Why can’t I get my Disney dining credits?


It seems everyone but Jennifer Holdman and her family are getting “free” Disney dining credits on their next theme park vacation. Is there anything she can say to persuade Disney to comp her meals?

Question: I recently started planning a trip to Walt Disney World to celebrate my husband’s 40th birthday. We picked the end of August because Disney traditionally offers free dining during that time. But when I made my reservations, I learned that we had missed the free dining period.

I was fine with that until I spoke with my cousin, who was also vacationing at the same time. She said she’d received a special pin code for free dining. She also offered to let us use one of her codes.

I called Disney to see if I could use the pin code. I was connected with a cast member who was very rude to me. I got off the phone and called back to complain but was told there were no managers. I was transferred to another department, but after a lengthy “hold” I gave up.

I called back a few hours later and spoke to a lovely cast member who embodied what Disney is supposed to be. She told me I couldn’t join my cousin’s group because we were in different hotels.

Just yesterday, my cousin called Disney reservations and spoke to a supervisor who told her that I could get free dining with my current reservation if they switched to royal guest rooms at a cost of over $800.

Just last week they said there was no way I could get free dining, but now if they pay $800 we can have it no problem? I feel like we are getting the runaround and I am very disappointed in my experience.

Since then, I’ve received offers from friends who received pin codes but who are not planning on going to Disney who wanted me to use their numbers. Unfortunately, the pins are not transferrable.

I feel Disney’s pin distribution system is very unfair because I will be going to Disney and spending $3,000 to $5,000 but will have to cut back on my spending now to pay for meals when many other guests staying during the same time period will have the free dining plan. If a deal is being offered, it should be offered to all guests. — Jennifer Holdman, Cortlandt Manor, NY

Answer: Disney can offer “free” dining to anyone it wants. I might take issue with the semantics of the offer. Technically, the food isn’t free — it’s included in the price of your stay.

But the problem I had with your case is that Disney representatives strung you along, and in at least one case, didn’t take your complaint seriously. That’s not the Disney way. They should have given you a prompt, polite and definitive answer to your dining questions.

By the way, I agree with you that it’s better for Disney to offer a deal like this to all guests. After all, once guests start comparing notes, some of them are bound to be disappointed. You don’t want guests to be disappointed. Not at the “happiest” place on earth.

At the time you made your reservation, Disney was offering a free dining promotion. The terms were clearly spelled out. I didn’t think Disney was under any obligation to extend the offer to you and your family, but I did think the way in which it handled your follow-up questions left something to be desired.

You tried to send a letter to a supervisor, explaining your frustration, but it didn’t respond to your request. That’s when I decided to get involved. I contacted Disney on your behalf. They contacted you to apologize for the rude behavior of the first agent you spoke with and the ensuing confusion, and agreed to apply the dining credits to your reservation.

Was Disney's selective dining credit offer fair?

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Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is an author, journalist and consumer advocate. You can read more about him on his personal website or contact him at chris@elliott.org. Got a question or comment? You can post it on the new forum.

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  • LFH0

    The statement that “Disney can offer ‘free’ dining to anyone it wants” does require some qualification. Constitutional constraints against discrimination generally apply only to government action, not private action. However, places of public accommodation are so constrained . . . that was a significant effort of the civil rights movement of the 1960s. If Disney were to say, hypothetically, that only white families were entitled to “free” dining, and black families had to pay for all their meals, then there would probably be a civil rights violation. I doubt that Disney’s discrimination as to persons eligible for “free” dining is on any prohibited basis, and is more likely on some permitted basis, such as residency in specified states (but nonetheless, even a benign for discrimination might be actionable if there is disparate impact upon protected classifications). Otherwise, discrimination on the basis of residency (or other permissible basis) may seem unfair, but private companies can do what they want. If people keep patronizing those companies, even in the face of perceived unfairness, then those companies will keep doing it.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    Bit off topic wouldn’t you say?


    I dislike Disney entirely and think no one should ever go. But family went to Disney World several years ago and shamed me into going with them. They had the included meals plan, free dining or whatever you want to call it then. But they explained it was a limited offer and was not available for all bookings at all hotels. We chose the hotel based on the availability of dining. We had seen the ads for the dining and asked the right questions. Like any business Disney can and does offer specials that have restrictions. One of those is this dining plan which they say clearly has limited availability and is not applicable to all reservations. It is not discriminatory and they do not have to offer it to all rooms. You note that the terms were clearly spelled out at the time she made the reservation. Disney should have been more attentive and explained the terms when she called to complain. But that was their only obligation. Many companies offer limited specials that do not apply to all customers as some restrictions apply. Why should Disney be any different?

  • backprop

    “I feel Disney’s pin distribution system is very unfair because I will be
    going to Disney and spending $3,000 to $5,000 but will have to cut back
    on my spending now to pay for meals”

    What do you mean “cut back on my spending.”? You got exactly, precisely what you signed up for. Why does someone else getting a dining package make your package any less than what you expected?

    I don’t get this whining. And I’m disappointed that it was mediated and Disney dragged through the mud for it.

  • BillCCC

    It looks like the deal wasn’t for everyone but only for certain hotels. A bit of misleading headline. The OP never had any dining credits to begin with. The headline should have read ‘Why can’t I get the same deal as everyone else even if I am not entitled’.

  • Freehiker

    Me Me Me. Everything should be equal. We should all get the exact same things.

    This sense of entitlement that everyone has developed in the past 20 years is disgusting.

  • newsgal

    Agree with the below posters. The friends the OP spoke of who offered their dining pins could have been frequent Disney guests, which is why they were offered the deal. It’s part of a package or room type that she apparently chose not to book (we never did learn if her cousin had booked a qualified package/room type in the first place and therefore received the “free” dining that way). I do think the brushoff she received when she first tried to complain wasn’t cool, but the “lovely” cast member she spoke with later did inform her that she could receive the discount if she booked a qualified room type.

  • MarkKelling

    So her friends are staying at a different hotel and that hotel has the “free” meal plan included in the room package that was booked. Disney offered her the “free” meal plan if she upgraded at the hotel she was at. So why does she feel she should get the meal plan without paying for it? Different hotels, different included options.

    I think, from the statements made in the article, that the OP knew exactly what she was paying for and getting and chose a less expensive option than her friends did that did not include the meal package. She then planned on using the codes that her friends received and did not plan on using. It was only after she discovered that the codes were not transferable that she began the “why not me too?” rant.

    Next time i go to Vegas and don’t get the comped buffet at my favorite place (even though I don’t stay in that hotel or gamble in that casino) I will complain to Chris so I get something for “free.” ;-)

  • Stereoknob

    Sounds like if you booked at a certain hotel (which cost more) between a certain date, you got some free meal credits. The OP booked at a different, cheaper hotel outside of the dates the deal was offered. I don’t know what she thinks she deserves seeing as she didn’t meet ANY of the criteria of the deal.

    At least, that is how I read her very vague description of the situation.

  • Kathy Werling

    Disney’s free dining many times is not the best deal out there. You need to do your homework and decide if a room discount is better than free dining on a rack rate room. The PIN codes are Disney’s way of marketing to certain people. They can’t be assigned to someone else. There is also a limited number of rooms for each promotion and if it isn’t available at their resort why should Disney make an exception for them?

  • sharpasice

    Poor baby! I don’t think this deserved mediation at all…she knew the rules..if not when booking, she did later. No owner at DVC gets free dining ANYTIME, never ever, although they pay thousands of dollars…more like 5 to 10 times more than she is paying for this trip. I don’t think Disney should offer free dining to anyone at anytime…I believe it is one of the reasons Disney is sooooo expensive. just my opinion here…not looking to start an argument.

  • Thoroughlyamused

    So what happened was:

    -OP booked knowing exactly what the rules were.
    -OP entered into a contract with Disney agreeing to the terms and price.
    -OP saw someone else got a special deal.
    -OP believes she deserves special treatment, and whined until she got it.

    I agree with whoever said that the entitlement attitude is disgusting.

  • SoBeSparky

    Of course Disney retains the right to make specific offers to certain groups, such as Florida residents, previous guests, etc. The poster’s point is that within these groups it may not remove the offer solely because the customer is a part of certain protected classifications, such as gender, race, national origin, etc.

    The poll question says, “…to anyone it wants.” In fact, it cannot exclude people solely because they are in the protected classifications.


    Boohoo.. she didn’t deserve the dining. Many companies specifically coupons, codes, etc to get certain customers to come back or book etc. I just got an offer for a 10% discount from a company because I haven’t shopped their website in a while. If I place an order at the same time as someone else for the same product, is it unfair that I will receive a discount and they will not? NO. The offer was for me NOT them. Same case as this. She was NOT qualified to get the offer. Disney should have stuck to their guns. This teaches her that even if she doesn’t play by the rules, she will still complain enough to get rewarded.

  • Thoroughlyamused


    I have a room booked at the Cancun Marriott in October for $150 a night European plan. My friend booked an all inclusive room for $250 a night but just cancelled. I’m cheap and don’t want to pay a penny more for my room, but why can’t I have the all inclusive option that my friend isn’t going to use anyways?

  • Jeanne_in_NE

    I think this article contains one of the best examples of CE’s frustration with the use of the word “free”. In this case, “free” only costs $800 more.

    The rest of the article? Sorry, not feeling any warm and fuzzy thoughts about the OP’s situation.

  • emanon256

    “At the time you made your reservation, Disney was offering a free dining promotion.” Should that say wasn’t?

    This happens all the time in travel. Offers change sometimes by the minute. They will offer a promotion, then when they have sold enough they they won’t offer it anymore. Then they will entice people not planning a visit, but the enticement isn’t transferable to someone who already is. And someone staying at another property might get the offer while the OP didn’t at her property. It’s not just travel, it’s business in general. I say if the price and deal are right for you, buy it and don’t look back or compare it as you will almost always found someone who got a better deal.

  • emanon256

    I thought the same thing.

  • MarkKelling

    And I guess everyone is different and has differing ideas about what they want to do for their birthday, but when I turned 40 the last thing I wanted to do was spend the day at any Disney property surrounded by hordes of screaming kids. I chose a more adult destination. ;-)

  • Lindabator

    And there in lies the problem with shaming a company into giving them what they are really not entitled to – sooner or later, they’ll just take the offer away from EVERYONE

  • Lindabator

    I agree she could have been dealt with better, if that in truth was how she was treated, but MANY companies offer different specials – not to everyone, as you clearly show above. Princess cruises offers different specials, and even if you want to travel with someone on that special, you don’t necessarily qualify, even if you have travelled with those folks before.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    Yes, the post was both well written and crystal clear. It was also irrelevant within the context of the story as it does nothing to advance the discussion in any meaningful, or even humorous, way.

  • Jennifer Moore

    Disney’s free dining promotions almost always come at the cost of foregoing a room discount. If you are staying in a $400 a night room (and some of them are), that can be as high as $120 per day. Some families will save a lot on this deal. Others–not so much. If you are staying at a moderate resort, the savings will be closer to $50 a day, and the dining deal becomes a fabulous bargain for a normal family. At a value resort, only the quick service plan is included, but the discount is a bit less, as well. My overall impression is that for me and my husband, the dining plan wasn’t a great bargain, because we are light eaters–especially at sit down restaurants. This year, we’re staying at a value resort during the Food and Wine Festival, where we hope to graze. I am only planning two or three sit down meals for us. I think the biggest problem for the OP was that they wanted to stay at a value resort and eat with their family at a moderate resort. That’s fine, but the promotions are never the same. I’m glad the company’s customer service won out, but I’m always concerned when it looks like people are asking for more than the rest of us would get.

  • DavidYoung2

    Exactly. Case of ‘sour grapes.’ The OP’s relatives got something included – whoopee, good for them. The OP should be happy for them. Instead, she’s unhappy with what she didn’t get.

    Did you get what you paid for? Yes? Good, be happy. What someone else got or didn’t get or whatever should be of no concern to the you. Just say, “Well that’s nice of Disney” and be happy for your cousin.

  • bodega3

    I disagree with the comment of the OP being strung along. She whined and got something she didn’t deserve because Disney is all about image and doesn’t want to look bad here. She was told something she didn’t like, nor understood. The first sales associate didn’t offer her the option of paying more, as likely the OP asked about getting the meals based on her current booking, which didn’t qualify.

  • Grant Ritchie

    I hate to see Chris get involved in situations like this. Disney settles to avoid bad publicity, and a whiner gets something to which she’s not entitled. Wonderful. Can’t help hoping that one of those “free” meals has a small fish bone in it. :-)

  • emanon256

    Or she will think a Frappe is a Milk Shake and complain about not reading the menu and get a milkshake full of glass? http://elliott.org/problem-solved/ate-glass-planet-hollywood/

  • IGoEverywhere

    You are the man! Again rudeness is not acceptable by any Disney employee, it is met with immmediate dismissal with the proper information. Pins are issued randomly with a thousand different offers. Some include mutiple rooms, some are for the addressee only. They are NEVER transferrable. There are an extremely limited number of rooms at certain resorts that offer free food, with extreamley limited dates. When it was announced on 8 May, for the “Hungry for Savings” offer, the Disney telephone lines were backed up 600 on hold per agent; a 4-5 hour hold. They were sold out of normal priced rooms in a day. Rates skyrocketed by 1000’s of dollars. I would have been nicer on the phone than the agent from Disney, but without a pin, the free food does not begin until 9/13. No food was deserved, again you advocated nicely. The savings at the Coronado water view king room for Nov 9-16 was $1240.00 for the regular dining package to the free food. I know, I have it reserved for myself. That is quite a huge savings. Free with Disney is free! BTW, our office stayed on hold the full time and change 2 dozen bookings from full to free dining the moment the sale came out.

  • sunshipballoons

    Maybe irrelevant to the story, but highly relevant to the poll.

  • princessmom413

    There is a 30% off room only code for the same time frame. Use that, it will equal about what free dining does if you are staying in a deluxe. If you are staying in a mod, it will be close. No one is really getting ‘free’ dining- we are all paying for it, just in a different way. Do you really think those moderate rooms are worth $189-$200 a night? No way! We pay that to get free dining. Sometimes they sell off those rooms for 109 a night- but you pay for dining – see its all the same!

  • LFH0

    I think it is on topic, and the issue is alive and well where I live. A few hours from where I live in New York are a handful of casinos. They recognize that persons of Asian descent are typically more robust gamblers and more desireable that others. Accordingly, the casnios target larger bonus packages to those of Asian descent by advertising them only in Chinese, and offering the larger bonus packages only to those bus tours operating from those neighborhoods with people predominently of Asian descent. Smaller bonus packages are advertised in English, and are offered to on those bus tours operating from predomintly white, black, and Hispanic neighborhoods. This is targeted marketed based on national origin and/or race. To me, it seems to be functionally the same as the type of marketing that Disney might be pursuing, i.e., to attract certain types of people by offering a better incentive package to visit. Diseny might be doing so using residency or average income as a basis, instead of using national origin or race explicitly, but it can oftentimes have a disparate effect nonetheless.

  • omgstfualready

    Agreed (until the fish bone).

  • omgstfualready

    Months ago I purchased a non-refundable ticket to an event being held next week. I now have a conflict and cannot attend the event, which is not sold out. Maybe I should ask Chris to get my money back?

  • y_p_w

    Of course any sort of systematic pattern that seems to exclude a “protected class” (race, religion, gender, national origin, disability, etc) would not be tolerated in a public accommodation.

    However, often people get freebies for asking or complaining. As long as there’s no evidence that it’s based on something that doesn’t relate to protected classes, then it’s not a problem.

  • Rebecca

    I enjoy Disneyworld and go relatively often. Personally, I don’t like the dining plans. However, I do know that the “offer” she’s complaining about it most likely only available on more expensive rooms. You can pay anywhere from $80 to $3000 a night. My guess is that she’s staying at a value resort and wants the same promotion as someone paying 3-4 times as much for their resort. Of course the more expensive rooms will have the promotion attached to them.

  • emanon256

    Same here, but I think GR was tongue in cheek. I made a similar tongue in cheek comment about her complaining about their being coffee in her frappe and then finding glass in her shake with a link to that story, but the mods didn’t approve it.

  • omgstfualready

    I love explaining to people that math is fun! If they changed the label to all-inclusive packages vs ala carte services that would make more sense and be more upfront so people would stop to compare what options to choose instead of choosing whatever is labeled as ‘free’.

    I haven’t been to disney in many decades (and hope to never return) but …….I’d prefer to have the cheaper per night room rate and be in control of my food budget!

  • Travelnut

    If getting free (or “free”) meals vs. not getting them is going to make her vacation significantly less affordable, maybe she should be vacationing elsewhere than Di$ney. Disney is very expensive. And as stated elsewhere, if she did simple mathematics she’d probably find that a reduced room rate is cheaper in the long run than meals included in the rack rate. Get the cheaper room and eat in the gazillion fast food places in the Disney area. Or if you’re really cutting it that close on money, goodness, go to a theme park closer to your house, go to the beach. Disney will be there for some other time. Personally, I would rather stick a pencil thru my eye than spend more than a day at a Disney park, but I know people who go every year.

  • bodega3

    She didn’t have to, she wrote to Chris and is getting her meals for ‘free’.

  • Tigger57

    Another whiny brat…Maybe she should go to a real “travel agent”. I know if she was my client and Disney was offering free dining at that time – she would have gotten the free dining. People that like to book on their own think they know everything – they don’t. But they can always call Elliott. Elliott stop wasting your time on complaints that are not really problems. There are so I am sure there a much more pressing travel problem.

  • Annie M

    Chris, obviously you can see that your regulars are getting tired of these kind of stories. Another whiner who didn’t get what someone else did and because she complained to you, she got something she wasn’t entitled to.

    This is getting ridiculous with these stories. I am sure that Disney Cast Members are forbidden from telling guests about PIN’s and how they are given out. Maybe these people have stayed at Disney more than she has. Maybe it is for those who have stayed at higher category rooms. Who knows?

    But I am getting tired of these people who want something they aren’t entitled to.

  • http://elliott.org Christopher Elliott

    This wasn’t an easy case. When I approach a large company like Disney, I don’t have all the facts and I don’t have their side of the story. My main concern was the attitude of the cast member in this story and the hassle this traveler says she experienced. I did not advocate for her to get anything “free.”

  • Jeanne_in_NE

    Great explanation for the rest of us who aren’t familiar with the packages available at Disney. Thank you.

  • bodega3

    However, if you reread your article, you state that all guests should get the same offer, so it comes across that this was the approach you took. I agree with Annie, that many of your articles are complaints for things that the writer to you don’t qualify for and that they just don’t understand how things work. It would really benefit you to get a TA onboard for the review process so real issues get addressed by you.

  • SoBeSparky

    Exactly. Which makes it perfectly relevant. Sometimes when we focus on one thing, the other thing in the picture becomes obscure.

  • emanon256

    “Personally, I would rather stick a pencil thru my eye than spend more than a day at a Disney park” You have me cracking up!!!

    There is always the option of getting a hotel room with a kitchnette, or renting a condo and going grocery shopping. Then you can make your own meals. I’ve found this to almost always be the cheapest option by far.

  • rwm

    Try selling the ticket on Craigs List at reduced cost.

  • Raven_Altosk

    Di$ney was in the right on this one and took the high road to make a whiner happy.

  • http://phoenixjustice.blogspot.com/ Phoenix Justice

    If one stays at a Hyatt, they have the option of getting a basic room or a Regency Club room. They are basically the same room, but if you have a Regency Club room, you get access to the Regency Club. That seems to be what Disneyworld Resorts is doing here. You book a certain level of room and you receive dining credits. If you don’t, well, that’s your mistake.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    The issue is certainly alive and well, just not in this article. However, “isms” are an inflammatory issue that is not present in this article. There is no hint that the LW is being discriminated against because of her membership in a group, e.g. race, religion, gender, etc, and equally importantly, the LW does not state or even imply that. Thus, we muddy the water and ultimately the discussion by bring in a generic discussion of “isms” where none is implied.

  • frostysnowman

    How often does the OP go to Disney? Unfortunately, that matters. If she didn’t have her own pin code, probably not often. Her friend probably goes often, or often enough, to get those discount codes via email or direct mail. My family and I go way more than we should, and I get those offers multiple times per year. And those PINS are not transferable, whether the recipient uses them or not. The hotel you stay at matters – the more expensive your room, the more “free dining” you get offered. The length of your stay matters – the dining plan isn’t offered for short stays regardless of whether you pay for it. It’s my opinion that the OP demanded something that she was not entitled to, but I’m not surprised Disney caved to avoid bad publicity.

  • Extramail

    However, if she had written about a perceived slight because she was not an “elite frequent flyer” then people would have been on her side. I’ll say it again: this is why I don’t compare notes with my fellow travelers. If I’m happy with the price I paid, then I’m not going to worry about what price you paid.

  • Extramail

    She better not write Chris after the vacation and say that the times free meals were offered didn’t coincide with the times her family wanted to eat so she deserves a refund that equals what her meals cost elsewhere. Just saying . . .

  • $16635417

    But this is in regards to the poll question, not the story, which Chris has stated many times are not related.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    That’s a fair question. My take. In regular language, we often talk in superlatives. But few things are truly 100%. But if we to apply every exclusion, limitation, or qualifier, the conversation would constantly be diverted. I don’t see civil rights as part of this conversation.

    I submit that in this case, although the polls and story lack a firm one to one correlation, the story does provide context for Chris’ polls.

    Thus, when we discuss the story and/or poll, we do so within a certain loose framework. For example, outside of this small thread, of which I admit guilt in poking the bear, the topic of “isms” has not been raised once in the entire discussion. I would opine that it is because it’s not relevant to this discussion of either the poll or the story.

    My $0.02

  • $16635417

    When I see a sing in a store saying “We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone for any reason.”, I usually shake my head and think to myself “No, you don’t.” for the reasons stated in the first post in the thread. I though the same thing after reading the poll question.

    I agree with you though, seeing how the poll is going and how the “ism” topic is contained to this thread in the comments, I sense most people get it.

  • Grant Ritchie

    Oh God… don’t give her ideas. :-)

  • TonyA_says

    With people like her, no wonder you ask if consumer advocates might be getting extinct.
    And for all those who complain about rude customer service, how do we know if they are telling the truth?
    I think you need to concentrate on helping people become the smartest travelers and consumers and not the loudest whiners.

  • Travelnut

    Thanks, Emanon! ;) Y’all crack me up too.

  • backprop

    I wish this comment would show up at the top for everyone to see. Well said.

  • Judy Serie Nagy

    AAArggh … next time I miss an opportunity to get something free, I’ll contact Chris and get it anyway. This kind of ignorance and greed makes me sick.

  • Bill___A

    Chris, I don’t see how you expect to get any credibility with vendors or readers over issues like this. Several of the comments are showing that the readership is quite fed up with this sort of thing, and I concur.

    I am certainly no fan of Disney but don’t see how this has been productive at all.

  • PsyGuy

    I applaud Disney for maintaining their blue eyed princess service reputation, but that’s why they accommodated the writer. People (and moms especially) have a tendency to want everything for nothing, and want at least as much as everyone else if not to be treated as a princess.

  • Jeanne_in_NE

    Excuse me, but *this* mom is not a princess. Far too low on the food chain. ;-)

  • omgstfualready

    I’m a princess but not a mom. ;-)

  • Mel65

    “Just last week they said there was no way I could get free dining, but
    now if they pay $800 we can have it no problem?” Um…. if you’re paying an additional $800 you aren’t getting free dining. Use the $800 and pay for your meals… and STOP WHINING. This isn’t a run around from Disney; this is you asking for something to which you aren’t entitled. Your cousin couldn’t share her PIN because she was staying IN A DIFFERENT HOTEL… why on EARTH do you feel entitled to get the same privileges when you aren’t purchasing an equivalent package? Seriously, Chris… this one you should have put in the “OhDearLord” file!

  • omgstfualready

    I think I’m going to give it to a person on my staff as a thank you. The money is already spent so I’m okay not getting it back. Unless Chris takes my cause up and I want my money back and a credit for a future event. :-)

  • omgstfualready

    Yep. I’ve been known to upgrade for a reduced price (usually the night before, or at, check in) so I can get the concierge lounge. Mostly when I’m in small cities with a lot of boring chains. So I use the lounge for breakfast and snacks/appetizers. The cost offsets/reduces my expenses on food. It’s a close wash depending on the city and I’m not sitting at the bar at some dingy Applebees. I don’t expect to get to that floor without paying for it.

  • disqus_wK5MCy17IP

    My guess is that she booked Port Orleans Riverside hoping that it would be included when free dining was announced, but because it was so full, and because so many people did the same thing, it was not included. After all, Disney offers the dining plan to sell rooms. “Royal guest rooms” are at POR, so I think that’s what happened. Either that or she had a room only discount and her cousin didn’t, making only her cousin eligible for free dining. I would hope that if it’s the latter that Disney didn’t cave and give her a room discount and free dining.

  • LFH0

    I think how one perceives the actions of businesses in picking and choosing who are the people favored to received special benefits depends on one’s experience. In the neighborhood where I live, I am a minority who regularly experiences discrimination in public accommodations. The majority population in my neighborhood is constantly solicited with special deals and offers, while I am excluded and ignored. When Chris Eliot made the statement that “Disney can offer “free” dining to anyone it wants” the first thing that came to my mind was that Disney could be doing the same thing that goes on regularly here. And that’s the problem when a business starts to pick and choose who may benefit from a special offer, even if doing so is on a facially-benign basis: the excluded feel unfairly discriminated against, and the jist of the entire story.

  • LFH0

    I think it is one thing for a company to say that you’ve qualified for a special offer because you’ve done a certain amount of business with the company in the past. And in that respect I agree that it is unfair to give away such offers to persons who did not undertake the prerequisites for qualifying for the special offer. But it is another thing for a company to say that you’ve qualified for a special offer because you possess some type of immutable personal quality (or some closely-correlated surrogate therefor). The problem here is that we don’t really know the basis for Disney “qualifying” some people but not others.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    I certainly agree that, “the excluded feel unfairly discriminated against” Honestly though, I can’t get worked up if the business has a perfectly benign, neutral, legitimate business reason for it’s actions, particularly if the opportunity is equally and properly available to anyone who is willing to pay for it.

    I read the context of the story and the poll in the same way I see targeted loyalty programs promotions. The fight is over the fact that different people get different promotions. Different members get different promotions and it rankled many that newbies were getting better promotions than people who’d been with the program for years. Many felt it was unfair. That was the tension.

    But, I simply do not believe that either the story or poll envisioned invidious discrimination based upon one’s membership in a protected class.

    Having said that, I am sorry that you are discriminated against. That is simply unacceptable.

  • Travelnut

    Me too! The problem is getting people to recognize this.

  • PsyGuy

    Every city mom, under 40, that I have met has “royalty” issues.

  • Jeanne_in_NE

    Dang, I have *kids* approaching 40! Have to admit, I’ve observed a number of people who fit the description you offered. But that’s a conversation to be had over an adult beverage or two, not here. :-)

  • WG

    Frankly, the entitlement mentality in this country isn’t helped by people enabling it– the author of this article getting the dining credits added to this reservation without any proof other than their claim here that they were treated “rudely” is exactly why that mentality is so prevalent. And it’s also we are seeing prices raised while services are reduced across the board. Bad enough the complainer feels entitled, but much worse that the author used their weight to make enough noise that they would get their way. There is actually a reason they offer the dining credits this way, they are trying to get specific rooms filled that wouldn’t be otherwise and they send out pin codes to entice people into making reservations who otherwise wouldn’t. They spend tons of money paying people to determine who to send the codes to and which resorts to offer during the general free dining periods. They aren’t just bestowing gifts on favorite customers. Would have been nice if you would have spent the time to explain that, Mr Elliot, rather than use your weight to get them something lots of other people will not be receiving because they didn’t complain to you.

  • WG

    You said it yourself, you didn’t have all of the facts. You took the word of this complainer, without any proof that she was treated poorly, and you acted on her behalf. You could have just offered her advice on how to proceed with a complaint, but instead you contributed to the consumer entitlement mentality that is invariably resulting in higher prices and less services for all of us. You obviously know that your influence is the reason Disney added the dining to her reservation, so it’s more than a little disingenuous to say you didn’t advocate for her to get anything free.

  • Annie M

    Many of us are travel agents who advocate for clients when something goes wrong and this is where we see how ridiculous some claims are. In all the years I have worked with Disney (and I am not a big Disney fan) I have yet to come across a rude cast member over the phone. In fact I have often complimented them for having to listen to Disney music all day and having to use Disney characters to confirm booking numbers with (M as in Mickey, P as in Pluto).

    However, perhaps Mrs. Whiner was demanding on the phone and the agent had already explained to her 10 times they couldn’t give her a pin code. So maybe she was hearing what she wanted to hear. If she whined on the phone like she whined to you,she is lucky Mickey himself didn’t ban her fro pm Disney

    Please stop with these kind of articles. There are plenty of people with legitimate problems that you can help with. It doesn’t help your reputation with some of these travel companies when you try to advocate for them.

    It would be better for you to simply educate these people by contacting the company, asking for their side and simpky explain

  • Crissy

    I think what happened is that they tried to add someone elses pin code to their existing reservation. A couple issues with that – one, pin codes are sent out selectively to people on their mailing lists. Disney does this in part to test how different pin codes will work and will it lure someone to take their vacation there. Passing a pin code on defeats the purpose of that, though they do allow people to add it to an existing reservation and they can honor it for a friend too.

    The next issue is that free dining often only applies to specific hotels, so depending on how they were phrasing their questions it is possible that the reason they got a different answer each time is because of the questions asked. Can I add this pin code to my existing reservation? is a very different then How can I change my reservation to use this pin code? It sounds simple, but nothing free every is simple.

    Finally, Free Dining isn’t really free. You have to pay a higher room rate to be eligible for the promotion – hence the $800 offer. Two elements of this – they need to have a room in a specific hotel, in a specific class (may be their most expensive room at that hotel) and they have to pay rack rate for that hotel room. In exchange they get “free dining.” They’re probably not booked in a room or room class that is eligible for the promotion already and they probably already had some other discount applied to their existing reservation – hence the room and price change.

    I do NOT agree that Disney should offer free dining to all guests. By doing that they make it harder for EVERYONE (free or not free dining) to make reservations and getting into on-site restaurants. There isn’t enough dining reservations on the property for every guest to make a dining reservation. This way they can use some sort of algorithm to determine how many free dining offers they can actually provide to visitors and make the dining experience good for everyone. Instead of giving it away to everyone and half the people having a bad experience with it.

    As for the rude agent, the more I read of this person I wonder if they were rude because they couldn’t give them what they wanted and didn’t at least act like they were trying to. I have had MANY interactions with Disney and yes, a few cast members have been below what I would expect from Disney. But, it’s so rare that I wonder what the OPs definition of rude actually is.

  • Crissy

    I believe they actually offer the dining plan for all resorts, BUT, they offer different plans for different levels. The Value Resorts only get the plan with quick service meals. I think the Moderates and Deluxe rooms have the plan with a sit down meal each day. The OP might have booked a Value, but wanted the better plan and would have had to upgrade the hotel.

  • Crissy

    I wonder if the OP discussed the difference in the prices they each paid for their reservations?