View Full Version : Anyone NOT on free dining Aug. through Sept? I need your support.

08-07-2006, 06:52 PM
We will be at Disney during free dining but are not using the free dining plan. We booked the Premium plan whereas meals are inclusive of the price paid for the package. Even though we have every single adr we wanted, I can't help but worry about the effects of free dining. I am most concerned about slow service and frazzled CM's. I feel like I am the only one worried about this because we are the only ones NOT on free dining. I need a hug. :scared:

08-07-2006, 07:09 PM
My mom and I aren't on the dining plan. We booked our trip in November. When the dining plan came out, I called our TA and asked her if we could get on the dining plan. She made some calls and found out that we would have to cancel the land portion of our trip (hotel and park passes) and rebook that part PLUS pay an additional cost. We have a preferred room and wanted to keep it. If we would have rebooked in order to get the dining plan, we would have had to take a standard. After looking at all the food there is to offer, we decided that it wasn't any big deal for us to have the dining plan. Neither my mom nor I eat that much. We also tend to do a lot more CS anyway. My mom is a picker eater than I am anyway. There are several places that I would have liked to try, but in thinking, it wouldn't have made any sense to book a TS where only I would have eaten and then have to find something for my mom to eat.

I read somewhere that DIS only represents a small portion of people who go to Disney at any given time. We have always gone to Disney in July. As we are headed there in 3 weeks, it'll be Value Season. I have read the crowds are low during this time. Having said all of that, I'm hoping for the low crowds as I have read, but I'm also preparing for the crowds.

Here's a :hug: for you!

08-07-2006, 07:20 PM
They had free dining last year, too, and numerous people came back and said that they had good service so I am not too worried... however...

I am going during free dining but am not so worried about service for myself but for some friends of ours - they are going on their first WDW vacation ever and booked too late to get the free dining but they chose to buy it anyways. Part of me wonders if they will be treated differently because CMs will assume that everyone on the dining plan got it free and that's not true - some bought the DDP because they missed the promotion and others are on the upgraded plan like your family. I really want our friends to have a magical trip!

I hope that what happened last year happens again and that no service is different for dining guests. Let's cross our fingers!

08-07-2006, 07:22 PM
Here's a hug. We are not on the "free" dining for Setember since we are DVC members. We did purchase the dining plan. My DH is a "sit down to eat" kind of guy...we do fast food as a last resort. Even when paying for the plan, it is still a value for us.
We visited WDW in January when there was no "free" dining and could not find a sit down place at Epcot without an ADR, however we did get right into Spoodles. The night we had LeCellier, we watched party after party turned away while we waited for our table.
So, my theory is that the good restaurants are always busy, so they know how to deal with it...plus they are prepared for the "free" dining.
Have a great time!

08-07-2006, 07:42 PM
We are not on the plan either, however, we are going with some folks that are for three days. I am in the same boat as you worry wise.

08-07-2006, 07:56 PM
We were there last August (last week) without free dining. Doesn't wash out for us - we were staying concierge (so breakfast and snacks were kinda taken care of), and we had our own tickets through a broker. We would have had to purchase another (extra!) ticket, AND give up our AAA discount (which is pretty hefty for a concierge room).

We noticed absolutely NO craziness last year, but was glad that we had our ADRs in place before we left. And even so, I was able to get Boma one night, about two hours beforehand!

We will be at WDW 8/23 - 8/31 and guess what? We aren't doing free dining this time either!

Have fun! Don't worry about a thing.

08-07-2006, 08:04 PM
We'll be there too and using the dining plan, but we are DVC members so it's not free for us either.

08-07-2006, 08:05 PM
We're staying 8/12-17 VWL, 17-20 AKL and 20-26 BCV
We only have the DP for our 3 nights at AKL - the other 11 nights we're using our DDE card. We're DVCers and 9 of our nights are on pts, 2 on mbr cash discount.
Didnt want to buy the DP as I honestly think its going to be too much food. Will try it for 3 nights in the middle of vacation however.

08-07-2006, 08:11 PM
We are also DVC members and will not be using the free dining plan. We will be using DDE though. The free dining plan doesn't really work out for us. We typically have two sit down meals a day. We do a "brunch" and a dinner so if we were on the plan we would have to change our ways, and we can't have that. :rotfl:

08-07-2006, 08:13 PM
:confused3 What are you worried about?? Very confused :confused3

If you are worried about service in the restaurants due to FD, there is nothing to worry about.
We are going in Sept, we are not on the free dining plan or any other plan. We got every ADR we wanted too (GC, Blue Zoo, Shula's, Citricos, V&A's) We just booked 2 weeks ago. Sept is very slow. We have been going every Sept for years, way before FD. Free dining has no impact on service.

08-07-2006, 08:24 PM
We're going Sept 1-4, and we're not on free dining because we're AP holders and already had a DDE card for restaurant discounts. We're not worried, because we got the ADR's we wanted with no problem. The only down side of free dining is CMs having to field a million questions from folks who have never used it before!

08-07-2006, 09:05 PM
We are also DVC members and will be there during free dining, but had to purchase ours, so it isn't free. It is still a savings for us though!!

08-07-2006, 09:15 PM
According to a server we spoke to, they don't mind the dining plan because it helps to even out their tips. They don't care if you paid for the plan or not - they get paid either way. Plus, if they are busier they get more $$ and the night tends to go a lot faster!

08-07-2006, 09:20 PM
I don't think there is any need to worry.
I think Disney is being proactive in what is obviously a busy dining time coming up. They are making some temporary changes that will help guests enjoy their meals and use their credits.
I would be concerned for those without ADRs. But Disney is even being proactive on that too.
Just enjoy! :wave2:

Simba's Mom
08-07-2006, 10:13 PM
We'll be there too and using the dining plan, but we are DVC members so it's not free for us either.
Same here! I went last year during the free dining, ate at several sit-down restuarants, and I didn't even know it was free dining. Nothing seemed noticeably more hectic at all. I had an ADR at Chefs de France, and as I was leaving, I saw another family come up without ADRs and they were told to wait about 30 minutes. I got lunch at Rose and Crown with no ADRs (although come to think of it, it was right at opening, and they said they'd just "fit me in") Generally, things seemed about the same as usual.

08-07-2006, 11:08 PM
I did the Dining Plan once and that was enough...scheduling nightmare for me and who can eat all that food?! Never have a problem. :)

08-08-2006, 12:34 AM
We'll be there too and using the dining plan, but we are DVC members so it's not free for us either.
Ditto for us (next week)

08-08-2006, 12:38 AM
DH and I had free dining last September. Le Cellier was the only restaurant that I thought the wait was a little long(50 minutes, even with ADR), and the service was slow. We were even able to be seated about an hour before our scheduled ADR at CRT. It was our arrival day and I had been up since 4:00 am and there was no way I would make it to our 7:30 pm ADR.
Enjoy your trip!

08-08-2006, 01:43 AM
I am staying at the Swan and we have annual passes and DDE, so we are not doing free dining either. I am also a little worried, but I am trying to be optimistic. I have all my ADR's so I'm hoping for the best. You're not alone! :goodvibes

08-08-2006, 05:06 AM
We are staying August 10 - 24 and are not on free dining. We thought DDE would benefit us more. We stayed the exact same dates last year during free dining and noticed no difference.

08-08-2006, 07:28 AM
We were at WDW in late August 2004 and again in late August 2005. We will be there again same time this year. There was no free dining promotion in 2004, and in 2005 we had a great rate at the Dolphin, so did not participate in the free dining promotion.

To us, the difference between dining in Aug. 04 and dining in Aug. 05 was stunning. In 04, we found the WS restaurants in Epcot to be relatively quiet and delightful. CM's had time to chat, tell the kids about their native country, teach them a couple of foreign phrases, etc. At Chefs de France, we walked in at 8:30 p.m. and the place was empty. At 9:00 p.m., the waitress set our boys up at their own table at the window so they could see the fireworks.

I compare that to 05. At Chefs de France, we must have waited 40 minutes or more to get in at 8:30 p.m., with an ADR. Without an ADR, we would not have gotten in at all. The maitre d' looked like he was so stressed out he wasn't sure where to turn next. The waiter was great but he didn't have a second to spare. The restaurant was absolutely jam-packed.

Same with Alfredo. The year before Cinza had been delightful with the boys. In 2005, waiters had no time to chat. Our order was messed up and one entree came out 15 minutes before the others. We were there late. At 9 p.m. Illuminations began and no one even looked up from their plates!

So, what are we doing this year? We decided to get the free dining plan. If you can't beat 'em, join 'em, I guess. We've made our ADRs -- as well as our peace with the situation. We know it will be incredibly hot and we know that dining in the Theme Park restaurants will be insane. That's August, these days.

On the plus side --- everybody is clamoring to get into the restaurants to stuff themselves on free dining, so the ride lines are relatively short.

And, I'm glad we're doing free dining this year. Given the changes to DDP for 07, we probably will take an AP or other room discount and pass on free dining it it's offered again. So, at least we'll have tried it once.

08-08-2006, 07:30 AM
We're heading down in September and no dining plan here, either (off site timeshare owners).

No worries, ya hear? We were down last September, too, and like another poster, the only place we went where the service was iffy was LeCellier. We took that as a reason to try Jiko later in the week, which had very light crowds, and we've now found our new fav!!! See what poor service somewhere will do? You'll go find somewhere better...and that's good :)

I also don't think hordes and hordes of Disney goers know about the free DDP. I can tell you I'm the only one in my circle of friends and colleagues, as well as my own family, as well as my hubby's family who knew WDW was offering free DDP. I know two other families who are going mid September who didn't know about it. We're all Floridians, too, and within an hour or two of Orlando.

You're at Disney!!! You're going to have a blast whether you're eating steak at V&A or eating a Mickey ice cream bar or churro on a curb watching kids get their pictures with Pooh.

08-08-2006, 08:39 AM
We went during free dining last year and had NO problems with level of service. In fact, we left an extra tip at all but one restaurant since we had very, very good service there.

I was surprised when I got back and read that people were complaining about poor service because I didn't see it. I guess I'll see how things go this year, but I'm not worried about it.

08-08-2006, 12:36 PM
We went last year w/ the free dining plan and are also this year. What I noticed most from 2004-2005 was that the restraunts were more packed.. I did not notice any differenece at the levels of service though. Just make sure you have your reservations in place. Interesting thing happened last nite that we got a call from Disney last nite reminding us to make our reservations for dinner for our free dining as it will be busy.

08-08-2006, 03:17 PM
Same boat. We are going next week- even worse in comparison to Sept. It'll prob be hot and crowded and horrible in terms of crowds. However, we're expecting the worst and it can't be as bad as Christmas-New Year's week or Labor Day vacation. Or maybe it will be- we'll find out.

We're also DVC members staying at AKL Concierge on points. Thank goodness it's concierge, therefore there's breakfast foods available and lunch if we're not able to find somewhere we like in the parks. We're also not planning to go to the park every single day. We scheduled two days to just simply enjoy the resort, unwind, swim, etc. Eh- it's Disney, can't be that bad. Luckily I made reservations as early as allowed and got all the restaurants I wanted at decent times.

I'm wondering if the service for pay out of pocket will be worse than the free dining plan. I thought that the service should actually be better because the tip is not included and the more they can entice you to eat, the better for the waiter/resses. It's all so confusing. After reading this post, I'm worried about the delays that will move dining back even later. I don't want to miss Illuminations!


08-08-2006, 05:34 PM
My best friend is a waitress at Artist Point at the Wilderness Lodge. She said that the CM's don't even think about who is or is not on the plan. They are supposed to treat everyone with the same courtesy. She laughed a little and said she was offended ;) that anyone would think a CM would be rude based on if they were on the Dining plan for free or if they paid for it. As far as her restaurant goes, they are concerned with everyone having a good time and making sure everyone gets the excellent service AP is known for known for!

A lot of the people who are on free dining are making up for it in merchandise purchases. I mean they aren't paying for food so they can afford to splurge other places. Disney is GENIUS that way huh? :wizard:

I wouldn't worry about bad service. It's not something Disney is known for...the CM's are so busy, regardless of Free DP or not, that they don't have time to pick and choose who they will be rude to! I'm sure your friends will have a GREAT time!!! :thumbsup2

08-08-2006, 05:35 PM
Thanks for your support, guys. I'm so glad we're not alone. Enjoy your trips!

08-08-2006, 06:39 PM
I find it really sad that so many people think that 'free dining' means a decline in standards. I have never done free dining and probably never will. (Too good a deal with DDE!!) But when I visit during free dining I find no difference to the quality of service at all. I think some people need to lighten up and concentrate on their holiday, and not on what MIGHT happen.

08-08-2006, 06:52 PM
We will be at Disney during free dining but are not using the free dining plan. We booked the Premium plan whereas meals are inclusive of the price paid for the package. Even though we have every single adr we wanted, I can't help but worry about the effects of free dining. I am most concerned about slow service and frazzled CM's. I feel like I am the only one worried about this because we are the only ones NOT on free dining. I need a hug. :scared:

Umm...I don't quite get the question. Why would those of us on the dining plan, regardless of it being "free" be any less concerned about "slow service and frazzled CM's". :confused3 :confused3 :confused3 :confused3