A big question I always see is if the Disney Dining Plan is worth it. This question as with all questions about Disney comes down to your group. Some people say that they will never use it again because it didn’t save them any money. Others claim that the Deluxe Dining plan is the greatest thing about Disney.
No matter where you sit on the fence on this particular issue, we are going to take a deep dive into the 3 different plans typical offered by Disney and break down the pros and cons of them. You may be surprised by the results.
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UPDATE: Don’t worry we added information on the new Disney Dining Plan Plus below.
WHAT IS IT?
What is the Disney Dining Plan? It is a prepaid meal plan that covers your snacks, quick service, and table service meals during your vacation. There are 3 different plans to choose from: Quick Service Dining Plan, Dining Plan, and Deluxe Dining Plan. Each plan offers a refillable resort mug, and 2 snacks per day.
The Quick Service plan offers 2 quick service meals per night of your stay. The Dining Plan offers 1 quick service meal and 1 table service meal per night of your stay. The Deluxe Plan offers 3 meals (quick or table service) per night of your stay.
As you would guess it the quick service plan is the cheapest option and the Deluxe Plan is the most expensive option. See the table below.
|Adult Price (10+)||Child Price (3-9)|
|Quick Service Plan 2 Snacks 2 Quick Service meals 1 refillable Mug|
|Dining Plan 2 Snacks 1 Quick Service 1 Table Service1 Refillable Mug|
|Deluxe Plan 2 Snacks 3 Meals 1 Refillable Mug|
DISNEY QUICK SERVICE PLAN
This is the plan I choose when it is just my daughter and I. Neither one of us want to be sitting down for an extended period of time and would rather be out and about in the park. This plan includes your refillable resort Mug (Can be used at ANY Disney Resort fountain soda filling station), 2 Snacks, and 2 quick service meals (1 entree or combo meal, 1 non alcoholic beverage/ Alcoholic beverage 21+).
In the table below you will find a two day break down of how it may look if you were on the quick service meal plan and if it will save you money or not. It is important to remember that you will receive 2 quick service meals PER NIGHT of your stay. So if you are staying 3 Nights 4 Days you will receive a total of 6 quick service credits per person.
|QS 1||QS2||Snack 1||Snack 2|
|Adult Day 1||Feast a la Gaston $28.00||Fajita Platter with soda $18.98||Citrus Swirl Float $5.99||Funnel Cake $6.99|
|Child Day 1||Scrambled Eggs $15.00||Mac and Cheese $6.99||Orange Cream Float $5.99||Cheshire Cat Tail $5.49|
|Adult Day 2||Sampler with soda $21.98||Combination Bowl with soda $19.98||Colossal Cinnamon Roll $7.49||Warm Brownie Sundae $6.49|
|Child Day 2||All Beef Hot Dog $6.99||Cheeseburger steamed pod $7.99||Ice Cream Cookie Sandwich $6.99||Warm Brownie Sundae $6.49|
Day 1(Magic Kingdom): Quick Service 1- Be Our Guest Breakfast, Quick Service 2- Pecos Bill’s Tall Tale Inn Snack 1- Sunshine tree, Snack 2- Sleepy Hollow, Snack 2- Cheshire Cafe.
Day 2 (Animal Kingdom):Quick Service 1-Flame Tree BBQ , Snack 1- Dino Bites, Quick Service 2- Satu’li Canteen, Snack 2- Tamu Tamu Refreshments.
TOTAL for day 1 Adult $59.96. TOTAL for Day 1 child $33.47. TOTAL for day 2 Adult $55.94. TOTAL for day 2 child $28.46.
For the two days it would cost these two people $177.83 if they paid out of pocket. They had the dining plan and paid in advance and it cost them $152.56. Being on the dining plan would have saved this family of $25.27.
A child under the age of 9 is pretty easy to save money on the Quick service dining plan. There plan is only $23.78. If you get two snacks over $5 a piece (which isn’t hard at all) and their meals cost more than $7, you can break even or come out on top.
Adults however, are a little bit harder break even or come out on top. At $52.50 each night of your trip you need to have each quick service come out to $21.50 on average and over $5 for each snack. I order the most expensive thing from most places but I will grab a hot dog meal at Casey’s just because it’s one of the things I do.
DISNEY DINING PLAN
This is the most popular choice. It comes with a refillable resort Mug (Can be used at ANY Disney Resort fountain soda filling station), 2 Snacks, and 1 quick service meal (1 entree or combo meal, 1 non alcoholic beverage/ Alcoholic beverage 21+) and 1 table service meal (1 entree, 1 dessert, 1 non alcoholic beverage/ Alcoholic beverage 21+, or 1 full buffet). This is the plan that my mother likes. She likes it’s because it gives us a “built” in break (eating at a table service).
As we stated above this plan is $75.49 per adult (10+) per day and $27.98 per child (3-9) per day. In the table below you will find a two day break down of the Disney Dining Plan for 1 adult and 1 child. I will be using the same total for the snacks that were used in the example of the Quick Service Dining Plan. For the adult it came out to $26.96 for two days. For the child it came out to $24.96.
|Quick Service||Table Service|
|Adult Day 1||Lobster Roll with Soda $19.98||Breakfast Buffet $42.46|
|Child Day 1||Chicken Nuggets $7.49||Breakfast Buffet $25.29|
|Adult Day 2||Sampler with soda $21.98||Primal Steak, Tribal Cheesecake, Panama Punch $54.97|
|Child Day 2||All Beef Hot Dog $6.99||Poppin’ shrimp and Lava Mud $12.98|
Day 1 (Magic Kingdom)- Chef Mickey’s Character Breakfast (Table Service), Columbia Harbour House (Quick Service)
Day 2 (Animal Kingdom)- Flame Tree BBQ (Quick Service), RainForest Cafe (Table Service)
TOTAL for Day 1 Adult $75.42. TOTAL for Day 1 Child $44.26. TOTAL for Day 2 Adult $90.93. TOTAL for Day 2 Child $33.45.
If these two people paid out of pocket it would have cost them $244.06. The Dining Plan for two days cost $206.94. This family would have saved $37.12. Just remember there is a good chance that some days you may not feel like using your snack credits or even your quick service or table service credits. IT’S OK. Just be sure to use them by the end of your trip. You can use your credit how you want to. Use 2 table service credit’s one day and two quick service the next day.
DELUXE DINING PLAN
To me this plan is over kill. Sure if you want to have 3 sit down meals every day of your trip this is a great plan. Also a good idea if you want to dine at table service locations that take two table service credits (Cinderella’s Royal Table, Be Our Guest Dinner, Le Cellier). This plan cost $116.25 per adult (10+) per day and $43.49 per child (3-9) per day. It includes a refillable resort Mug (Can be used at ANY Disney Resort fountain soda filling station), 2 Snacks, and 3 meals (Quick Service/Table Service).
As we did for the Quick Service and Disney Dining Plan we are going to break down a two day look for an Adult and Child. As with before we are going to use the same two snacks as we did for the quick service meal plan.
|Adult Day 1||Breakfast Buffet $42.46||Taste Like Chicken, Quick sand, Passion Fruit drink $42||Pre Fixed $79.25|
|Child Day 1||Breakfast Buffet $25.29||Mac and Cheese, Monkey Bites $10||Pre Fixed $46.45|
|Adult Day 2||Breakfast Buffet $38||BBQ Ribs, Fried Wontons Yak Attack $46.47,||Tenderloin, cake, France Beer $52.49|
|Child Day 2||Breakfast Buffet $23||Grilled Chicken, Pudding $13.49||Salmon, Sorbet $14.00|
Day 1 (Magic Kingdom)- Breakfast– Chef Mickey’s, Lunch– Skipper Canteen, Dinner– Cinderella’s Royal Table
Day 2 (Animal Kingdom than park hop to EPCOT)- Breakfast– Tusker House, Lunch– Yak and Yeti, Dinner– Chef De France
If this adult and child would of paid out of pocket for their meals it would cost them $176.69 for the adult on day one and $93.22 for the child for day one. Day 2 would of cost the adult $150.94 and $63.97. Total for the Deluxe Dining Plan for the Adult is $327.63 and $157.19 for the child.
The total cost for the meal plan over the course of these two days is $319.48. The cost if paying out of pocket for the adult alone was more than $319.48. If you want to save money doing a dining plan the Deluxe dining plan is the one for you.
However, and this is a biggie. Do you see how much food you are eating. You figure you are eating big meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Figure you eat breakfast at 8am lunch around 1 or 2 and dinner around 7 or 8. You most likely will be too full to grab snacks in between meals. Unless you are a big foodie and don’t care about doing many rides, you will be constantly sitting down for meals.
For me personally if I have a breakfast buffet, I don’t really want to eat till late afternoon early evening. I may grab a snack around lunch time but I don’t usually do that.Disney World Hotel Deals & Discounts
DISNEY DINING PLAN PLUS
This is Disney’s newest meal plan that was just released at the end of February 2020. It doesn’t replace any of the above plans. This is just a fourth plan you can now pick from.
With this meal plan you still get the resort refillable mug and 2 snack credits per person, per night of stay. The big change with this is you get 2 meals per person, per night of stay.
You can use it for any combination you like. If you want two quick service meals one day but two table service the next two days you can. This is a great plan if you are like me and love going to breakfast character buffets but don’t want to miss out on a good dessert and drink at dinner.
This plan cost around $95 for adults and $35 for children (ages 3-9). Not a bad price at all in my opinion. With this plan, unlike the Deluxe plan I don’t feel you will be too full to grab snacks throughout the day.
THINGS TO REMEMBER
If you are just looking to save money, than the dining plans may not be the best thing for you. If you are not ordering the most expensive thing on the menus you may not break even. You really have to order one of the top 3 expensive things off the menu and get an alcoholic beverage.
The dining plan gives your Disney vacation that all inclusive feel.
It is a lot of food. Like really a lot of food even if you are on the Quick Service dining plan. Most people end up having a few leftover credits when they leave. It is really simple to avoid that. If you are using the Quick service plan and you have a few leftovers with a few days of your trip left. Just order some breakfast at your resort. It is better to use it on breakfast than not at all. Just remember to use 2 a day per person.
If you have a lot of snack credits leftover stop over at one of the many bakeries in the Disney Parks. You can pick up cake pops, brownies, cookies and many other sweet treats with your snack credits.
If you are visiting during Food and Wine or Flower and Garden over at EPCOT, many of the items at the food booths are covered with your snack credits. This is a good use for those credits and a good value. Most of those food items are over $6 a piece.
The dining plan might NOT BE a good value if your child is 10 or 11. At that age, they have to pay the adult prices and most still don’t have an adult appetite.
Kids MUST order off the kids menu when available.
The Quick Service Dining Plan is good for families on the move. You don’t have to book dining reservations 180 days out. You can grab some quick service food whenever you feel hungry and don’t need to have a strict schedule.
The Disney Dining Plan is good for families who want a nice break in their day. Also a good idea for the family that wants to do a lot of character dining.
The Deluxe Dining Plan is good for couples who are going to relax and enjoy their time together. This plan you need to book all your dining 180 days out and eat a lot of food. With tons upon tons of restaurants to choose from finding the perfect ones shouldn’t be too hard to find.
Your dining credits can be used from the day you check in, to midnight the day you check out.
An example of how many credits you would have for a family of 4; 2 adults and 2 children for a 5 day 4 night trip:
|Quick Service||Table Service||Deluxe Dining|
|Family of 4||32 quick service and|
|16 quick service,|
16 table service,
Your dining credits go by how many NIGHTS you are there. Not by how many DAYS.
DON’T use your snack credits on water. Bring your own refillable bottle like this one and get the free Ice water around all the parks.
If you are going during the warmer months (May through September) you may not want to eat that much. Sometimes a coffee and a small muffin can last you till dinner. It is really hot in Orlando in the summer time and you may not feel like eating.
Tips are not included with the dining plans. If you are at a sit down restaurant you will need cash or some other form of payment for the tip.Daytona Beach – What You Need to Know Before You Go
Hope this was helpful in understanding the different dining plan levels. The dining plan can be a great value if you do it right. Just remember to USE it. Don’t let your meal and snack credits go to waste.
When trying to decide if this will be good deal or to just pay out of pocket remember that the average quick service price for an adult is $15 (entree and drink) and $8 for children. Character meals are $20-$30 for children and $40-$50 for adults. Table service meals will run you on average $25 for adults (entree and drink, NO DESSERT) and $10-$15 for children. Snacks in Walt Disney World on average cost between $4-$5. Those numbers should help you budget. Disney hopes that you get the plan and just eat the average meal. Just by having the average meal the dining plan WILL NOT pay for itself.
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