How Does the Disney Dining Plan Work?
Disney recently announced that they are bringing back the fan-favorite Disney Dining Plan for travel dates starting January 9, 2024! This option hasn't been available since before the pandemic closures and loyal Dining Plan enthusiasts have been asking for its return ever since the parks reopened in July 2020. If you're new to the Disney Dining Plan, here's a quick overview to help you decide if it's worth adding to your 2024 vacation package!
What is the Disney Dining Plan?
The Disney Dining Plan is a pre-purchased meal plan that is available to guests who book a vacation package that includes theme park tickets and a stay at an onsite Disney Resort hotel. Guests who purchase the dining plan as part of their package will receive a set number of dining credits per night of their stay. Depending on the type of plan purchased, these credits can be redeemed at select table-service restaurants, quick-service locations, or snack carts throughout the resort.
What's Included with the Disney Dining Plan?
There are 2 Disney Dining Plan options to choose from: the Quick Service Dining Plan and the Standard Dining Plan. The Quick Service Dining Plan entitles guests age 3+ to 2 quick service meals and 1 snack per night of their hotel stay. Each guest age 3+ also receives a resort refillable mug that can be used at self-serve beverage stations in any of the Disney resort hotels. The Standard Dining Plan entitles guests age 3+ to 1 quick service meal, 1 table service meal, and 1 snack per night of their hotel stay. It also includes the resort refillable mug for all guests age 3+. Alcoholic beverages are included for guests 21 and older and guests 10 and older can choose from specialty non-alcoholic beverages such as smoothies, milkshakes, and frozen coffees. Credits can be redeemed in any order and unused credits will roll over to the next day. All credits expire at midnight on the date of check-out. Gratuities are not included except at select experiences such as Cinderella's Royal Table, dinner shows, and private dining.
Is the Disney Dining Plan Worth It?
Personally, I have always been a huge fan of the Disney Dining Plan. My family LOVES character dining and we have always used our table service credits for those experiences. I've crunched the numbers on past vacations and found that I saved money compared to paying for meals out of pocket. However, that was partially because I know how to maximize the value of my dining plan (something I can help you do too if you book through me!). Whether or not the Disney Dining Plan is worth it for your family depends on your dining preferences and budget. Here are some factors to consider:
Dining style: If you prefer table-service restaurants, enjoy a leisurely dining experience, and particularly if you enjoy character meals, the Standard Disney Dining Plan may be worth it for you. If you're more of a grab-and-go eater, the Quick Service Dining Plan may be a better fit.
Budget: Disney states that guests can save up to 20% on meals for children ages 3-9 with the Dining Plan and I've found from my own experience that it can save you money if you plan on eating a lot of character meals. However, if you're more the type to just snack in the parks then you may not find it worth your investment.
Flexibility: The dining plan offers a lot of flexibility in terms of where you can eat and what you can order. There are over 200 locations throughout Disney resorts, theme parks, and Disney Springs that accept the Dining Plan. However, keep in mind that some signature restaurants may require two meal credits per person, which can limit your options.
Convenience: The Dining Plan is perfect for those who don't want to worry about budgeting for meals during vacation. It gives your Walt Disney World vacation the same all-inclusive feeling of a cruise or all-inclusive resort and it gives parents the freedom to say "yes" to that cupcake, churro, or Mickey premium bar because it's already been paid for with the plan! Just keep in mind that you will still pay gratuities out of pocket.
Overall, the Disney Dining Plan can be a great option for guests and it's something that I'm personally very excited to see return! It offers a lot of flexibility and can save you money if you maximize the credits available to you. Before your next Disney vacation, be sure to reach out to a qualified vacation planner (like me!) who can help you weigh the pros and cons of the Dining Plan to determine whether or not it's worth it for you. My services are completely free with every booking and you won't pay any more to book with me than you would pay to book on Disney's website. To request a free quote on your next vacation, click here.