Do I REALLY need a Dining Plan?
Hello again friends. I love talking about food just like I love talking about Disney. So this is a no brainer...another great thing about Walt Disney World is the Dining Plan options.
Lets start by explaining the 4 Dining Plan options. The Quick Service Plan, The Disney Dining Plan, The Disney Dining Plan Plus and The Deluxe Dining Plan. Every plan comes with a Refillable Souvenir Mug for each person. These come with unlimited refills at the resorts (only at the resorts, not in the parks) throughout your trip. These mugs can now also be upgraded to a metal mug for a small upcharge. Everyone in your ROOM will need to buy into the same dining plan. If you have multiple rooms for one travel party you are able get the plan for one room and not the other, but everyone in the same room will need to purchase the same plan (or not purchase all together.) Ages 2 and under are free. They are welcome to get their own plate at buffet locations or can share a plate at any other establishments.
The Quick Service Dining Plan ($55 adult/$26 child per day)
This plan allows each person to have 2 quick service meals per day along with two snacks per day. Each Quick Service Meal comes with a side and drink.
The Disney Dining Plan ($78.01 adult/$30.52 per child per day)
The Disney Dining plan allows each person to have 1 Quick Service, 1 Table Service and 2 Snacks per day. Each Quick Service comes with a side and drink and each Table Service comes with a drink, side and desert (can often be substituted for an app if the menu offers. Also note that breakfast meals do not offer desserts.) Table service credits can also be used for Buffets or Character Dining.
The Disney Dining Plus Plan ($94.60 adult/$35 per child per day)
The Disney Dining Plus Plan is brand spankin new. This plan allows each person to have 2 Meals and 2 snacks per day. These meal credits can be used in any combination of Quick Service and Table Service dining. Same Rules as above apply for each.
The Deluxe Dining Plan ($119 adult/$47.50 per child per day)
The Deluxe Dining Plan is similar to the Plus plan noted above but gives 3 meals and 2 snacks per day. These credits can also be used in any combination of restaurant types. The Table Service meals with this plan ALSO include appetizers with meals in addition to deserts.
For all those over the age of 21, the drink with your meal can be a fountain drink or specialty beverage (single serving alcoholic or non alcoholic.) Not all locations have specialty beverage options, so be sure to peek at the menu before dining if you have your heart set on that.
Your room will get all credits applied to your account at check in and the credits will expire at midnight the night of check out. This means that while credits are calculated by the number of nights you stay and number of people in your room, the credits are ALL added to your account at one time so you are welcome to use them as you see fit through your trip. Kids ages 3-9 will have to order a meal from the kids menu.
Another thing to note is that some dining experiences require more than 1 credit, called Signature Dining. I'll list those places below for your reference:
Be Our Guest (Magic Kingdom, Dinner only)
Le Cellier (Epcot)
The Hollywood Brown Derby (Hollywood Studios)
Tiffins Restaurant (Animal Kingdom)
The BOATHOUSE (Disney Springs)
California Grill (Disney's Contemporary Resort)
Cinderella's Royal Table (Magic Kingdom)
Citricos (Disney's Grand Floridian Resort)
Flying Fish (Disney's Boardwalk)
Topolino's Terrace (Disney's Riviera Resort, Dinner only)
Jiko, The Cooking Place (Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge)
Monsieur Paul (Epcot)
Morimoto Asia (Disney Springs, Dinner only)
Jaleo (Disney Springs)
Narcoossee's (Disney's Grand Floridian)
Paddlefish (Disney Springs)
STK Orlando (Disney Springs)
Yachtsman Steakhouse (Yacht Club)
Also: the Dinner Shows and The Dining Packages at Epcot for Festival Concerts......
*Hoop-Dee-Doo Revue and Spirit of Aloha Shows
*Disney on Broadway/Garden Rocks/Eat to the Beat/Candlelight Processional Dining Packages at Epcot (seasonally).
Now that we are familiar with the plan options, how do you decide if the dining plans are right for you? I think that there are a few questions to ask yourself before you make that decision.
What's your budget like?
You will be paying for food either way. While often times you CAN go to Walt Disney World and spend less by paying out of pocket, WILL YOU? With the dining plan options you will pay for the entire trip 30 days before you travel. Then you are able to sit back, relax and enjoy your trip without wondering what you will end up spending on food. You can allow yourself to say yes to the more expensive meal option or to the fun (possibly overpriced) snack for your kiddo. Often times people think that when they are on a budget that they should skip the dining plans but I tend to find that it is more worth your money to plan ahead this way. I mean, look at that giant donut!! Also, did I mention that you can get ANY size Starbucks drink with one Snack credit?
Do you plan to take advantage of Character Dining meals?
Character meals are a great way to meet all your favorite Disney Heroes without wasting time standing in lines. When you plan your days properly, you can maximize both your park days AND your dining plan by using the time you would already be eating to have some special quality time with your favorites. These meals however can be pricy when paid for out of pocket. Some meals are buffets which really allows you to fill up and potentially skip a meal. Some of the character buffets are breakfast only which I LOVE because then you can go most of the day without needing "real food" and can just indulge yourself on those Super Snacks.
You'll want the snacks...But do you want to pay for them?
If you have ever been to ANY Disney Destination, you probably know first hand that one of the best parts is the SNACKS. They do it all well: salty, sweet, BIG and small...but sometimes they can be a little pricy. Part of the experience is trying as many as you can, but that may not be ideal for your wallet. On the Dining Plans, you will get 2 snacks per day PER PERSON. So grab some, share them together (because honestly, sometimes you just can't eat it all yourself) and yell YOLO with each bite.
As you eat and enjoy, you can keep track of remaining credits in your My Disney Experience App or your printed receipt. You will know what qualifies as a "Snack" credit by looking for the Disney Dining Plan logo on the menu or near the price (if you peek hard at the photo above you can see the small purple squares above the price tags.)
Just a couple Good To Know type things:
-If you have extra quick service credits, you can purchase 3 snack qualifying items for 1 QS credit. This isn't typically the BEST use of your credits/money paid but it is much better to use them than letting them go to waste. Look for items that are prepackaged that can possibly travel home with you. You will need to purchase all three items in one transaction though.
-When using snack credits, a good rule of thumb is to only get items listed above $4-$5. You can technically get things as small and cheap as say a banana...but if you want to maximize your plan consider just paying out of pocket for those small items.
-A lot of "snacks" can actually be big enough to share with several people. Try to find these if you want to save an actual meal credit.
-If you happen to be visiting Epcot, some of the best snack credit items can be found while you Eat around the world. Consider saving some of your credits for that day!!
I hope this blog helps you to better enjoy ALL THE FOOD. Have a great trip.