As part of our continuing series on how the Disney Dining Plan works, it's time to talk about using the Deluxe Dining Plan.
How the Deluxe Dining Plan Works
Breakfast or Lunch at Be Our Guest... Not a good idea - Photo by Cliff Wang
The Deluxe Dining Plan is kind of a different animal from the others. It's, number one, more expensive but number two, it doesn't take into account whether you eat at a Quick Service or a Table Service restaurant. You are given meal credits.
Everybody gets three meal credits and two snack credits. So if you go to a Quick Service restaurant (like Casey's Corner), that's a meal credit. If you go to a Table Service restaurant (like 'Ohana), that's a meal credit. If you go to a signature restaurant (like Le Cellier), or a dinner show (like the Hoop Dee Doo Revue), or Cinderella's Royal Table, that's two credits. (The regular two credit restaurants count as two meal credits.)
How to use it
Like all the Disney Dining Plan options, the Deluxe Dining Plan is easy to use. Whoever takes your order will probably ask you if you are on the Dining Plan. Tell them yes. When it comes time to pay, they will scan your MagicBand and your credits will "pay" for the meal.
You will be able to track your remaining credits through your My Disney Experience app. Also receipts will have remaining credits on them and you can also go to Concierge desks at the hotel and they can tell you your remaining credits.
The best use of Deluxe meal credits is at Table Service Restaurants or at one of the two credit restaurants. Using meals at Quick Service Restaurants doesn't give you the best value for your money.
The Fine Print
Like the other Disney Dining Plan options, you must be staying in a Disney hotel to qualify for the Deluxe Dining Plan. Everyone over 3 in your party must be on the plan and it must be for the whole length of your stay.
Dad's thoughts on the Deluxe Dining Plan
Now, I know a lot of people really like the Deluxe Dining Plan. It's very convenient. You don't have to think about paying for food. You can go to a restaurant. You got three meals a day to use. Most people eat three meals a day. Sounds pretty good.
I'm just going to say it. I had some problems with the Deluxe Dining Plan, just like I have with all the Disney Dining Plans, but especially with the Deluxe Plan.
It's Too Much Food
Number one, it's way too much for food. Three table serving meals per day. That's a lot of food. We have that experience when we were our Disney cruise last month. When we were on a cruise you goe all the food you can eat. It just keeps coming and coming.
We like a big breakfast. Then lunch rolled around and another big meal. Dinner was always a big dinner, and there was usually a lot of desserts. It was always a lot of food and we were always just walking around with our bellies going, "Oh." It got to the point where when we came back over off the ship, we really didn't want to eat.
So what does our cruise have to do with the Deluxe Dining Plan? Everything. Just like the Deluxe Dining Plan we ate 3 big meals a day. Every day. It was too much food. We were always stuffed. We got to the point where we started just grabbing a light lunch. If you do that on the Deluxe Plan you're not getting the value.
It Takes Too Long
The second thing is It just takes too long to eat three Table Service meals per day. A Table Service meal takes on average about an hour and a half. That's four and a half hours per day eating meals. That's a lot of time not touring. Plus if you spend an hour or more every morning eating breakfast while the parks are filling up with people and lines are getting longer and longer... I think you get my point.
Show Me The Savings
Number three. I don't think most people get the true value of it. I know people say, "I've saved hundreds of dollars. I saved thousands of dollars." I'm one of those, you got to show me. I don't live in the show me state. I don't live in Missouri, but I live close enough to Missouri where I got this 'show me' attitude. Show me that you're actually saving money by using the dining plan.
Yes, It Can Work
I know the Deluxe Dining Plan is convenient. I know, if you work at it, if you plan your restaurants, if you choose the most expensive menu items, you can save money. That being said, if you eat at Cinderella's Royal table, and you use two credits, you lose money. If you go to the Hoop-Dee-Doo Revue, you lose money. I think there's only one two credit restaurant which actually, you do better than Disney if you use the Dining Plan.
If you go to one Quick Service restaurant and use a meal credit, you've lost money that day. There's just no way to make it up.
If you break it down you have to spend $35 for every meal and $5 for every snack to break even. If you spend less than that you've lost money.
Do the Math
I recommend that before you book the Deluxe Dining Plan or any of the Disney Dining Plans, that you do the math. We have calculators that will help you figure out if the Dining Plan makes sense for you.
Do the math. Look up the menus, see what you would eat, get the price and put it in the calculator. If you will save money then great, book the plan. If not, skip it.
Don't Throw Money at Disney
There's no reason for you to just throw money at Disney. They love it when you do that, but I believe you spend enough money on a vacation. There's no need to overspend.
Just because the Dining Plan sounds cool, and it's fun, and it's convenient, a lot of people like it, and a lot of people use it doesn't mean it's the best idea for you. It's the old thing mom used to say, "If everyone is..."
Dad's Bottom Line
If you want to use the Deluxe Disney Dining Plan, that's great. That's up to you, that's fine. But do your homework and see if it really is going to save you money. If you can really spend hours every day eating meals. If you are willing to eat three big meals per day then go for it.
PS. Remember, you don't get any refunds if you don't use your Dining Plan.
What do you think about the Deluxe Dining Plan? Have you used it? Did it save you money? Tell me below in the comments. I'd love to hear what you think.