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View Full Version : How crowded is free dining?


mrsklamc
01-28-2010, 08:42 AM
Is free dining (if they offer it this fall) a horribly crowded time to go? Or just in the restaurants? We prefer to go in January but friends that want to go with us can only go in October. We love walking on rides with almost no wait time, and are not sure we would enjoy an October trip.

ncmickeyluvr
01-28-2010, 08:46 AM
The free dining time is busier than it used to be...but still not very busy. That's exactly why Disney continues to make these offers. The restaurants are definitely busier than normal. Lots of people at ts restaurants that might normally be more frugal with those dollars. ADRs are a must during free dining times. The parks, however, are very managable. I'm kicking myself for not booking bounceback again :headache:

tzolkin
01-28-2010, 08:54 AM
My parents and sisters went in Sept for free dining. Basically their experience was crowded restaurants and value resorts, but very short lines for attractions in the parks.


They stayed at Pop and thought the resort was packed and the busses were always full, but the longest attraction line they saw was 30 mins-- for Soarin. We've stayed at Pop twice around Memorial Day and the busses were not bad, but we saw two hour wait times at many attractions. When we go FP and getting to a park at rope drop is essential-- my parents did not feel that way about late Sept.

They did say they waited quite a while at most of the restaurants. Some meals took 2.5 hours. They had the deluxe dining and did two TS meals per day. The meals took quite a bit of time, but they used them as their breaks to sit down and get out of the heat instead of returning to the resort mid-day.

DonnaBelle2005
01-28-2010, 09:04 AM
We stayed last year at ASMu during free dining and did not find wait time bad at all in either resort food lines, or counter service. With our ADRs already made we never had to wait more than 15 min - some less than that.

VERY WORTH IT!!!! We are planning on going back this august at ASMu again (love that place).

As far as how crowded were the parks - NOT crowded at all. We were able to walk right on many many rides during the day and saw some wait time (0-20 min) in the evening at MK.

Good Luck!

Mrs. Charming
01-28-2010, 11:05 AM
My parents and sisters went in Sept for free dining. Basically their experience was crowded restaurants and value resorts, but very short lines for attractions in the parks.


They stayed at Pop and thought the resort was packed and the busses were always full, but the longest attraction line they saw was 30 mins-- for Soarin. We've stayed at Pop twice around Memorial Day and the busses were not bad, but we saw two hour wait times at many attractions. When we go FP and getting to a park at rope drop is essential-- my parents did not feel that way about late Sept.

They did say they waited quite a while at most of the restaurants. Some meals took 2.5 hours. They had the deluxe dining and did two TS meals per day. The meals took quite a bit of time, but they used them as their breaks to sit down and get out of the heat instead of returning to the resort mid-day.

This is pretty much our experience with it, too. More crowded restaurants, less crowded parks. We've done it a few times in September, and once in October. It was a steal, especially staying at Pop. We even paid the difference between the Qiuck Service Dining and the Regular Dining plans, and it was still well worth it. Would I do it again? You betcha! I just have to see Christmas this one time, and then we're back to Septembers :goodvibes

ohanaMAMA
01-28-2010, 11:08 AM
YAAY! :cool1: We are waiting around to hear from Disney of course about free dining.. but will probably go with or without it.. (shhhh dont tell Mickey that!:rolleyes1 we want free food!) So, I am really happy to hear that. Id love to be able to walk on for once (we have traditionally gone at springbreak )

DisneyMomma81
01-28-2010, 11:15 AM
Our Free Dining trip last year was 10/1 ~ 10/10 - other than it being miserably hot and humid we had a great time, I didn't find the lines bad at all, restaurants were fine as long as you had an ADR.

lisaross
01-28-2010, 11:20 AM
it probably depends on when during free dining u go..I've gone the end of August in 06 and 09! I did make advance reservations But the CS were not very busy - and the parks were not bad at all....again i went late August into Labor day weekend, and i think many schools have already started!

Is free dining (if they offer it this fall) a horribly crowded time to go? Or just in the restaurants? We prefer to go in January but friends that want to go with us can only go in October. We love walking on rides with almost no wait time, and are not sure we would enjoy an October trip.

mrsklamc
01-28-2010, 11:57 AM
Heat is also a concern for me. We'll see. These particular friends always mention wanting to go with us and I don't know if this year is a reality for them or not. Their DDs will have a week off school in October, but we just really LOVE January.

Emcg
01-28-2010, 12:08 PM
We are going back to WDW Sept. 11th and hoping for free dining. You definitely need ADR's for the table service meals or Character Breakfast etc. The waits were never more than 15 minutes. If you didn't have an ADR the wait was well over an hour if they took you at all. Most of the popular restaurants are completely booked.

I saw before where they offered the Quick Service dining for free and you can upgrade to regular dining (1 snack, 1 counter service and 1 table service) for a fee if you want to. I would be happy with the quick service for free and pay for a Character breakfast. You can still get an ADR by calling and using your credit card.

Having to be at a certain place by a certain time every night for dinner gets to be a pain. You have to make plans around where you are having dinner that night and it doesn't always work out the way you hope it will. Kids get tired, don't feel good, need a nap, etc. You find yourself rushing to get somewhere and everybody gets cranky. We've done it the last 4 years and Quick service dining sounds like a good deal.

The park crowds aren't bad at all. The popular ride always have lines but not too long. It's best to do popular rides when the park first opens, or get a fast pass.

September can't come fast enough. Hoping for some kind of free dining! :dance3:

mrsklamc
01-28-2010, 12:11 PM
I don't think we did a single TS the last time we went. I know it's heresy to some, but we don't go for the food. :)

princessmorgan
01-28-2010, 12:25 PM
The parks aren't crowded during Free Dining and it's a fun time to go. We went in September a few years ago and it was so hot. Last year we went the 3rd week in October and it was divine! The crowds were not bad, the weather was amazing! Not one drop of rain and we could wear shorts and t-shirts without dripping in sweat. Also with the Food and Wine Festival and MNSSHP, it was my favorite trip so far. We've been in April and May, too. We haven't been brave enough to try January though. The weather factor is too risky for me :goodvibes

ilovejack02
01-28-2010, 01:15 PM
We did the last 10 days in Oct last year and it was amazing! Great weather and lines to rides were practically no wait.

Angel16
01-28-2010, 04:24 PM
Anyone know what the cost difference was last year to upgrade from free dining CS quick dinning to regular service 1 counter, 1 table and 1 snack during free dining??

Disney-Kim
01-28-2010, 04:42 PM
We went in Sept this year for the first time since free dining started. We did not do free dining.

I will say the restaurants were packed and it was impossible to change or get any new ADR's at all. walk up waits were always very long. We found out the hard way by trying to make changes and ended up eating at the food court.
We waited 2 hrs to eat at Ohana....ugh long story there.

also...I want to throw out that I would never never ever ever go during the Food/Wine Festival again. Epcot was a nightmare at night and it was awful trying to get to our dinner ressies.

the parks were fine...it was eating that was the hassle.:scared:

tinkmom2
01-28-2010, 05:10 PM
We went November 16-19th and has the free dining plus TS each day. The parks were empty. We went to the MVMCP and I even found the crowds to be small then. We usually go during March and are used to the bigger crowds I guess. The temps were in the 70-80 range which was awesome because we come from snow and cold.

I booked my vacation before free dining was offered and was able to switch to the free dining and add a TS meal. It was such a great value we are going again in October of 2011.:love:

gr8leg8
01-28-2010, 07:23 PM
Anyone know what the cost difference was last year to upgrade from free dining CS quick dinning to regular service 1 counter, 1 table and 1 snack during free dining??

I believe it was $10 per adult & $2 per kid

Quick Service per person per night
Adult $29.99 and Kid $8.99

Regular Dining
Adult $39.99 and Kid $10.99

Quick Service plan was the clincher for our trip.
DH didn't want any ADR's.
It worked out great for us.

eandt
01-28-2010, 07:40 PM
We went as we always do in the fall and this past year it included free dining. We noticed a bit of an increase in crowds but it wasn't horrible. We got every restaurant we wanted but some of the times were a little earlier or later than we would have liked. Next time we go on the dining plan I think we will mix in a few breakfast/lunches as our sit down meal so that we are more flexible during the afternoon and evenings. Most of the restuarants we like are in Epcot so we found ourselves ending our days there just about every day.

Angel16
01-28-2010, 07:59 PM
I believe it was $10 per adult & $2 per kid

Quick Service per person per night
Adult $29.99 and Kid $8.99

Regular Dining
Adult $39.99 and Kid $10.99

Quick Service plan was the clincher for our trip.
DH didn't want any ADR's.
It worked out great for us.


Thank you very much for the information. I will take to DH and see which he prefers. We usually like one sit-down meal a day while there.


To OP - we have gone during free dining before. It has been a few years ago, but I agree with what everyone has posted. It was not that crowded in the parks. But, you certainly want to have ADR's for any table service meals. We even had trouble getting the times we wanted for some. However, I would certainly do it again, and again, and again. :)



Angel16

gabriellyn
01-28-2010, 09:32 PM
How crowded is it in mid-August? We already booked free dining for that time period.