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Disney World Dining Plan
Here is our much requested guide to the Disney Dining Plan. The Disney Dining Plan is a very popular choice for those staying at Disney World Resorts and Hotels. How does it work, how much does it cost and is it really worth it? Will you actually save money with the Disney Dining Plan?
The first thing to understand is that there are three different Disney Dining Plans and they are all comprised of some or all of these elements:
Disney Counter Service Meal
This is usually what is known as a combo meal. This is most often an entree and a side, dessert and non alcoholic beverage.
Disney Table Service Meal
This is a meal at one of the full service Disney restaurants and includes an entree, a dessert, a non alcoholic drink. It also includes a full buffet with non alcoholic drinks. This does not include a gratuity.
Some restaurants, known as Signature Dining Restaurants need 2 Dining Credits. For example Le Cellier, California Grill and Jiko are Signature Dining locations. It is rare that eating at a Signature Dining Restaurant and using 2 Credits makes good financial sense.
Disney World Snacks
All of the Disney Dining Plans include at least one snack per day.
As you would expect there is a lot of choice of snacks in Walt Disney World. The definition of snacks has been broadened to include side dishes as well as what you would conventionally think of as snacks. These can be found at the dining kiosks and the quick service restaurants.
Disney Resort Refillable Mug
At the start of your stay each of you on the Disney Dining Plan will be given a Resort Refillable Mug. You can fill this with soda from any of the drinks fountains at the Disney Hotel Resorts.
You can’t use it in the parks. You can use it at a different resort from your home resort. For example if you are staying in Disney’s Contemporary Resort you can use it in The Grand Floridian. However, you can’t fill it up at Magic Kingdom or any of the other Disney parks.
How The Disney Dining Plan Works
When you check into your Disney World resort hotel you will be given a certain number of credits for each one of your party aged 3 and above.
Kids aged 3 to 9 have to eat from the Kids Menu when available. Those aged under 3 can share but are not charged under the Disney Dining Plan.
You can use credits on any day from the start of your stay. Say you have a total of 10 snack credits.
You can use them all on one day if you want. You can distribute them between your party.
Remember that the Disney dining credits are per party when you are thinking about using them. So if you never want a snack (unlikely) or counter service meal, someone else in your party can use that credit.
All Disney Dining credits expire at midnight on the day that you check out.
There are so many choices of Disney dining it can get overwhelming. Check out our Disney Character Dining Guide to help you choose.
There are 3 different types of Disney Dining Plan:
The Disney Quick Service Dining Plan
The Quick Service Disney Dining Plan includes:
2 Counter Service meals
1 Refillable Drink Mug
This is per person per day (except the Refillable Drink Mug which is per stay). You get this for each person on the Disney resort reservation. Under 3s are free
The daily price of the Quick Service Plan is $52.50 per adult and $23.78 per child ages 3-9. Tax included.
For us the Disney Quick Service Dining Plan has just never been worth it as we want to dine in Disney restaurants. We also don’t drink much soda in our family of 5.
Disney Dining Plan
This is the standard dining plan and includes:
1 Counter Service Meal
1 Restaurant Table Service Meal
A Refillable Drink Mug
The daily cost of the Disney Dining Plan is $75.49 per night for adults and $27.98 per night for children aged 3 to 9. This includes tax but not Gratuity for Full service restaurants.
Disney Deluxe Dining Plan
3 Meals of your choice of either Full Table Service or Counter Service
A Refillable Drink Mug
Another difference is that for the full service restaurant option it includes an appetizer as well as an entree, dessert and a non alcoholic drink.
That is a whole lot of food, but may be a good option if you are planning to eat at Signature Restaurants which need 2 Dining Credits, and want to dine at character meals and buffets frequently.
To get the most financial value out of the Disney Deluxe Dining plan you need to eat 3 full service meals a day. However, realistically this is too much food for most people.
Really the best plan to get the most value out of the Disney Deluxe Dining Plan is one restaurant meal and a Signature Dining experience per day for most of the days you are using this plan.
Remember though that if you are wanting to eat in the Signature Dining restaurants these are the ones which book up most quickly so you will have to plan far ahead.
The Deluxe Dining Plan is probably more suitable for a short stay. Only the most dedicated of eaters can realistically eat 3 full service meals a day!
The daily cost of the Deluxe Dining Plan is $116.25 per night for adults and $43.49 per child aged 3 to 9. This includes taxes but not gratuities.
The Deluxe Dining Plan includes a large amount of food. It can really only be worth it if you are eating at some Signature Dining Restaurants.
Also have in mind that if you are trying to get value out of the plan you would have 3 Full Service Meals per day. This is not only a lot of food, it is a lot of time to be spending in a restaurant.
Can I Book The Disney Dining Plan If I Am Not Staying In A Disney Hotel?
No. The Disney Dining Plan is only designed to be part of a Disney World vacation package. It has to be purchased as part of a hotel stay and you must buy a park ticket.
You do not need to buy a park ticket if you are an Annual Passholder or Disney Vacation Club Member as the Dining Plan would be available as an add on option if you are staying in a Disney Resort.
Can I Just Buy the Disney Dining Plan for Part of My Stay?
No. You have to purchase the Disney Dining Plan for all the nights of your stay.
What If I Do Not Use All My Dining Credits?
All of your Disney Dining Credits expire at midnight on the day that you check out of your hotel. If you haven’t used them then you lose them.
How Do I Keep Track Of My Disney Dining Credits?
This is easy. Each time you purchase a meal with credits you will be given a receipt which shows how many you have left. If you don’t have this receipt then simply ask any Guest Services to check it for you and then will give you a print out.
Is the Disney Dining Plan Good Value?
There is no definitive answer to this! It can be but it depends upon how your party likes to eat. It does require planning ahead (unless you are just using the Quick Service Dining Plan).
These days you really do need to book your Disney dining ahead of time or you simply won’t get a restaurant of your choice.
Some guests love the Dining Plan. Others just don’t. If you want to get the absolute maximum value it definitely needs planning and you will probably adjust your eating accordingly.
You may find yourself ordering something on the menu that you would not have done otherwise, simply because it is higher priced.
That can be fun of course and you may discover new dishes that you enjoy. Or you could just be eating more food so that you are not out of pocket.
It can be difficult to work out how much you have really paid for the Disney Dining Plan if you are purchasing it as part of a discounted Disney World Dining Package. For our upcoming trip in February if you calculate the cost of the full price standard Disney Dining Plan and the ticket prices our 2 hotel rooms at a Disney moderate resort would have cost less than $1400 for 7 nights.
At the rack rate this would have been closer to $3000 for the week so you do have to balance the cost of the whole package with how much you are paying for the Dining Plan. This discounted rate was only available with the Dining Package so for us it is a great value.
I have written a full report of the value of the Disney dining plan for our recent trip. I know not all of you agreed with my opinions!
You can read it here
How Do I Get Free Disney Dining?
Disney World sometimes offers Free Dining as part of the package. Historically this has usually been September to early December.
However, 2019 has shown a very different approach. Free Dining is available for travel from July 5th until September 30th. The reason for this? Galaxy’s Edge is opening in the Fall so Disney World will have no need to offer any incentive to be there. Star Wars is enough of a draw.
What do you think of the Disney Dining Plan?
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