How Does Disney World Free Dining Compare To The Disney Armed Forces Salute?

Is the Disney Free Dining Plan right for military members?Since Walt Disney World announced a free dining offer last week for dates from 2 through 25 September 2013, I’ve had quite a few questions as whether this is a good deal compared to Disney’s Armed Forces Salute.

And The Answer Is…

It Depends.

Sorry, but there is no cut and dried easy answer, every case is different. There are lots of variables such as, the number in your party (adults and kids 3-9), the length of your vacation, resort level desired (value, moderate, deluxe), and your eating habits on vacation.

Free Dining Specifics

In order to get the free dining added to your room reservation, you need to be paying the full non-discounted rate for your Disney resort room. You cannot combine free dining with the Disney Armed Forces Salute room discounts. And you must purchase (with your room) at least a 2-Day Magic Your Way Base Ticket for everyone in your room, at the full general public rate.

I Called In The Expert

I touched base with Amy from Ears of Experience on this one. Ears of Experience is my recommended Disney travel agent. Amy Said:

“General speaking larger parties and or those staying for longer periods of time will save with the free dining deal. Those there for shorter trips are better off with the Disney Armed Forces Salute.”

An Example

 A 4-day 5-night vacation Sunday through Thursday night at Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort, for 2 adults and 2 kids.


Free Dining Plan

  • Room at the full rate $952.00
  • 4-day Park Hoppers $1297.18 (public price)
  • Free regular dining plan
    • Which gives you credits for one table-service meal, one quick-service meal, and one snack per night of your hotel stay plus a refillable mug for non-alcoholic drinks at your resort. You’ll have to pay for any other food items.
    • Total Cost $2249.18 for Room, Tickets, and Dining


Disney Armed Forces Salute

  • Room at the 30% off AFS rate $666.40
  • 4-day Armed Forces Salute Park Hoppers $624.00
  • Total Cost $1290.40 for Room, & Tickets
  • This leaves a $958.78 difference from the free dining plan.
    • Based on your families eating habits you should be able to eat for less than this.

Military Free Dining at WDW

Many Variables

As I mentioned there can be so many variables. Adding more people to your party drives up the cost of eating a la carte and makes the free dining more attractive. Longer stays can bring in many different mixes of military discounted tickets to combine with the 2-day minimum Magic Your Way ticket.

Will Free Dining work for you?

Possibly, you can run all the numbers for your situation yourself. Or have a professional do it at no extra cost you. Amy told me she save one family around $900 on their vacation last Friday. There is no guarantee you’ll save that much, but it is worth a try!

Ears of Experience is a Fee Free Disney only Travel Agency. They are a military family owned and operated business and thousands of Military Disney Tips readers have used them over the years.

Click this link to fill out their contact form, or call Amy directly and say that you heard about her here, 1-877-80MOUSE.

Ears of Experience - A Fee Free Disney Travel Agent

 Here are links to other topics discussed in this post:

Disney’s Armed Forces Salute

Regular Military Discounted Magic Your Way tickets

Stars and Stripes Passes

Ears of Experience


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Steve Recommends
Here are my recommendations for products and services I've reviewed that can improve your Disney planning. This is a short list since it only includes my top picks.

Military Disney Tips Gear

The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World - Best WDW Planning book in my opinion

Hidden Mickeys - Kids of all ages will love finding Hidden Mickeys at WDW

Ears of Experience - My recommended Travel Agent, Fee Free, Disney Only, Military Family Owned The premier website for first time visitors to Walt Disney World!

Simple Stroller Rentals - Beats WDW's prices, plus they offer a 10% Military Discount - The website of the Unofficial Guides - Crowd Forecasts, Pre-made Touring Plans, plus lots of other detailed info

My Disney Experience - The Official Disney iPhone App

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