Disney Dining Plans 101

One of the most popular add-ons to a Walt Disney World vacation package is one of the three Disney Dining Plans.  As popular as they are, the most frequent question we get at DW Dads is: Are the Dining Plans worth it? Let’s try to answer that question today!

Here is some general info to keep in mind:

  • Dining plans can only be added onto a vacation package, which is defined as a reservation that includes both a room and tickets. Annual Passholders do not have to purchase tickets in order to purchase the Dining Plan, as long as they are staying on property.
  • Everyone in the room has to be on the same plan.
  • Dining Plan meal/snack credits are per night, not per day.
  • There are some ways that the plans can be used – ahem – beyond the stated policies. For the purposes of this article, however, we will play strictly by the rules!
  • Meal and snack credits are issued all at once to every member of your party at check-in; they can be used whenever you’d like.  For example, 2 adults checking in for 5 nights on the quick service plan would immediately have 20 quick service credits (2 per night per person for 5 nights) and 10 snack credits available. Theoretically, they could go and use all of them on day one.
  • Some meals, like Signature restaurants and Dinner Shows, require 2 table service credits for 1 meal.

The Plans

There are three common plans available (plus Premium and Platinum plans that include more than dining; we’ll cover them another time).

Quick Service:
Includes 2 quick service meals per night, 1 snack per night and a refillable resort mug
Adults: $39.64 per night, Children: $15.75 per night

Basic Dining Plan:
Includes 1 table service, 1 quick service and 1 snack per night and a refillable resort mug
Adults: $58.66 per night, Children: $18.88 per night

Deluxe Dining Plan:
Includes 3 meal credits per night (can be used at quick service or table service; Signature and Dinner Shows still require 2 credits), 2 snacks per night and a refillable resort mug
Adults: $102.94-$104 per night (depending on season), Children: $28-$29.50 per night (depending on season)

Are They Worth It?

The value of the Dining Plan is going to vary wildly by person.  A lot of it depends on, of course, what and where you plan on eating; some of it, however, is a little more intangible. There are a couple of ways to figure out if a plan  would be worth it for you: the thorough way, and the rounded way (that is not a reference, by the way, of the way you feel after a week on the Deluxe Dining Plan!).

Eating whole chickens will greatly improve your chances of breaking even on the Dining Plan.

Eating whole chickens will greatly improve your chances of breaking even on the Dining Plan.

The Thorough Approach

The best way to know if the plans are worth it is to do the following:

  • Plan your meals
  • Visit a site, like allears.net, and check the menus for all of your restaurants
  • Put together sample “orders” and total the costs
  • Compare it to the price of the plan

The problem with this approach is having to know what you may eat months from now.

The Rounded Approach

OK, let’s break a few things down and use some rounding.

Every plan comes with a refillable mug, which is worth about $18. Since the value per night is so dependent on the number of nights you’ll be there, let’s consider this a bonus.

Snacks are valued at about $4 each.  So, that brings the cost of the quick service to $36 and the Basic to $55.

Every meal comes with a drink and a dessert. For quick service meals, that’s worth about $6.50. So that brings the cost of the quick service plan down to $23 and the cost of the basic down to $48.50. Table service drink and dessert is worth about $11, so that brings the basic down to $37.50.

Where does that leave us?
Quick Service: You would order entrees valued at approximately $11.50 each to break even.
Basic Plan: Your quick service entree and your table service entree would have to equal $37.50.

That’s going to be real close. Quick service meals hover around $10 each, but there are some that are closer to $14-15; then there are some that are around $8. Table service meals also range, but if you’re committed to eating steak and ribs at every meal, you should fine!

The Intangible

There is one main intangible most people cite as the reason they ultimately decided to get a dining plan: convenience. Many people can put some value on the idea that your meals are paid for in advance and there won’t be any surprises while you are there.  If that is worth even a couple bucks a night to you, then the dining plan sounds like it may be a good choice for you.

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About DW Dad Domenic

DW Dads are FREE Disney Vacation Specialists who are affiliated with Magical Adventures Travel, LLC. Domenic is a married DW Dad of 3: Luke, Nick and Zack.

2 thoughts on “Disney Dining Plans 101

  1. Love the DDP. It is expensive and it was overwhelming using the first year and in the end, lost a lot of meal credits because we couldn’t use them. Last year we figured out exactly how to use them in the best way — a 1 point breakfast and a 2 point dinner. It worked out perfectly and we used every point. Our fist night’s bill at Narcoossee’s was enough evidence for us that it was well worth it. We are all adults and foodies so it was worth it for us. Wouldn’t recommend this for children.

  2. DDP is really good. You eat at restaurants that you would rarely do when not in a plan. For Table Service Restaurants the minimum tab for dinner is $110+Tip for 2 adults and 1 junior at T-Rex, Planet Hollywood or Boma for example. There is also a bonus… getting the DDP for free or adults at price of children. That would make a total deal!

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