The Disney Dining Plan is one of the most unique and most talked about aspects of the Disney resorts. The concept is simple – pay up front for all your meals, and you don’t have to think about it or pay every time you purchase a meal. You get an allotted amount of meal credits for your trip and you can split those up as you please. Simply scan your MagicBand and be on your way!
However, for some people it can be overwhelming to try and figure out how it all works. There are three different levels, and of course the most important question – does it really save you money? Is it really WORTH it? What constitutes a quick service meal and a table service meal? How many meals do you get?
Here you will find a complete break down of the Disney Dining Plan. I will also break down cost to answer all your questions. We have been using the Dining Plan since it first rolled out in the early 2000’s. We have seen it go through many changes, but we still love it and use it every time!
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The Different Plans
There are three different levels of the Disney Dining Plan to choose from. They are as follows:
- Quick Service Dining Plan: Includes 2 quick service meals per night per person, 2 snacks, and 1 refillable mug per person
- Dining Plan: Includes 1 quick service meal per night per person, 1 table service meal, 2 snacks, and 1 refillable mug per person
- Deluxe Dining Plan: 3 meals (quick service OR table service) 2 snacks and 1 refillable mug per person per night
As far as pricing goes, it varies depending on how many people are in your party. If you’re traveling with 4 people for 6 nights, 7 days, you’re looking at about $900 additional for the Quick Service Dining Plan. The Dining Plan runs at about $1200, and the Deluxe Dining Plan will set you back about $1900. You can easily check the pricing of each plan on the Disney World website when you are booking your vacation package.
The Difference Between a Snack, Quick Service and Table Service
Before selecting a dining plan, it’s important to know what the difference is between each type of meal. This will help you determine what level plan you should get – would your party be ok doing a quick service meal for every meal or would you rather have table service?
- Snack: A snack is pretty self explanatory – pretzels, dole whips, churros, and other items purchased at stands or some quick service locations are considered snacks. Drinks and bottled beverages also count as snacks. So if you buy a Mickey Pretzel and a Dasani water bottle, that is your 2 snack credits for the day. You can also use snack credits in gift shops to buy candy, rice crispy treats, lollipops, etc.
- Quick Service: A quick service meal are the meals you can purchase at counter service restaurants like Cosmic Ray’s or Casey’s. You head up to the counter, place your order, and about 10 minutes later your meal is ready and you set yourself in a food court style setting. These meals generally come with a side, dessert, and drink.
- Table Service: Any restaurant where you are seated by a hostess and waited on by staff. This also includes dinner shows and speciality dining packages, as well as character dining.
Your credits are not limited to one per day. Instead you get a lump sum of credits. For example, if you are staying 7 nights, you will get 7 table service, 7 quick service, and 14 snack credits. You can use those however you want – you could, theoretically, use up all 14 of your snacks on the first day. Obviously, you want to plan out how to use your credits so you can plan for your whole trip.
There are some exceptions to the dining plan. Some speciality shops will not accept the dining plan for snacks in Disney Springs, like Sprinkles. Some character dining also requires more than one dining credit – Be Our Guest recently opened for dinner, and that requires 2 table service credits. This means you will have to pay out of pocket for one of your dining experiences or plan to skip to quick service that day so you have remaining credits.
Some signature dining requires 2 table service credits as well. Be sure you consult the Disney World website when you’re planning your dining reservations to make sure you have enough credits to cover your meals!
Tips are not included, so those need to be paid per meal. Be sure you include these in your budget (grabbing Disney Gift Cards to use for tips before you go is a GREAT way to anticipate for those!)
Finally, Dining Plans can ONLY be purchased with a vacation package. So unfortunately if you book your room separately, you cannot go back in and add the plan afterwards.
So, is it worth it?
This is the biggest question I’ve heard people ask. After all, the Dining Plan is NOT cheap, even at the Quick Service level. So, does this steep cost really end up saving you money? Let’s take a look!
Let’s say, for the sake of the argument, that you are a family of 4 (two adults and two kids) dining at the Coral Reef Restaurant. If you purchased the cheapest entrees on the menu and non-alcoholic beverages, you’d be paying around $93. With a 20% tip, you’re up to around $112 for one meal.
Using that example I gave above, for a family of 4 staying 6 nights, you’ll end up saving money with the Quick Service and classic Dining Plan options. When you’d be paying around 700 dollars to eat out just for your table service each night, your snacks and quick service meals will end up pushing you over the cost of the dining plan. So yes, you WILL save money!
Does that mean the Deluxe Plan isn’t worth it? Not necessarily. If you’re going to be dining at table service for all your meals you’ll definitely save money, or you can use those extra credits for the signature dining – which will DEFINITELY save you money.
Finally, dining plans can – and often do! – go on sale as well! They’ll even be FREE at certain times of the year! I recommend when you book your vacation to continue checking the Disney World website up until your trip date. You’ll be able to see if Dining Plans go on sale and if your package qualifies, you can call their customer service line and get the sale price – and a refund for the difference!
So, all in all – I personally recommend the Disney Dining Plan. My family always does the middle tier plan – the classic Dining Plan – and have never felt like we ended up overpaying. We always use all our credits, have plenty of food, and end up saving money in the process.
Have you used the Disney Dining Plan? What did you think? Leave a comment below!