What is the Walt Disney World Dining Plan?
I suppose I should start with a quick overview for those of you that don’t know much about the Walt Disney World Dining Plan. What it is is a dining service, that you purchase ahead of time, that covers the cost of the majority of your meals for your Walt Disney World stay. There are a few different plans. Note that days of the package are based on the number of room nights. So, if you book a 5 night 6 day vacation then you’re dining plan will be for 5 days. You can use the amount any way you like over the course of all days that you visit.
Quick Service Dining Plan: This includes 2 quick service (counter service) meals which include an entree, dessert and drink and you also get one snack every day per person. Each person will also receive a refillable drink mug to be used at the resort for unlimited drinks. The cost per adult per day is $39.64, and per child (ages 3-9) per day is $14.39.
Basic Dining Plan: This plan includes 1 quick service mean (same inclusions as above), 1 table service meal (also includes an entree, drink, and dessert or a buffet), and you also get one snack per person per day. As with the Quick Service Plan each guest will also receive a refillable drink mug. The cost per adult per day is $58.66, and per child (ages 3-9) per day is $18.88.
Deluxe Dining Plan: This plan covers three full meals a day. You can choose to use your meals at any type of restaurant (quick service or table service). Quick service meals include the same foods as mentioned above, but table service meals include an appetizer as well as the entree, drink, and dessert. This plan includes two snacks per day, and each guest still receives a refillable mug. The cost per adult per day is $104, and per child (ages 3-9) per day is $29.51. The cost of this plan can vary some due to the time of season.
Is the Walt Disney World Dining Plan Worth the Cost?
There is something to be said about having the majority of your dining paid for before you even go. It does make figuring out a budget easier. The question though is it worth the cost? Honestly I think it depends on the family. We got the dining plan for free (although we paid to upgrade to the Basic Dining Plan), so that certainly made things worth it, but normally for us it’s not a savings. When we eat at Disney we usually buy an entree and a drink per person. We don’t normally buy a dessert. For Jason and I to get the Quick Service Plan we’d be spending $80 per day and that is only for two meals per person. We DO NOT spend that much on food per day. If we did there would be no way that we could swing so many Disney trips. For us we can save more money by no getting the Dining Plan. We also usually just do quick service with a few table service meals thrown in, so the logistics of it don’t often work for us either. On this past trip the dining plan may have been worth the cost because a lot of the time we bought meals that we could share with Nick so we didn’t need to buy him his own food. Having the desserts were nice then because it helped the meal stretch a little farther. We still got really full though, so I don’t think we would normally have gotten so much food, so it may still have been a wash. If you’re a family that doesn’t eat a lot, and you share meals, then I wouldn’t even waste your time thinking about it because you’ll spend way less money without it.
For a family with teenage boys that can really pack away the food the price may totally be worth it. If you’re going to be buying an entree, drink, and dessert at every meal, and you know your family members will lean towards the pricey items, then I’d say you probably want to consider purchasing it. If you spend a lot at table service meals then it might be worth it. At one meal on our trip we went to The Rainforest Cafe, and someone got an entree that was over $20 and it was covered by the plan. That was before the drink and dessert.
So is the cost worth it? That truly depends on your family and situation. Disney trips are expensive, so saving money where you can is great, but make sure the Dining Plan will actually save you money before you book it.
Walt Disney World Dining Plan Tips
Now if you do decide to go with the Dining Plan I have some tips to help you save a little extra. You get one snack credit per day. Snack credits cover a lot of different items, and unless you have some really big eaters you won’t be hungry enough to use it for a snack because you get so much food. Since only two meals are covered per day we used our snack credits every day to help buy breakfast. We used them on everything from pastries, to fruit, to yogurts. As a side tip purchase your snack separately from the rest of your breakfast. That way you can be sure that your credits get used for the most expensive items.
If that doesn’t work for you another choice would be to buy packaged food (such as a box of little cookies or cheesy Mickey head crackers) that you can take with you. These are a fun way to bring your trip back either as you travel home or at some point after you get home.
Want some more help planning your Walt Disney World vacation? Be sure to click on the graphic below and request your FREE Walt Disney World planning video! They’re a wonderful planning resource and watching it is a great way to get everyone excited about the trip!