Disney, Disney Dining, Disney Dining Plan, Disney for Adults, Disney for Couples, Disney for Families, Disney for Foodies, Tip Tuesday, Vacation Planning, Vacation Tips and Tricks, Walt Disney World

Understanding the Disney Dining Plans

The Disney Dining Plan (DDP) is a way for families staying at an on-site official Walt Disney World hotel to prepay for food on their Disney vacation. Each plan includes a combination of snacks, quick-service meals, and/or table service meals. Disney loosely defines a snack as 1 frozen ice cream novelty, popcorn scoop (single-serving box), single piece of whole fruit, 22-oz. fountain soft drink or juice, or similar; these are frequently designated with the purple and white DDP symbol, but if you’re unsure ask a cast member. A quick-service meal, more commonly known as fast food, is defined as 1 entree or complete combo meal and a single-serving non-alcoholic beverage. A table-service meal, or sit-down meal, includes one entree, dessert, and non-alcoholic beverage or one full buffet. There are a handful of signature dining restaurants and dinner shows that are considered to be a higher value meal and require the use of two table-service credits.

Like many things in life (especially online), the Disney Dining Plans are a divisive topic among Disney fans with some strongly for it, others strongly against, and many falling somewhere in between. My husband and I love the dining plan and typically save a decent amount of money by adding the Plus Dining plan to our vacations. Ultimately, the decision of whether to add any of the plans really depends on your family’s needs/preferences. I can help you decide which choice is right for your family, but here are some basics to help you understand your options.

What is included in the dining plan?

The way the plans are set up, each member of your party over the age of 2 will be allotted dining credits at the start of your vacation. Credits are given based on the type of plan (detailed below) and the number of nights of your Walt Disney World resort stay. If you have a 4-day ticket and are staying 5 nights, you will receive 5 sets of dining credits.  All of your credits are added to your account upon check-in and expire at 11:59pm EST on the day you check out. This allows you to your credits in any order you want – use all your snack credits on rice krispy treats, eat two quick-service meals in one day, or use two credits to eat dinner at Hoop Dee Doo Revue.
Plan Types

Each credit is per person over the age of 2, multiplied by the length of stay, unless otherwise noted.

Quick-Service Dining Plan
  • 2 Quick-Service Meals
  • 2 Snacks    
  • 1 Resort Refillable  (one per person)
Plus Dining Plan (Standard Plan)
  • 1 Table-Service Meal
  • 1 Quick-Service Meal
  • 2 Snacks   
  • 1 Resort Refillable  (one per person)
Deluxe Dining Plan
  • 3 Meals (Your Choice of Table-Service or Quick-Service)
  • 2 Snacks   
  • 1 Resort Refillable  (one per person)

Factors in Planning

   Vacation Style: For my family, experiencing Walt Disney World’s unique dining options is among the most enjoyable parts of our vacation.  For others, the idea of spending precious park time sitting down to dinner is unthinkable. If you want to have breakfast with Mickey and the gang (e.g. Chef Mickey’s), lunch in a French bistro (Les Chefs de France), and then dinner at the drive-in (Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater), the standard or deluxe plans may be a good choice for your family.  If you’d rather just make a quick stop for a ballpark hot dog (Casey’s Corner), a prehistoric burger (Restaurantosaurus), or one of Disney’s (in)famous turkey legs, the quick-service plan may be more your speed. One thing I will mention though, I do really like having a built in break for meals during the day to give us a chance to recharge.

     Eating Preferences: As you may have gathered, some of these plans include A LOT of food.  Since the dining plans are a flat rate, you often need to select more expensive menu items in order to get the best value.  If your family includes light eaters, a dining plan may not be right for you.  On the other hand, you will likely find savings in a DDP if you enjoy filet mignon like I do.
     Family Composition: Another important consideration when evaluating a DDP is the members of your traveling party. Since the DDP options require all guests on your reservation to have the same dining plan, you need to carefully evaluate which of the plans match the various eating habits of your party. Also, children under 3 are free, while those 10+ are charged as an adult.

Clearly there is a lot to consider when deciding if one of the DDP options is right for your family. Remember, a travel agent like me can be very helpful in choosing the best option for your vacation.
Now grab a Mickey Premium Ice Cream Bar, and Never Grow Up!


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