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Old 08-28-2009, 12:15 PM   #1
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Canceling a trip because of Free Dining?

So, anyone out there considering canceling their upcoming trip because of the free dining offer? I am seriously thinking about it. It sounds crazy, but there are so many stories of the craziness associated with it I'm becoming afraid I made my reservations back in January for Nov. 29-Dec 5, the same week we have always gone every other year since 1995. I have noticed an increase every year since about 1999 crowdwise, but it's still been ok. But now, free dining!! I have never experienced free dining, & not sure I want to. If my one & only vacation I get per year will be miserable, why go? I LOVE disney, & hate to think of canceling, but I don't want my family hating the place if it will be unbearable. HELP! What would you do?
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Old 08-28-2009, 12:18 PM   #2
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No way! Don't cancel! Free Dining times aren't *THAT* bad!!
Taking 2011 off. I'm sure I'm going to start shaking from WDW withdrawal any minute now!
Ok. Maybe not. Thinking about September 2011. How about sending us a code, Disney?
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Old 08-28-2009, 12:23 PM   #3
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do not cancel. The craziness associated with free dining? Think the drama of free dining is very exaggerated, actually. The first week of free dining may be extremely crowded (meaning the first week of it in the traditional free promotion...August 16-23 this year) But it's busiest because so many schools on the east coast still have not started back to school yet, so lots of families cashing in on a cheaper end of the summer trip. Once you get past the Labor Day weekend, the crowds get very reasonable. I would guess the same is true with your week...families will be there for Thanksgiving, but kids go back to school once the holiday break is over. Your time frame should be o.k. Just make sure you have ADRs and it should be fine. If it's like September after Labor Day, you'll find that the restaurants are busy, but the park crowds are great.
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Old 08-28-2009, 12:32 PM   #4
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I agree with both of the above. The week or two of free dining before most schools start is crazy, but other than that I think the only difference is that you need ADRs more than if the promo wasn't running. We've been for the end of free dining (05) and the beginning (07, when the promo started a week later than this year), and neither was especially crowded or crazy. And with 4.5 months of free dining instead of the usual 6 weeks, I imagine the crowds will be a little more spread out than in a typical year.
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Old 08-28-2009, 12:34 PM   #5
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I would not cancel. I just came back from FDP Aug 16 - 25. Was fine for me. Had all my ressies made in advance, got in to all my restaurants with a minimal wait. I haven't read the horror stories...but I don't have any.
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Old 08-28-2009, 12:40 PM   #6
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I'm betting that for every horror story you read there are thousands of happy stories that no one ever posts because there isn't anything 'interesting' or 'different' about them. Just like reading the paper or watching the news on TV; you only see the bad stuff but that sure isn't all that's going on in the world.
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Old 08-28-2009, 12:41 PM   #7
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Free dining contributes greatly to restaurant crowds, but not so much in the parks. Peak times are going to be crowded anyway.
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Old 08-28-2009, 12:42 PM   #8
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Don't cancel because of free dining. We went the last two years during the peak free dining (August-September)...yes the restaurants are full, but we never waited more than 15 minutes to be seated. (Well, we waited 45 minutes at Coral Reef, but were trying to get a front row table...eventually gave up.) Don't stress, it's Disney.


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Old 08-28-2009, 12:45 PM   #9
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Our group did almost the exact same thing - booked in January for 11/24-12/4 - hoping that the second week would have smaller crowds. Now that free dining is available, we took advantage on our ressies (since we had originally added the DDP at full price). We had also received a 40% off pin earlier, but it wasn't a savings to split the reservations & then add on tickets since we wanted DDP.
My hope is that there is a reason for offering all the discounts during that week, i.e. Disney projecting smaller crowds than usual, and it won't be any more crowded than in the past (hoping that the touring plans crowd levels will still be accurate since we've never been at this time of year).
We have no plans for cancelling, but are definitely planning a little heavier to make sure we avoid the lines as much as possible. We also booked our ADRs at 7am at our 90 day mark and were able to get everything we wanted for a group of 10, we did have to move Chef Mickey's to a later date than originally planned, but just getting the ADRs is a good sign in my opinion.
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Old 08-28-2009, 05:59 PM   #10
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We've gone a couple times during free dining. Twice we took advantage, once we didn't. I do think the crowds are heavier than they were, not because of free dining but because America is now cheap. It's much easier for people from other countries to visit here & it is too expensive for us to travel abroad. So we all show up at Disney.

I was at Disney last year this week and the only time I remember truly being irritated by the crowds was at Spectro/Wishes. It's just so crazy then. But that is because of the Christmas party, not free dining. The dining didn't seem so bad. And we also went in Sept of last year and had free dining (we upgraded to Deluxe.) We didn't decide on that trip until much later so some TS's were already booked up. Even still we ate at: San Angel (seated immediately, excellent service & food), Jiko (AMAZING), Flying Fish (AMAZING), Artist's Point (AMAZING), Boma (seated 5-10 minutes, good service, good food.)

In 2007 we went and there were VERY few crowds. We did have time to make ressies, though still not the day they opened. We did Le Cellier, San Angel, O'hana's, Whispering Canyon, Chef Mickey's, Crystal Palace, Nine Dragons, Tony's. I don't remember really having to wait for any of them. And I also remember several times feeling like I had Disney World all to myself.

Sometimes I feel like the expectations on the Dis as far as crowds go are a bit off. I mean, go to Niagra Falls, the Smithsonian, Time Square, etc. Tourist areas have tourists. Always. I have been to Niagra Falls during an ice storm. It wasn't so bad then. Of course it was so cold we could only stand to look at it for about a minute.

I'm just saying Disney World is a tourist trap. And tourist traps have tourists. Even during off season & shoulder season.

As for dining, if you go to Outback steakhouse at 6:00 p.m. on a Saturday you are going to have to wait for an hour +. At Disney World, if you are flexible, you can call in the morning day of (yes, even during free dining) and say, "What do you have for tonight?" And they will give you several options. No, it will not be Le Cellier at 6:00 p.m. But it will still be someplace nice at 5:00 or 7:00.

I'm sure this is the case in Vegas too. We tried to get tickets to a show day of when we were in Vegas and had limited choices of $200.00 per ticket box seats at the real shows or stupid little shows. And for dinner we could not get into the famous chef's eateries. Did we enjoy our stupid little show & our no name Irish pub? You betcha!

Anyway, my advice is: if you can think of a better time to go when it will be a ghost town, go for it. But don't be disappointed if the crowds are still there or if it's below freezing (I went one year in January and it was DEAD but we had to wear scarves, gloves, and a heavy winter coat and were still freezing.) If you can't think of better time, go during free dining, be open to restaurant choices, and get to the parks 15 minutes before they open. You'll have a great time.
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Old 08-28-2009, 07:33 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by TDC Nala View Post
Free dining contributes greatly to restaurant crowds, but not so much in the parks. Peak times are going to be crowded anyway.

Exactly. We're going Thanksgiving week. Free Dining or not, this is going to be a busy time. I agree with the others who said that you should be fine during your stay. Don't cancel.
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Old 08-28-2009, 07:39 PM   #12
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I wouldn't cancel. We went during Free Dining several years ago and I was a little worried about crowds in the park. I didn't have to worry. We found that we walked on most rides all throughout the week. The only day we had to Fast Pass anything was at MK on a Saturday. The crowds were just fine. And we just made sure to make our ADRs, so even that went smoothly. I think we only had to wait to be seated once and that was only maybe ten minutes.

Again, I wouldn't cancel. I think all this hand-wringing about Free Dining is all a bit exaggerated.

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Old 08-29-2009, 09:23 AM   #13
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I'll be there at the same time...Nov 29-Dec 11. And I just returned from a trip a week or so ago. We arrived on the same weekend that free dining started. I truly believe it was such a horror show simply because families tried to get in that last, cheaper trip, before school started.
I'm assuming that won't be the case right after Thanksgiving. I can't imagine anyone taking their kids out of school, before the holidays, just to get free dining. At least, I hope not.
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Old 08-29-2009, 09:33 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by goofy4tink View Post
I'm assuming that won't be the case right after Thanksgiving. I can't imagine anyone taking their kids out of school, before the holidays, just to get free dining. At least, I hope not.
LOL - Sorry I had to laugh at this one. We are taking our DS9 out of school the week AFTER Thanksgiving to go on our trip.

After talking with our principals and teachers last year, they said if we have to miss school, this is the best time to miss. Also, DS will get the week excused if he writes journals, and does a presentation of his experiences and what he learns in EPCOT.
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Old 08-29-2009, 01:09 PM   #15
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We are taking our kids out the week after Thanksgiving too. They get Monday off so it's only 4 days they are missing and there isn't a lot of missed work. 4 days missed school for 11 days of vacation is great. It isn't just because of free dining, though. We often travel that particular week.
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