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    Disney World Dining Plan

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Disney World Dining Plan Overview and FAQ

The Disney World Dining Plan is a method to pay a flat rate for food during your Walt Disney World resort vacation. Instead of paying for individual menu items, you pay one daily rate for all the food covered on the plan.

Who can buy the Disney Dining Plan?

The Disney Dining Plan is available only to guests staying at Disney-owned resort hotels. These hotels are:

  • Art of Animation
  • All-Star Movies, Music, & Sports
  • Animal Kingdom Lodge & Villas, Jambo & Kidani
  • Beach Club & Villas
  • BoardWalk & Villas
  • Fort Wilderness Cabins & Campgrounds
  • Caribbean Beach
  • Contemporary & Bay Lake Tower Villas
  • Coronado Springs
  • Grand Floridian
  • Old Key West
  • Polynesian Village
  • Pop Century
  • Port Orleans French Quarter & Riverside
  • Saratoga Springs
  • Wilderness Lodge & Villas
  • Yacht Club

While this has not yet been officially announced, we are nearly certain that when the Riviera Resort opens in 2019, it will also have access to Magical Express buses. Guest of hotels other than these are not eligible to purchase the Plan.

Are there other requirements?

The Disney Dining Plan may only be purchased in the form of a Magic Your Way vacation package which includes a Disney resort stay, theme park ticket (or annual pass), and the Dining Plan. A minimum three-night stay is typically also required. The Plan may be used by regular Disney World guests as well as by Disney Vacation Club members paying for their room with DVC points.

In order purchase the Dining Plan, all guests (ages 3 and up) staying in the same room must buy the same version of the Plan. Additionally, all guests must be on the plan for their entire length of stay. You can not, for example, only buy the plan for five nights of a seven night stay.

How Does the Plan Work?

The Disney Dining Plan gives each guest an allotment of meal credits, based on the number of nights of their hotel stay. The credits may be used in any order from the time the guest checks in to their hotel, until 11:50 p.m. on the day of checkout.

There are several versions of the Disney Dining Plan: the standard plan, called the Disney Dining Plan (often abbreviated DP); the Quick Service Disney Dining Plan (QSDP); and the Deluxe Disney Dining Plan (DDP).

What's the Difference?

The dining plans vary based on the number of table service meal credits, quick service meal credits (also known as counter service), and snack credits allotted to each guest on the plan.

STANDARD DINING PLAN

On the Standard Disney Dining Plan, for each night of their stay, each guest on the plan will receive one table service meal credit, one counter service meal credit, two snack credits, and one resort refillable drink mug.

It's more easily explained in an example:

The Testa family of 3 adults is staying at Disney's All Star Sports Resort for 5 nights. They have chosen to purchase the Standard Dining Plan (outlined below). Because they are there for 5 nights, each person in the room gets:

  • 5 Table Service Meal Credits
  • 5 Quick Service Meal Credits
  • 10 Snack Credits
  • 1 Resort Refillable Drink Mug

QUICK SERVICE DINING PLAN

On the Quick Service Disney Dining Plan, for each night of their stay, each guest on the plan will receive two quick service meal credits, two snack credits, and one resort refillable mug.

For example, the Testa family of three adults is staying at All Star Sports for 5 nights, they have chosen the Quick Service Dining Plan. Because they are there for five nights, each person in the room gets:

  • 10 Quick Service Meal Credits
  • 10 Snack Credits
  • 1 Resort Refillable Drink Mug

DELUXE DINING PLAN

On the Deluxe Disney Dining Plan, for each night of their stay, each guest on the plan will receive three meal credits usable for either table service or quick service meals (your choice), two snack credits, and one resort refillable mug.

For example, the Testa family of three adults is staying at the Polynesian Village for 5 nights, they have chosen the Quick Service Dining Plan. Because they are there for five nights, each person in the room gets:

  • 15 meals credits of any type
  • 10 Snack Credits
  • 1 Resort Refillable Drink Mug

What do "table service," "quick service," and "snack" mean?

Table service restaurants are those at Walt Disney World where a waiter takes your order at a table and brings your food to you while you are already seated. While the procedures are somewhat different, most buffet restaurants at WDW are also considered table service venues. Most table service restaurants require one table service credit for payment. However, there are several restaurants at WDW that cost two table service credits per meal. These include the dinner shows like Hoop Dee Doo Musical Review, special dining experiences like Cinderella’s Royal Table, and the gourmet or “signature” dining restaurants such as Citrico’s and Hollywood Brown Derby.

A table service credit entitles you to one entree, one dessert, and one beverage OR one full buffet. For the beverage entitlement, guests under age 21 may choose one non-alcoholic beverage (including “specialty beverages” like milkshakes, smoothies, or hot chocolate). For guests 21 and older, the beverage may be a non-alcoholic, alcoholic, or specialty drink. If you’re on the Deluxe Dining Plan, your table service meals include the above, plus an appetizer.

Quick service locations are those where you order your food while standing at a counter (or online via the mobile order function of the My Disney Experience app) and carry your own food to a table.

A quick service credit entitles you to one entree and one beverage OR one complete combo meal. Guests under age 21 may choose one non-alcoholic beverage (including “specialty beverages” like milkshakes, smoothies, or hot chocolate). For guests 21 and older, the beverage may be a non-alcoholic, alcoholic or specialty drink.

Snacks credits may be used for most single-serve packaged foods or small dishes costing less than $5.00. Typically examples of a snack would be a bag of chips, a Mickey bar ice cream, or a bottled beverage. There are numerous exceptions to what counts as a snack. Look for a small purple and white checkerboard symbol to indicate which menu items are eligible for Dining Plan snack status.

Not every restaurant at WDW participates in the Dining Plan, but most do. There are participating restaurants at all Walt Disney World locations including the resort hotels listed above, the Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Animal Kingdom, Disney Springs, Typhoon Lagoon, and Blizzard Beach.

How Much Does the Dining Plan cost?

On the Dining Plan, the adult cost applies to any guest age 10 and up. The child rate applies to guests ages 3-9. Children under age 3 eat free from an adult's plate (or from their own if it's a buffet). A meal's taxes are included in the price, but a gratuity is not.


Disney Dining Plan Components and Costs (per Person per Hotel Night)
Plan Refillable
Mug
Snacks Counter
Service
Meals
Full
Service
Meals
Appetizers
(with Full
Service Meals)
2018 Cost
(inc tax)
2019 Cost
(inc tax)
Quick-Service 1 2 2 0 0 Adult: $52.50
Child: $21.74
Adult: $52.50
Child: $23.78
Standard 1 2 1 1 0 Adult: $75.49
Child: $25.80
Adult: $75.49
Child: $27.98
Deluxe 1 2 3 of either type 1 Adult: $116.25
Child: $39.90
Adult: $116.25
Child: $43.49

Can You Give Me an Example of How I Might Use My Disney Dining Plan Credits During My Vacation?

Let’s assume that you are an adult with the standard Disney Dining Plan, staying onsite for five nights, arriving Monday morning and departing Saturday afternoon. During your trip, you are allotted 5 table service credits, 5 quick service credits, 10 snack credits, and a refillable mug. Your meals and snacks can be used any time you like during your trip. For example, you could use:

  • One table service credit, one counter service credit, and one snack credit each on Monday through Friday. Dine on 6 snack credits on Saturday and use 4 snack credits on packaged treats to bring home.
  • Use 3 table service meal credits on Monday. Use four snack credits and one table service credit on Tuesday. Use two quick service credits and two snack credits on Wednesday. Use three quick service credits on Thursday. Use one table service credit and three snack credits on Friday. Use one snack credit on Saturday.
  • Use two table service credits on Monday. Use two table service credits on Tuesday. Use one table service credit and two quick service credits on Wednesday. Use three quick service credits on Thursday. Use five snack credits each on Friday and Saturday.

You get the idea, you can be as flexible as you want with the order and timing of your credit use during your trip.

Should I Get the Dining Plan?

To determine if the Disney Dining Plan is right for YOU, the best course of action is to spend some time with our Disney World Restaurant Menu pages. Map out several days of realistic dining for your family. What would you order? What would it cost? Consider whether you’re really going to want to consume table service amounts of food several days in a row. Consider whether you typically order inexpensive items (if you're a light eater or vegetarian, say). Consider whether you’ll want spend time on sit down meals. Then compare the price you would have paid a la carte with the cost of the Dining Plan.

In our survey of families who have purchased the Standard Dining Plan, most (87%) would buy the plan again. The response is even higher with the Deluxe Dining Plan; 89% of our readers would buy the plan again. That being said, we think many families, if not most, should avoid the standard and deluxe dining plans and simply pay cash for their meals.

That conclusion is based on the following four factors:

  • The economics of the plan generally require you to eat a either a sit-down dinner or character meal every day of your trip
  • You'll pay adult prices for children ages 10 and up, but many kids can be fed for a lot less
  • The average family cannot get dining reservations at the best restaurants during summer and holidays—there simply aren't enough tables to go around
  • The potential savings are so small, on average, that missing a single dinner can mean the difference between saving and losing money

That said, many people report that their favorite aspect is the peace of mind that comes from knowing their meals are paid for ahead of time, rather than having to keep track of a budget while they're in the parks.

When Does the Dining Plan Makes Sense?

Our blog readers are experts at figuring out when the dining plan makes economic sense. The most common scenarios they mention include:

  • Dining at several character meal buffets per trip
  • Splitting some sit-down meals between two people and using the saved credits at a Disney Signature dining restaurant
  • Your group consists of adults willing to set aside ample time for dining at upscale restaurants

What is "Free Dining"? Can That Save Me Money?

Disney occasionally offers one of the dining plans for "free" for guests who book vacation packages during low crowd season. The catch is that you'll pay the full rack rate for your hotel room. You may not combine the free dining promotion with room-only discounts (often available during the low season) or other promotions. Whether that tradeoff makes sense depends on which hotel you choose, how many people are in your room, and their ages.

For example, we priced a 5-night stay at Disney's Polynesian Resort, including hotel and theme park tickets, first using a "free dining plan" discount offer and then using a common Disney "30% off" room-only discount. With the free dining plan, the package cost $2,970.70, while the room-only discount totaled $2,098 — a difference of $872, or $174 per night. If you think you can feed your family for less than $174 per night, you are better off using the room-only discount than the "free dining" offer.

When Disney offers free dining, it usually provides the Quick Service plan for value resorts and the standard plan for stays at moderate and deluxe resorts. Families of at least 3 adults who stay at a value or moderate resort will most likely be the ones to find the "free" dining offer competitive with other discounts. Smaller groups, especially those staying at deluxe resorts, will probably not save enough on food to offset the cost of paying rack rate for their room.

Alternatives to the Dining Plan

One of the biggest selling points for Disney's dining plan is that you've paid for your meals before you leave home. It's possible to get the same results by purchasing a pre-paid debit card and loading it with the same amount of money you'd pay for the Disney plan. The big advantage to using your own debit card is that you get to keep any money left over at the end of your trip. Visa and MasterCard both have pre-paid cards that can be ordered and loaded from your phone or computer. We're very interested in hearing from families who try this option. Contact us if you do, and let us know how it worked.

If your peace of mind absolutely requires a Disney meal plan, consider the quick-service option. As with the standard dining plan, you'll get the most savings using the quick-service meals for lunch and dinner. Even if decide to splurge on a sit-down meal or two, you can use your saved quick-service meals for breakfasts without feeling like you've paid twice as much as everyone else for the same food.

Other money-saving options for Walt Disney World include the Tables in Wonderland program, discounts at specific restaurants for Disney Vacation Club members, WDW Annual Pass holders, AAA members, and others. If you’re not sure about the Disney Dining Plan, some of these options may betters suit your needs.

Last updated on September 24, 2018

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