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Should I Purchase a Disney Dining Plan?

You can eat in a car at Sci-Fi Diner!

One of my favorite parts of a Disney trip is eating.  Seriously, I love food.  And the food there is fantastic.  From the snacks to the drinks and most especially the meat, Disney offers a wide variety that will please even the pickiest of eaters.  Although the dining plans have been available for years, many people still have a lot of questions about them.  Hopefully, this will help you decide if there is a dining plan for you and also help you identify which one best fits your trip.

Which dining plan will work best for you?

Option 1: If you plan to run around and do not want to spend any time sitting down to eat, you will probably benefit from having the Quick-Service Dining Plan.  It is also great for families who only want to do one character meal but are trying to stick to a strict budget. 

Option 2: If you want to have one sit-down meal each day, you will greatly benefit from the Disney Dining Plan (sometimes referred to as \”plus dining\”). You can save quite a bit of money with this dining plan.  For example, dinner at Chef Mickey\’s is $50/adult $23/child, but the total cost of the dining plan per night is $62/adult and $21/child, so you almost pay for the entire day with that one meal! 

Option 3: If you want to enjoy several of Disney\’s signature restaurants or more than one sit-down meal per day, the Deluxe Dining Plan will be a great fit for you.  It has the most flexibility as you can use your three credits allotted per night in any combination of quick-service or table-service meals. Disney\’s signature restaurants offer some of the best food in the country and many are highly-rated. This is also a great option if you want to try out one or more of Disney\’s amazing dinner shows!

To look more in-depth, these are links to the official Disney PDFs describing the dining plans:

How to keep track of used credits:

Whenever you use credits to pay for a meal or snack, you will receive a receipt that lists your remaining credits available.  If you lose track and want to check, you can head to almost any gift shop and they can scan your Magic Band and print a receipt that will list your remaining available credits.

A Few Dining FAQs:

Q: When can I use my credits?

A: They are available from the morning you check in until midnight on the day you check out from your Disney resort.

Q: Is the Disney dining plan available to visitors who are not staying in a Disney resort?

A: Nope. It\’s a perk available only to Disney resort guests!

Q: Do you have to have theme park admission to add the dining plan to your resort stay? A: No.  You can book a package with just a resort room and the dining plan, but you will need valid theme park admission for any restaurants that are inside any of the Disney parks. With many great restaurants at the Disney resorts, Disney Springs and at the Boardwalk, you might not even want to go to the parks!

Q: How many credits do character dining meals use?

A: Cinderella\’s Royal Table requires two credits per person, but all of the other character dining meals use just one credit per person.

Q: Do I have to order off a special menu?

A: No! With very few exceptions, you can order whatever you like from the menu! Know what your dining plan covers and then order what you want.

Q: What\’s the catch? Are there only certain restaurants where I can eat?

A: No catch…really! There are more than 80 table service restaurants in the Walt Disney World Resort area and only a few don\’t take the dining plan.

Q: What should I do if I have leftover credits when I\’m ready to head home? A: You can downgrade your leftover credits as snack credits and use them to purchase food or snack items at your resort\’s gift shop.  Goofy\’s Candy makes a great souvenir for kids\’ friends. 😉

Q: Is it worth it?

A: That is the big question! Contact me or your travel agent and let us help run the numbers for you. We\’ll help figure out which dining plan is the best one for your family.

Emily Lamb has been to Disney over 65 times, usually for multiple days on each trip. The tips she sharing are from first-hand experience as a kid and now as a mother of her own beautiful children. Contact Emily to help plan your next Disney trip!

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