Be Our Guest may be the most interesting restaurant on the Disney Dining Plan - Photo by Judd Helms
This is part one in our series about how to use the Disney Dining Plan. This is going to be very basic. We're going to break this up into three parts. This week we're just going to talk about the basics. Next week we'll talk about Quick Service, then we'll talk about Table Service. We might also talk about the Deluxe Dining Plan later on as well.
The Contemporary Resort qualifies - Photo by Cliff Wang
So, how does the Disney Dining Plan work? First you have to be a guest of a Disney hotel, not the Swan and Dolphin and not the Good Neighbor hotels over in Disney Springs. It's just the Disney hotels. So, you gotta be a Disney hotel guest. Everybody on your reservation and everybody in your room has to be on the Disney Dining Plan. All of you have to do it.
There's no, "Well, I don't want my three year old on it because it doesn't make any sense for a three year old," and it doesn't, but they have to be on it if they're on your reservation. And if they're staying in your room they should be on your reservation. So, everybody in the room and for the entire length of stay. You can't say, "Well, I only want it for the first three days. I don't want it for the last three days." It's gotta be for the entire length of your stay.
Snacks are part of all the "plans" - Photo by Cliff Wang
After that you get a certain number of credits depending on the plan you choose. There are three different "plans" . There's the Quick Service Plan, the regular plan which is called the Disney Dining Plan (very confusing), and the Deluxe Plan. There used to be some more levels above the Deluxe but they've done away with those.
For each "plan" you get assigned credits. The credits for each plan are:
Quick Service Plan -
2 Quick Service Meals
Disney Dining Plan
1 Quick Service Meal
1 Table Service Meal
3 Meals (Quick Service or Table Service)
The number of credits you get depends on the number of days of your stay. So if you're there for six nights and you're on the Table Service Plan, you get one Table Service and one Quick Service credit per day. That means you’ve got six Table Services credits and six Quick Services credits plus two snacks credits per person per night. That makes twelve snacks.
Every night you get a set of credits per night of your reservation. A six night reservation means six sets of credits. You can use those credits at any time. You don't have to use credits every day. You could use them all on the first day and be done with your Disney Dining Plan and not use any for the rest of your trip. You don't have to use them at all, Disney doesn't care if you use them at all. You can also still pay cash at anytime for any meal. You don't have to just use the Disney Dining Plan credits. You can pay cash for a meal at any time!
We probably ought to talk about the difference between Quick Service and Table Service.
Disney Restaurants are divided into 3 categories. Those categories are Quick Service, Table Service and Signature. Quick Service restaurants are where you go to a counter and order. Table Service and Signature Restaurants a server comes to your table and takes your order. The difference between Table Service and Signature Restaurants is Signature restaurants cost more.
So not that that's out of the way, here's how to use your Disney Dining Plan. When you go to a restaurant, if you're going to a Quick Service restaurant they'll ask you when you order if you’re on the Dining Plan. They'll show you were to put your Magic Band and you’ll scan it to pay for your meal with credits. If you're at a Table Service restaurant, they've got a little scanner they carry around and they'll scan your Magic Band. You tell them you're on the Disney Dining Plan and then you use your Disney Dining Plan to pay for your meals with your credits.
At Table Service restaurants tipping is not included. Tipping can be a bit of a challenge with the Disney Dining Plan. If you're using your Magic Band to do all your purchases, it can get a little hard to put tips on the Magic Band. It's something that Disney just hasn't quite worked out. I don't know why because they've been doing this for years, but it's just not easy. I take cash. I used cash everywhere when we're using the Disney Dining Plan, tips are always in cash. But you can put them on your Magic Bands. You can put them on a credit card, you can do it however you like.
A Dole Whip is the perfect snack - Photo by Wayne Wood
There are snacks on all levels of the Disney Dining Plan. Snacks are things like, Cokes, popcorn, Dole Whips, pretzels. On all of the menu boards there's a little purple Disney Dining Plan icon that shows snacks. So, if you want to know if the item that you want is a snack and you can use a snack credit for it, check that menu board. I know when we're going to the Food and Wine Festival or Flower and Garden Festival and Festival of the Arts, that's the best place to use those snack credits 'cause you get something worth $6 or $7 for a snack credit versus a $2.50 Coke.
Refillable Mugs are cool! - Photo by Stephanie Shuster
Everybody on the Disney Dining Plan gets a refillable mug. We love the refillable mugs. They’re really cool. You take them to the drink machines, you put them on the machine, you press the button for the drink you want and your cup fills up. Love the refillable mugs. They only work at the resorts though. The refillable mugs don't work in the parks (yet).
Turning meals into snacks doesn't make much sense - Photo by Cliff Wang
You will want to use all your credits if you’re on the Disney Dining Plan. If you don't use all your credits, you've wasted money and should have just paid for your meals.
One thing you can do, though I don’t recommend it since it's not a good use of credits, is take quick service credits and turn them into snacks. One Quick Service credit will turn into three snack credits. So you're taking a $25 meal and turning it into around $10 worth of snacks. It doesn't make a lot of sense to do that, but a lot of people do. A lot of people. I actually heard somebody on one of my trips that said, "I got 40 snack credits ready to go. I'm going to buy ..." It's crazy, but you can do it.
For more information about the Disney Dining Plan go over to...
The bottom line is the Disney Dining Plan is pretty simple. You get credits that you can use at any meal. Tell the server at the restaurant you are on the Dining Plan and scan your MagicBand. Use credits whenever you want. That's it. Simple Fun, Magic.
We will talk about Quick Service meals next week, but those are the basics of how the Disney Dining Plan works.