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    Disney World Dining Plan

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Disney offers dining plans as a convenience to theme park guests. Participants must purchase a ticket, hotel stay, and dining package from Disney (not through an online reseller), have Annual Passes, or be members of the Disney Vacation Club (DVC) to add a dining plan. They’re also only available to Disney-run resort guests--so not those staying at the Swan, the Dolphin, the hotels of the Disney Springs Resort Area, or Shades of Green. Except for DVC members, a three-night minimum stay is typically also required. Overall cost is determined by the number of nights you stay at a Disney resort.

How the Plan Works

Each person staying in a given room (ages 3+) must be on the dining plan for the entire length of stay. The price and allotments for the various plans are based on the number of nights in the room. 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 (2 per night)
  • 1 Resort Refillable Drink Mug

A Table-Service meal is at sit-down restaurant with servers that wait on tables. A Quick-Service (or Counter Service) is fast food-style, often where you order at a counter and find seating yourself. A Snack can be any of several small items such as a pretzel or bottled water. They are often specifically marked as Dining Plan snacks on menus.

The exact allocation of the credits depends on which plan is chosen (see below). The usage of the credits does not change, however. Each guest does not need to use a certain number each day. In the above example, guests may choose to use 1 Table Service Credit, 1 Quick Service Credit, and 2 Snacks each of 5 days. They may also not eat for 4 days and use all of their credits on the 5th day. The pool of credits is attached to your account the day of check-in and the credits do not expire until midnight on the day of check out. How they are used within that time frame is your choice.

Children under 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.


The Different Dining Plans

Here is the current list of Dining Plan eligible eateries in Walt Disney World. The type of plan you are on will determine whether you can utilize Counter Service, Table Service, or both.

Standard Dining Plan

Disney's standard dining plan (often called simply "Disney Dining Plan") provides, for each member of your group, for each night of your stay:

  • 1 Table-Service Meal Credit
  • 1 Quick-Service Meal Credit
  • 2 Snack Credits
  • 1 Resort Refillable Drink Mug

For the Standard Dining Plan a Table-Service Meal Credit includes 1 entree, 1 dessert, and 1 beverage OR one full buffet. A Quick-Service Meal Credit includes 1 entree and one beverage OR one complete combo meal. Beverages may be alcoholic or "specialty" as long as the guest is 21 years of age or older.


Quick-Service Dining Plan

A less expensive version of the standard dining plan, this plan includes meals, snacks, and nonalcoholic drinks at most counter-service eateries in Walt Disney World, but no meals at sit-down restaurants. For each member of you party, per night it includes:

  • 2 Quick-Service Meal Credits
  • 2 Snack Credits
  • 1 Resort Refillable Drink Mug

For the Quick-Service Dining Plan a Quick-Service Meal Credit includes 1 entree and one beverage OR one complete combo meal. Beverages may be alcoholic or "specialty." Guests must be 21 or older to order an alcoholic beverage with a meal.


Deluxe Dining Plan

The Deluxe Dining Plan offers a lot of food. It provides, for each member of your group, for each night of your stay:

  • 3 Meal Credits of your choice (can be used as either Quick-Service or Table-Service)
  • 2 Snack Credits
  • 1 Resort Refillable Drink Mug

For the Deluxe Dining Plan a Table-Service Meal Credit includes 1 appetizer, 1 entree, 1 dessert, and 1 beverage OR one full buffet. A Quick-Service Meal Credit includes 1 entree and one beverage OR one complete combo meal. Beverages may be alcoholic or "specialty." Guests must be 21 or older to order an alcoholic beverage with a meal.

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

Should You Get The Dining Plan?

The dining plan has been one of the most requested of Disney's package add-ons since its introduction; families 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.

In our survey of families who have purchased the standard dining plan, a little more than half (57%) 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 to 13, but most kids can be fed for a lot less
  • The average family cannot get dinner 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

When 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 restaurant
  • Your group consists of adults willing to set aside ample time for dining at upscale restaurants

There's No Such Thing As A Free Lunch

Disney occasionally offers one of the dining plans for "free" for guests who book vacation packages when crowds are low, such as late summer and early fall. The catch is that you'll pay the full rack rate for your hotel room instead of getting a discount. Whether that tradeoff makes sense depends on which hotel you choose, how many people are in your room, and their ages.

For example, we recently priced a 5-night stay at Disney's Polynesian Resort in mid-August, 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 thought you could feed your family for less than $174 per night, you were 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.

Last updated on August 2, 2018

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