For those that don’t know what the Disney dining plan is, it is a prepaid meal plan for guests that stay on Disney property. Starting February 27, 2020 there are now 4 different levels of dining plans. If you’ve never done one before, we will explain it all to you so that you know if it is worth it or not!
If you’ve done the dining plan but you just need a refresher, feel free to skip around. You probably know most of what we’re saying. Most of it is very simple once you know what you’re doing. Just follow the guide and you’ll be an expert in no time!
Who can get a Disney dining plan?
Anyone staying in a Disney owned and operated hotel that purchased a Disney Resort Hotel Package or a stay with Disney Vacation Club points. If you purchased tickets and a hotel room separately, you cannot get a Disney dining plan.
For each night of your stay, all guests in your reservation will get meal credits that vary in “value” depending on your chosen plan.
What are the dining plans?
Disney Quick Service Dining Plan
This dining plan is one of the more popular ones and is the cheapest one. With it, you get two quick service meals (alcoholic or non-alcoholic drink included) and two snacks per person, per night. You also get one refillable resort mug per person.
The good thing about this plan is that you don’t have to worry about dining reservations or tipping as it is only valid at quick service restaurants. You simply walk up and order, tap your Magic Band on the kiosk, and get your food!
The Quick Service Dining Plan costs $55 per night for adults (10+) and $26 per night for children (3-9). This does include days you won’t be in the parks. If you are staying on property for 7 days and are going to the parks for 4, the other 3 days you still pay for your meal plan.
As far as value is concerned, it is hard to put a number on the “value” of any meal plan. But to give you an example of a meal that is “worth” it:
Today you were at Epcot and are craving some BBQ for lunch. Perfect! The Regal Eagle Smokehouse in the American Pavilion has just what you’re looking for. You decide to get the American Platter($18.99) because you are absolutely starving after being in the park since opening. You also drink alcohol so you decide to use the drink credit with your meal on the Tennessee Lemonade ($14). You have now spent (including tax) $35.13 on one meal. As a disclaimer, this was the most expensive combination I could find.
You now only have to spend $20 between a meal and 2 snacks, which should be pretty easy to do as an average quick service meal is going to be in the $15-20 range.
I will say, this plan gets you the most bang for your buck if you do drink alcohol. Most alcoholic drinks will be at least $8 with some of the more specialty drinks pushing $14. If you’re not looking to eat some of the larger, more expensive meals and don’t drink alcohol it won’t get you quite the same return on your purchase. For instance:
At the Backlot Express in Hollywood Studios, you’re looking for something a little lighter so you get the Southwest Salad ($8.99) and a Dasani Bottled Water ($3.50), for a post-tax total of $13.30.
If you’re combining this lighter meal with your heavier meal, you’re going to come out about even or slightly ahead than not purchasing the meal plan. But if this plus another light meal is your intention, I would opt to not get the meal plan. Unless, of course, it is offered for free which generally happens during the off-season.
Disney Dining Plan
The Disney Dining Plan is a mid tier dining plan that gives you one quick-service meal, one table-service meal, and 2 snacks per person, per night as well as your refillable resort mug. The table-service meal entitles you to an entree, a dessert, and a drink (alcoholic for those over 21, if you choose). The cost of this plan is $78.01 for adults (10+) and $30.51 for children (3-9) per night of your stay. Like I outlined above, this includes days you stay on property and aren’t in the parks.
If you plan on doing character dining, nice sit down meals, or buffet style dining once a day, I highly recommend this plan as one meal is almost your entire allowance. For instance, Tusker House Buffet in the Harambe Market at Animal Kingdom is $44.73 for breakfast and $58.58 for lunch/dinner.
For a resort option, at Sebastion’s Bistro at the Carribbean Beach Resort, you can get a 10oz Grilled Ribeye for $34, the Warm Chocolate Pudding for $10, and a glass of Baileyana Grand Firepeak Cuvee Chardonnay for $15. This gives you a post tax total of $62.84 for a single meal. If your goal is to eat large, nicer meals, once a day then this is the plan for you.
Disney Dining Plan Plus
The Disney Dining Plan Plus was introduced on February 27, 2020 for guests scheduling their stay after that date. This one is similar to the regular Disney Dining Plan in that it is two full meals a day, but you can now do two table-service meals. If you still want to use it at a quick service, that is fine, but at that point you’re paying a premium for it. The plan is as follows: two (any combination) quick service or table service meals per person, per night and two snacks per person, per night, as well as your refillable resort mug. This plan costs $94.61 for adults (10+) and $35 for children (3-9).
Similar to the regular dining plan, you are going to get the most bang for your buck by scheduling more expensive dining experiences. This isn’t to say you can’t make it worth it without doing this, it just adds up quicker and is more worthwhile of both experience and money.
Disney Deluxe Dining Plan
The macdaddy of them all! The Disney Deluxe Dining plan is for those guests that are truly looking for a once in a lifetime dining experience. This plan allows you to do three (any combination) quick-service or table-service dining experiences per person, per night of your stay. The cost of the deluxe plan is $119 for adults (10+) $47.50 for children (3-9). My personal recommendation if you get this plan, is to only get it if you plan on doing fine dining and not a lot of park days.
In my example, we will say you are planning to stay at the Grand Floridian for a week, but only go to the parks for 3 days. But, you want to eat at ALL of the finest restaurants on property. This is the plan that allows you to do that. Character breakfasts, signature dining dinners, shows, you can have it all!
When do I break even on the Disney Dining Plan?
Like I went over above, breaking even happens by choosing more expensive meals when its time to eat. One thing I will say, I’ve gone to Disney with a dining plan and I’ve gone without a dining plan. The times I have gotten it, my trip is much more stress free. I’m not worrying about what, where, and the cost of eating is going to be. The beauty of the Disney Dining Plan is walking up to a quick-service counter or sitting down at a table-service restaurant and getting what you WANT, not being conservative or money conscious.
What is a snack?
A snack is designated by the dining plan/snack logo next to an option at a counter. This will tell you what qualifies and what doesn’t. A pretzel w/cheese qualifies as a snack, as well as a lot of sweets, and bottled water/soft drinks. Alcoholic beverages on the other hand, do not qualify as snacks. You can look up all the snacks on Disney’s official menu database.
Do I have to use all my meals or snacks everyday?
No! That is the beauty of the dining plan! You get to be flexible with how you dine. If you want to use 2 table-service credits on a signature dining experience, you can do that. If you want to use 2 out of 3 or 1 out of 2 another day because you’re not hungry, that’s alright as well! The same goes for snacks. When we went during Epcot’s Food & Wine Festival, we used the bulk of our snacks on the same day at Epcot. All of the pavillions have themed snacks during the festival that are almost full meals. The only time limit on meals is that you must use them before you check out of your room.
How do I make reservations under the Dining Plan, Dining Plan Plus, and Deluxe Dining Plans?
Very good question. The MyDisney Experience app or online reservation system will be your best friend in making reservations. If you need a full explanation on how to make dining reservations and when, follow our guide! We break down exactly when you can, which ones you need to make reservations for a full 180 days ahead of time, and some of our favorites!
If you’ve done the dining plan and recommend something, let us know below! I’m sure someone reading this has a question we didn’t cover, so they would love to know more from other readers. If you think we got something wrong, also let us know!