Disney Dining Plans

Is the Disney Dining Plan Right for You?

Dining at Disney can be wonderful, but it can also be very expensive. For some folks, the Disney Dining plan can alleviate some of the stress of paying for all those meals. For others, it will cost more than they would typically spend on food. So, is the Disney Dining plan right for you?

Enjoy a delicious meal at Saana using the Disney Dining Plan
Delicious dinner at Saana

What is the Disney Dining Plan?

The Disney Dining plan is basically a method for pre-paying for your food while you are visiting Walt Disney World. It can help make your vacation feel like an all-inclusive experience. It’s available to any guest who is staying at a Disney property. You can use the Disney Dining Plan at multiple Disney Spring Restaurants as well as Disney restaurants at the Disney resorts and parks.

If you decide to purchase a Disney Dining Plan, it must be purchased for every member of your party over 3 for the length of your stay. So, you can’t purchase it for just the adults, or purchase it just for 3 of the 5 days you are staying onsite. There are actually four different Disney Dining plans available.

Disney Quick-Service Dining Plan

This plan is the least expensive option but doesn’t include credits for any of the table service restaurants (as well as character meals). It includes:

  • 2 Quick-Service Meals Per Night of Stay
  • 2 Snacks or Nonalcoholic Beverages Per Night of Stay
  • 1 Resort Refillable Mug per person

Disney considers a quick-service meal to be one where you order at the counter. Some benefits are that it’s typically quicker, and each quick-service meal includes an entree and a drink which should be plenty of food. For someone who doesn’t care about sitting down for a leisurely meal, this would be a smart option. It’ll still be plenty of food and there are quick-service options at all the hotels as well as the parks.

A great quick service option from the Disney Dining Plan
Lobster Chips at Epcot

Disney Dining Plan

Everyone in the party ages 3 and over receives the following:

  • One Quick-Service Meal (per night of stay)
  • One Table-Service Meal (per night of stay)
  • 2 Snacks/Nonalcoholic Drinks (per night of stay)
  • One Resort-Refillable Drink Mug

Disney Deluxe Dining Plan

Everyone in the party ages 3 and over receives the following:

  • 3 Meals – Any combination of Table-Service and Quick-Service (per night of stay) Disney restaurants
  • 2 Snacks/Nonalcoholic Drinks (per night of stay)
  • One Resort-Refillable Drink Mug
Table Service meal? Check out Yak & Yeti at Animal Kingdom
Ahi Nachos from Yak &Yeti at Animal Kingdom

Disney Dining Plan Plus (New)

This plan is a new one. It was created to “fill the gap” between the Deluxe Disney Dining plan and the Disney Dining Quick-Service plan.

  • 2 Meals – Any combination of Table-Service and Quick-Service (per night of stay) Disney restaurants
  • 2 Snacks/Nonalcoholic Drinks (per night of stay)
  • One Resort-Refillable Drink Mug

New this year, guests 21 and older may substitute their non-alcoholic drinks for beer, wine and cocktails (although not the really fancy, pricey ones).

Looking for more info on Disney? Check out these posts for more Disney travel tips: Beat the Heat at Disney, What to Bring to Disney Table Service at the Parks

Filet at the Yachtsman Steakhouse at Walt Disney World
Yachtsman Steakhouse

Reasons Why You Might Want a Disney Dining Plan

These are the top reasons I see for why a Disney Dining Plan might be right for you:

  • You don’t want to have to think about money (you like that all-inclusive experience)
  • You want to prepay for your vacation
  • The food quantities seem appropriate for your normal eating habits
  • You want to make mealtime easy

Reasons Why You Might Skip the Disney Dining Plan

If these statements apply to you, the Disney Dining Plan may NOT be the best choice for your family:

  • You tend to share meals or eat smaller portions
  • You don’t want to have to figure out how many credits you have available
  • You like to bring/ make your own food for some meals
  • You plan on eating some meals off Disney property
Saratoga Springs is included in the Disney Dining Plan
Dinner at Saratoga Springs

Our Experience

A few years ago, we had a split stay between Saratoga Springs and Animal Kingdom. We were actually only going to be at Animal Kingdom for one night so we decided to purchase the Deluxe Disney Dining plan for that stay to check it out. The first day we used a few of our snack credits at Epcot, and had a terrific dinner at Garden Grill. The next morning, we used snack credits for a light breakfast and had a late lunch at Boma. Because the two meals we chose were all you can eat, it was a LOT of food for the two days. We also ended up with a lot of snack credits leftover. I enjoyed having the travel mugs, and since the restaurants we ate at were a set price, I feel that it was a good value.

However, we normally don’t eat nearly that much food and don’t do the buffet type places on a regular basis. We tend to go to a nice restaurant, split two meals, and order a few appetizers, desserts, and drinks. Breakfast is often in the room, and we fill in with snacks around the parks. In that type of situation, the dining plans don’t really work.

I was also a bit stressed about using up those extra snack credits. We ended up purchasing a bunch of candy for the flight home with them, which the kids enjoyed.

LeFou's Brew from Gaston's Tavern
LeFou’s Brew from Gaston’s Tavern at the Magic Kingdom

Final Thoughts

The dining plan can be a fantastic add-on for many families. Or it can just add to your stress. I think it all boils down to how you tend to eat on your vacation, and if you want to remove the hassle of paying for bills, figuring out how much meals will cost, etc.

If you do decide to purchase a dining plan, there are so many helpful tips out there on how to get the most out of it. My favorite resources include Disney Food Blog and the Disney website itself.

If you’d like help with planning your next Disney trip (including deciding which dining plan is right for you), head over to my Magical Vacation Planner site and I’ll be happy to help!

Pin For Later:

Dining at Disney? Is the Disney Dining Plan right for you? Understand your options and determine which (if any) plan is the best for you. #Disney #ouradventureiseverywhere #Diningatdisney
Will you be dining at Disney this year? Is the Disney Dining Plan right for you? Understand your options and determine which (if any) plan is the best for you. #Disney #ouradventureiseverywhere #Diningatdisney

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  1. We go to Disney a lot and I love the dining plans. We always choose the sit down option because we have a little one that loves the characters and those are included. When you add up the cost to do it a la carte it is worth it.

  2. It would be interesting to try out the plans once and compare it to our a la carte experience we just had. I do like the all-inclusive feel of them!

    1. I’ve always said I’m going to do that – add up what we spend a la carte and compare it to the prices but I’ve never gotten around to it … plus with being annual passholders we do get a discount on some restaurants so that can help too.

  3. We used to use the dining plan a lot in the past, which was great for larger family vacations because kids could go use their snack or quick service where they wanted without the parents having to give them a card or cash. It was always so much food though, which I guess is better than still needing to buy food while using the plan.

  4. Dining plan or no dining plan is such a tough decision! We had lots of extra snacks, too… my kids are still eating Disney snacks from our trip in January!

  5. We enjoy flexibility when we eat so never opted for prepaid meals. Dining is an experience for us and wouldn’t want to feel stressed about using credits or remember all the rules to it. Good pros and cons on both perspectives

  6. I’ve never used the Disney dining plan because the kiddos were too small to make it worth it when we went, but this is a very helpful post for when we can go back again. We’ll definitely check it out!

  7. Disney World has the best food! It really is a highlight to eat when we go to the parks especially Epcot! I like the dining plan it is nice to already have it paid for up front and not worry about any cost!

  8. Great info! We did the regular dining plan on our first trip. It’s nice having everything paid for. Now I work to earn gift cards to cover all our food. If I could travel when free dining was offered, I would probably do the plan again. Since I’m a teacher, we usually go at the end of May or early June. Every once in a while, a free dining deal will pop up then. Mostly we rent DVC points now, but I keep a lookout for the great deals!

  9. Love this review of the dining plans. We have actually never used the dining plan, but I see more value in it for every trip.

  10. This is good to know. I’ve never been to Disney and there are so many tips to enjoy Disney that I am thinking it’s complicated to just go enjoy. I hope I am wrong and want to say thank you to make it simpler.

  11. Interesting, I haven’t heard of this before. I can see how this could be convenient but for sure not for everyone. The basic plan is would work well for us. A few for sure meals and some freedom to still go other places too, we are pretty spur of the moment. This is good info!

  12. I always thought that the dining plan wouldn’t be a good fit for us due to allergies. But I have learned that Disney is very accommodating when it comes to allergies. Plus their food is amazing!

    1. Disney is SO good with allergies – I have a tree nut allergy myself and it’s one of the only places I feel totally comfortable eating.

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