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Disney Dining Plan – Is it Worth it?

April 10, 2018

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how to use the disney dining plan

Disney Dining Plan – Is it Worth it?

How to make the most out of Disney Dining Plans for at the best Disney World Restaurants.

how to use the disney dining plan

If you’re planning a Disney Vacation then you are probably considering the Disney Dining Plan.  When we started planning our Disney World vacation, we wanted to stay on budget.  We only wanted to pre-pay for things we knew we would use!

It was our first time staying on Disney property at the Art of Animation resort.  After we selected our hotel, the next thing to do was to select our Disney Dining Plan!

disney dining plan

My Top Tips for Staying on Budget while Planning Your Disney World Vacation Using the Disney Dining Plan

Tip 1:  Determine your schedule on what parks you’ll go to on what days.

The first thing we did when we started planning our Disney World vacation was to figure out an “ideal” schedule for parks.  We planned on going to all of the Disney World parks and wanted to space them out over the week.

Since each Disney World theme park has it’s own must-do restaurants, we wanted to space them out.  There are also some amazing restaurants that are not at the parks.  We wrote out our idea schedule so that we could see on paper where we were going and when!

When we were planning our Disney World Vacation, we wanted to make sure we had a schedule that was doable, but not overwhelming.  One tip for planning your Disney vacation is to plan breaks!  Ideally we want to go and see everything, right?  An afternoon at the pool can go a long way!  We planned for a least a two pool days during our Disney vacation.  Plus, the pools at the Disney resorts are so awesome, they can be just as entertaining for little ones!

Tip 2:  Make a list of must-do Disney World restaurants.

I did a ton of Pinterest research on the best Disney World restaurants.  That, combined with the opinions of family and friends helped us to create a list of must-do restaurants.

Our must-do Disney restaurants were Chef Mickey’s, Ohana, Be Our Guest Restaurant, and Cinderella’s Magic Table.  Once we had this list ready, we were able to see how many credits each meal would take!  For example, Cinderella’s Magic Table took two table-service credits per person.  That was valuable information for us to select which Disney Dining Plan was worth it for us!

Tip 3:  Figure out which Disney Dining Plan makes sense for your family

Since our family has two adults and two children over the age of 3 it made sense for us to go with the Disney Dining Plan.  I’ve heard some people say that they do not want to have to sit down or make reservations for table-service.  For us, the chance to sit and relax after chasing two kiddos through the park was a welcomed respite.  Since our girls are still very much into character dining, it made sense for us to have some table-service options.

According to the 2018 Disney Dining Plan guide, there are three options for Disney Dining.

  •  Disney Quick Service Meal Plan
    • This meal plan is designed for on-the-go eating.  Each guest over the age of three will receive two quick-service meals and two snacks per day.  There are a ton of Quick Service Disney restaurants around the Walt Disney Resort.  One of our favorites was the Polite Pig at Disney Springs!
  •  Disney Dining Plan
    • This meal plan has a nice mix of on-the-go and table-service.  Each guest over age three will receive one quick-service meal, one table-service meal, and two snacks per day.  Most table-service restaurants require reservations.  If you are planning on doing character dining, this is the Disney Dining Plan you’ll want to consider!
  •  Disney Deluxe Dining Plan
    • If you’re heading to Disney World to eat, this is the meal plan for you!  Each guest over age three meals (quick-service or table-service) and two snacks per day.

Tip 4:  Make a list of Disney characters you want to see.  Then make Disney dining reservations based on that.

For table-service restaurants at Disney, many require reservations.  Character dining is one of our favorite things to do at Disney!  We made a list of all of the Disney characters we wanted to see.  The Disney Princesses ranked high 🙂 We also wanted to make sure we saw Mickey at Chef Mickey’s.  Now that we had our ideal schedule down and we selected our Disney Dining Plan, we could start making reservations!

Tip 5:  Use your snack credits wisely!

You’d be surprised what is considered at “snack” at Disney.  I nearly jumped for joy when I saw that Starbucks was considered a snack.  So you better believe I was using my snack credits there!  This list of Disney Snack Credits for 2018 was really helpful!

Doing Disney on a BudgetWe were too!  But we didn’t want to be cheap.  So we invested in these Top 5 Disney Splurges that were completely worth it!

Disney Dining Plan

Was the Disney Dining Plan Worth it?

For us, absolutely yes!  These tips helped us to make the most out of our Disney Dining Plan.  We left the resort with zero food credits left!  That was a huge victory!  We even had to borrow a few credits from my in-laws on the last day for breakfast!

A little planning went a long way for us.  The Disney Dining Plan was definitely an investment, but it was well worth the cost.  When we calculated the cost of what even one dinner would cost us at one of our favorite table-service restaurants, we realized we made a great decision by investing in the Disney Dining Plan.

Did you use the Disney Dining Plan on your last trip to Disney?  Or are you planning on using it on your next trip?  Tell me about your favorite Disney Dining Plan restaurants or tips!

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  • PegP

    April 10, 2018 at 3:51 pm

    We have gone both with and without the Disney Dining Plan. It all depends on what we plan to do while we’re there. If you’re not going to eat steak or salmon at every meal or if you don’t plan on doing any buffets, the dining plan will end up costing you money, not saving it. Last year we didn’t plan on going to any buffets, so we didn’t get the Disney Dining Plan. We saved over $300 (one adult, one child) by not getting it.

    This year, however, we want to do the Hollywood & Vine Seasonal Dine buffet. That meal alone will cost me over $100 out of pocket for two adults (now she’s 10, she’s considered an adult for the meals). She also wants to do the 1900 Park Fare buffet to meet Cinderella, Prince Charming, and the evil stepsisters. I want to do a few other “family” meals, too, like Ohana and Garden Grill. Those are better on the dining plan than out of pocket.

    But some of the meals are a bad use of the dining plan. Cinderella’s Royal Table is one of those. It takes two dining credits, which is extremely expensive for what you get in return. The food isn’t that great. Yes, you get to meet the princesses, but you can meet all of them at Epcot’s Akershus Royal Banquet Hall for only one dining credit. So you’re basically giving up two meal credits and getting one meal. You’re basically paying out the nose to eat in Cinderella’s Castle. The really sad thing is, it’s also two credits if you eat breakfast there, and how expensive is a plate of eggs, sausage, and bacon?

    When you eat also impacts the cost-effectiveness of the dining plan. If you eat at Morimoto Asia at Disney Springs, it’s one dining credit for lunch but two if you go there for dinner. Basically the same menu, but twice as much for dinner. So if you go for dinner, you’re losing money, not saving it.


      April 10, 2018 at 5:35 pm

      Definitely agree! It completely depends on what you are planning to do which is why figuring out your schedule first was super helpful for us! I don’t know about you but I would go back to the Garden Grill in a heartbeat! One of the best meals we had at Disney!

  • Niki at Toot’s Mom is Tired

    May 9, 2018 at 7:17 pm

    I’m saving this info for later. We’re planning a Disney trip but not for another two years. I haven’t been since I was a teenager so I’m sure a lot has changed. I can’t wait to take my daughter!


      May 14, 2018 at 9:49 am

      She is going to have a great time! There is something for everyone. Hope you have an awesome trip!

  • Laree Sheaks

    June 25, 2018 at 2:56 am

    Awesome website you have here but I was wondering if you knew of any community forums that cover the same topics discussed here? I’d really love to be a part of online community where I can get responses from other knowledgeable individuals that share the same interest. If you have any recommendations, please let me know. Thanks!


      June 25, 2018 at 9:36 am

      try Reddit! there is a lot of different discussion forums there. or facebook groups 🙂

  • Stacy

    August 30, 2018 at 11:19 am

    You have listed that the deluxe plan includes a QS and 2 TS entitlements. It actually just includes 3 entitlements plus 2 snack credits. The three credits can be used for QS or TS, but of course it is not a good value to use and for QS.


      September 3, 2018 at 9:15 am

      agree! depends on what you are valuing and wanting to eat of course. thanks for the note!

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