The Disney Dining Plan: A Complete Guide

Dad, should we be on a Disney Dining Plan?

I get asked that question all the time. Everyone wants to know the best way to pay for food at Walt Disney World. All those great restaurants, those fancy menus, will one of Disney’s plans save you money?

Dad’s answer is a highly qualified, wishy washy, squishy… Maybe.

Yes, I know, that’s not very helpful, but it’s true. There are a lot of variables that go into choosing whether or not to have a dining plan, and which one to choose.

But that’s why you’re here, so on we go.

What is the Disney Dining Plan?

A few years ago, because of the popularity of all-inclusive resort vacations, Disney introduced the Disney Dining Plan. It was a way for guests to pre-pay for their meals at Disney World restaurants.

Instead of an unlimited number of meals, Disney’s plan includes a certain number of meals (the type depends on the plan you choose) and snacks per person per night of your stay.

Disney Dining Plan Options

Quick-Service Dining Plan

The Quick Service Plan is the least expensive of the plans. It includes 2 Quick Service meal credits and 2 Snack credits per person per night of your stay plus a refillable mug for each guest.

Quick Service restaurants are those restaurants where you order at a counter and serve yourself.

Dining Plan

The mid-level plan needs a new name. Disney just calls it the Dining Plan, but that’s kind of confusing since the entire program is called the Disney Dining Plan… Whatever you call it, here are the details.

The Dining Plan includes 1 Table Service meal credit, 1 Quick Service meal credit, and 2 Snack credits per person per night of your stay. Also each guest gets a refillable mug.

Table Service restaurants are those restaurants where there you have a waiter or waitress. Some table service restaurants require 2 credits (see Signature dining below).

Deluxe Dining Plan

The Deluxe Dining Plan is the most expensive of the basic Disney Dining Plans. It includes lots and lots of food.

This one is pretty close to being all-inclusive. It includes 3 Table Service credits (but you can use those at a Quick Service restaurant if you prefer) and 2 snack credits per person per night plus the refillable mug.

Three sit-down meals per day is a lot of food and takes a lot of time. Even if you use 2 credits at a Signature restaurant and one at a plain old Table Service restaurant, you’re still looking at 2 long meals per day. That’s a lot of missed park time.

Important Details You Need to Know

Gratuities are not included in any plan, and you are expected to tip 18-20%at table service restaurants, based on what the price of the meal would have cost if you paid out of pocket.

Not every restaurant at WDW takes the DDP – most do, but it’s always best to make sure that you can eat where you want if you buy the Disney Dining Plan.

What’s Included for Each Meal on the Disney Dining Plan?

Breakfast

Breakfast includes one entree and one beverage – or 1 buffet at a participating restaurant (which includes a beverage).

Lunch or Dinner

Each meals includes a menu choice of 1 entree, 1 dessert, and 1 single serving beverage – or 1 buffet at a participating restaurant (which includes a beverage). Children also get the choice of an appetizer, but adults don’t. Some restaurants will allow you to substitute something healthier for dessert like a side salad, soup or fruit cup, but this varies by restaurant, isn’t always available, and very little information is provided about it.

Snacks

Snacks are anything that is considered a single serving size. You can also use a Snack credit for many non alcoholic beverages. Disney makes it easy – on menus and price tags, a special symbol is shown if the item is an eligible snack. For example, some include:

  • All single-serving non-alcoholic beverages (not in a souvenir container)
  • Soups
  • Ice cream novelties
  • Quick-service items listed as sides
  • Pastries

A Quick-Service Credit can now be exchanged for 3 snack items (but you must use all 3 credits at the same location, at the same time).

Refillable Mug

All Disney Dining Plans now include a refillable mug that uses RapidFill technology. Every Resort has at least one location where you can fill your mugs. You can use your mug at any Walt Disney World Resort hotel.

Who is Eligible for the Disney Dining Plan?

This is a little tricky. The Disney Dining Plan is an option you can add on only if you are staying at a Walt Disney World Resort Hotel and have valid tickets or an Annual Pass. So if you’re not staying in a Disney hotel, or if you don’t have tickets for your stay, you’re not eligible.

Not all guests that stay at Disney hotels have access to the dining plans. For example, if you book your vacation through Expedia.com, there is no way to add the dining plan to your reservation. (This is one of the reasons Dad suggests using a travel agent like Destinations to Travel.)

To ensure your reservations are eligible for dining, when you look at ticket options, make sure they say something like, “plus dining.”

Will the Disney Dining Plan Save You Money?

Again, Dad says maybe. Disney says it will save you 20% – 40% depending on the plan. That may be true if you eat every meal at the most expensive restaurants and order the most expensive thing on the menu.

The only way to KNOW if the DDP will save you money is to do the math. But luckily, Dad has an easy peasy tool to help you with that: Dad’s Disney Dining Plan Calculators.

How Do You use the Disney Dining Plan at Restaurants?

Tell your server you’re on the Disney Dining Plan prior to ordering (they will usually ask), and then order as usual. When the bill comes it will include any items you ordered not covered on your plan (if you order an extra appetizer on the “regular” plan for instance) and a suggested tip amount based on the actual price of the meal.

You can use your Magic Band to “pay” for the meal if it’s linked to a credit card. Or you can use cash, Disney Gift Cards, debit, or credit cards to pay.

Remember: Tips are not included.

Using the Disney Dining Plan for Signature Restaurants

Some of the Disney World restaurants are called Signature Restaurants for the Disney Dining Plan. These restaurants require 2 table service credits instead of 1. The Signature Restaurants are:

In the Hotels

  • Jiko (Animal Kingdom Lodge)
  • Flying Fish (Boardwalk Inn & Villas)
  • Californa Grill (Contemporary Resort)
  • Citricos (Grand Floridian)
  • Narcoossee’s (Grand Floridian)
  • Spirit of Aloha Dinner Show (Polynesian)
  • Artist Point (Wilderness Lodge)
  • Yachtsman Steakhouse (Yacht and Beach Club)

In the Parks

  • Hollywood Brown Derby (Disney Hollywood Stuidos)
  • Le Cellier (EPCOT)
  • Cinderella’s Royal Table (Magic Kingdom)
  • Monsier Paul (EPCOT)
  • Tiffins (Animal Kingdom)

Disney Springs

  • The BOATHOUSE
  • Wolfgang Puck Grand Cafe
  • Paddlefish
  • Morimoto Asia