Is the dining plan worth it? Do you recommend it? What is included? How much does it cost? Is character dining included? These are common questions that you may ask yourself or your Disney Vacation Planner as you begin to plan your Walt Disney World vacation. The answer is that it all depends on your travel party, but if you plan to eat while you are on vacation then a dining plan is definitely worth exploring. Disney offers three dining plans to accommodate a variety of budgets and tastes.
Dining plans are purchased in advance and added to a Magic Your Way Package (a resort reservation that includes park tickets). All of the dining plans include snacks (i.e., popcorn, Mickey ice cream bar, fruit, bag of chips, beverage, etc.), quick-service meals, table-service meals, and a refillable mug. A quick-service meal is similar to a fast food restaurant where you order at the counter, pick up your food, and seat yourself. Table-service meals are sit-down meals where you are waited on by a server. Quick-service meals include one entrée and a non-alcoholic beverage. Table-service meals include an entrée, dessert, and non-alcoholic beverage (under the Deluxe Dining Plan, you will also receive an appetizer). Every person in your travel party, ages 3 and older, will receive a certain amount of credits per night of your stay at the resort. The credits can be redeemed at any time throughout your stay from the moment you check-in until 11:59pm on the day you check out. For example, you may choose to use 3 snack credits on your first day and zero snack credits the following day. The credits will be deducted from your account as they are redeemed.
The first dining option is the Quick-Service Dining Plan ($46.34/adult and $20.18/child per night). This plan includes two quick-service meals and two snacks per person, per night. So if you are staying at a Disney resort for 5 nights, each person will receive 10 quick-service credits and 10 snack credits for the entire trip. The Quick-Service Dining Plan is perfect for families who do not want to be tied down to a schedule and who like to grab a quick bite to eat. This allows flexibility throughout your day because you do not have the constraints of a dining reservations that control where you need to be at a certain time. You may still book a table-service reservation for your trip, but you will have to pay for this meal out of pocket.
The next dining plan, and perhaps the most popular, is the Disney Dining Plan ($67.33/adult and $24.22/child per night). This plan includes two snacks, one quick-service meal, and one table-service meal per person, per night. So if you are staying at a Disney resort for 5 nights, each person will receive 10 snack credits, 5 quick-service credits, and 5 table-service credits for the entire trip. The plan is perfect for most families because it provides the option of dining at many of Disney World’s most popular restaurants as well as the flexibility to grab a quick meal throughout the day. Most of the restaurants throughout the Walt Disney World® theme parks and resorts accept the dining plan, including the character dining experiences. All of the character meals take one table-service credit per person, with the exception of Cinderella’s Royal Table which takes two table-service credits. Dinner shows also take two table-service credits.
The final dining plan is the Deluxe Dining Plan ($103.57/adult and $37.62/child per night). This plan includes three meal credits (either quick-service or table-service) and two snack credits per person, per night. So if you are staying at a Disney resort for 5 nights, each person will receive 15 meal credits (either quick-service or table-service) and 10 snacks for the entire trip. The Deluxe Dining Plan includes a lot of food, but it is perfect for foodies or the families that like to eat three square meals a day. It offers an opportunity to sit down and relax throughout the day. However, this means you will be spending most of your time at the restaurants instead of exploring everything else that the parks have to offer.
One important note is that the dining plan does not include gratuities. So you will need to be prepared to pay out-of-pocket for this extra expense. You have the option to pay with cash, credit card, Disney gift card, or scan your Magic Band to have it charged to your account. Note that Disney automatically charges an 18% gratuity to parties of 6 or more.
If you look at the menu prices for the quick-service and table-service restaurants, then you will notice that the dining plan can offer savings for your family. If you are still on-the-fence about whether or not the dining plan is right for you, then one additional bonus is the ability to budget for the cost of food ahead of time. Many people simply like the convenience of having every meal paid in advance and want to avoid sticker shock or surprise expenses. Worrying about expenses during your vacation can definitely take the magic out of your experience. Ask your Disney Vacation Planner which dining plan is right for you.