Part of the allure of going to Disney is indulging in some of the most delicious foods around. Disney has hundreds of restaurants from quick service, table service, dinner shows, character dining, and amazing treat locations. Let’s take a look at the Disney Dining Plans as well as our best tips and tricks for using it!
Types of Disney Dining Plans
There are four options for dining plans at Disney. The first option is Disney’s Quick-Service Dining Plan. This plan allows you to enjoy two meals at any of the hundreds of quick-service locations each day.
The second option is Disney’s Dining Plan which is the classic dining option. On this plan, you enjoy one quick-service meal and one table service meal a day.
The third option is Disney’s Deluxe Dining Plan. This plan is more flexible and many families opt for this choice. You receive three meals a day and can use your credits in any combination of quick service, table service, dinner shows, or signature dining locations.
Disney recently added a fourth option which is the Disney Dining Plan Plus. This plan is similar to the regular Dining Plan; however, you can choose to use the two meals a day on either quick service or table service.
How to Purchase and Use the Dining Plan
Any of the Disney Dining Plans need to be purchased prior to your vacation. You can add the plan right when you book your vacation, or if you aren’t sure if you want to add the plan just yet, you can always wait and add it later to your reservation.
To use your plan your first step is to choose a restaurant. Disney’s website provides you a list of all the restaurants you can use your Dining Plan on in case you are not sure. Then in order to redeem at the restaurant, you need to show your ID or scan your magic band. You are able to track your dining credits through your My Disney Experience app or simply viewing your receipt from the meal you just had.
Tips to Make the Disney Meal Plan Worth it!
Although the dining plans may seem straightforward, there are many tips and tricks to make the most out of your plan. First, if you don’t plan to spend more than $60 a day per person, you might not see great value in the dining plans. To put that into perspective, each adult table service is worth about $40 which includes a beverage, dessert, entree, and an appetizer for those on the deluxe meal. Child table service meals have a value of about $13. For more on the 2020 plans read this.
All at Once
From the moment you check-in, all your meal credits are available. Meaning, you have access to all the credits and can use as many as you want on a given day. Many don’t realize this and try to eat more than they can on a given day as a result. However, you are actually able to use your points as you please. You want to use all your snack credits in one day…go for it! Or if you want to eat at two quick-service meals one day and two table service meals the next day, you can!
Sharing is Caring
Credits do not have to be used on every person in the party at every restaurant. Buffets and other all-you-can-eat restaurants are the only exceptions because everyone needs to use their credits in order to eat there.
If you have anyone under the age of three in your party, though, they are able to eat from your plate, so you don’t have to use a credit! At quick service and table service restaurants; however, there is some wiggle room. One person can order a meal and then share it with someone else in their party. Although you’re not supposed to split meals on the plan, cast members won’t typically stop you from doing it. Here is our list of great meals to split.
Exchanging DDP Credits
You can also exchange one of your quick service credits for three snack items at most quick service locations. All three snack credits must be used as dining plan snacks and must be purchased together. This is useful to those that want three sides rather than one meal or want extra sides.
Go for the Umbrella Drinks!
On any of the plans, you get a beverage with your meal. In order to make the most of your meal plan, you never want to just get water or soda. Instead, upgrade your drink to a specialty drink or an alcoholic drink. However, if you don’t drink or have kids aged 10-20 (who are charged the adult rate) it is hard to get your money’s worth beverage wise.
Breakfast Makes it Hard to Get Back Value
Breakfast, although delicious, is not worth wasting your credits on. Breakfast is typically the cheapest meal at Disney World so you’re better off using credits for lunch and dinner. However, if you plan to attend a character breakfast you definitely want to use your credit since those tend to run pricey and can carry a price tag of about $30-$60.
Use Your Kids Credits on Adult Meals
Kid credits have some wiggle room as well on the dining plan. You can use kid credits on adult entrees at quick-service locations. Additionally, if your kids don’t like anything on the kid’s menu, they can order something off the adult menu and it will be a child-sized portion.
Find the Most Expensive Snacks
Snack credits can be used for more than just your typical snacks. For example, you can use them on bakery items, meal sides, pretzels, and nonalcoholic drinks. On the menu, there will be a purple symbol that designates what Disney says is worth a snack credit.
During Epcot’s Food and Wine Festival, you can also use a snack credit for most tasting portions. You can also use your snack credits to get drinks from Starbucks. If you get a large drink, you are definitely saving money by using the dinning snack credit.
A good rule of thumb is to try to find a snack that is at least $5 to make the most out of your credits. A good tip is not to use your snack credits on bottled water since you get water with every sit-down meal and there are fountains all around Disney where you can fill up your water bottles for free.
Skip if your Vegetarian or Vegan
Although the Dining Plans can accommodate any dietary needs, it may not be the most beneficial if you are a vegetarian. Many of the dishes that are the most expensive tend to be items such as steak and lobsters. Vegetarian meals on the other hand are typically the least expensive items on the menu. As a result, you won’t necessarily be saving much money by having the dining plan.
Best Sit Down Restaurants for Dining Plan
Disney is full of amazing restaurants. It is important to maximize your credits by choosing your restaurant wisely as you want to find meals that are on the pricey side. Epcot is home to many of these types of restaurants.
Via Napoli in Epcot is known for its pizza, yet it also has expensive and delicious Italian meals. You can also enjoy some wine and desserts. Chefs De France in Epcot’s France pavilion has many expensive entrées such as the Filet and amazing cheese plate.
The Grand Floridian Resort is known for their lavish design and restaurants. 1900 Park Fare is a great dinner option. This restaurant not only has mouthwatering food but also has great character interactions.
Another great character dining option is Storybook Dining at Artist Point at the Wilderness Lodge. Here you will interact with Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. They have one-of-a-kind drinks, and you can even get your soups in tiny cauldrons. The restaurant features many fish entrées, pasta options, and yummy meat options like the giant pot roast.
One of the main attractions at Disney is dinning at Cinderella’s Royal Table. You will be whisked away right into the castle up a winding staircase to meet your favorite princesses and devour a delicious meal. You will get the most out of your credits when you book for lunch or dinner. You can feast upon cured meats and cheeses, roasted chicken, pork rib, fish, beef tenderloin, or turkey pot pie to name just a few. Dessert is even more delicious as you can dive into their most famous dessert named ‘The Clock Strikes Twelve’ which is dark chocolate mousse with a dark chocolate ganache served with a raspberry coulis.
Conclusion on the Disney Dining Plan
The meal plan can be a great addition to your Disney vacation. However, make sure you really determine if it is best for your family prior to purchasing. Do the math, which includes all your tips, to make sure you maximize your credits. Once at Disney, the meal plan will be very convenient and can allow flexibility for you and your family if you do purchase it.
I have a background in elementary education, biology, and travel. Disney has always been a passion of mine since I was first there with my family when I was three years old. The joy and happiness it brings to people is just magical. As a result, we became Disney Vacation Club Members which has allowed us to visit often and with our large extended family. I hope to pass on my knowledge and experience of Disney World to others in order to make their trip flawless and one they will never forget.
Need More Help Planning Your Vacation?
A travel agent is an essential resource when planning a vacation. Reach out to Magical Travel and they will make sure your vacation is pure magic and no stress! Their services are 100% FREE to you!