The Disney Dining Plan Dissected
Disney World offers three Dining Plan options: The Disney Quick-Service Dining Plan, The Disney Dining Plan, and the Disney Deluxe Dining Plan. For the purposes of this blog, we’ll be focusing on the most popular option: The Disney Dining Plan.
The Disney Dining Plan comes with the following per person per night of stay: one sit-down credit (can be used for character meals), one quick-service credit, and two snack credits. Each person also receives a refillable mug that can be used at their Resort hotel for unlimited refills of soda, hot chocolate, coffee, etc. And new for 2018, the Disney Dining Plan comes with one specialty beverage per person per meal, including an alcoholic beverage for guests 21+ at locations that serve alcohol.
The 2018 Disney Dining Plan costs $75.49 per adult (ages 10+) and $25.75 per child (ages 3-9) per night, including tax. While this may seem like a significant amount of money on paper, the Dining Plan is still a good value under many circumstances. We recommend
considering the following factors when deciding whether or not to add the Disney Dining Plan to your vacation package (if you answer “yes” to at least two of these questions, the Dining Plan is likely a good value for you):
Do you generally enjoy a sit-down meal on each day of vacation?
If so, it’s nice to have all of your meals paid for and taken care of before your trip so you don’t have to worry about it while you’re there!
Do you have children under the age of 10?
Adults are more likely to break even on the Disney Dining Plan, whereas children almost always save some money.
Will you likely be booking a few character meals?
Character meals are very expensive out-of-pocket. For example, dinner with the princesses at Akershus Royal Banquet Hall in Epcot costs at least $28.55 per child (sometimes more, depending on the time of year). That alone is more than the cost of that child’s Dining Plan for the entire day!
Miscellaneous “Good-to-Know” Items About the Disney Dining Plan
Read on for answers to Disney Dining Plan FAQ's!
What about children under the age of 3?
Children under the age of 3 are not included in the Disney Dining Plan. However, they are welcome to share any family member’s plate for no charge. And at character buffets, they can get their own plate for free. Of course, parents can also choose to purchase a meal out-of-pocket for children under 3.
What do I get with my meal credit?
A quick-service credit includes an entrée with a side (think burger and fries, sandwich and chips, entrée salad, etc) and a beverage. A sit-down credit comes with the same thing PLUS a dessert. If you’re using a sit-down credit for a character buffet, it covers the complete cost of the meal.
Where can I use my Dining Plan credits?
At hundreds of locations. Dining Plan credits can be used at the vast majority of restaurants at Disney Resort hotels, all four theme parks, the water parks, Disney Springs, and Disney’s Boardwalk Area.
Do children have to order off of the kids’ menu?
At sit-down restaurants, yes. But at quick-service restaurants, children can order off either menu. Adult portions are generally large enough to split between a couple of kids, so this will stretch your quick-service credits farther.
Can I add the Disney Dining Plan for some people in my group but not others?
No. Everyone under the same reservation must have the same Disney Dining Plan...or none at all.
Can I add the Disney Dining Plan for only a portion of my stay?
No. The Dining Plan must be added for your entire length of stay.
Does the Disney Dining Plan include gratuity?
No. With the exception of Cinderella’s Royal Table, gratuity is not included.
What can I use my snack credits for?
Generally speaking, a snack credit can be used to purchase just about any menu
item under $5, but there are lots of more expensive exceptions to this rule. The foolproof way to tell if an item qualifies for a snack credit is to look for the purple Disney Dining Plan logo on menus at quick-service restaurants and snack carts. If the logo appears next to an item, you can use a snack credit for it! Snack options are so extensive that it’s impossible to list them all here, but some of the more popular choices are as follows:
Mickey Bars and other ice cream novelties
Starbucks Beverages (including specialty espresso drinks!)
Frozen Non-Alcoholic Beverages
Pastries (including cinnamon rolls as big as your head at Gaston’s Tavern!)
Cookies and other desserts
Single-serving pre-packaged snacks (think chips, pretzels, etc)
And there you have it, folks: the "ins and outs" of the Disney Dining Plan! Need clarification on anything you see here? Interested in getting our expert opinion on whether or not the Dining Plan would be a good value for your family? Looking for a free, no-obligation quote on the perfect Disney World vacation package for your group? We're happy to help! Call or e-mail us today!
Meredith McCutcheon: Owner and Disney Vacation Specialist