UPDATED MAY 22ND, 2020
Disney’s dining plan is one of the things that you can add to your Disney World vacation package. It makes it super convenient to eat at Disney World, and also makes your vacation package more inclusive. Since your meals are essentially pre-paid, you don’t have to stress about the food costs during your stay.
I often get questions about how it works, since it can be a bit confusing to understand. In this post, I am going to break down that information for you, so you feel better prepared to understand the Disney dining plans and which one is right for you.
How It Works
When you add a dining plan to your vacation package (Disney resort guests only), you are pre-paying for credits to use towards meals during your stay. There are different types of credits and it is very important to understand the difference between them because that will help you determine which dining plan is best for you.
Quick-Service Credits – a quick-service credit will allow you to redeem a meal at any quick-service location on property. At these types of restaurants, you line up to order, fetch your food and then seat yourself. It is almost like a “cafeteria-style”, but the selections at a lot of them are really good. Adult meals typically cost between $11 and $15, and kid’s meals usually cost under $10. A quick-service meal on the dining plan will include 1 entrée and 1 nonalcoholic drink (or alcohol for guests 21 and over).
Table-Service Credits – a table-service credit will allow you to redeem a meal at a table-service location. That style of restaurant is your typical sit-down meal where you are served at your table. It also includes buffet restaurants and the character meals. Some table-service restaurants are classified as ‘Signature’, so at those ones you would need to redeem 2 credits for your meal. A breakfast table-service meal will include 1 entrée and 1 nonalcoholic drink (or alcohol for guests 21 and over) OR 1 full buffet. A lunch or dinner table-service meal will include 1 entrée, 1 dessert and 1 nonalcoholic drink (or alcohol for guests 21 and over) OR 1 full buffet.
Snack Credits – At quick-service restaurants and many outdoor food carts, you can use credits towards snack items. These usually cost around $3 – $5. Examples of items you can get with a snack credit are popcorn, ice cream bars, pretzels, Starbucks coffee, whole fruit, bags of snacks etc. Snack items are highlighted on menus with this symbol:
You are issued credits based on the number of nights you stay, so if you are there for 5 nights, you will receive 5 days of credits to use. When it is time to pay for your meal, all you have to do is scan your Magic Band with the cashier or server and it will redeem the credits from your account. After you redeem credits, you can see on your bill how many are left, or you can also check your balance in the My Disney Experience app.
**It’s important to note that tips/gratuities are not included with the dining plans, so you will have to add that expense in to your budget on top of the cost of the dining plan.
Types of Dining Plans
Disney offers 4 different types of dining plans. They all have something great to offer, it just really depends on what type of restaurants you plan to dine at for the week when deciding which plan is best for you. Here are the 4 different plans:
Quick-Service Dining Plan – this plan will give you 2 quick-service meals and 2 snacks per night, per person. You will also receive a resort refillable mug for each person that can be used for unlimited refills at the Disney resorts.
Disney Dining Plan – this plan will give you 1 quick-service meal, 1 table-service meal and 2 snacks per night, per person. You will also receive a resort refillable mug for each person that can be used for unlimited refills at the Disney resorts.
Disney Dining Plan Plus – this is a new plan that debuted in 2020. It gives you more flexibility by giving you 2 credits per night to use at any type of restaurant. There is no distinction between the types of credits, you get 3 per night to use at either quick-service or table-service locations. You will also receive a resort refillable mug for each person that can be used for unlimited refills at the Disney resorts.
Deluxe Dining Plan – This plan will give you 3 credits per night to use at any type of restaurant. There is no distinction between the types of credits, you get 3 per day to use at either quick-service or table-service locations. You will also receive a resort refillable mug for each person that can be used for unlimited refills at the Disney resorts.
How To Choose a Dining Plan
Choosing a dining plan will depend on what types of meals you would like to eat at each day. Let’s examine what types of travelers would most likely choose each plan.
If budget is your priority, then the quick-service dining plan will be your best option. It is the least costly option and you still get great meal options. Many people think that it is just fast food, but that could not be further from the truth. You will find a wide variety of food to choose from at quick-service locations, and many healthy options as well. The only downside is that the restaurants do tend to get crowded, so eating at off-peak times sometimes helps. Also note that it helps to use the mobile ordering function in the My Disney Experience app to order food at quick-service locations to avoid standing in line.
If you really do want to enjoy a sit-down meal each day, and experience a lot of character meals, then the Disney dining plan will suit you best. You get 1 credit for a table-service meal per day, so if you are staying 7 nights, then you will get a total of 7 table-service meals (non-Signature). This is probably the most popular dining plan that most guests choose since you can use it towards the character meals.
If you want flexibility to have more table-service options without having to splurge on the deluxe plan, then the Disney dining plan plus will be the option for you. It offers everything that the Disney dining plan does, plus flexibility. You are not locked in to a certain number of credits for either quick-service or table-service. You get to decide how you disperse your credits, which gives you more opportunity for table-service and Signature restaurants.
If fine dining is at the top of your list and you want to eat at some of Disney’s top restaurants, then you may want to consider the deluxe dining plan. Disney has quite a few fine dining/Signature restaurants, and all of them require you to redeem 2 credits. Since you have 3 credits per day to use, you could eat at a Signature restaurant every day and still have 1 credit left to use towards another meal. That remaining credit can be used towards either another table-service or quick-service restaurant. This dining plan is a foodie’s dream come true!
Costs of the Dining Plans
Please note that these prices are for 2020. Disney usually does revise the prices, so each year some elements may increase in price.
You should now be equipped with the knowledge to decide if a dining plan is right for you, and which one would suit you best. Which dining plan do you think you will pick for your next Disney World vacation? Tell us in the comments below!
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Laura is a mom of one adorable girl with a love of all things Disney. She traveled to Disney World with her family in 2010 and was hooked. They have since been a total of over 15 times. With all her knowledge of planning Disney trips, she now wants to share that with others. She loves giving guidance, tips and advice to others planning their magical vacation!