• Disney Dining Plan Strategy

Disney Dining Plan Strategy

Ben A.

Created: Jan 05, 2024

Last Updated: Apr 25, 2024

Disney Dining Plan Strategy

Disney Dining Plan Strategy

This guide will cover everything you need to know about the recently introduced dining plans at Walt Disney World. We will cover the tips, tricks and give you the inside scoop on how best to use these plans in an upcoming trip.

What is a "Disney Dining Plan"?

The Disney Dining Plans offer an easy way to prepay for a good chunk of the meals during an upcoming Disney World vacation and resort stay. You can save some money in the process too, but it mainly a way to know ahead of time how much you are going to spend on some of the meals during your trip. It is an easy way to enjoy delicious food, meet characters or grab quick snacks in a relatively stress-free way.

Is the Disney Dining Plan free?

Currently, both versions of the Dining Plan do cost extra per night and per person in your vacation package.

HOWEVER! You can get both of the plans for FREE if you are a Disney+ subscriber. You must meet a few requirements like:

  • Be a Disney+ subscriber (obvs)
  • Stay during the promo period of July 1, 2024 through September 30, 2024
  • Purchase a non-discounted 4 night, 4 day vacation package (includes a hotel room + park hopper tickets)

We have a great article written just about the free dining offer over here. One thing to note is that even though the offer period is July 1 - September 30, there may be certain dates that "sell out" meaning that Disney may not offer free dining during specific dates due to so many current offers. Disney+ Free Dining is a limited time offer so you will have to act quickly to secure a free Disney Dining Plan.

Also, even if you have free dining plan thanks to this special offer, you will still have to tip during Table Service or Character Dining meals.

How do I add the Disney Dining Plan to my vacation?

This one is easy! Just ask your Famvia Travel Advisor to help! Our Travel Advisors have been taking advantage of the free dining plan offers for 2 decades now. They will do the math to help you decide whether to add free dining or not.

If you want to add the free dining plan yourself (because you already booked yourself), then you need to be aware of a few things:

  1. Any prior discounts you had taken advantage of will be removed. The free dining plan offer requires no discounts on your package. So be sure to do the math on whether it saves you money or not.
  2. The free dining plan offer requires you to have park hopper tickets. So if you had only 3 days of 1 park only tickets, then you will have to increase the tickets to 4 + add park hopper option.
  3. The rate for your room may have increased since you booked. You will have to pay the new, updated amount in order to secure the free dining.

Or, you could let our team help out! You may end up deciding that it is better to cancel your existing plans and use our team to help you book different dates. If you do not have any flexibility on dates, then our team will be happy to advise you on whether it is a good deal or not to take advantage of free dining balanced with the increase in ticket or room costs.

What are the types of dining plans offered by Disney?

Disney has re-introduced 2 tiers of their Dining Plan at this time. The moment you check in to your hotel, all of your entitlements (aka "credits") will be added to your MagicBand or MyDisneyExperience account. Here is what you can expect from each plan.

Disney Quick Service Dining Plan

If you are ready to hit the parks running and do not want to do any sit down meals, then the Disney Quick Service Dining Plan helps you out as you can jump from ride to ride to mobile order back to rides.

The current cost of the Quick Service Dining Plan per person is:

  • $57.01 per night for adults (ages 10+)
  • $23.83 per night for children (ages 3-9)

You receive the following items on the Quick Service Dining Plan per person:

  • 2 Quick Service Meal credits (per night)
  • 1 Snack credit (per night)
  • 1 refillable mug

You can redeem a credit for a Quick Service meal at any mobile order restaurant or "Counter Service" restaurant.

Disney Standard Dining Plan

If you like to relax or are already planning to enjoy sit down meals and/or Character Dining meals at any of the parks, then the Disney Standard Dining Plan is for you. You can enjoy a meal on-the-go and enjoy a table service setting at your leisure thanks to Advanced Dining Reservations.

The current cost of the Standard Dining Plan per person is:

  • $94.28 per night for adults (ages 10+)
  • $29.69 per night for children (ages 3-9)

You receive the following items on the Standard Dining Plan per person:

  • 1 Table Service Meal credit (per night)
  • 1 Quick Service Meal credit (per night)
  • 1 Snack credit (per night)
  • 1 refillable mug

Strategies for Disney Dining Plan Credits

Both versions of the dining plan cost real money (unless you're getting it for free, but you are paying a higher price for other items in that trade-off). So you definitely want to make sure that you are using the credits wisely and efficiently. Here are some of our top tips on helping you juggle the credits on your next trip:

  • Make a list the day you book your trip with a Famvia Travel Advisor. There are going to be restaurants (whether sit down or quick service) that are "must do" for your family. Write your top must do experiences down and begin to think about how many credits a restaurant or location will consume. 
  • Take advantage of more expensive options with credits and pay out of pocket for others. When you have your list ready, you will see which restaurants are Character Dining (most of them will take 2 table service credits!) and which are quick service. This requires some thinking, but if you are paying in advance for the dining plan, we want you to take advantage of every dollar of the credits!
  • Use it or lose it. ALL of your credits will expire on the last day of your trip at midnight, so you have to use all of your credits before 11:59pm. 

Is the Disney Dining Plan worth it?

It can be for some guests and not be for others. Here is a great example:

  • Assume you are taking a trip for 4 nights and you have the Standard Dining Plan. You will receive 4 table service credits and 4 quick service credits.
  • On Day 1, you plan to sleep in then head to the parks for lunch at Casey's Corner then hit up Docking Bay 7 for dinner. We would recommend paying out of pocket for Casey's Corner because it's cheaper and using 1 of your quick service credits for dinner at Docking Bay 7. You have 4 table service and 3 quick service credits left.
  • On Day 2, you are hitting the parks early to rope drop and pay for Joffrey's out of pocket. You then enjoy a sit-down lunch at Cinderella's Royal Table which costs 2 table service credits. Then you head to Animal Kingdom and grab lunch at Pizzafari which takes 1 quick service credit. You have 2 table service and 2 quick service credits left.
  • On Day 3, you sleep in (because you were out late watching Fantasmic!) but head back to Hollywood Studios to enjoy Hollywood & Vine character dining lunch which costs 1 table service credit. You hop to EPCOT to grab dinner at Via Napoli any pay out of pocket for 2 pizzas. You have 1 table service and 2 quick service credits left.
  • On Day 4, you head back to EPCOT for breakfast at Garden Grill which takes 1 table service credit. You hit Regal Eagle Smokehouse for lunch which takes 1 quick service credit. You wrap up your trip at Magic Kingdom and grab a quick burger at Cosmic Ray's Starlight Cafe for your final quick service credit.
  • In this scenario, you will have skipped breakfast or paid out of pocket for coffee/pastries 3 out of 4 days. You will also have paid out of pocket for lunch or dinner a couple times as well.

Was this the best use of credits? Probably not, but it's the exact itinerary one of our Guests took a few years ago and felt like it was not worth the money they spent. You can supplement some of your meals with snacks, but you will probably still end up spending potentially 100s of additional dollars outside of the Dining Plan.

In our opinion, if you are on a strict budget we will help you craft the best trip possible to maximize credits and minimize additional food money spent on top of the plan. However, everyone's budget is different so you have to figure out how much you want to spend on food per day (or if that actually matters or not). There is definitely a scenario where you can come out ahead by focusing on higher end restaurants for your table service credits and more costly counter service restaurants for your quick service credits.

Which Restaurants Accept Disney Dining Plan Credits?

There are over 200+ restaurants which accept a Table Service, Quick Service or Snack credit around the Walt Disney World Resort. For the most updated list, please check out Disney's official website.

What happens if I run out of Disney Dining plan credits?

There is no way to "top up" or "refill" your credits if you use them too early or forgot you spent 1 too many credits at another restaurant.

Can I get a refund if I do not use all my Disney Dining plan credits?

All credits expire at midnight of the day you check-out of your resort. We have seen a lot of folks running to gift shops to grab candy, soda etc to use up their credits before the stroke of midnight. Don't do that! Have a plan ahead of time!

Can I add a Disney Dining plan to just the adults in our room?

The Disney Dining Plans must be added for everyone in the travel party which has a ticket (ages 3+). Disney does not allow folks to exclude certain travelers.

Does the Disney Dining plan cover the entire stay or can I add it to just part of my stay?

The Disney Dining Plans are for the entire length of your stay.

Do I get more Disney Dining Plan credits if I have more park days?

No, the Disney Dining Plan is counted per night of your stay, not per park day. If you have 5 days of park tickets and 4 nights then you will receive credits based on 4 nights only.

Which meals does the Disney Dining plan include?

You can use your credits on practically every meal (including a pizza at your resort.. but please don't waste your quick service credits on this!). Both version of the plan can be used for any meal, they are not assigned to a particular meal at all.

Does the Disney Dining Plan include appetizers or desserts?

The Disney Standard Dining Plan includes dessert on table service credits only when redeemed at brunches, lunches or dinners. Dessert is not included when using a table service credit at breakfast.

Neither the Disney Quick Service Dining Plan nor the Disney Standard Dining Plan include appetizers.

Does the Disney Dining Plan include drinks?

Yes! Both the Disney Quick Service Dining Plan and the Disney Standard Dining Plan include 1 non-alcoholic beverage per credit.

Does the Disney Dining Plan include alocholic beverages?

Yes! As long as you are 21+ years old, the Disney Quick Service Dining Plan and the Disney Standard Dining Plan include beer, wine or select cocktails when redeeming a credit.

How do I redeem a credit for a refillable mug?

When you arrive at your resort and complete the check-in process, you will be able to head to the food court or quick service restaurant on property and pick up a mug. Just head to the register and inform the Cast Member you are redeeming a credit on your plan. Remember: it's only 1 credit per stay, not 1 credit per night.... so you cannot collect 7 mugs on your stay ;)

Does the Disney Dining Plan include tips or gratuities?

No, the Disney Standard Dining Plan does NOT include tips. You will receive a check at the end of your meal showing how many credits were used and how many are left. You will also see a suggested gratuity of 18% on the regular menu price of the items you selected or prix-fixe price. Please do not decline to tip, the Cast Members working in these restaurants depend on the tips just like any other place. Disney does not reimburse Cast Members for Guests using Dining Plan credits.

Can I use my refillable mug in the parks?

Unfortunately no, you cannot refill your mug in the parks (we've tried and failed too). Your mug can only be used at the resort - BUT you can use your mug at any resort property. So if you are resort hopping to eat at different restaurants, you can swing by the food court area or pool bar area to refill your mug if you want. You can take your mug to the park - but know that you won't be able to refill it when the last drop is gone.

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