Let me start off by saying, unless you are getting the dining plan as part of an offer, it really isn’t worth it. The Disney Dining Plans are a way for you to pay for your food and snacks up front before you go. Depending on the plan, you will get two or three meals a day from quick or table service locations. Some locations may cost you two credits to dine at. As well as this, you also get two snacks per day and a refillable mug to use in the resorts.
As I hope you are learning with Disney, there are tiers to everything we have covered so far and the dining plans have no exception. There are three main bands of dining plan, four if you include what can be thrown in during any free dining promotions. Please note that these get updated regularly and the information given was correct at the time of publishing this article.
Some things before we begin, when it comes to a meal, it is considered a main meal or entree and usually some kind of drink. Be careful with your selection though! You may think it, for example, constitutes a burger and fries. Fries, being considered a side are not included in every main meal and you would have pay for these separately or use up a snack credit. Take careful note of the menu when you order, some places have it included, some don’t.
Quick Service Dining Plan
The plan often was thrown in when booking a moderate hotel during free dining. This gives you two quick service/self-service meals a day at over 50 locations. With each meal, a drink is included. New for 2018 plans is the availability (if you are of legal drinking age in the USA, which is 21, bring I.D!) of an alcoholic beverage as well. With this, you also get two snacks per day and a refillable mug that can be refilled in the resorts only.
Disney Dining Plan
This plan is often offered for free when choosing a deluxe hotel during any free dining offers. Again, you get two meals, this time one quick service and one table service, also known as waiter service. We would generally call this a good sit down meal. You get all the other benefits from the other plan. This is available at over 100 locations across property. Note that some table service locations, known as signature or character dining usually require two credits per person.
Deluxe Dining Plan
The top tier! 3 meals of your choosing per day, either table or counter service. This plan also comes with the rest from the previous plans, the snacks, alcoholic beverage and the refillable mug.
When booking a value resort during free dining, you are given a breakfast only option. I really don’t know too much about this outside of what is said on the screen when booking.
How Does it Work?
When arriving at your hotel, all of your meals and snacks are loaded onto your group’s magic bands. These aren’t split up per person and are free for anyone to use at any time. So usually it is good to have a discussion before this to make sure some of your group don’t abuse the system.
When at your meal, when paying for quick service, all you do is scan your magic band and done! Same with table service, although a big point should be made here, your tip/gratuity is not included here! You still need to tip your server. There may also be some exceptions to the dining plan with table service menus, items on the menu that exceed $40 ($75 for signature) may incur a surcharge.
Taking a little one under the age of 3? They won’t be eligible to receive part in the plan. Disney do let them share from an adult plate for free (how generous) or can have something purchased separately from the menu.
Finally, when it comes to table service, make sure you book ahead. Something we will be covering in a future blog.
Photos thanks to Walt Disney World