Disney Dining Plan - Dad's complete guide
Dad, should we be on a Disney Dining Plan?
I get asked that question all the time. Everyone wants to know the best way to pay for Disney World food. All those great restaurants, those fancy menus, will one of Disney's plans save you money?
Dad's answer is a highly qualified, wishy washy, squishy...
Yes, I know, that's not very helpful, but it's true. There are a lot of variables that go into choosing whether or not to have a dining plan, and which one to choose.
But that's why your here, so on we go.
Yorkshire County Fish Shop
Photo by Jeff_B
A few years ago, because of the popularity of all-inclusive resort vacations, Disney introduced the Disney Dining Plan. It was a way for guests to pre-pay for their meals at Disney World restaurants.
Instead of an unlimited number of meals, Disney's plan includes a certain number of meals (the type depends on the plan you choose) and snacks per person per night of your stay.
Here are the top current plans including prices, what's included and a link to the brochure from Disney.
Quick-Service Dining Plan
The Quick Service Plan is the least expensive of the plans. It includes 2 quick-service meal credits, and 1 snack credits per person per night of your stay plus a refillable mug for each guest.
Quick Service restaurants are those restaurants where you order at a counter and serve yourself.
The Quick Service Plan costs
- Adults $41.99
- Children (ages 3-9) $16.03
The mid-level plan needs a new name. Disney just calls it the Dining Plan, but if you call and talk to reservations they call it the "Plus" plan. Whatever you call it, here are the details.
The Dining Plan includes 1 table-service meal credit, one quick-servie meal credit and one snack per person per night. Also each guest gets a refillable mug.
The Dining Plan costs -
- Adults - $60.04
- Children (3-9) $19.23
Table service restaurants are those restaurants where there you have a waiter or waitress. Some table service restaurants require 2 credits (see signature dining below).
Deluxe Dining Plan
The Deluxe Dining Plan is the most expensive of the basic Disney Dining Plans. It includes lots and lots of food.
This one is pretty close to being all-inclusive. It includes 3 table-service credits and 2 snack credits per person per night plus the refillable mug.
The Deluxe Dining Plan costs -
- Adult - $109.53
- Children (ages 3-9) $29.86
Three sit down meals per day is a lot of food and takes a lot of time.
*Important things you need to know
Gratuities are not included in any plan.
Here is what you can get at each meal.
Breakfast includes a choice from the menu of 1 juice, 1 entree, 1 non-alcoholic beverage or 1 buffet from participating restaurants. See the brochures below for restaurant lists.
Lunch or Dinner
Each meals includes a menu choice of 1 appetizer (children) 1 entree, 1 dessert, and 1 single serving non-alcoholic drink or 1 buffet at a participating restaurant. See the brochures below for participating restaurants. (Some entrees are excluded like the one below.)
Photo by sanctumsolitude
Snacks include 1 frozen ice cream novelty, single serving box of popcorn, bag of chips, piece of fruit, 20-oz. bottle of Coke, Diet Coke, Sprite or Dasani water, medium fountain soft drink, 12-oz. coffee, hot chocolate or hot tea.
All Disney Dining Plans now include a refillable mug. Every Resort has at least one location where you can fill your mugs.
This is a little tricky. The Disney Dining Plan is an option to the Magic Your Way ticket, and it only available to guests of Disney World resorts. So if you're not staying in a Disney hotel, you're not eligible.
Not all guests that stay at Disney hotels have access to the dining plans. For example, if you book your vacation through Expedia.com, there is no way to add the dining plan to your reservation. (This is one of the reasons Dad suggests using a travel agent like Destinations to Travel.)
To insure you're reservations are eligible for dining, when you look at ticket options, make sure they say something like, plus dining.
Again, Dad says maybe. Disney says it will save you 20% - 40% depending on the plan. That may be true if you eat every meal at the most expensive restaurants and order the most expensive thing on the menu. Dad's big rant about the Disney dining plan.
Dad, being helpful, has creates some spreadsheets that will help you figure out if one of the plans will save you money. Download one today.
To get all the instructions and more information for the page check out ...
How does it work?
Present your Key to the Kingdom (room key) card to your server prior to ordering, and then order as usual. When the bill comes it will include any item not covered and a suggested tip amount based on the actual price of the meal. (Tips are not included.)
Hey, Dad, what do you mean by credits?
Credits are Disney's way of counting your meals. Some meals cost 2 credits (see Signature Dining below). You can use your credits any time. If you want to use three quick service credits in one day and none the next, that's OK. Your credits are based on the number of nights of your stay.
Some of the Disney World restaurants are called Signature Restaruants for the Disney Dining Plan. These restaurants require 2 table service credits instead of 1. The Signature Restaurants are -
- In the Hotels
- Jiko (Animal Kingdom Lodge)
- Flying Fish (Boardwalk Inn & Villas)
- Californa Grill (Contemporary Resort)
- Citricos (Grand Floridian)
- Narcoossee's (Grand Floridian)
- Spirit of Aloha Dinner Show (Polynesian)
- Artist Point (Wilderness Lodge)
- Yachtsman Steakhouse (Yacht and Beach Club)
- In the Parks
- Hollywood Brown Derby (Disney Hollywood Stuidos)
- Le Cellier - dinner only (Epcot)
- Cinderella's Royal Table (Magic Kingdom)
Photo by Zengrll
- It's all or nothing - everyone in your party must be on the plan for the duration of your stay.
- You can make Advanced Dining Reservations (necessary at most sit-down restaurants) 180 day prior to your arrival. You can make them on the Disney World dining reservation page.
- Make sure you plan for tips. They are not included.
- Some restaurants count as 2 meals. See the lists in the brochures.
For more information about the Disney Dining Plan check out Dad's buddy over at DisneyDining.com.
Disney didn't create the Disney Dining Plan to save you money. Yep, I know, it's disappointing but it's true. Disney wants you to buy a dining plan and not use it to the fullest. In Dad's opinion it's real hard to save money with the dining plans.
Make sure you do your homework before buying one.