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The Disney World Dining Plan has become a popular way to prepay for your meals before heading to the parks. Think of it like meal planning your vacation and prepaying for your food ahead of time.

There are specific times when the Disney Dining plan can be an asset to saving money on your Disney vacation, or it could end up being a big waste depending on your situation.

Here is what you need to know so you can decide if you should do Disney World Dining.

Limitless Options

The Disney World Dining Plan allows you endless options for dining including more than 140 restaurants throughout the resorts, Disney Springs, and all four theme parks.

This means you have not only limitless possibilities of restaurants, but also different types of cuisines to try.

In addition to the food choices, there are also a number of plans you can pick from to find the best fit for you and your family.

Prepaying Is A Breeze

With the Disney World Dining Plan, everything but your gratuity is paid for in advance; this means you don’t have to worry about setting aside food money or wondering what you can afford.

Disney allows you to book your dining reservations up to 180 days in advance which will enable you to pick and pay for the restaurant ahead of time!

Not having to worry about paying for food the entire time you are on vacation is a massive plus in my book!

Disney World Dining Plan “Terms”

There are several different types of dining plans that Disney offers. Depending on the type of vacation you want and how much you can afford, you can decide what would work best for your family and budget.

First, let’s get a few terms under your belt so you can understand just what you are getting.

Quick-Service Meal

This is a meal that you can get at any “Quick-Service” restaurant. Those are restaurants where you walk up to the window or counter and order your meal and then pick up your meal at another window. This meal consists of (1) Entrée, (1) Non-alcoholic Beverage (or Alcoholic Beverage, for Guests 21 and older). The best thing about the plan is if you want the chicken sandwich or the burger, they are both the same price because you have already paid for it!

Snack

Obviously, it’s just a snack, but there are a lot of options! You could choose from fruit, a drink, popcorn, Mickey ice cream bar & more! Just look for the “DP” (Disney Plan) logo on each menu to see what is included as a snack option.

Table-Service Meal

With more than 50 Table-Service restaurants, there are a lot of options to choose from. These are the restaurants where you sit down and have a server bring your food to you. For the Table-Service meal, whether you want the burger or the steak, they are both the same price because you have already paid for it! Please note there are some differences for breakfast then lunch and dinner.

For Breakfast: This Table-Service meal consists of (1) Entrée OR (1) Full Buffet or Family-Style Meal as well as (1) Non-alcoholic Beverage (or Alcoholic Beverage, for Guests 21 and older).

For Lunch or Dinner: This Table-Service meal includes the exact same things as the Breakfast option plus (1) Dessert.

Character, Dinner Shows, and Signature Dining Requirements

Please note that some character, dinner shows, and Signature Dining Restaurants require more than (1) Table-Serve meal credit to pay for these meals. For example, Cinderella’s Royal Table at the Magic Kingdom requires (2) Table-Service meals, while Supercalifragilistic Breakfast only requires (1).

Private-In Room Dining and Pizza Delivery also require (2) Table-Service meals.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Gratuities are not included and the standard 18% gratuity will be charged to your bill for parties of six or more.

What’s Included In Each Dining Plan Option:

Disney Quick-Service Dining Plan

  • Each person ages 3 and over will receive the following each night of their package stay:
    1 Refillable drink mug
    2 Quick-Service Meals
    2 Snacks

Disney Dining Plan

  • Each person ages 3 and over will receive the following each night of their package stay:
    1 Refillable drink mug
    1 Quick-Service Meal
    1 Table-Service Meal
    2 Snacks

Disney Deluxe Dining Plan

  • Each person ages 3 and over will receive the following each night of their package stay:
    1 Refillable drink mug
    3 Meals: Quick or Table-Service
    2 Snacks
  • This one comes with not only more meals, but more perks. Each Table-Service comes with
    1 Appetizer
    1 Entrée
    1 Dessert*
    1 Non-alcoholic Beverage (or Alcoholic Beverage, for Guests 21 and older)
    -OR- 1 Full Buffet or Family-Style Meal (except for breakfast in which you will not receive an appetizer or a dessert).

Start by checking out all the 300+ restaurants located in Walt Disney World. Then figure out which “type” of restaurant you want to eat at; Table-Service or Quick-Service. Finally, determine whether or not the Table-Service restaurant has Characters, a Dinner Show or Signature Dining (in case they require more than (1) credit to eat there.

Here’s a handy sheet to print for restaurant ideas and requirements!

Pro: You Get To Make Reservations Early

Being on the Disney World Dining Plan allows you to reserve restaurant reservations up to 180 days in advance. That means you will have the best selection for getting to eat where you want. However, this also means you are stuck figuring out what you want to eat six months from now!

On the other hand, there are restaurants that are worth booking 180 days in advance. Our favorite restaurant is ‘Ohana located in the Disney’s Polynesian Resort. The reservations book up fast so if you think you might want to try it, you have to plan early! It’s an all-you-can-eat buffet with ribs, chicken, shrimp, and a delectable bread pudding topped with caramel sauce.

I’ve never even had the opportunity to eat at Beauty & The Beast’s Restaurant because there are never any reservations. Next time we stay overnight, I need to be ready to make reservations at midnight 180 days before our trip!

Con: You Are Locked Into The Disney World Dining Plan Early

Sometimes it’s fun to explore the restaurants available inside the parks, on your own schedule. Having the freedom to play and dine as you please is not a luxury when you are on the Disney Dining plan. If you do not want to stop the fun to go and sit down at a restaurant, then the Table-Service options may not be for you.

NOTE: if you do not cancel your reservation at least one day in advance, you will be charged $10 per person even if you don’t show up. This prevents people from making multiple reservations during the same time frame with plans of only going to one restaurant. You can easily cancel your reservation by calling Disney Dining or by using the Disney app.

If you find that you don’t have a reservation, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a place to eat when you’re hungry for the most popular Table-Service restaurants. I’ve successfully scooped up a canceled reservation by calling the day before we wanted to go.

The Disney World Dining Plan Includes Too Much Food

A common complaint of the Disney World Dining Plan is that you get too much food!

There have been some cases where two people cannot use up all of their meals including their snacks.

Depending on your eating habits, you could end up with meals left over due to the limitations of your schedule. Snack options are where people usually get stuck as not everything is considered a snack option under the Disney World Dining Plan or they are usually too full after their Table-Service meal.

Since the Table-Service meal includes (1) drink, (1) entree and (1) dessert, it can be a lot of food. Once, we were so full that we decided to order fresh fruit as our dessert and took it back to the resort fridge for breakfast. It was the best option for not wasting our free dessert.

Another time, we took all the remaining credits we had and used them to get FREE Snacks to eat on the ride home, giant lollipops, rice crispy treats and cookies extended our Disney Magic for a few days after we got home!

Cost

Depending on how much you eat in a day, this could either be expensive or a steal.

The Disney Dining Plan is costly and could cost you anywhere from $44-$115 a day depending on the plan you choose.

Before you decide the Dining plan, make sure to decide how much you usually eat and how much it would cost to purchase it outside the plan. You may find that you won’t use the plan much due to the type of meals you want to eat, and how much they cost.

As this is true for most families, if you have kids that are going through a growth spurt, they can eat their weight in one sitting. Although we wouldn’t normally allow our kids to order a steak, it’s the same price with the Dining Plan than the burger is.

Should You Do The Disney Dining Plan?

The question remains should you go for the Disney Dining Plan? Truth-be-told, while it’s a personal decision, I’d like to summarize when it is (and isn’t) a good option for your family.

Some people swear by the Disney Dining Plan and choose it every time they stay at Disney World, others regret doing it and won’t ever do it again.

When to skip it: If your family doesn’t want to take the time for a sit-down restaurant because they are so busy enjoying the parks, then I wouldn’t advise spending money on a program on which you really aren’t going to get the full benefit. If you are looking to save money, bringing your food or eating one large meal a day may be more beneficial than doing the Disney Dining Plan.

When to choose it: If you are glad to take a break and you enjoy a sit-down dinner with your family (who eat a lot of food), then the Dining Plan would be a good fit. If you were planning to have a meal with the Characters, then this will take care of all your dining needs in one fell swoop and make it hassle-free.

No matter what you choose, the Disney Dining Plan will be a good fit for your family if you will find value in it. If you’d like to ask an expert about whether or not your family should use the Disney Dining Plan, reach out to Jeffrey Merola from Mouse Vacation Planning. He’s an authorized Disney Vacation Planner and that’s who explained the plan to me before I used it for the first time. He’s planned several of my families Disney vacations so I know he’ll help you too!

 

YOUR TURN: Have you ever done the Disney World Dining before? Where did you eat? Let me know in the comments below!

The Disney World Dining Plan can be confusing with all the options available. This post helps you organize your options to make the best choice for your family. #savingmoney #disneyworld #disneyfun #truecouponing
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