Disney Dining Plan: Is it Right for You?
Updated: Jun 15, 2020
Wondering if the Disney Dining Plan is worth it? It’s a question I get often and is a debate that never dies.
The easy answer? Yes. 100% it is worth it.
My family went to Disney World the last week of January 2020 and had the dining plan. We stayed 7 nights and I kept track of everything we ordered and paid for with the dining plan. When I got home, I calculated how much we would have spent if we paid out of pocket, and how much we paid for the dining plan.
You know what? We saved over $500 using the dining plan! That’s no small amount, that’s a significant savings. I talk all about it in this video:
This clearly demonstrates that the dining plan is worth it, at least monetarily. However, you shouldn’t be asking if the dining plan is worth it overall. What you should be asking is if the dining plan is worth it for YOU.
The answer to that question varies greatly depending on the family going and the trip they are taking.
So how do you figure out if the dining plan is right for your family and your trip? Read on and I’ll go over 6 questions to ask yourself to help determine if the dining plan is worth it for you.
Dining Plan Basics
Before we dive into figuring out if it’s worth it for you, let’s cover the basics.
What is the Dining Plan?
It is a special add on that you can include in your vacation package if you are staying at one of the Disney World resort properties. It is not offered if you are staying off property or at a Good Neighbor hotel.
There are three levels of the dining plan to choose from.
The Quick Service dining plan gets you two quick service meals and 2 snacks per person, per night of your stay. This means you can eat at most any counter service restaurant two times per day and get 2 snacks a day.
You also get one refillable mug per person, which you can refill as many times as you like from any quick service restaurant at any of the Disney resorts the entire length of your stay.
Disney Dining Plan
The Disney Dining Plan gets you one table service meal, one quick service meal, and 2 snacks per person, per night of your stay. Table service credits can be used at most sit-down restaurants at the Disney World resort. If you need a reservation, chances are it’s a table service restaurant.
That glorious refillable mug I talked about above. Yeah, you get that too.
Deluxe Dining Plan
The Deluxe Dining Plan gets you three meals and 2 snacks per person, per day. You can use these at any restaurant you want – quick or table service. You also get that wonderful refillable mug.
With any of the dining plans, you get all your credits at once and can use them however you like during your trip. If you want to use two table service credits one day, and two quick service the next, go for it! They don’t care when and how you use your credits, as long as you use them all up by midnight the day you checkout.
Have leftover quick service meal credits on your last day you won’t use? You can trade them in for 3 snack credits.
Pro tip for you: Goofy’s Candy, which is sold in most any store on property, is an excellent use of a snack credit and an awesome souvenir to take home.
What Does a Quick Service Meal Include?
A quick service meal includes an entrée and one beverage. The beverage can be non-alcoholic, or for those 21 and over an alcoholic beverage. (Wine with your meal? Yes please!)
And non-alcoholic beverages don’t just mean soda, coffee or tea. It also includes smoothies, hot chocolate, and milkshakes. Yum!
What Does a Table Service Meal Include?
If you have the Disney Dining Plan, a table service meal includes an entrée, a dessert, and a non-alcoholic or, if 21 and over, an alcoholic beverage. It could also include a full buffet or Family-Style Meal if that’s the style of restaurant you are visiting.
But if you have the Deluxe Dining Plan, you get all that AND an appetizer.
What Does it Cost?
As of February 2020 the dining plans will cost you the following:
Quick Service: $55 per adult, per night; $26 per child (ages 3-9) per night
Disney Dining Plan: $78.01 per adult, per night; $30.51 per child (ages 3-9) per night
Deluxe Dining Plan: $119 per adult, per night; $47.50 per child (ages 3-9) per night
How to Figure Out if the Dining Plan is Worth it for You
These are the questions to ask yourself, or better yet discuss with your travel advisor, to figure out if the dining plan is worth it for you.
Do You Want to Eat at a Table Service Restaurant Almost Daily?
If you think you’ll eat at a table service restaurant at least most of the days you are there, the dining plan would certainly be worth it for you.
We had a table service restaurant reservation on 5 of our 6 park days on our last trip, and I was concerned we’d find having to stop what we are doing and head to our reservation annoying. But honestly having that scheduled break to get out of the crowds, head inside, and relax for a bit with a good meal and a cold drink was extremely helpful.
Going to the parks all day is exhausting. If you don’t take at least a small break every day, you’ll regret it later.
Even if you don’t think you’ll want to eat at a table service restaurant every day, the plan could be worth it for you if everyone in your party plans on eating at the quick service restaurants for at least two meals a day AND wouldn’t be sharing meals.
Do You Want to do Character Meals?
Character Meals are my FAVORITE table service restaurants to visit. There are tons to choose from, each with different characters and amazing food. You can relax, eat some yummy food, have a cold drink, and wait for your favorite Disney characters to come to YOU.
Doesn’t that sound way better than standing in a long line to go up and see them?
We saw Mickey Mouse three times on our last trip and never waited in line to see him once. He either came to our table or greeted us at the door. It was awesome!
Character meals are also a fantastic use of a table service credit. If you want to hit up those awesome character meals on your trip, then the dining plan is most certainly for you.
Do You Share Food?
Are you a light eater? Do you usually order one plate to share between two people because you just don’t eat enough to justify getting your own meal? Then the dining plan probably isn’t for you.
But if you are like my son and can polish off his own plate, plus half of the plate of the person sitting next to him…yeah get the dining plan.
Do You Want to Bring in Your Own Food?
Are you planning to hit the grocery store or have a bunch of groceries deliver to your hotel at the start of your trip? Will you be packing sandwiches and planning to make your own meals during your stay?
I think the answer is obvious here, but the dining plan would be a waste of money for you.
Do You Like the Idea of Turning your Disney World vacation into an all-inclusive vacation?
One of the greatest things about the dining plan is that it makes your Disney World vacation feel like a trip to an all-inclusive resort.
Ordering a bunch of food and getting a receipt with a $0 on it feels amazing. Doing that day after day after every meal? Even better.
If that sounds awesome to you, the dining plan is for you.
Do You Like to Snack?
Are you big into snacks? Do you covet all those pretty cupcakes or ice cream sundaes that you see posted all over Instagram? Yummmm.
If snacking is on your to-do list, the dining plan might be for you, provided you want to do more than just snack.
Something to remember is that you can also use your snack credits on food that isn’t sweet and seems more like a meal. For example, a plate of scrambled eggs for breakfast is a snack credit. Couple that with a plate of sausage, which is also a snack credit, and you’ve got yourself a yummy and filling breakfast without touching your quick or table service credits.
If you are heading to Epcot during one of the festivals, such as the Food & Wine or International Festival of the Arts, many of their specialty food items are considered snack credits.
Epcot in general is a great park to use your snack credits. Our family only used one table service credit each on our Epcot day on our last trip, and still ate like kings that day. All using snack credits.
If any of this sounds great, the dining plan is for you.
My #1 Recommendation: Talk to your travel advisor.
Navigating the whole dining plan question can be a bit overwhelming. First you need to determine if it’s right for you. Then you need to make sure you use it to its full potential, so you save money, not spend more.
It’s a lot to navigate, and that is where an experienced travel planner who specializes in Disney, such as myself, really becomes valuable.
They can make it easier for you to figure it all out, make sure you make reservations at the right places, and point you in the right direction of snacks and quick service restaurants to hit up.
My clients can even text me with questions while they are in the park if they are uncertain about things and I’ll help steer them in the right direction.
This is one of the biggest values travel advisors bring to the table.
I don’t just sell people vacation packages based on how much they cost. Every package I put together is thoughtfully designed based on the individual family’s needs and preferences. It’s why I love having phone conversations with potential clients versus just email. I’m able to learn so much more about the family in those 15-minute conversations and it helps me put together the perfect package for them.
I would love the opportunity to help you too.
I am a travel agent with Magical Vacation Planner and make it easier for you to plan an unforgettable vacation with your family. Click here to schedule a Magical Vacation Discovery Call to learn more and get your free, no-obligation quote.
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