Why is there “Summer Free Dining” at Disney World?

Why is there a “Summer Free Dining”?

For dates from the end of May through mid-August (not including the 4th of July and surrounding days), Disney is offering a special “free dining” promotion that features one free quick service meal per person per night when you buy a “non-discounted 4-night / 5-day room and theme park ticket package at a Disney Value Resort.”

First, I don’t see this as impacting “traditional” free dining (the one where you actually get some variety of the Disney Dining Plan when you book a non-discounted stay at various resorts) at all. Here are the start dates for free dining in previous years:

  • 2012 – September 30
  • 2013 – September 29
  • 2014 – August 31
  • 2015 – August 28

As you can see, for the past 4 years, Disney has started its actual “Free Dining” promotion multiple weeks after this new “Summer” promotion is scheduled to end. I would imagine that if Disney does a free dining promotion this year, it will, as it has in the last several years, start in late August, after the traditional summer crowd (and this summer dining offer) has ended. I don’t think this summer free dining offer gives any real insight into Disney’s future “Free Dining” plans.

Secondly, I think this promotion is targeted at a very specific group of people, namely: Budget conscious travelers trying to decide between staying onsite or offsite for their summer visit. What leads me down this path is the offer’s limited applicability to only Value resorts. This suggests Disney World has a very specific market in mind.

In order to better evaluate this promotion, let’s look at a 4 night–5 day stay during the Summer Offer period for a family of 4 with two 5-year old children (specifically, staying Wednesday, June 15 through Sunday, June 19th). The non-discounted rate for a standard room during that time at Pop Century is $155 per night before tax (NOTE: Art of Animation Little Mermaid standard rooms are not an option for this Summer Offer). Comparatively, the same family could stay in the brand new SpringHill Suites at Flamingo Crossing for $99 per night before tax. Even if they rent a car for $20 a day plus pay parking for $20 a day (neither of which is absolutely necessary, depending on how they travel to Disney World and what their plans are while there) they have a comparable per night cost at the SpingHill Suites (and that’s before factoring in things like free in-hotel breakfast, money you could save by buying bottles of water at an off-site location, grabbing a lunch at Chick-Fil-A on your way back to the pool instead of at Casey’s Corner, etc…). They could also save over $180 on the price of 4 day Park Hopper tickets by buying from a reputable third party.

Even if it turns out that there is only $200 in monetary savings by staying offsite, that is $200 of real money the family is saving. When you’re talking about a total trip budget of around $2,000, that’s a pretty important amount of savings. I believe Disney’s “Summer Free Dining” is an attempt to eliminate some of that price difference between onsite and offsite stays for guests in an effort to appeal to extremely budget-conscious travelers. It’s Disney’s way of saying something like “if you stay with us, we’ll pick up your lunch bill.”

I understand all the arguments about why staying onsite is the only way to vacation at Disney World. I enjoy the “Disney Bubble” and I love being able to just walk out of my room and take a BOATRIDE, BAYBAY!! over to the Magic Kingdom. I like getting the extra 30 days to make my Fastpass+ selections and taking advantage of some night-time extra magic hours. 

But, if my budget for a Disney World trip for my family were $2,000, then those things might not be as important, and saving $100 here or $100 there could mean a lot. I think this Summer Offer is Disney’s attempt to close that off-site v on-site price gap in the budget-conscious market. I’m interested to see how it works.

Who doesn't love a boatride?
Who doesn’t love a boatride?

News Nuggets from Around Disney World

With the storm taking place last week, it was a good chance for us to put together a pretty significant helping of News Nuggets. The theme for this edition: “changes”. We have closings at The Studios (shocking, I know), as well as other various changes and new entertainment offerings. Let’s get to it!

I’ll finish up this post by urging you to check out a new feature that Josh at easyWDW has been doing: daily wait times analysis. It’s a nice “only at easyWDW” feature that it is worth checking out if you’re into that kind of in-depth analysis of crows at Disney World.

With all these closings, I need a drink.
With all these closings, I need a drink.

Putting some “Spring” in our Step as We Recover from the Storm

I normally don’t post these “behind the scenes”, “how they made this” kinds of videos, but–after the storm this past weekend–seeing this little bit of the Disney Springs construction made me happy:

Though this video doesn’t really tough on it, I have been extremely pleased with how Disney Springs has been developing. I think it’s going to end up being a “must go” destination when it’s completed.

News Nuggets from Around Disney World

Though we still haven’t recovered from Monday night, we can’t keep our loyal Rope Drop [dot] Net Readers waiting any longer. It’s time for a new edition of the News Nuggets!

Let’s jump right in:

That’s all for this latest edition of the News Nuggets. I’ll leave you with a couple of links to WDW Magic videos of New Year’s fireworks from Hollywood Studios and the Magic Kingdom

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Last One to Leave, Turn Off the (Osborne) Lights

The End of the Osborne Lights

On Wednesday night, the Osborne Lights faded to black for the last time. Thankfully, a lot of our favorite Disney blogs were there to cover the event (and give people like me–who couldn’t be there in person–a chance to see what the Lights were like in their final moments):

Mouse Steps had an excellent photo post, including a video of the show’s final moments:



WDW Magic had a photo post and an epic 10 angle video of “Christmas Eve/Sarajevo 12/24” and the last moments of the show before it went dark:



WDW News Today had a nice written recap and video of the final moments:



TouringPlans had a recap of the last night and a video of their own:



And with that, we say goodbye to the Osborne Lights. As I’ve said before, I’m sad they’re going away, and I hope they come back (in some form) some day.

Someone finally recorded a Star Wars – The Force Awakens Podcast

I’m surprised no one thought of this sooner, but Elyssa and I recently joined the guys from Mighty Men of Mouse and Wes James to record a podcast about a recent movie that might have slipped under your radar: Star Wars – The Force Awakens.

The full episode starts with a recap of the Walt Disney World “Cruise Cup” challenge, featuring friends of the site Josh Gonzalez and Eric Laycock, but gets to the Star Wars Discussion right about the 39 minute 55 second mark. (You should definitely listen to the whole episode, not skip right to the part about Star Wars featuring Elyssa and me).

All kidding aside, thank you to Mighty Men of Mouse for having us on. It was a blast! (And I bet other podcasts are now going to do shows about this movie.)

Trying to Keep Elyssa from Reacting to  some of the Opinions
Trying to Keep Elyssa from Reacting to some of the Opinions

New Balance has announced its 2016 RunDisney Collection

New Balance has posted a page outlining its 2016 runDisney collection. The collection features:

  • Dumbo Vazee Pace;
  • Ariel Vazee Pace; and
  • The “Red Carpet” Minnie and Mickey 860v6s.

You can see the Dumbo and Ariel shoes on the New Balance page, and you can see a sneak peak of the Minnie & Mickey shoes right here:

If you want to get a pair of these new shoes at a runDisney event, you should sign up at the NB Virtual Queue as soon as possible for the day you’re attending your event expo. For Marathon Weekend, the NB Virtual sign-up queue timing is listed as:

To begin, runners can sign up at www.NBVirtualQueue.com using your bib number starting Wednesday, January 6th, at 6:00 AM EST, and all other guests can sign up Thursday, January 7th, Friday, January 8th and Saturday, January 9th, starting at 6:00 AM EST each day. 

Good luck! (And make sure you ask if they accept any discounts! I know they’ve given us an Annual Pass discount in the past.)

Disney gives People a Few More Days to See the Osborne Lights

In a move that I don’t find particularly suprising, Disney has extended the display of the Osborne Lights through Wednesday, January 6th, including running the Lights until 10:00pm on Monday through Wednesday. (Frankly, I am surprised it’s only 2 more days. I was thinking they might extend the lights through Martin Luther Kin, Jr. Day or later.)

As you would expect with a piece of news like this, everyone has reported it: TouringPlans, WDW News Today, and easyWDW.