The Disney Dining Plan gives your vacation an all-inclusive feeling.
Your trip can be more enjoyable when ordering from a menu isn’t about the price but rather the experience. With careful planning, anyone can save money on meals by purchasing the Disney Dining Plan and then eating meals that would have been more expensive than the Plan.
- What Is The Disney Dining Plan?
- How Much Does The Disney Dining Plan Cost?
- How Does The Disney Dining Plan Work?
- Can You Use The Disney Dining Plan At All Restaurants (Including Dinner Shows?)
- Who Is The Disney Dining Plan Worth It For?
What Is The Disney Dining Plan?
The Disney Dining Plan allows you to enjoy a variety of magical dining experiences with pre-paid credits. This Meal Plan is only available for purchase from those staying on-site at a Walt Disney World owned and operated hotel. This plan does not include any non-Disney hotels located on International Drive or the Swan and Dolphin Hotel.
With the Disney Dining Plan, you can pre-pay for meals, snacks, and beverages at over 200 food locations. You cannot purchase the Dining Plan after you have checked into your hotel. You must add it to your reservation at least 48 hours in advance; there are very few exceptions to this guideline.
Your Dining Plan credits encode into your MagicBand or an RFID-enabled room key. To use credits for food purchases, present your MagicBand or room key as payment to your server, and the credits will deduct from your account.
How Much Does The Disney Dining Plan Cost?
The Disney Dining Plan is currently on hold due to restrictions Disney has put in place because of COVID-19. Updated information is not available, and it is unknown when they will reinstate the Plan. The last Disney Dining Plan prices that were posted were for 2020.
The standard Disney Dining Plan price for children age three and up is around $30 per night. Children under three years of age can have their own plate at a buffet or eat off an adult’s plate, sharing a meal for free.
For adults, the Standard Disney Dining Plan is roughly $78 (per night, as of 2020)
For each person on the room reservation, over the age of three, you receive a set of credits per night. Everyone in the hotel room must participate in the program, or no one can. You must also purchase the Dining Plan for the exact number of nights you will be staying. You cannot pay for fewer days. For example, three nights of hotel stay at a Disney Resort = three days of Disney Dining Plan credits.
You are not required to use all of your credits by the end of each day, but all credits must be used by the end of your stay, or they will no longer be valid. Meal credits expire at midnight on the last day of your reservation.
The Basic Disney Dining Plan Includes:
- One Quick Service Meal Credit – can be used for breakfast, lunch, or dinner (entree, side, beverage)
- One Table Service Meal Credit – can be used for breakfast, lunch, or dinner (entree, dessert, and beverage or one full buffet or family-style meal and beverage)
- Two Snack or Beverage Credits
Each person also receives a refillable drink mug that they can use at Resorts throughout their vacation.
Tax is included with every meal. However, gratuity is paid out-of-pocket for most meals. Gratuity is included at Dinner Shows, Cinderella’s Royal Table, and for Private In-Room Dining.
After you purchase each meal or snack, you can view your credit balance at the bottom of the receipt.
How Does The Disney Dining Plan Work?
The Disney Dining Plan is all about tracking your credits. One credit does not equal a particular dollar amount. There may be a substantial difference in the value of credit based on where you eat and the menu item you choose. Planning these food choices ahead of time will help you maximize your credits.
The Disney Dining Plan includes the following features:
For each night of a package stay, everyone in the party ages three and over will receive the following:
Two Snacks or Beverages
- For guests ages 21 and older, beer, cider, wine, sangria, cocktails, and other mixed drinks can be chosen in place of a nonalcoholic beverage.
- Guests ages 21 and under may choose from a variety of nonalcoholic beverages. These include items such as coffee, tea, soda, milkshakes, smoothies, or hot chocolate.
Snacks are available at Quick-Service Restaurants, Outdoor Carts, and some merchandise locations throughout the Walt Disney World theme parks.
Some of the items that qualify as a single-serve snack are:
- Fresh fruit
- One 20 oz. bottle of soda, water, or a fountain drink
- One Pre-packaged milk or juice
- One Popcorn
- One Popsicle, fruit bar, or an ice cream novelty
One Quick-Service Meal
- A meal that you order and pick up at a counter and eat at a table without a server
One Table Service Meal
- This option is a “sit-down” meal – ordered from a menu and delivered by a server
- Table Service Meals include Signature Dining Restaurants and Character Dining
The Following Items Are Not Included As Part Of The Disney Dining Plan:
- Anything that contains more than a single serving, such as a pack of cookies or a box of doughnuts
- Any item considered to be merchandise that you could otherwise utilize with a food item, such as straw, bottle straps, bottle toppers, glow cubes, etc
- Any special seasonal dining events that are offered at Table-service locations
- Any item that is served in a souvenir container, such as popcorn or drinks
- Photo Souvenirs that are offered for sale at a Character Dining Experience
How to Use Your Dining Plan
- Show your Disney Resort ID, your MagicBand or room key, to the cashier or server at participating restaurants.
- Communicate how many meals or snacks will be purchased. If you are with those who do not have a Dining Plan, make sure the server is aware at the beginning of the meal.
This opportunity is also the time to mention any dietary restrictions or requests. While it is easier if this is taken care of at the time of booking, you may also speak with a manager or chef when you arrive at your dining location.
- Because your credits are electronically linked to your reservation, it is easy to track how many credits remain on your Dining Plan.
Always check your dining receipt to ensure that there weren’t any mistakes in how you were charged.
At any point, you can ask a Resort Concierge or someone in Guest Relations to check your credits for you.
To view your remaining credits, you may also log into your My Disney Experience App.
You cannot combine a meal credit with a person who is paying cash for their meal. These will have to be completed as two separate transactions. For restaurants that require two meal credits, you cannot use one meal credit and pay the difference with cash. It must be all credits or all cash.
You can also use the Disney Dining Plan for Private In-Room meals, Pizza Delivery to your resort room, Signature Restaurants, some Character Dining Experiences, and Dinner Shows. Some dining experiences require two table service meal credits per person.
Using Disney Dining Plan credits is a fast and easy way to enjoy meals and snacks throughout the Walt Disney World Resort.
Can You Use The Disney Dining Plan At All Restaurants (Including Dinner Shows?)
You can use Disney Dining Plan meal credits at both Dinner Shows at the Walt Disney World Resort – Hoop-Dee-Doo-Musical Review and The Spirit of Aloha. Each experience requires 2 Table Service Credits per person, per meal.
This option is also valid for other fancy, pricier dining experiences such as, Be Our Guest Restaurant (dinner only), Hollywood Brown Derby, LeCellier Steakhouse, Morimoto Asia, and other fine dining restaurants. You can find a complete list of dining experiences on the Disney World website.
Quite often, Signature restaurants and Character Dining locations book quickly and far in advance. There may be limited or no availability if your vacation isn’t booked several months out.
All Dinner Shows require reservations as walkup seating is not available.
Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort Private Dining is not included in the Plan. Also, Cinderella’s Royal Table Character Meal is not included in the Plan.
Who Is The Disney Dining Plan Worth It For?
The Disney Dining Plan is ideal for families that want to maximize their ride time by choosing where and what they will eat in advance.
Let’s take a look at a few of the pros and cons of this popular meal plan.
- Affordable: If you play your cards or spend your credits right, you can save money. For those who prefer hearty meals, you will find these choices make the Dining Plan worth the cost. If you typically don’t eat much, then it may not be worth it for you.
- During special events like Epcot’s International Food and Wine Festival, you can take advantage of purchasing snacks that would typically be pretty pricey for one credit. Many people stockpile their snack credits throughout their vacation to take advantage of the savings during this special Epcot event.
- Convenience: Disney World is moving towards a cashless system, and the Dining Plan keeps it heading in that direction. Not only do your room key and Magic Band allow you to charge items to your resort bill, but with the Dining Plan, they take money out of the picture. The credit system removes the dollar amounts for meals and makes paying even more accessible.
- Budget-Friendly: The Disney Dining Plan helps families predict how much will be spent on food each day. Doing so takes out the guessing and makes it possible to budget the exact amount you need for food and drink.
- Avoid Sticker-Shock: Disney vacations are not cheap, and neither are the meals served at Disney restaurants. Knowing ahead of time that you can choose either a filet mignon or a hamburger for one credit eases the shock you might otherwise feel when looking at a menu. You can enjoy the privilege of splurging without the shock of the bill at the end of the meal.
- Special Beverages: If you enjoy drinking milkshakes, alcohol, and other specialty beverages, these luxuries can add up quickly. In this case, the Dining Plan can save you a lot of money.
- Refillable Mugs: For some families, the refillable mugs are what makes the Dining Plan worthwhile. In your resort, you can drink as much soda as you would like from one of the self-serve refillable drink stations. You can fill up your mug to take into the park and then refill it with water all day long.
- Requires Special Planning: Without pre-planning your meals, you will waste time and money on a plan they design to save you these things. It might take an enormous investment of time to sit down and map out your meals for the trip, but it will make things easier in the long run.
- This Plan is also not worth the expense if you don’t use all of your credits.
- Larger Meals May Not Be A Plus: If you are on a quick getaway with limited time, you may not want to spend these precious minutes sitting down at a large meal. Some consumers have noted that you might not enjoy the portion size unless you are a big eater. If you would have usually eaten a small meal but are now forced to eat a larger meal, it can feel like you didn’t get the experience you had hoped for with the dining plan.
A Disney vacation requires much more planning and effort than other vacations. With 40 square miles of amusement parks, restaurants, hotels, and fun, the Walt Disney World Resort is like no other place on earth.
With careful planning and execution, the Disney Dining Plan might be suitable for you and your guests. Weigh the pros and cons and see if you will save time and money. Whatever you decide, the goal is to have the best vacation at “The Most Magical Place on Earth.”