Understanding Disney Dining Plans

by Casey Morris on January 22, 2016

SONY DSCWhat is a Disney Dining Plan?

That is a question I am often asked. Essentially, it is a way to prepay for your food while on vacation, which in turn can discount the overall cost of the food purchased. This gives you that “all inclusive” feel while vacationing. Tax is included, but not gratuities (except a select few locations). Parties of 6 or more will have an 18% gratuity automatically added to their bill at table service locations. All gratuities can easily be paid with the card that is linked to your MagicBand.

Who can have a dining plan?

The only guests that can use the dining plan, are those that are staying in a Walt Disney World Resort. This is just one of the many benefits to staying on Disney Property!

**When adding the dining plan, everyone in that particular room must have the same plan. You can not add it to some guests and not others. Disney considers (for dining plan and ticket purchases) a child to be between the ages of 3-9, and ages 10+ will be considered an adult for pricing. This means that if you have a child that is UNDER the age of 3 at time of travel, that child can eat off of your plate, or fix their own plate on the buffet at no additional cost!

Which dining plan is right for my family?

As you may have noticed, there are THREE different dining plans available. This is great news, as every family has different needs/wants for their vacation. We can help you figure out which plan is best for your family. Here are the basics of each plan. What is listed is given to each person (over the age of 3) PER NIGHT of their stay, as well as 1 refillable mug.

  • Quick Service Dining Plan
    • 2 quick service credits and 2 snacks
  • Plus Dining Plan
    • 1 table service credit, 1 quick service credit and 2 snacks
  • Deluxe Dining Plan
    • 3 dining credits that may be used as EITHER table service or quick service and 2 snacks

What exactly is a dining credit?

  • Quick Service Credits
    • Includes 1 entree and 1 beverage – Guests under 21 years of age can choose one non-alcoholic beverage or specialty beverage. Guests 21 and older can can choose either one non-alcoholic beverage, specialty beverage, or one single serving mixed cocktail, beer, or wine (where offered) with their meal entitlement. This can be redeemed at any Quick Service (also called Counter Service) Restaurant in the parks or resorts.
      • NOTE: Children ages 3-9, although have paid the cost of the child dining plan, can in fact order from the adult menu for quick service credits only.
      • NOTE: Sharing of meals IS allowed for quick service credits! Often times, I will let one of my young children share a quick service with me. This allows for us to have more credits to spread out throughout the week!

        example of entree with sides using Quick Service Credit

        example of entree with sides using Quick Service Credit

  • Table Service Credits
    • Includes 1 entree, 1 dessert and 1 beverage OR unlimited buffet and beverage. Guests under 21 years of age can choose one non-alcoholic beverage or specialty beverage. Guests 21 and older can can choose either one non-alcoholic beverage, specialty beverage, or one single serving mixed cocktail, beer, or wine (where offered) with their meal entitlement. Yes, these credits are redeemable for Character Dining!
      • NOTE: With the Deluxe Dining Plan, each person also receives an appetizer at every table service as well. (excluding buffets of course)
      • NOTE: Children ages 3-9 are only allowed to order off the children’s menu when using table service credits.
      • NOTE: No sharing of meals allowed when using table service credits.

        crab legs found on a buffet, using Table Service Credit

        crab legs found on a buffet, using Table Service Credit

  • Snack Credits
    • Includes any item throughout the parks or resorts that is deemed a “Disney Dining Plan Snack Credit Item”. Check out our article about getting the best use for your snack credits!

      the famous Dole Whip!

      the famous Dole Whip, using a Snack Credit

  • Refillable Mugs
    • These mugs can be picked up from the quick service restaurant at your resort once you check in. They have RFID chips placed in them, and will only work for the duration of your stay at ANY resort quick service restaurant. They will not work in the parks. They are good for coffee, hot chocolate, soda, tea and Hi-C/Powerade.

How do I use my credits?

Since the dining plan is based on the number of nights you stay, that is how the credits or meals will be calculated. For example, if a family of 4 were staying 5 nights with the Quick Service Dining Plan, they would have a total of 40 quick service credits, 20 snacks and 4 refillable mugs loaded onto their account upon check in at the resort. If that same family had the Plus Dining Plan, they would have 20 table service credits, 20 quick service credits, 20 snacks and 4 refillable mugs loaded onto their account upon check in at the resort, and so on.

When those credits are loaded onto your account, you can use them any time you want after checking in at your resort, up until midnight on the day you check out. It is wise to have some sort of plan in place on how and when you will use these credits though, as well as Advanced Dining Reservations for the restaurants that accept them. That is when having a knowledgeable travel planner that knows the parks and restaurants inside and out helping you comes in handy!

Every time you use a credit of any kind, you will receive a receipt showing how many credits are remaining. DSC02756

Example, the family of 4 staying 5 nights with the Quick Service Dining Plan: They started with 40 quick service credits, after eating their first meal, their receipt would say 36 Quick Service Credits remaining.

  • Quick Service Restaurants (also known as Counter Service Restaurants or food courts) – any location throughout the parks, resorts or Disney Springs that you order your food at a register and seat yourself. There are no waiters at these locations, and none accept Advanced Dining Reservations except Be Our Guest. These are typically pretty quick meals, and you are able to refill your own drinks. Many people think it only includes hot dogs and cheeseburgers, but that is far from the truth! Examples of just a few of these restaurants (there are over 85 locations on property that are quick service) are:
  • Table Service Restaurants – any location that either seats you at a table and waits on you, provides a full buffet, provides Character Dining, private in room dining, is a Dinner Show or Signature Restaurant. All table service options accept Advanced Dining Reservations, and I highly recommend that you reserve those meals! Dining reservations open up 180 days in advance, and the popular restaurants fill up very fast. There are over 50 restaurants/dinner shows/private in room dining options that you can use your table service credits for. Here are just a few examples:
    • Be Our Guest – dinner only
    • Coral Reef
    • ‘Ohana
    • Chef Mickey’s
    • Akershus
    • 1900 Park Fare
    • Hollywood and Vine
    • Garden Grill
      • Although most locations only require 1 table service credits from the Plus and Deluxe Plans, there are some locations that require 2 table service credits per person.
        • Fairytale Dining at Cinderella’s Royal Table
        • Jiko – The Cooking Place
        • Flying Fish Cafe
        • California Grill
        • Citricos
        • Narcoossee’s
        • Artist Point
        • Yachtsman Steakhouse
        • Le Cellier Steakhouse
        • The Hollywood Brown Derby
        • Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue
        • Mickey’s Backyard BBQ
        • Disney’s Spirit of Aloha Dinner Show
        • All Private In-Room Dining
  • Snack Credits – any item that can be purchased with a snack credit, will have this symbol next to it:snack credit logoThese items can very greatly, ranging from a bottle of water (PLEASE, do not “waste” a snack credit on water!) to a breakfast item like a cinnamon roll or pastry, to any size STARBUCKS item you desire! Starbucks at Disney…does it get any better than that? We have compiled a list of our favorite locations to use and maximize your snack credits!

Summary

The ability to add the dining plan to your package is a great benefit! If you are unsure if it is really worth it or not, be sure to see Disney Dining Plans – Are They Worth It?

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