over at Universal Orlando’s Islands of Adventure theme park might mean less bookings for Disney – thus, all the last-minute summer promotions at Disney. I’m actually a bit skeptical about that – in the end, anything that draws people to Orlando ultimately benefits Disney. Since Universal’s press release about the Harry Potter opening was in late March, I suspect that Disney may just be pulling out a couple more summer promotions to keep Disney in the public’s mind in the midst of all the Universal advertising. (“Hey, let’s go see that new Harry Potter thing and then go spend a couple of days at Disney World”) The “Kid’s Stay & Play Free” promotion seems strategic in that regard – if they get people to stay at a Disney hotel and give the kids Disney theme park tickets, most of the vacation dollars will be spent at Disney even if people go over to Universal for a day or two.
As to the rumors that we won’t see late summer / early fall promotions:
It seems completely illogical to me is that Disney would offer four promotions for summer – which is one of their peak occupancy times – and then offer nothing for September, which is one of their lowest occupancy times. I just don’t believe that will happen. We may see the late summer / early fall discounts come a little later as Disney works to get their summer bookings (the “Kids Stay Free” promotion must be booked by May 8th) but there will be fall promotions of some kind. It is possible that Disney will not offer free dining but that seems like it would create bad feelings in light of the fact that free dining has been offered to U.K. residents. Given the Harry Potter opening, it seems more likely to me that we’ll see a greater ticket requirement associated with any Free Dining promotions this year. In years past, you just to stay a certain number of nights and buy at least 1 day tickets. Requiring 3 – 5 day tickets with the promotion (something we saw with the earlier summer promotions this year) would “encourage” people to spend their time at the Disney parks, spending their vacation dollars on Disney property rather than at Universal. I do think it is possible that we’ll see the Quick Service plan offered to value resort guests, with the option to upgrade to the standard plan by paying the difference in cost.
Just like all the rumors you’ve read, this is strictly guess work on my part. I have absolutely no advance knowledge of Disney’s intentions and I could be completely wrong. But I’ve looked at the historical information about summer promotions for 2006 – 2009 and not a single one of those years had as many summer promotions as we’re seeing for 2010. I feel very strongly that we’ll see fall promotions even though it is later than usual to see those released.
I still recommend that you book your dining reservations now, before any promotions are released, to get best chance at your first choices in restaurants and dining times. We can help with all your vacation planning, including free touring plans when you book your vacation through Build A Better Mouse Trip.
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