Is Free Dining Really Free at WDW?


So, there is a new Free Disney Dining promotion going on at Walt Disney World.  And, the question is it worth the expense.  Let’s take a look and see!

My advice about Free Dining is typically the same.  Check the menus of the Sit-Down Restaurants you think you want to try.  Look at the prices of the items you would like to eat.  Consider the size of your party.  And, do a little math to see if it adds up to being a value.

The offer that is out now requires you to purchase a Package that includes either the Park Hopper (PH) or Water Parks, Fun, and More(WPFM) options to qualify.  Your room rate is the going rack rate and the properties included are very limited on space.  So, keep this in mind when pricing your vacation for the late summer and early fall.

I will admit that I like the dining plan because it allows me to choose some restaurants and meals I might not consider if paying out of pocket.  And, for the seasoned WDW guest, adding a PH or WPFM isn’t out of the realm of possibilities.  In fact, for some, it may be a necessity!

While the Free Dining offer isn’t REALLY free, when you are forced to purchase the add-on, if you add the price of the dining on top of just your base package, you are still saving a bundle.  I typically advise those with four or more in the family over age 9 to consider Free Dining.  My kids like it because we use it for some of the more costly buffets and family style restaurants.  We also try to do at least ONE ‘nicer’ restaurant and choose more expensive meals to help make it more cost effective.MYW PH

One more thing…this current promotion may be an indication of what is to come as related to Free Disney Dining.  This is the first time that Disney has REQUIRED an add-on to the package.  That tells me that this could be the beginning of the end of a true Free Dining offer.  Next year will be the tell!

Thanks for reading, and feel free to add your thoughts and concerns to the conversation!  Have a Blessed and Magical evening, my Disney buddies!

What Next? More Planning For WDW

So, you have set your dates, and begun planning what attractions you want to see and what meals you want to eat.  What’s next, you may ask?  Let’s look at a few possibilities here at threestrandswdw!

Citrico's at  The Grand Floridian Resort and Spa
Citrico’s at
The Grand Floridian
Resort and Spa

You began planning at the nine to twelve month in advance time frame.  Now you are at the 180 day mark, and it’s time to make your Advanced Dining Reservations (ADRs) for your sit-down meals.  Where do you begin?  Well, you can start on the website, click on the Things To Do tab, and cursor down to the Make Reservations link to begin looking at restaurants, dates, and times. You may need to be a bit flexible with some of the more popular selections, especially Character Meals!  And, you might have better success selecting off peak hours for your meals.  There is less demand, AND it can help you get more attractions in while everyone else is eating at the ‘usual’ times!

You can also make your reservations via the My Disney Experience portion of the website,  it takes you to the same page with less steps to get there!  And, you can get there by way of the My Disney Experience App on your Smartphone.  This is very convenient for those day of reservations.  Yes, they can happen from time to time, but it may not be at a more popular spot.  Be adventurous and try something different, you may find a hidden treasure!  Also, remember that you may have to give a credit card before your slot is confirmed.  A $10 per person charge can be given if you do not show up for your reservation.  But, this policy is also what makes walk up and day of reservations possible!

Making ADRs is a major mark in the waiting for your Walt Disney World vacation!  It is hard, sometimes, to know what you are going to do six month out, but I strongly suggest that you at least book the Character and Signature meals at this point, as they are the most difficult to secure in the best of circumstances!

The next mark in you planning will be the customizing of your MagicBands and making your Fastpass Plus reservations for attractions!  We’ll cover THAT in our next post.  Until then, my friends, have a very Blessed and Magical day!!

Dining Plan…does it make sense?

I approach this subject very carefully. On our visit two years ago, we had a package that included the Free Dining package. And, we truly enjoyed making use of it! However, recently we did some comparisons and realized that if we had to pay for it ourselves, we would likely NOT purchase the Disney Dining Plan. Here are our thoughts!

While using the FREE plan, we were able to try some incredible restaurants that we would have probably have never gone into for a meal. Le Cellier is one that jumps to mind! (Back then it was a one credit meal for lunch) We did a couple of character meals and we even made use of the in room pizza delivery. And, the snacks we had were incredible!!

On our most recent trip, we did not use the Dining Plan, but made a trip to a local Wal-Mart and purchased breakfast foods, along with snacks and drinks to help cover the gaps while enjoying the parks. Sure, we did a few restaurants along our path, but we did not spend nearly what the Dining Plan would have cost us added onto our package.


I just did a quick look at a package at POP for September with the new Memory Maker offering. For room and 4 day base MYW tickets it is $1297.76 total. But, to add the Plus Dining option costs and extra 703.92 for two adults! I can use that money for better things!

Now, if you can afford it, and you’re planning to eat at Disney Restaurants for EVERY meal, or a couple of Signature Restaurants a few times during your vacation, it may be more affordable to use the Dining Plan. But, I would suggest that you take a good, long, hard look at the numbers!

Granted this is just my opinion, but there you have it!

If you want a good tool to help you decide, may I suggest starting here…!dining-plan-calculator/cxc0? You’ll find a really fabulous tool to help you with the number.

Have a Blessed and Magical day, my friends!


Today in our ABCs of Walt Disney World, we talk about just about everyone’s favorite subject…FOOD!

When it comes to food around WDW, it’s everywhere! There are two primary categories of restaurant choices when in the World. You can choose from Counter/Quick Service locations or Sit-Down Restaurants. There are also what’s called Signature locations. These places boast some of the best menus, and some of the most expensive meals, on the property. Personally, it’s out of my budget, but if you can afford to take on this experience, go for it!

'Ohana grill
‘Ohana grill

If you’re in a hurry, counter locations are typically quicker to grab a meal and take the least amount of time out of your park time. Most quick service have basic menus. Hamburgers, hot dogs, fries, drinks. There are some, however, that serve more adventurous fair. In the Magic Kingdom, Cosmic Rays offers some of the best fried chicken on property is served here. And, there’s a nice sized indoor sitting area, so getting a break from the weather can help refresh your crew for the next round of attractions. If your at EPCOT, you might want to try something like Restaurant Marrakesh in Morocco. Unique flavors and atmosphere makes this experience worthwhile. There are many more in all the parks and something for every taste.

Now if you want something that takes a bit more time and introduces you to some more exciting meals, then the vast array of Sit-Down Venues offer quite a variety! World Showcase alone has a virtual smorgasbord. Each country has an offering the tempt all palettes! Add to that the various resorts, Downtown Disney, and all the parks and you could spend a few months just trying to taste something from each. And, don’t forget the character meals! They are all over the place! One of our favorites in EPCOT is Nine Dragons in the China Pavilion. Quiet, tasty, and very good service! Yachtsmen Steak at Disney’s Yacht Club Resort is rumored to have some of the best meat dishes around Orlando. And, of course, ‘Ohana is possibly the hardest reservation to get! The Polynesian style cooking makes each meal delectable. Plan early for this one!!

If you want to treat your beloved to a very special evening, then you may want to consider one of the Signature locations. One I want to try is The California Grill at the top of the Contemporary Resort! This restaurant has just undergone a refurbishment that includes some of the menu items. It’s going to cost you, but there is one thing that could make it worth every penny…The View!! From the balcony of The California Grill you can see, and hear, Wishes! from The Magic Kingdom. This will impress your special someone!

There are many more offerings we could talk about, but that would take pages! Take a look at the Disney Food Blog website at for more information and reviews.

Have a Blessed and Magical Day!!

Restaurant Reviews To Help Choose!

Are you ready to do some choosing of restaurants to eat at while at Walt Disney World? Is your ADR (Advanced Dining Reservation) day rapidly approaching and you’re just not sure if a particular restaurant is what you really want? This article is an attempt to link you to some aids in selecting the right place for the right time in your plans.

One of the most visited sites is probably at If you visit you can read some reviews for the different restaurants on the Walt Disney Resort property. Keep in mind that those of us who are a bit more fanatical about WDW food, may be a little harsh in our reviews.

Another site that I was surprised to find a lot of information on is TripAdvisor does have quite a bit of information on Disney property restaurants. And the reviews seem to be well balanced! Just put the name of the restaurant in the search box, and include Disney World to narrow the search, and you should be able to read up on your picks.

Finally, I am finding menus on many different sites these days! has menu listings with prices. has menu items in their Lines app that you can get on Android or Iphone, there is a small cost for this app. And, of course, there is the Disney World website. Although, it is a bit more bulky to access the menu information.

Until next time, have a blessed and magical evening!