How does the Disney World Dining Plan actually work? And does it save you money? There are many benefits of staying in a Walt Disney World Resort Hotel and the choice of whether to opt for the Disney Dining Plan is one of the perks you get with staying onsite.
What is the Disney Dining Plan?
The Disney Dining Plan is an add on option which can be part of the Magic Your Way Package. This is available to all guests at a Disney Resort Hotel who also have a Disney World ticket as part of the package. This option is not available to guests at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dophin because they are not Disney owned property even though they are onsite.
Guests pay a set price for each member of your party and then you are given dining credits to use for meals at Disney World. How many credits you get and how you can use them depends upon the type of Dining Plan that you choose. You do not have to use the same amount of credits on each day. So for instance you could have 4 snacks one day and none another, or 2 full service dining meals one day and skip them the next.
At any time you use a Dining Credit the amount of Credits remaining will show on your receipt so that you can keep track of where you are.
So that Disney Resort guests can take maximum advantage of the Dining Plan it is essential that they learn about each different Dining Plan. It is a good idea to learn how it works and the costs of each before you decide if it is right for your party. Usually the Dining Plan does save you money but the more you know about how it works the better decision you can make. There are several different options.
Disney World Quick Service Dining Plan
The Quick Service is the most basic of the Disney Dining Plans and includes two quick service meals and two snacks per person for each night stayed at the Disney resort. You also get a resort refilable mug which can be refiled only at your home resort.
A Quick Service meal includes entrée or complete combo meal and non-alcoholic beverage at breakfast; entrée or complete combo meal, dessert and non-alcoholic beverage at lunch & dinner.
For 2011 the cost per person per night is $34.99 per adult and $11.99 per child aged 3 to 9. Disney says that this Quick Service Plan can save you up to 15%. I have never been a huge fan of the Quick Service Dining Plan and the changes for 2012 can only make it less desirable as the amount it includes will reduce.
There are changes coming to the Quick Service Dining Plan in 2012 when the number of snacks is reduced to 1 from 2 per day. The plan will still includes two Quick service meal per guest per day.
The Quick Service dining option will still cost $34.99 per night per adult and $11.99 per night for children (ages 3-9) in 2012. So whilst the price is the same the benefit is reduced by around $3 to $5 a day as this is what a snack would cost to purchase.
Disney World Magic Your Way Plus Dining
This is the plan which is probably the best value for the majority of guests visiting Walt Disney World. Disney says that you can save as much as 40% on this Plan.
This Disney Dining Plan option includes 1 table service meal, 1 counter service and 1 snack per person per day.
The table service meal includes one entree, one dessert (lunch/dinner only) and one non-alcoholic beverage OR one full buffet.
The price of this Disney Dining Plan depends upon when you are visiting. The cost in Regular Season is $45.99 per adult and $11.99 per child aged 3 to 9, and for Peak Season $47.99 per adult and $12.99 per child aged 3 to 9 per person per day.
Peak Seasons are the popular holiday times and always include Christmas. For 2011 this is 12/23/11 to 12/31/11.
Be aware too that gratuities are not included in full service meals. So this will be an additional expense.
Disney Deluxe Dining Plan
This covers a lot of food! Guests can have 3 meal credits a day and choose from either Quick Service or Full Service Restaurants. A full service meal includes One Appetizer, one entree, one dessert (lunch/dinner only) and one non-alcoholic beverage OR one full buffet. So technically you could have 3 buffets a day on this plan! 2 Snacks and a Resort Refillable Mug are also included.
This option can be useful if you want to have every possibility covered. It includes so much food it is unlikely that you will actually save money unless you are going to go to the Signature Dining Restaurants which require 2 Dining Credits. If this is the case then you should look at the Deluxe Dining Plan to see if it will be of benefit. Also if you want to have a buffet breakfast and a full service meal each day then this would make sense for you.
The price of the Deluxe Dining Plan for 2011 is $78.99 for adults and $21.99 for children aged 3 to 9.
Disney Wine and Dine Plan
This is a way to pre purchase a wine package for your stay at Walt Disney World. The cost is $39.99 and you choose a bottle of wine each day of your stay from a pre selected list. Again this is only going to be a saving if you know that you will purchase premium wines each night.
Does the Disney Dining Plan Save You Money?
The simple answer is yes the Disney Dining Plan does save money. It also provides the convenience of knowing that your meal costs are all taken care of as part of a package. How much you save depends upon your individual taste and also how well you plan. There is such a vast array of choice and different pricing of each option that it is almost impossible to work out how much you will save. Certain snacks are priced at more than others, different restaurants have different prices. It actually can get a little stressful working it all out if you are determined to get every last bit of value out of a Dining Plan. I know. I have tried! But so long as you just eat what you want and understand the basics of the different plans for most guests they are a money saving idea.
Of course the best option is the Disney World Free Dining Plan which is offered from time to time. This is usually offered at quieter times and is always one of the most popular Disney World Hotel offers.
You may also like:
Alison Meacham is the founder of EverythingMouse Disney Blog. For over 15 years she has shared her love of Disney Parks, Disney Cruises and Universal Orlando. In over 30 years of Disney Travel she has spent countless months in Disney Parks and has sailed on over 45 cruises. A British native and now a United States resident she splits her time between California, Florida and the UK. And spends a serious amount of time sailing the seven seas. She helps over 200,000 people per month follow their Disney travel dreams.