Disney Dining Plan
The Premier Guide – Updated 2020
When the Walt Disney Company created the Disney Dining Plan (DDP), they implemented it to make your Disney vacation easier to plan and more fun. But sometimes, when you’re trying to plan your Disney World vacation and make the best choices for your family, you might want more details and different perspectives on the Disney Dining Plan.
One of the most common questions about the DDP is; Is the Disney Dining Plan worth it?
I think that’s a great question but let’s begin with what the Disney Dining Plan is.
What is the Disney Dining Plan?
The Disney Dining Plan (DDP) is a prepaid meal plan offered by Walt Disney World. It allows you to pay for your meals in advance and save some money. It’s also a really good way to pre-budget for 85% of your food costs during your vacation.
The only people eligible to purchase the Disney Dining Plan are those purchasing a room and ticket vacation package from Disney.
DDP is offered in three tiers. Quick Service, Deluxe, and Deluxe Plus. Also sometimes called Quick Service, Regular, and Deluxe. We can even call it low, medium, high or bronze, silver, and gold.
Depending on the plan you select, you will be given a certain amount of credits that can be redeemed either for snacks, quick service meals, or table meals. You redeem your credits using your MagicBand.
Those are the basics of the DDP. We will definitely go through the three different levels, costs, and values in this post.
As with theme park tickets, children under three years old don’t need their own plan.
How much does the Disney Dining Plan cost?
The DDP is paid per night per person. Adult and child prices differ. Each level gets consecutively more expensive.
Let’s break it down
Counter Service Meal/Quick Service Meal Credit is good for an entree at a quick service location and a non-alcoholic beverage, or a single-serving alcoholic beverage if you are 21 years or older (this was added to the Disney Dining Plan in 2018). You can also use a quick service credit for three snacks.
Table Service Meal is good for an entree, dessert, and non-alcoholic beverage or single-serving alcoholic beverage, depending on age, at a table service location. A good way to differentiate the two is by whether you’re getting served or serving yourself.
A snack credit is good for anything in between. Snacks such as ice cream or popcorn off of carts, a few side items from quick service locations and more. Click here to learn more.
Two table service meal credits may be used for one Signature Meal, a Dinner Show, Pizza Delivery/Room Service Meal
The amount of food served on the dining plan, especially with the table service credit, is hefty. There have been various times where I couldn’t finish my meal, and I’m a big eater. There also times where you have a table service credit and would have been fine with a counter service meal.
When can the Disney Dining Plan be purchased?
Like I mentioned before, the Disney Dining Plan can only be purchased by those who are also purchasing a vacation package through Disney (room and tickets). This adds a level of complication to trying to save money on your vacation, but we can go deeper into that later.
Here is the type of vacation the DDP works for:
You’ve booked your vacation through Disney and have taken advantage of one of their AMAZING special offers. Such as 25% off of the room. You’re also purchasing your theme park tickets with that package.
You don’t plan on eating anywhere except within Disney.
To decide if the Disney Dining Plan is a good fit for your vacation, start by planning your meals and figuring out if the places you want to eat mostly fall into the DDP, then it’s a good fit for you.
You can also use a free Disney travel planner, like myself, to walk you through whether it’s a good fit.
Can you save money with the Disney Dining Plan?
If you do the straight-up math on the DDP, it’s definitely a cost saving. What you’re paying per night is less expensive versus the value of what you’re getting. I’ve actually broken it down for you in this chart above.
The DDP is also really good at keeping you on a budget as you’ve prepaid everything.
If you’re going to maximize your credits, really get the most for every part of it, the DDP is for you. It’s going to take a good amount of pre-planning so make sure you’re getting the most of out your credit. Looking at locations that accept them, menu offerings and pricing, etc.
If you go to https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/dining/ you can sort locations by dining plan accepted.
However, if you’re going to undervalue the credits by ordering lower priced items, it’s not for you.
It’s important to note, that every person on the travel party has to part of the dining plan if that’s the route that’s chosen. So if you have any light eaters, there’s going to be waste there.
If you’re planning a Disney World trip on a budget, I would not choose the DDP. I spend $40/day/person max on all my meals at Disney. And that’s for adults, kids are a lot less.
On top of that, you’re spending time right now reading this article, and will probably read more, is that a good use of your time? Time is money.
Getting more bang for your buck on the DDP takes a lot of time and planning. Where just spending cash does not.
Additionally, a lot of these entrees can be shared among two adults.
- Using a table service credit for a quick service meal is never a good idea. You’re essentially throwing away money.
- Don’t use a credit for breakfast. It’s never a good idea as breakfast can be sourced inexpensively from almost anywhere.
- Try to get at least $18 from your quick service credits, $5 from your snack credits, and $35 from your table service credit.
- Be Our Guest restaurant is a quick service credit during lunch and breakfast only.
- There is no difference, in the system, between a child’s and adult’s credit. You can get a an adult meal for a child as long as the clerk doesn’t see the child and give you a hard time about it.
- Signature Meals are almost never worth double the amount of a table service meal. So it doesn’t necessarily makes sense to use this option.
- Tips are not included in the credits but snacks are.
- You can use the dining plan for some of the character meals, they take table service credits. Use the link I mentioned earlier to find a good fit for your family.
- Disney raises some pricing during peak season, the dining plan helps you avoid that.
- Use any remaining snack credits for packaged food that you can take home. Like the Mickey shaped rice krispies.
The decision on whether the dining plan is a good choice for your is mostly personal preference. A lot of families like it because it’s a prepaid system. It’s comforting.
Have you used the Disney Dining Plan? Are you considering it?