# Think Twice Before Using Two Dining Credits on One Meal

Last week we looked at some of the math behind the recently-announced return of the Disney Dining Plan, and concluded that it would be really difficult, especially on longer trips, to save money with the plan. Is it possible? Yes. But you’ll have to work really hard, get lucky on some dining reservations, drink a lot of alcohol, and not have any teenagers in your party. Still, we recognize that lots of people still enjoy purchasing the Dining Plan for the peace of mind of knowing that meals are already paid for as part of your vacation package. This article is for the other folks – the ones trying to maximize their value with the Dining Plan and hopefully even save money with it. For those people, we need to get into the next level of math and figure out the situations that we need to avoid, in places where you definitely won’t save any money, which is on 2-credit signature dining or character meals.

## Explain the Math

In my dining plan post from last week, I did the algebra and calculated the value of every quick service and table service dining plan credit. For a table service credit, the value came to \$63. That’s how much you are paying Disney to put a table service credit into your “bank” for your vacation. Then it’s up to you to make that credit worth what you paid … or not.

There are ways to wisely use that credit. For example, the Hotate from Teppan Edo (assuming it’s not an upcharge when plan details get released) is \$65 by itself – and you can still add a beverage and dessert to that. Granted – you only have an 8% chance of wisely using that credit. But do enough research and it’s possible.

Where we get into the realm of impossibility is when we cross over into the land of meals that cost two table service credits. These are signature/fine dining experiences, certain character meals, and shows that Disney has deemed too expensive or fancy to qualify as a one-credit meal. Instead, you’ll have to spend two table service credits for every individual participating in these meals.

Does this entitle you to multiple entrees? No. Does it mean you get two drinks with your meal? No. Do they at least add in an appetizer? No. Same beverage/entrée/dessert combo, but you give them two credits instead of one at the end of the meal. And you still pay gratuity out of pocket.

If one table service credit is worth \$63, that means your two-credit meal better cost at least \$126. Otherwise using the Dining Plan for that meal is objectively not worth it. It may still be a fantastic meal that you remember long after your vacation. But you should pay out of pocket for it, not using the Dining Plan.

To show you just how not-worth-it these meals are, I pulled the most expensive entree, the most expensive cocktail, and the most expensive dessert from every two-credit menu. Then, for prix fixe spots, I pulled the adult cost and the most expensive cocktail. And the results never ever add up to \$126. Let’s see some examples!

## Two-Credit Signature Dining

#### Hollywood Brown Derby

The Hollywood Brown Derby is the least expensive menu of all WDW Signature Dining. In our case, that means if you go ahead and buy the Disney Dining Plan … and you go ahead and decide to burn two credits on one meal … at least avoid the Hollywood Brown Derby. Please.

• Most expensive cocktail = \$15.50 – Grapefruit Cake Martini
• Most expensive entrée = \$49.00 – Filet Mignon
• Most expensive dessert = \$13.00 – Grapefruit Cake

The grand total for the most expensive possible meal covered by the dining plan is \$77.50.
If you paid for this meal with 2 table service dining credits, you would be losing \$48.50 compared to paying out of pocket. Plus you would be paying gratuity on \$126 instead of \$77.50.

#### Tiffins

Tiffins is a fancy-schmancy dining location inside of Animal Kingdom. Its menu was notoriously expensive when it first debuted, especially for in-park dining. But that doesn’t mean you could spend more than \$126 on a meal.

• Most expensive cocktail = \$17.50 – Annapurna Zing
• Most expensive entrée = \$52.00 – Braai-spiced Veal
• Most expensive dessert = \$15.00 – The Lion King

The grand total for the most expensive possible meal covered by the dining plan is \$84.50.
If you paid for this meal with 2 table service dining credits, you would be losing \$41.50 compared to paying out of pocket.

#### Jiko

Jiko is widely regarded (and regularly rated) as one of the top table-service dining locations in all of Walt Disney World. I ate there in 2018 and still remember my steak and the lovely conversation I had with some of the cast members.

• Most expensive cocktail = \$15.50 – Nutty African
• Most expensive entrée = \$54.00 – Filet Mignon
• Most expensive dessert = \$15.00 – Kilimanjaro

The grand total for the most expensive possible meal covered by the dining plan is \$84.50.
If you paid for this meal with 2 table service dining credits, you would be losing \$41.50 compared to paying out of pocket.

#### Flying Fish

Flying Fish is known for its … fish. And its location on Crescent Lake makes it a perfect counterpoint to Yachtsman Steakhouse. But, if you’re maximizing value, you can’t order the fish. You’ve gotta stick with that steak. All day. Every day.

• Most expensive cocktail = \$14.50 – Peanut Butter Freeze
• Most expensive entrée = \$59.00 – Filet Mignon
• Most expensive dessert = \$14.00 – Cocoa Breach

The grand total for the most expensive possible meal covered by the dining plan is \$87.50.
If you paid for this meal with 2 table service dining credits, you would be losing \$38.50 compared to paying out of pocket.

#### Topolino’s Terrace

I adore Topolino’s Terrace. The view. The food. The location. But you will never catch me using dining credits to eat here. I will happily pay out of pocket. Every time.

• Most expensive cocktail = \$21.50 – Champagne Cocktail*
• Most expensive entrée = \$56.00 – Filet Mignon
• Most expensive dessert = \$15.00 – Warm Chocolate Cake

The grand total for the most expensive possible meal covered by the dining plan is \$92.50.
If you paid for this meal with 2 table service dining credits, you would be losing \$33.50 compared to paying out of pocket.

*The champagne cocktail may not even be included in the Dining Plan. Usually beverages that expensive require an upcharge, but we’re going to give Disney the benefit of the doubt. It’s a cocktail, it should be included. Any other time you see this asterisk next to a menu item, it means the same thing.

#### BOATHOUSE

Now let’s test the waters out at Disney Springs. Does the different location and different ownership make the two credits worth it at the BOATHOUSE? Spoiler Alert: No. Not even the most expensive filet mignon at any of my example menus here could make two credits valuable.

• Most expensive cocktail = \$16.00 – Shipwreck
• Most expensive entrée = \$67.00 – Filet Mignon
• Most expensive dessert = \$10.00 – Caramel Apple Bread Pudding

The grand total for the most expensive possible meal covered by the dining plan is \$93.00.
If you paid for this meal with 2 table service dining credits, you would be losing \$33.00 compared to paying out of pocket.

#### Citricos

Heavy hitter time. We’re getting up into the upper levels of the stratosphere of Disney signature dining with Citricos. Our next two locations get extensive praise from us, from readers, and from a lot of Disney dining fans.

• Most expensive cocktail = \$23.00 – 1806 Old Fashioned*
• Most expensive entrée = \$59.00 – New York Strip
• Most expensive dessert = \$14.00 – Chocolate Torte

The grand total for the most expensive possible meal covered by the dining plan is \$96.00.
If you paid for this meal with 2 table service dining credits, you would be losing \$30.00 compared to paying out of pocket.

#### Narcoossee’s

Ah, Narcoossee’s. The view and ambiance are both spectacular, and the menu is great. But it’s not worth \$126.

• Most expensive cocktail = \$22.50 – Paper Plane*
• Most expensive entrée = \$59.00 – New York Strip
• Most expensive dessert = \$16.00 – Almond-Crusted Cheesecake

The grand total for the most expensive possible meal covered by the dining plan is \$97.50.
If you paid for this meal with 2 table service dining credits, you would be losing \$28.50 compared to paying out of pocket.

#### Le Cellier Steakhouse

Have I proven my point yet? Okay, even if I have, we’ve got one last data point to really bring it home. Le Cellier is the signature dining location where you can potentially spend the most out of pocket. Assuming that these expensive things are covered on the dining plan. And assuming you don’t care about ordering things like the often-tauted charcuterie board that has its own edible beef-fat candle. Because that’s an appetizer and not included in the Dining Plan.

• Most expensive cocktail = \$22.00 – Icewine*
• Most expensive entrée = \$62.00 – Filet Mignon
• Most expensive dessert = \$14.00 – Warm Pecan Brown-Butter Tart

The grand total for the most expensive possible meal covered by the dining plan is \$98.00.
If you paid for this meal with 2 table service dining credits, you would be losing \$28.00 compared to paying out of pocket.

That means, for even the most expensive possible combination at the most expensive two-credit ala carte signature dining location, you are giving Disney \$28 more than you need to for your fancy meal if you pay with the Dining Plan instead of out of pocket.

## Two-Credit Character Dining

#### Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue

Hoop-Dee-Doo is a national treasure. Full stop. Part of why it’s a national treasure is that it comes will all of the food and alcoholic beverages and entertainment that you could possible ever need. Can you add additional alcoholic beverages on? Sure.

• Most expensive cocktail = \$12.50 – Giddy-Up Cocktail
• Adult cost <= \$74.00 – includes salad, entrees, sides, desserts, AND sangria, draft beer, and wine

The grand total for the most expensive possible meal covered by the dining plan is \$86.50.
If you paid for this meal with 2 table service dining credits, you would be losing \$39.50 compared to paying out of pocket.

#### Cinderella’s Royal Table Breakfast

This whole article is meant to show you that you should never ever use two table service credits on one meal. That includes breakfast at Cinderella’s Royal Table. Okay? Okay.

• Most expensive cocktail = \$14.50 – Bloody Mary
• Adult cost = \$65.00 – includes pastries and entrée

The grand total for the most expensive possible meal covered by the dining plan is \$79.50.
If you paid for this meal with 2 table service dining credits, you would be losing \$46.50 compared to paying out of pocket.

#### Akershus Royal Banquet Hall Lunch/Dinner

Akershus breakfast is a one-credit meal, and if you order a fancy cocktail, it could be worth it. If you don’t, you’re still overpaying by using that one credit. Upgrading to two credits for lunch or dinner? Total nonsense.

• Most expensive cocktail = \$16.50 – several options, including the Stavanger
• Adult cost = \$63.00 – includes entrees, sides, and desserts

The grand total for the most expensive possible meal covered by the dining plan is \$79.50.
If you paid for this meal with 2 table service dining credits, you would be losing \$46.50 compared to paying out of pocket.

#### Storybook Dining at Artist Point

Storybook Dining used to be one of the most difficult reservations to get at WDW. Things have eased up a little, but don’t go rushing to book it if you’re using the Dining Plan.

• Most expensive cocktail = \$16.50 – Evil to the Core
• Adult cost = \$65.00 – includes appetizers, entrée, and dessert

The grand total for the most expensive possible meal covered by the dining plan is \$81.50.
If you paid for this meal with 2 table service dining credits, you would be losing \$44.50 compared to paying out of pocket.

#### Be Our Guest Lunch/Dinner

Be Our Guest does not get good satisfaction ratings. Folks who dine there regularly call it not worth the price. So maybe this means using dining credits would feel better? Wrong.

• Most expensive cocktail = \$16.50 – Boulevardier
• Adult cost = \$67.00 – includes appetizer, entrée, and dessert

The grand total for the most expensive possible meal covered by the dining plan is \$83.50.
If you paid for this meal with 2 table service dining credits, you would be losing \$42.50 compared to paying out of pocket.

#### Cinderella’s Royal Table Lunch/Dinner

We’ve come to the tip-top of two-credit character dining. A lunch or dinner at Cinderella’s Royal Table is the most expensive character meal in town. It is still not \$126 per person.

• Most expensive cocktail = \$14.50 – French 75
• Adult cost = \$79.00 – includes appetizer, entrée, and dessert

The grand total for the most expensive possible meal covered by the dining plan is \$93.50.
If you paid for this meal with 2 table service dining credits, you would be losing \$32.50 compared to paying out of pocket.

That means, for even the most expensive possible combination at the most expensive two-credit character dining location, you are giving Disney \$32.50 more than you need to for your fancy meal if you pay with the Dining Plan instead of out of pocket.

## What Does This Mean For You?

1. It is not possible to spend \$126 at any signature dining or 2-credit character dining location if you’re only buying a beverage, an entrée, and dessert. That means spending two credits will always be more expensive than paying out of pocket for those meals.
2. If you opt to use two table-service credits, you are paying Disney somewhere between an extra \$28.50 and \$48.50 at best just for the pleasure and convenience of using their Dining Plan for that meal.
3. Gratuity is always paid out of pocket, even with the Dining Plan. So on top of paying more to put the credits into your bank than the value you get out of them, you’re also paying higher gratuity.
4. Here’s my one caveat. Let’s say that there is a day in your vacation where you know you won’t have time or appetite for a table service meal. That means you’ll have to double up on another day. In that case, if you opt to spend those double-up credits on a 2-credit meal, you still won’t get the full value out of your two credits, but it’s at least better than letting one credit go to waste.

Want to listen to this information (and more)? You can check out this recent episode of The Main Street Dish Podcast where I go over all of the Disney Dining Data.

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#### Becky Gandillon

Becky Gandillon was trained in biomedical engineering, but is now a full-time data and analytics nerd. She loves problem solving and travelling. She and her husband, Jeff, live in St. Louis with their two daughters and they have Disney family movie night every Saturday. You can follow her on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/becky-gandillon/ or instagram @raisingminniemes

### 2 thoughts on “Think Twice Before Using Two Dining Credits on One Meal”

• Wait, you pay gratuity on the value of the service credit and not on the value of the meal?