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Disney Dining Plan - Dad's complete guide

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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?

 

Coral Reef Restaurant is on the Disney Dining PlanPhoto by Daily Disney Snapshots

 

Dad's answer is a highly qualified, wishy washy, squishy...

 

Maybe.

 

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.

The Lunching Pad

The Lunching PadPhoto by Pics from the World of Disney

What is it?

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.

Dad's Disney Dining Plan Basics

Lunch from Be Our Guest

Quick Service Lunch from Be Our GuestPhoto by Pics from the World of 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 2015 Quick Service Plan costs

  • Adults $41.99
  • Children (ages 3-9) $16.03

Now that's an appetizer

Calamari on the Disney Dining PlanPhoto by Disney Photo Snapper

Dining Plan

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-service 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.

Breakfast

Breakfast includes one entree or buffet and one juice or non-alcoholic beverage. See the brochures below for restaurant lists.

Toy Story Pizza PlanetPhoto by Pics from the World of Disney

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.)

Get a Dole Whip at Pineapple Lanai

A Dole Whip is the perfect snackPhoto by WDW Shutterbug

Snacks

As part of the big changes to the Disney Dining Plan in 2015 Snacks were totally redefined. Snacks are now anything that is considered a single serving size. For example

  • all single-serving non-alcoholic beverages (not in a souvenir container)
  • Soups
  • ice cream novelties
  • hand scooped ice cream up to 2 scoops (including sundaes)
  • Quick Service items listed as sides
  • breakfast items not considered entrees (orange juice, bacon, etc.)

A Quick Service Credit can now be exchanged for 3 snack items.

Refillable Mug

All Disney Dining Plans now include a refillable mug. Every Resort has at least one location where you can fill your mugs.

Who is eligible

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 with tickets (Annual Passes do qualify). So if you're not staying in a Disney hotel, or if you don't have tickets, 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.

Will it save money

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.

Teppan Edo is a fun place to eat

Teppan EdoPhoto by Daily Disney Snapshots

How does it work?

Tell your server you're on the dining plan prior to ordering (they will ask), 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.

 

You can use your Magic Band, or ticket to "pay" for the meal.

 

Remember - Tips are not included.

Credits

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.

That looks yummy

Akershus breakfastPhoto by Pics from the World of Disney

New Changes to the Disney Dining Plan

Recently Disney made some major changes to the Disney Dining Plan. It's now much more flexible. These changes allow you to more tailor your meals to your liking.

 

Changing dessert - you can now exchange your dessert for a side salad, cup of soup, or fruit plate. This is part of Disney's healthier eating program.

 

Invite a friend - previously you could not share credits with anyone outside of your party. Now you can. There are no limits to how many credits you can use at a meal (previously it was limited to how many were in your party). Invite a friend. Use up those credits.

 

Kids can eat from the adult menu with a catch - if you are on the Quick Service, Deluxe, Premium or Platnium Plan, you can choose from the childrens or the adult menu.

Signature Dining

Monsier Paul a Signature RestaurantPhoto by Daily Disney Snapshots

Signature Dining

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 - (Epcot)
  • Cinderella's Royal Table (Magic Kingdom)
  • Monsier Paul (Epcot)

Downtown Disney

  • The BOATHOUSE
  • Wolfgang Puck Grand Cafe
  • Fulton's Crab House
  • Morimoto Asia

Dad's Disney World Dining page

Other info

  • 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.

 

Dad's Bottom Line

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.

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