Everything You Need to Know About the Disney Dining Plan (2019)

There’s so much excitement around booking a trip to Walt Disney World, but that’s quickly clouded by confusion with the multitude of choices – which resort, modes of transportation, park hopper or not, advanced dining reservations (ADRs), and then this thing called the Disney Dining Plan. Now there’s a multitude of “less-than-helpful” Facebook groups you could go ask and a bunch of posts out there written by someone who hasn’t even used the Disney Dining Plan – but lucky for you, this isn’t one of those. I’ve used the Disney Dining Plan every trip to Walt Disney World (and was confused by my first couple of times as well) and wanted to break down some of that experience into this in-depth guide and give you the opportunity to download the very tool we use to plan our dining plan options.


What Is the Disney Dining Plan?

Walt Disney World’s Dining Plans are packaged dining credits (think prepaid meals) that not only make it easy to manage dining around the parks but when used right, can also save you some money. They are available when booking packages and are from time-to-time offered for free as a Disney promo.

The best part and the most confusing, about the Disney Dining Plan is that you have options. We say the best because you can select plans that fit your vacation style and plans. If you are a light eater and really don’t mind grabbing something quick with a few snacks during the day, there’s a plan for you. On the flip side, if you are all about fine dining options, there’s a way to maximize a plan for that too. Many times we find that snacks in most of the plans are quite abundant, but don’t worry, further down in the post we’ll share some of our tips for those as well.

Each plan is based on “entitlements” which are assigned for each night you are staying but are assigned in bulk at the beginning of your vacation. Which means you can use them all in one day if you honestly wanted to, so it’s obviously important that you plan ahead to maximize your value.


Now, on to the three tiers:

Quick Service Dining Plan

This plan is focused around casual meals with snacks and the entitlements are for “quick-service” dining which includes the counter service restaurants where you order at a window and snag a place to sit and eat. View the Plan on the Disney Website

Entitlements:
(Assigned to each person in the party per day.)

  • 2 Quick-Service Meals
  • 2 Snacks
  • Refillable Mug (Ages 3 & Up)

Included in Quick Service Meals:
(Breakfast, Lunch or Dinner)

  • 1 Entrée
  • 1 Nonalcoholic Beverage (or Alcoholic Beverage for 21+ in parks that serve alcohol)

Is The Quick Service Dining Plan Right For You?

This plan is perfect if you are the type to snag a coffee or a small snack for breakfast and don’t mind forgoing the sit-down dining experiences for a quick lunch and dinner. It’s a popular plan for those traveling with smaller children, as many quick service dining options have quick options for finicky eaters. So, if you are looking for more of an adult-only experience, quick-service isn’t going to be the best for you. This plan is great for those on a budget as it’s the less expensive option of the three.


Disney Dining Plan

This plan offers a nice balance with both quick-service and table-service dining credits. Adding on the table-service credits opens up 50+ dining options across the parks where you can sit down and enjoy a dining experience unique to each Disney dining venue. View the Plan on the Disney Website

Entitlements:
(Assigned to each person in the party per day.)

  • 1 Quick-Service Meal
  • 1 Table-Service Meal
  • 2 Snacks
  • Refillable Mug (Ages 3 & Up)

Included in Quick Service Meals:
(Breakfast, Lunch or Dinner)

  • 1 Entrée
  • 1 Nonalcoholic Beverage (or Alcoholic Beverage for 21+ in parks that serve alcohol)

Included in Table Service Meals:

  • 1 Entrée
  • 1 Dessert
  • 1 Nonalcoholic Beverage (or Alcoholic Beverage for 21+ in parks that serve alcohol)

-OR-

  • 1 Full Buffet or Family-Style Meal
    (Keep in mind that there are Signature Dining venues such as Character, Dinner Shows or High-End Venues that use 2 table service credits per person. There are also many high-end venues, such as Victoria & Alberts that don’t accept the Disney Dining Plan.)

Is The Disney Dining Plan Right For You?

This plan is perfect if you enjoy sitting down for a nice meal at least once a day. This plan offers a generous amount of food and snacks, so you don’t go hungry even if you do double up on some of your credits for one of those signature dining experiences. If you are traveling with adults or elderly, this is a great package because most table service dining options will give you a nice quiet place to relax while you enjoy a meal. It’s even popular with families because this plan is so well balanced that it will appeal to the Disney foodie and the finicky eater.



Deluxe Disney Dining Plan

This plan is the ultimate choice for the Disney foodie with full options from quick-service to table-service options at your choice. View the Plan on the Disney Website

Entitlements:
(Assigned to each person in the party per day.)

  • 3 Meals (unlike the other two plans, these can be used on either quick-service or table-service)
  • 2 Snacks
  • Refillable Mug (Ages 3 & Up)

Included in Quick Service Meals:
(Breakfast, Lunch or Dinner)

  • 1 Entrée
  • 1 Nonalcoholic Beverage (or Alcoholic Beverage for 21+ in parks that serve alcohol)

Included in Table Service Meals:

  • 1 Appetizer
  • 1 Entrée
  • 1 Dessert
  • 1 Nonalcoholic Beverage (or Alcoholic Beverage for 21+ in parks that serve alcohol)

-OR-

  • 1 Full Buffet or Family-Style Meal
    (Keep in mind that there are Signature Dining venues such as Character, Dinner Shows or High-End Venues that use 2 table service credits per person. There are also many high-end venues, such as Victoria & Alberts that don’t accept the Disney Dining Plan.)

Is The Disney Dining Plan Right For You?

The best part about this plan is the freedom of choice, choosing between quick-service or table-service, but yet generous enough in credits that adding Signature Dining to your experience is an easy choice. However, be warned, this plan has a lot of food especially if you plan on using your 3 credits on table-service each time. When I’ve used this plan in the past, it was excellent to taking full advantage of one of Disney’s festivals (Epcot’s International Food & Wine) where I could use 1 meal credit for 3 of the bite-sized items at the booths.


What’s Not Included in the Disney Dining Plan?

First things first, gratuity is not included, so make sure you take good care of your hardworking Disney Cast Member when dining at a table-service venue. In most parts of the United States, the standard tip rate is 20% but is generally based on service. The only Disney Dining locations were gratuities are included are Private In-Room Dining, Dinner Shows and Cinderella’s Royal Table. An additional form of payment will be needed to add gratuity and if you haven’t linked a card to your magic band, you’ll need to have a payment method available. If your party is larger than 6 people, gratuity will be added to your bill at 18%, but that doesn’t mean you can’t add more based on service.

Souvenir merchandise items are not included such as themed popcorn and drink containers, bottle toppers, glow cube, bottle straps, and other specialty items. If unsure, just ask a Cast Member if the item is a part of the Disney Dining Plan.

Items that are considered single servings such as a jar of peanut butter or a box of doughnuts are not included in the Disney Dining Plan. These are usually found in convenience shops around the resorts.


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How to Book a Disney Dining Plan and Use It

If you are a booking a stay on Disney property you can choose a Disney Resort Hotel Package that will include one of the Disney Dining Plan based on the level of resort you selected.

Using the Disney Dining Plan is easy with a valid Disney Resort ID, which is your Magicband or card-form of ticket) and is linked directly to your Disney account. Let your server know before you order that you will be using your Disney Dining Plan and how many credits you’ll be using for the meal. You can use your credits in any order on any day during your stay until your entitlement points are gone. Any unused meals or snack entitlements (as well as your refillable mug) expire at midnight (EST) the night you check out from the resort.


How to Plan and Keep Track of Your Dining Plan

Keeping track of your Dining Plan entitlement balance is easy by using the My Disney Experience app, checking your receipts for remaining credits, or even by asking Guest Relations to pull them for you.

However, it’s not as easy to plan your Dining Plan, but hopefully, I can help with that by giving you the same calculator that I use to plan out all my Disney trips when using the Disney Dining Plans. Download a free version of this calculator (built in Excel) here.

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Have you used the Disney Dining Plan?

Leave a comment below and let us know.

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1 Comment

  1. Jessica on January 18, 2019 at 2:54 pm

    Super important to remember gratuity is not included. As a Disney World newbie, I wasn’t sure how that worked, and I’d hate to accidentally short a cast member without realizing it.

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