Is the Walt Disney Dining Plan confusing to you as it is with most Disney guests?
Let me help you unpack and learn everything you need to know in order to conquer the Dining Plan!
Let’s first start by understanding what is the Disney Dining Plan.
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What is the Disney Dining Plan?
The Disney Dining Plan is a prepaid meal plan for restaurants on the Walt Disney World Resort property.
You can buy a pre-set amount of meals and snacks ahead of time for each traveling person, per night.
The amount of meals and snacks you receive in each plan depends on the type of plan you choose.
Each type of meal or snack can be redeemed using a credit from your meal plan.
It sounds like a lot, but meal plans can be very simple and a great money saver if you do things right.
Before we discuss the types of dining plans, there are a few terms you need to know.
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Walt Disney Dining Plan Terms You Should Know
Counter Service/Quick Service
Any dining location where you have to walk up to a counter or window to order your food.
Any dining location where you make reservations, have to check in with a Cast Member, or have to be shown to your table.
Walt Disney Dining Plan Snacks
Are found on most snack carts and quick service location. It’s usually noted by the snack plan logo on the menu.
- Frozen ice cream novelty, popsicle or fruit bar
- Popcorn scoop
- 12 oz. coffee, hot chocolate or hot tea
- Prepackaged milk or juice
- Piece of whole fruit
- Bag of snacks
- 20 oz. bottle of Coca-Cola®, Sprite® or Dasani® water
- A 20 oz. fountain soft drink
Disney Dining Plan Credits
Are sort of like tokens that Disney is using to keep track of your food.
Meals can cost anywhere from 1 to 2 credits and may be used at any time during your stay.
What are the 2020 Disney Dining Plan Prices?
Disney has three tiers for the Dining Plan:
- Quick Service Dining Plan
- “Regular” Disney Dining Plan
- Deluxe Disney Dining Plan
Each of them come with a different level of service at different rates.
Disney Quick Service Dining Plan Cost
Includes two quick-service meals, two snacks, and one refillable drink mug. The cost is $55 for adults and $26 for children.
This quick-service plan will be per person and per night of your stay.
“Regular” Disney Dining Plan Cost
Includes one table service meal, one quick service meal, two snacks, and one refillable mug. $78.01 for adults with a rate of $30.51 for children.
This will also be per person and per night of your stay.
A good thing about this option is that you’ll be able to use a Table-Service meal for Character Dining or other Disney dining experiences.
Disney Deluxe Dining Plan Cost
Includes three meals any combination of table service and quick service, two snacks one refillable mug. The cost is $119 for adults with a rate of $47.50 for children
You can view a complete chart of the different dining plans and their prices for both children and adults below.
Disney Dining Plan Cost Chart for 2020
Please Note: While we try our best to stay up to date at ThemeParkHipster, prices may change at any time after we publish or update this article.
What’s Included in Each Plan?
meal includes (for breakfast, lunch or dinner):
- 1 Entrée
- A Non-alcoholic Beverage (or Alcoholic Beverage, for Guests 21 and older)
meal includes (for breakfast):
- 1 Entrée
- 1 Non-alcoholic Beverage (or Alcoholic Beverage, for Guests 21 and older)
- 1 Full Buffet or Family-Style Meal
meal includes (for lunch or dinner):
- 1 Appetizer
- An Entrée (1)
- 1 Dessert
- 1 Non-alcoholic Beverage (or Alcoholic Beverage, for Guests 21 and older)
- 1 Full Buffet or Family-Style Meal
Listen to Laura, a Disney Expert, breakdown what the Disney Dining Plan is here!
How Does the Disney Dining Plan Work?
The Walt Disney Dining Plan provides you with a set number of credits to redeem for counter service, table service, signature dining, and snacks.
The credit can be stored on your MagicBand and receipt is provided after each redemption.
This is kind of like when you are putting money on your gift card for the Epcot Food and Wine Festival.
It shows how many credits remain after each transaction.
If you decide you and your friends and family will want more food, you can upgrade your Walt Disney Dining plan if you change your mind later.
Remember: The credits don’t have a set dollar value and can be used at any time during your stay. That’s when you have to go around and play with the system so that the dining plan works in your favor.
Who’s Eligible for Disney Dining Plan?
Walt Disney World guests who purchase a vacation package with the room and ticket are eligible for the Disney Dining Plan.
Can You get the Disney Dining Plan without Staying on Property?
Disney dining plans are only available as a part of your Disney Resort Hotel Vacation Package, which also includes a resort hotel stay and theme park tickets.
Is there tax on Walt Disney Dining Plan?
Prices and plans include taxes, but you pay for tips out-of-pocket.
Can I get alcohol on this Plan?
According to Disney, you can now add alcohol to your Disney Dining Plan.
If you’re under 21, you can choose (1) non-alcoholic beverage (including specialty beverages where offered).
A single serving non-alcoholic beverage includes items such as:
- Artisanal Milkshakes
- Fresh Smoothies
- Premium Hot chocolates
- Soda, Coffee, or Tea
If you’re over 21, you can choose either one (1) single serving non-alcoholic beverage (including specialty beverages where offered), or one (1) single serving mixed cocktail, beer, or wine (where offered) within your meal entitlement.
A single serving alcoholic beverage includes items such as:
- Beer or Cider
- Wine or Sangria
- Mixed Drinks and Specialty Cocktails
How Much Does it Cost to Upgrade Free Dining to Disney Dining Plan?
You can upgrade to the regular dining starting around $23* per adult and $4.51 per child per night from your free dining option.
You can also upgrade to the Deluxe Dining Plan for $40.89 per adult and $16.99 per child per night.
*Prices subject change without notice.
Depending on how you booked your package, you might be able to upgrade or downgrade your dining plan.
As with any Disney planning, you should make any changes as soon as possible prior to your trip.
Because the prices and circumstances vary, it’s best to discuss the details of your particular situation with an authorized Disney vacation planner.
Can You get the Disney Dining Plan at the Swan and Dolphin Resort?
The Swan and Dolphin Resort does not offer all the perks the official Disney resorts offer.
You can still enjoy the following Disney perks at the Swan and Dolphin Resort:
- Early access to Disney FastPass+ planning
- Extra Magic Hours
- Complimentary Resort transportation
- Free delivery of purchases made in the Disney parks
- Character dining
- Resort entertainment
- Complimentary parking at the Disney theme parks
Can Disney Vacation Club Members Get on Disney Dining Plan?
Even without the purchase of park tickets just as long as you are not staying on points you’ve redeemed.
Which Disney Resorts are Included in the DDP?
Guest of a Disney Resort is elgible to purchase a Disney Dining Plan. Below are the types of hotels at Walt Disney World:
- Deluxe Villa Resort Hotels
- Disney Deluxe Resort Hotels
- Moderate Resort Hotels
- Disney Value Resort Hotels
Which Disney Resort Rooms are Excluded from FREE Dining?
Excludes the following room types and Disney Resort hotels:
- 3-bedroom villas
- Cabins at Copper Creek villas & Cabins at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
- Bungalows at Polynesian Villas & Bungalows
- Little Mermaid Standard Rooms at Disney’s Art of Animation Resort
Is FREE Disney Dining Plan Available for DVC Members?
Yes, but not to DVC members staying on points.
Read: 15 Best Tips for Disney World Free Dining
6 Super Easy Disney Dining Plan Tips
1 – Determine where you want to eat.
That way you can maximize your credits and learn how to use them in a way that best suits you your vacation.
2 – Book your dining reservations before arriving.
When you purchase the Disney Dining plan, try to be more reasonable with the reservations you make.
I say this because you will be at the park and things often change unexpectedly. You may end up not doing something on your agenda.
Also, you will probably spend more time having counter and quick service rather than eating at an actual sit-down restaurant.
3 – Remember how to use your credits.
Remember two table service credits may be used for one signature meal, dinner show, pizza delivery or room service meal at a Disney participating resort
4 – Combine credits.
You can mix adult and child credits for entrées.
5 – Use at special events.
I’ve learned that the Disney Dining Plan works best for events like the Epcot Flower and Garden Festival.
I say this because you can get a lot of the snacks without using as many credits.
This is my favorite way of having the Disney Dining Plan.
6 – Work with an authorized Walt Disney World vacation planner.
An official planner has the latest deals, tools, and resources directly from Disney. They’re extremely knowledgeable on all things Disney dining!
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Is the Disney Dining Plan Worth It?
It depends on your trip.
All of this information can be confusing and has caused great debates online questioning the need to purchase any one of the plans.
Do you love or hate the Disney Dining Plan?
There are people who love and who hate the Disney Dining Plan. Some believe the Disney Dining Plan requires you to eat an extreme amount of food.
This can be wasteful if you’re not a big eater.
A lot of people do feel forced to complete each meal and to make sure they’re not losing money by using each credit.
Others who have big appetites and who are big eaters love it and are able to fit all the meals into each vacation day.
For the savings to work out, you really have to map out each meal and compare pricing.
How do I make this work for me?
In order for you to feel like you have budgeted correctly or at least have gotten your money’s worth, you will want to look at some of the dining offers at each park or even at your hotel.
This may be a bit time-consuming, but it will work out in the end if you’re trying to maximize your Disney Dining Plan.
Why it is so darn confusing?
Another common reason people don’t like the dining plans is that they may leave more questions than answers.
I totally get how you feel!
The dining plans can be confusing to understand, and it can be more of a hassle when you’re already trying to plan a big trip to Walt Disney World.
There is a dedicated website called the Disney Dining where they write multiple articles explaining this subject.
The Disney Dining Plan is a pricey add-on to any solo theme park hopper or a family vacation.
Its price can be so high that it doesn’t always make sense to add it unless you’re using the credits strictly for lunch and dinner.
The prices are over $60 per person per day for an adult.
You could honestly just create a dining plan of $45 per adult per day budget and save your money for other theme park items.
Things to Remember About this Dining Plan
- The dining plan is only available for guest staying at a Disney-owned and operated resort.
- Disney will not let you purchase one deluxe while the other guests in your party purchase a regular one (everyone must be on the same package).
- Everyone over the age of 9 must pay the adult rate regardless of how much they plan to eat.
- Guest on the Disney Dining Plan receive a number of credits based on how many nights they plan on staying.
- Your credits can be used through midnight on the day of check out.
- Two credit meals are signature experience at the most expensive dinner shows, buffets, and restaurants like the Hoop Dee Doo Review, Cinderella’s Royal Table, California Grill.
- The Deluxe Dining Plan also includes an appetizer in addition to the entrée dessert.
- A snack credit can be used for most food items under $6. Simple snacks include pastries, ice cream bars, water bottles and soda.
Ready to start planning your next Disney World vacation? Listen to the latest podcast episode on Apple or on your non-Apple device now!
Final Thoughts About the Walt Disney Dining Plan
My overall recommendation is to just budget for dining at Walt Disney World.
You can do this by setting a daily budget between $45-$50 per day per adult. If you have a larger family coming, possibly buy groceries.
This will allow you to have food in your room and with the option of doing one meal inside the parks.
Do you love or hate the Walt Disney Dining Plan? Let me know in the comment section below!
If you enjoyed this article, then you’ll love these:
- Do’s and Don’ts of Drinking at Epcot
- Walt Disney World Free Dining
- Tips for Doing Walt Disney World on a Budget
- Magic Kingdom for Adults the Complete Guide
- 11 Pro Tips for Doing Disney Solo
Planning a trip soon? If so, read the Disney Vacation Planning Guide for your next dream trip!
Until next time, Happy Park Hopping Hipsters!
(Original Article Published in July 27, 2017/Updated February 1, 2020)