If you’re thinking about a Walt Disney World vacation, chances are that you will see the words “Disney Dining Plan” over and over again. You might also see the words “Free Dining” from time to time. If you’re wondering what the Disney Dining Plan is all about, you’re in the right place. Here are the basics.
The Disney Dining Plan is a way to prepay for your meals while on a Walt Disney World vacation. You must stay on property in order to be eligible. You also need to book the plan in advance, you can’t add it when you arrive at Walt Disney World. Everyone in your room needs to be on the plan, and on the same plan. You also must book your plan for your entire length of stay. Disney counts nights when it comes to the Disney Dining Plan, so if you’re staying for six days and five nights, you’ll have five cycles of the plan, not six.
Each Disney Dining Plan includes a refillable mug for everyone in your room. The mugs can’t be used at the theme parks, but you can fill them up with coffee or soft drinks at any resort. Do not confuse the refillable mugs with the refillable mugs that you can buy in the Disney Water Parks. They have their own refillable mug program, and the two are not interchangeable.
Here are the three options for the Disney Dining Plan.
Disney Quick-Service Dining Plan
This includes two quick service (counter service) meals and two snacks per night of your vacation. The meal will include an entree and one beverage. Beer, wine, and cocktails are choices for the beverage for those of age. Snacks include most popcorn, ice cream treats, fruit, milk, bottled water, candy, cookies, soft drinks, and more. A good rule of thumb to follow is that if the snack costs $5 or less, it could count as a snack credit, although many snacks on the plan do cost more than that.
Standard Disney Dining Plan
Also known as simply the Disney Dining Plan, this one has more choices. You will receive one quick service meal, one table service meal, and two snacks per night of your vacation. Quick service meals are one entree and one beverage. The table service meals include one entree and one beverage, plus dessert for lunch or dinner. Beer, wine, and cocktails are choices for those of age. The table service credit can also be used for a buffet or a family style meal, including most character meals. Some table service restaurants require two table service credits, so keep that in mind when looking at restaurants. Snacks are the same as the Quick-Service Plan.
Disney Deluxe Dining Plan
The most flexible of the Disney Dining Plan options is the Deluxe Plan. This includes three meals and two snacks per night of your vacation. The meals can be quick service, table service, family style, or buffet. Lunch and dinner at a table service restaurant include both an appetizer and dessert, in additional to the entree and beverage. Beer, wine, and cocktails are choices for those of age. Snacks are the same as the Quick-Service Plan.
All credits expire at 11:59pm on the day that you check out. You can use your credits however you want, as long as it is within your vacation. If you want to use all of your credits the first day of your trip, that’s up to you. If you aren’t sure how many credits you have left, it’s easy enough to find out. You can check the bottom of a restaurant receipt, or ask at Guest Relations. The information is also available on the My Disney Experience App.
Many people find that there is more food than they bargained for on the Disney Dining Plan. If you have leftover credits, you aren’t throwing away money. Quick Service meal credits can be exchanged for three snack credits, but they need to all be used in one place. Head into a store that sells candy and crispy rice treats, and the Cast Members will tell you what you can exchange your credits for. Find snacks that will travel well.
The Disney Dining Plan is not meant to save you money, it’s meant to be convenient. Whether or not you’ll save depends on how you will use it. People who love character dining often swear by the Standard or Deluxe Plan because most of those restaurants are included. One thing to keep in mind when using table service credits; your gratuity is not included unless there are six or more in your party, so please tip generously. Many people love the Disney Dining Plan because they will not have to think about the cost of food. Others don’t like it because it is not a cheap extra. Remember that not all restaurants accept the Disney Dining Plan, because not all restaurants on Disney property are owned by Disney. Most do accept the plan. Check the Walt Disney World website, the plans accepted are listed in each restaurant description. You can also find the information on the My Disney Experience App.