Disney last week released their 2022 early booker offer which includes Free Disney Dining Credit. However, you might notice the word plan is missing, and that's because the Disney dining plan has still not returned due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Many people were hoping - myself included - that 2022 would see the return of the dining plan. While the dining plan could return at some point in the future, the fact we have this credit offer instead means it's unlikely to be coming back soon.
So with no dining plan, what do we get instead? We get a Disney Dining Credit offer.
How Does It Work?
It's simple. You get a virtual gift card when you check in with a value of up to $950 depending on what resort you stay at, and how long you're staying there. The card can be spent at over 250+ dining locations on food, drink, and tips. You can even use it at most of the bars. Pretty much everywhere the dining plan was accepted, and more. Generally speaking, stay at select deluxe resorts for 14 nights and receive $950, stay at select moderate resorts and receive $850, and stay at a value resort and receive $500. For the full resort list see our offer information page by clicking here.
You also get a $200 gift card per room (regardless of resort) and a Celebration Gift Basket if staying in a deluxe or moderate if you book before July 17th, and your tickets will be 14 days for the price of 7.
Why This Offer?
As I've said, the dining plans have not come back yet. Disney cannot offer something that doesn't currently exist. I didn't think they'd do any dining-related offer at all for 2022 with the plans still discontinued. The (up to) $950 dining credit is per room. Just like the $200 gift card is per room, and not per person. While on the surface it does seem counter-intuitive to have an offer that works out less per person the more people you bring along in your room (who are all buying tickets), but some view it as "better than nothing" with a massive itch to go back (myself included). Although they could have at least thrown in a resort refillable mug for each ticket paying guest.
Disney could be over-confident in thinking people are going to rush back regardless. While I am one of those people, I'm not the majority. Is Disney using this opportunity with the dining plans currently gone to see what they can offer and still get good volume of guests? Maybe so. However, this brings me to...
The pandemic is still ongoing. While it's unlikely we'll enter more lockdowns and have more closures, the future is still unpredictable. Disney cannot this second announce a day when they're back at 100% capacity and everything is back to "normal". So the question is, what are their internal projections? Is offering anything but this dining credit going to be counter-productive when they can't plan their parks for more than a week at a time? They have to be careful on the volume of guests they can accommodate until things are back to full capacity, which they currently are not, even with the park pass system.
For the first time (that I've noticed) Disney has specifically said this offer includes the guarantee of "Refund entitlement if we cancel your package holiday". If we cancel your package holiday. They are at least thinking of a possible outcome where COVID might disrupt some things into 2022, even if unlikely. If Disney feels they get enough Brits over there and hit their quotas with their current projections, it's still a win for them. It's just simple supply and demand.
The Positives Of Credit
The Dining Credit offer isn't designed to feed you for the entire holiday, it's paying towards a chunk of it. If I had a choice between the dining plan and the value on credit, i'd take the credit. You can use the credit in more ways, like at bars, and even pay for your tips. If at one meal I want a starter, no dessert, and an extra beer, I can do that. It's easy to be drawn to the negatives, but there are positives as well.
Ignore The Past
It's up to you if the current deal is worth it for you and your family. There's no point comparing a current offer to a previous one. If you want to go in 2022, this is it. You can either accept it and enjoy up to $950 worth of food, or not. There's not a year that goes by where I wish something was the same price as last year. Do you remember when the Baileys Shake at Raglan Road was $8? It's now over $15! It sucks, but that's no way to live. This leads me to...
The Bottom Line
As I said earlier, I personally wasn't expecting any offer at all. If I had to guess, I'd say they'd roll with an extended free nights offer instead. I think this goes to show how powerful the free dining offer is to us, in whatever form that is.
At the end of the day, it's better than nothing. We've had people upset the dining plan isn't back, and others who are over the moon they can amend their already booked 2022 direct through Disney to add this offer as a free added bonus. It's better than nothing, and I look forward to the resort bar cast members swiping the hell out of my dining credit card.
My general rule of thumb when people ask me for advice about booking Disney World, is to price it up at the resort you want to stay at, and if you're happy with the price and offers, book it, and leave it at that. Just enjoy it, get on with your planning, and have a great time.
The Offer In Full
Up to $950 Disney Dining Credit
14-Day Ticket for the price of a 7-Day Ticket
$200 Disney Spending Money
FREE Memory Maker (worth $199)
No Amendment Fees for changes made up to 7 days before you travel
Celebration Gift Basket (Disney Holidays exclusive)