We have been waiting eagerly since the parks reopened in 2021 for the announcement of the return of the Disney Dining Plan, or as it was known – the DDP. Well, good news! We finally have a date!
Guests who visit Walt Disney World and stay at Disney World Resort can purchase the Disney Dining Plan starting January 9th, 2024. You can start booking these vacation stays with the Dining Plan on May 31, 2023, so let’s get cracking and break down all of the information about the Disney Dining Plan and all of the new changes!
What is a Disney Dining Plan?
The Disney Dining Plan is a meal package offered by Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida. Designed to enhance the overall vacation experience, the dining plan allows guests to prepay for a certain number of meals and snacks per day, providing convenience and cost savings during their stay.
Think of it as pre-paying for your meals.
The Disney Dining Plan is available to resort guests who book a vacation package to Walt Disney World, and it is perhaps the most divisive Disney tip among experts. It seems you either love the Disney Dining Plan for its value and convenience, or you don’t care for it and find it to be a waste of money and food. (Our in-house team is among those that can’t agree!)
Some important things to note, when you book a dining plan, everyone in the room must be booked on the same package and must be using the same type of ticket. Kids under 3 years old may share from an adult plate at no charge, or a meal may be purchased from the menu for them. You can’t purchase the dining plan for a child under the age of 3. Guests ages 3-9 must order from a children’s menu where available.
Why Would You Want the Disney Dining Plan?
The Disney Dining Plan offers various advantages for guests. Firstly, it provides convenience and predictability, as most dining expenses are prepaid, which means you won’t have to carry cash or worry about individual meal costs. It also allows guests to try different dining experiences and explore a wide range of restaurants and cuisines within the Walt Disney World Resort. Eat out of your comfort zone!
The Disney Dining Plan also allows you to let your hair down and be fun! When you are actively trying to stay on budget and calculate through your vacation you’re not only not having fun, you’re likely not being fun because you probably say “no” to a lot of things. When you’re on the DDP it’s already paid for and there are no surprises, so if they want a milkshake, be fun mom and say yes!
It’s worth noting that the Disney Dining Plan is subject to availability and specific terms and conditions may apply. It’s recommended to review the official Walt Disney World website or consult with a travel agent to get the most up-to-date information and understand the current offerings and pricing.
See the most up to date information on the Disney Dining Plan here.
Different Types of Disney Dining Plans
The Disney Dining Plan offers several options to cater to different dining preferences and budgets. The newly revised plan coming in 2024 has less options than what was available previously, so be sure to check with your travel agent before your trip for the latest information regarding the Disney Dining Plan.
Let’s explore the different plans available –
Disney Quick-Service Dining Plan
This plan is ideal for guests who prefer quick and casual meals. It includes two quick-service meals (entree and non-alcoholic beverage), one snack per day and one refillable cup to use at your resort.. Quick-service locations are usually counter-service restaurants where you can grab a bite on the go.
Think fast food. But it’s Disney, so good fast food.
Disney Dining Plan
The standard Disney Dining Plan offers one quick-service meal, one table-service meal, one snack per day, and one refillable cup to use at your resort. Table-service meals allow guests to sit down and enjoy a more relaxed dining experience at various restaurants throughout the parks and resorts.
Table Service restaurants are places where you are served, and yes, this includes character dining!
Important to note that any time you are dining at a Table Service restaurant you have to allot about 2 hours of your day due to transportation, check in, etc.
How Does the Disney Dining Plan Work?
Using the Disney Dining Plan is relatively straightforward. Upon arrival, guests receive a certain number of dining credits based on the length of their stay and the dining plan selected. These credits can be redeemed at participating restaurants and can be used for meals, snacks, and beverages.
The DDP counts the days of your stay, not the number of park ticket days you have, so if you have 10 days at a Disney resort you will have 10 days on the Disney Dining Plan.
You can also use your credits whenever you want during the length of your stay! If you want to spend 3 days worth of Table-service credits in one day, live your best life! The credits all go into a pool for you to spend whenever and however you want.
Unused credits will expire at midnight on your checkout day. Don’t leave unused credits!!
What is a Snack Credit?
A snack credit on the Disney Dining Plan is a benefit that allows guests to redeem a designated snack item at various locations throughout Walt Disney World Resort. The snack credit is one of the components included in the dining plan and provides guests with a convenient way to enjoy quick bites or treats during their visit.
Definition of a Snack: A snack, as defined by the Disney Dining Plan, can include a wide variety of food and beverage items. Examples of snacks can range from a piece of fresh fruit, a bag of popcorn, a Mickey-shaped ice cream bar, a pretzel, a bottle of water, a specialty drink, a cupcake, a dole whip, or even a small portion of a quick-service meal item.
What is a Good Use of a Snack Credit?
A good snack credit is something that is a good bang for your buck. A great use of a snack credit is spending it on anything $7 or more. Snack credits really make it or break it when it comes to the value of the Disney Dining Plan.
Some examples of great snack credit usage are milkshakes, ice cream sundaes, dole whip floats, and other fun and “naughty” treats that are filling, fun, and expensive! Another great use of a snack credit is Starbucks. Any Starbucks beverage can count as a snack, so go with the largest size, with all of the syrups, and of course, topped with whipped cream!
Do you love EPCOT festivals? Most items in the outdoor kitchens count as snack credits! You can save up your snack credits for your EPCOT day or… FUN FACT: You can use a Quick Service meal credit as 3 snack credits instead, but they all have to be in one purchase.
What is a Bad Use of a Snack Credit?
Yes, there is such a thing as bad uses of snack credits. That extra side of cheese for your pretzel? That bottle of soda? That box of popcorn? All will cost you a snack credit! Opt instead to pay for these items. And don’t forget, you can absolutely bring in your own water, soda, and snacks!
As long as the items you bring in don’t contain alcohol, loose ice, or glass, Disney is perfectly okay with it.
What is the Difference Between Quick-Service Meals and Table-Service Meals in Disney World?
Quick service dining and table service dining are two distinct dining experiences offered in Walt Disney World. Quick service dining, also known as counter service, provides a more casual and efficient way of dining. Guests typically approach a counter or kiosk to place their orders, and the food is served quickly. The menus at quick service locations tend to offer a variety of convenient and familiar options like burgers, sandwiches, and salads. With self-seating available in indoor or outdoor areas, quick service meals are designed for guests who prefer a faster dining experience, allowing them to maximize their time in the parks.
On the other hand, table service dining provides a more traditional sit-down experience. Guests make advance dining reservations, especially for popular restaurants or those offering character dining experiences. Upon arrival, they are seated at a table where a server takes their orders and delivers their meals. Table service restaurants offer a wider variety of menu options, including appetizers, entrees, desserts, and beverages. The menus often feature diverse cuisines and specialty dishes, providing guests with a chance to explore unique flavors. The dining duration at table service restaurants is typically longer, allowing guests to savor their meals and enjoy the ambiance of the restaurant.
Can You Use Disney Dining Plan with Character Meals?
Yes, the Disney Dining Plan can be used for character meals at Walt Disney World! Character meals are dining experiences where Disney characters visit your table for photos, autographs, and interaction while you enjoy your meal. These meals are popular among families and provide a memorable experience.
Using your Table Service Credit for character meals is an excellent use of the credit because you can get a great value. Some Table Service Restaurants like Sci-Fi Dine In has entrees under $20, making it affordable to pay out of pocket, but character buffets like Chef Mickey’s cost over $60 for an adult!
When using the Disney Dining Plan, character meals require the use of table service credits. The number of credits needed may vary depending on the specific character meal and dining location. Some character meals may require one table service credit, while others, particularly those featuring dinner shows or premium experiences, may require two table service credits.
It’s important to note that character meals are often in high demand, and it is recommended to make advance dining reservations as early as possible. Reservations can be made up to 60 days in advance, and availability can fill up quickly, especially for popular character dining locations like Cinderella’s Royal Table or Be Our Guest Restaurant.
Signature Dining with the Disney Dining Plan
Signature dining in Disney World refers to a specific category of table service restaurants that offer a higher level of dining experience. These establishments are often considered upscale and provide a more refined atmosphere, elevated cuisine, and attentive service.
Some popular examples of signature dining restaurants in Disney World include Victoria & Albert’s at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, Le Cellier Steakhouse at Epcot, California Grill at Disney’s Contemporary Resort, and Jiko – The Cooking Place at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge.
Some Signature Dining experiences are available with Disney’s Dining Plan! All of the fine dining experiences are available to use DDP except Victoria and Albert’s. These premium meals do take 2 Table Service credits, however.
Worth it. How often do you get the chance to be fancy?!
Can You Purchase Alcohol on the Disney Dining Plan?
Yes! And no…
No, you cannot purchase an alcoholic beverage directly with your Disney Dining Plan, however, you can get alcohol with it. Table Service dining comes with one entree, one dessert, and one beverage. For those over 21, the beverage can be one alcoholic beverage.
Children under 21 are able to trade their beverage for a specialty beverage like a slushie, milkshake, or mocktail.
Dining Experiences that Require 2 Table Service Dining Credits
Some dining experiences require the use of 2 Table Service credits because of their cost. This will apply to Signature Dining, dinner shows, or popular upscale character dining like Cinderella’s Royal Table, Akershus Royal Banquet, and Be Our Guest.
Full List of Restaurants that Require 2 Table Service Credits:
- Cinderella’s Royal Table
- Akershus Royal Banquet Hall
- Be Our Guest
- Storybook Dining at Artist Point with Snow White
- Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue
- Hollywood Brown Derby
- Le Cellier
- Monsieur Paul
- Flying Fish Cafe
- California Grill
- Yachtsman Steakhouse
Room Service on the Disney Dining Plan!
Unfortunately, this particular perk is only available to the fanciest among us who stay at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa. For 2 Table Service credits per person, you can get one entree, one dessert, and one beverage (alcoholic for those 21 and over!) to be delivered to your room!
Order a Pizza with Your Disney Dining Plan!
Picture it – You are on a Disney vacation with your family and it’s day 4. Everyone is pretty tired, but also getting hungry. With the Disney Dining Plan you don’t have to fret! For 2 Quick Service credits you can order a Disney pizza with 2 beverages. Who doesn’t love pizza night!
Disney pizza is available at the following resorts:
- Disney’s All Star Sports Resort
- Disney’s All Star Music Resort
- Disney’s All Star Movie Resort
- Disney’s Art of Animation Resort
- Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort
- Disney’s Pop Century Resort
- Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – French Quarter
- Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – Riverside
What to Do With Unused Credits on the Disney Dining Plan?
Unused dining credits expire at midnight on your check out day. DO. NOT. LET. THIS. HAPPEN.
You paid for all of these dining credits so be sure to use every last one.
What to Do With Remaining Snack Credits
If you have a few snack credits left over, hit up your resort dining area before you go. You can use the snack credits to purchase packaged snacks in the cafeteria, or any of the to-go items. You can save these for the long trip back home!
What to Do With Remaining Quick-Service Credits
The obvious answer is to get one last meal! But assuming that’s not an option, your Quick Service credits can be used as 3 snack credits, as long as they are all in the same transaction. Go down to your resort’s dining area and grab 3 muffins, 3 cupcakes, 3 prepacked packs of candy, or a blend of all 3.
Live your best life, but don’t waste credits!
What to Do With Remaining Table Service Credits
Oof. That hurts. Real talk – You will not be able to squeeze the value out of remaining Table Service credits. Table service credits can also be used as Quick Service credits, so the “What to Do With Remaining Quick Service Credits” applies.
How to Purchase the Disney Dining Plan
Only guests staying at a Walt Disney World Resort are eligible to purchase the Disney Dining Plan. In order to purchase, you must first book a vacation package with a Walt Disney World Resort.
Remember, if you purchase the Disney Dining Plan, everyone in your room must also purchase the plan, and you will automatically have the plan for every day that you are booked in your Disney Resort.
Don’t worry if you aren’t planning on going into the parks every day of your stay. You can either save up your credits from your rest day to enjoy a bigger splurge on signature dining on your park day, or you can use your credits outside of the parks at one of the many resort restaurants.
Keep Track of Your Disney Dining Plan Credits
The easiest way to spend your credits is with the Disney Magic Band or the Magic Band+. That simple tap convenience is great for just relaxing and enjoying your vacation, but it is easy to get carried away.
Thankfully, Disney makes it easy for you to keep track of your Disney Dining Plan credits right in the My Disney Experience app. You can see what credits you have used and what you have remaining.
It’s important to note that the credits go into a “pool” for all of the guests staying in a room. So, if a family of 4 has the plan for 5 days , the credits aren’t broken down to Mom’s credits, Dad’s credits, etc. It would simply say there are a total of 20 Table Service Credits, 20 Quick Service Credits, and 20 Snack credits. It does not discern adult vs. child, or the individual.
What to Do For Kids Under 3
While you are under the age of three at Disney World you are thing magical age that gets a lot of things for free. There are no theme park admission tickets required for your little ones under three. If they are under three you also don’t have to buy the Disney Dining Plan for them either. It’s totally acceptable for these little ones to eat off your plate at a restaurant and if you are at a buffet they are even welcome to get their own plate of food.
If you think your little one is up for a whole meal I would still advise against getting the dining plan for them. You would have to add a ticket to the package for them as well and at that point, you are 100% better off just paying out of pocket for their meal.
Tips For Getting the Best Bang For Your Buck With the Disney Dining Plan
- Don’t purchase from the children’s menu at Quick-Service restaurants. If it’s too much food for your kids, have them share an adult meal.
- SHARE, SHARE, SHARE – The Disney Dining Plan is a lot of food for kids. Have them share meals or snacks when you can so you can save up credits for something fun like an EPCOT festival
- Be the Fun Mom! The credits are already purchased. Let them choose what they want without looking at the price tag. You’re on vacation, too.
- Be Bougie – Pick the most expensive items on the menu because you can
- Go for the Steak and the Characters! – Character meals always have an increased cost due to the special experience you get while dining. Another great way to increase the value of the Disney Dining Plan is by ordering the most expensive item off the menu. The most expensive menu item is typically the steak hence the name of the headline.
Is the Disney Dining Plan Worth It?
Determining whether the Disney Dining Plan is worth it depends on several factors and personal preferences. For guests who enjoy dining experiences, especially table-service meals and character dining, the dining plan can provide convenience and potentially save money. It allows you to prepay for your meals, providing a structured approach to dining and eliminating the need to carry cash or constantly check prices. The dining plan can be particularly beneficial for those who want to budget for their meals in advance and take advantage of the included snacks and refillable drink mugs.
However, for guests who prefer quick-service meals, eat lightly, or value flexibility in their dining choices, the dining plan may not offer as much value. It’s essential to compare the cost of the dining plan to what you would typically spend on meals without it, considering factors such as the number of days you’ll be staying and the type of dining experience you’re interested in.
Additionally, it’s important to make advanced dining reservations, especially for popular restaurants and character dining experiences, as availability can be limited. Ultimately, evaluating your dining preferences, budget, and vacation plans will help determine whether the Disney Dining Plan is worth it for your specific needs.
We’ll be perfectly honest – The cost of the plan versus what you would pay out of pocket is almost the same, even with choosing more expensive options and restaurants, so why do it? Do it because it takes away the anxiety of swiping your credit card every 5 minutes. Do it because you can easily plan your vacation more easily, and have everything paid for before you arrive. Do it because it makes it easier to be the fun “Yes Mom”. Do it because Disney is a magical place, and paying a bill at the end of a meal is anything but magical.
More Disney Dining Tips
- Worst Disney Dining Sit Down Restaurants
- Best Places to Eat with Kids at Disney World
- Best Disney World Restaurants
- Worst Quick Service Dining at Disney
- Most Underrated Disney World Restaurants
I am a mother of three that has refused to grow up. Adulting is for the birds, so I go to Disney World every chance I get for that magical escape from reality. I believe that Haunted Mansion is the best ride in all of the Disney Parks, and I am fervently in team Happily Ever After for fireworks spectaculars, (sorry, not sorry, Enchanted). Finally, I hope I never grow tired of skipping down Main Street, USA, and my dream come true would be “friends with” the Fairy Godmother in my old age.
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