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What’s better than free food? Nothing, nothing compares! Free food at Walt Disney World is even better – who hasn’t gone to Ghirardelli Chocolate Shop in Disney Springs to get a free square? Nate has been known to be a repeat visitor. Shh, let’s keep this secret been us. Anyways, on January 2, 2019 Disney free dining was announced for the summer of 2019 (July 5 through September 30th). For more details, the official announcement can be found here. Disney free dining is not new, but could we be seeing the end of it? Let’s grab our favorite snack, Dole Whip of course, and discuss the future of free dining.

Chocolate Shop - Disney Free Dining
Ghiradelli Chocolate Shop at Disney Springs

How Did It Begin?

In 2005 Walt Disney World surprised the masses when they announced the Disney free dining offer for guests staying on Disney Property. Looking back at 2005, it was a very different time at Walt Disney World. Attendance was still down from the events of 2001 and there were minimal updates at the parks. Disney was looking for a promotion to increase attendance during the especially “quiet” times of year. They announced guests would receive the Disney Dining Plan for free if they booked a vacation that met the “requirements”.

Disney free dining was a huge success and continues to be. Disneyphiles and newbies alike waited patiently every year for Disney to announce the dates for the free dining plan. The tradition has continued over the last 14 years. As predictable as Groot saying “I am Groot”, we’ve come to expect Disney free dining to be offered in the fall and early December. Until this year, where for the first time we’re seeing Disney free dining offered during the summer months and end in early fall. How unusual.

Skyliner Progress - Disney Free Dining
Disney Skyliner Construction Progress

Why the Change?

Starting in the fall we’ll be seeing a lot of new attractions opening at Walt Disney World. As Aladdin would say, “It’s a whole new world”! Looking at the projected opening dates we could see the Disney Skyliner opening as early as September 2019, then Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway in the October/November timeframe, and then Star Wars Galaxy Edge in November/December. Disney World should see huge bumps in attendance for the last third of the year.

Additionally, over the summer, Disney will be opening Star Wars Galaxy Edge at Disneyland California. Both Star Wars Galaxy Edge in California and Florida will have the same attractions, shops, and restaurants, just different layouts. The projected opening date is the end of June beginning of July. We can assume that Walt Disney World regulars may be shifting plans to head to the left coast for the Disneyland opening or delaying their annual trip to Walt Disney to later in the year.

With Disney free dining being offered over the summer, we should assume that Disney World is expecting lower attendance than normal.

Disney Dining Plan - Disney Free Dining

Last Opportunity for Disney Free Dining?

The DVC Duo is projecting Disney free dining will end this year for at least the near future. With all the new attractions opening in the second half of 2019, and more new attractions on the horizon, attendance will be high throughout the year. With the high attendance levels Walt Disney World wouldn’t need any type of promotion to attract guests during certain times of the year.

Let’s enjoy our free food while we can! You know where you can find, Nate. You better hurry if you want a Ghirardelli chocolate square!