Choosing a Disney Meal Plan

I’ve talked a lot about the great food at Disney and my favorite meals and I keep mentioning the Disney Dining Plan. Wondering exactly what the dining plan is and how it works? Let me break it down for you.

The Info

The Disney Dining Plan is only available to guests staying on-site at a Disney hotel with at least one day in the parks. When you book your trip, you’ll want to make sure to choose to add one of the dining plan options (see below) onto your package. You can dine at any of the 100+ participating restaurants on the plan just by giving the cashier your Key to the World card with your dining plan info loaded on it. From the time you check in till midnight on the day you check out you can keep using your card until you’ve used up all your meal options. What are your meal options?

Barbecue chicken pizza from Wolfgang Puck Express in Downtown Disney

Barbecue chicken pizza from Wolfgang Puck Express, 1 TS Credit

Quick Service/Counter Service:

  • 1 entrée or 1 complete combo meal
  • 1 dessert (lunch and dinner only)
  • 1 single-serving, non-alcoholic beverage

Table Service:

  • 1 entrée
  • 1 dessert (lunch and dinner only)
  • 1 single-serving, non-alcoholic beverage
    OR
  • 1 full buffet

Snack:

  • Drinks or treats located around the parks designated on the menu as being part of the dining plan (check out a confirmed snack post here)

The Plans

Dessert Menu
Using those three types of meal options, Disney has created 3 different dining plans so everyone can get the meal plan that’s right for them.

  • The Quick Service Dining Plan (QSDDP) entitles each guest to receive 2 Quick Service or Counter Service (CS) credits and 2 Snack credits per nights stay.
    • EXAMPLE: Sunday to Saturday stay (6 nights) allots 12 CS and 12 Snack credits per guest age 3 and over. This plan also includes one Resort Refillable Mug per person good for unlimited refills of beverages at resorts only for the length of stay. Beverages usually include soft drinks, coffee, tea and hot chocolate.
  • The regular Disney Dining Plan (DDP) entitles each guest to receive 1 Table Service (TS) credit, 1 Counter Service (CS) credit and 1 Snack credit per night’s stay.
    • EXAMPLE: Sunday to Saturday stay (6 nights) allots 6 TS, 6 CS and 6 Snack credits per guest age 3 and over. NOTE: This plan does not include a Resort Refillable Mug.
  • The Deluxe Disney Dining Plan (DXDP) entitles each guest to receive 3 meal credits and 2 snack credits per night’s stay. Deluxe meal credits can be used for either table service or counter service.
    • EXAMPLE: Sunday to Saturday stay (6 nights) allots 18 meal credits and 12 snack credits per guest age 3 and over. This plan also includes one Resort Refillable Mug per person good for unlimited refills of beverages at resorts only for the length of stay. Beverages usually include soft drinks, coffee, tea and hot chocolate.

Just because you are allotted 2 or 3 meals of one type per day doesn’t mean you have to use them the same day. On my trip, some days I ate 1 TS and 1 CS meals, other days I ate 2 CS meals, and other days I ate 2 TS meals. Find whatever works for you.

If you’re familiar with the dining plans from 2007 and earlier, some important changes have occurred. Appetizers are no longer included (unless you are on the DXDP) and tips cost out of pocket to ensure your server is adequately compensated. You can link your credit card to your Key to the World card and pay all tips with just your card. Make sure to inform your server before doing this.

Upgrades

Cinderella's Royal Table Restaurant Sign Magic Kingdom Walt Disney World 2008

  • Signature Dining: Most table service meals at Disney cost 1 TS credit. However, there are certain Signature dining options that cost 2 credits. The way it works is that you can combine your credits and upgrade a meal but you lose out on 2 credits worth of meals instead of just 1. This isn’t much a of a sacrifice for those on the DXDP since they have 3 allotted meals per day but those on the DDP will need to budget the rest of their meal credits accordingly. Options like Disney Dinner shows, pizza delivered to your hotel room, and Character dining at Cinderella’s Royal Table also require 2 credits.
  • Wine: The Disney Wine and Dine Plan to add on wine at select restaurants at a discounted rate. Discounts may be as high as 20%. You are entitled to one bottle per room, per night of your stay. Some wines may require 2 entitlements, much like the signature dining redemption above.

Reservations

If you are wanting to take part in the table service part of the DDP or DXDP, you’ll want to make reservations for those meals ahead of time. Spots fill up fast, especially at the most popular restaurants. Dining reservations open up 180 days ahead of time (calculate 180 days before your Disney trip) and can fill up fast for prime spots. Disney regulars wake up at 6 AM and start making reservations on the first day they can. Even if you aren’t that dedicated, you can probably still get into whatever spot you wanted with a little give. Consider eating lunch at 11:30 or 1:30, dinner at 4: 30 or 7:30 to free up some time. Make a general plan for where you want to eat or what park you want to eat in and check open reservations spots. Don’t worry about getting it perfect, you can always change it later. I ended up making 10+ changes to my meal plan until it was perfect and even included a Le Cellier dinner, all with only 100 days to go.

Kids vs. Adults

Epcot : Kids Meal from Sunshine Seasons : September 2008

If you buy a dining plan for you child, there are a couple of considerations you should make. First, kids under 3 are free. It is assumed they will have their own food or eat off a parent’s plate. For 3-9 year olds, you have the option of choosing the children’s dining plan or the adult dining plan. For the kids plan, children ages 3-9 must order from a Children’s Menu where available. Many children’s menus are more limited so if your child can out-eat you or has grown beyond burgers and chicken, you might consider upgrading them to the adult plan. Be prepared for an added cost though, not only on meals but also on adult park tickets:

Quick Service Dining Plan

  • Adults: $34.99
  • Children: $11.99

Basic Dining Plan

  • Adults: $45.99 (regular season)/$47.99 (peak season)
  • Children: $11.99 (regular season)/$12.99 (peak season)

Deluxe Dining Plan

  • Adults: $78.99
  • Children: $21.99

The Right Plan for You

Some of these dining plans come with a lot of food. While you do save money buying a dining plan, you only save if you would have ordered as much or eaten as much as is offered. Consider all 3 levels of dining plans before committing. I can safely say by about Day 4 of my trip it started getting to be too much food. We were so full and thirsty that nearly all of our snack credits went to beverages instead of food. My husband and I agree that our DDP would have been better used if we had consolidated our credits for at least one signature dining experience. We’re wannabe foodies and the menus at the signature restaurants would have been an upgrade and we wouldn’t have spent so many hours trying to eat.

If you aren’t foodies and just want quick fast food without the hassle of reservations, counter service plans might be best for you. If you want 3 meals a day or to have plenty of signature experiences, the DXDP might be perfect for you. Both of those plans come with refillable cups so you can keep your snack credits separate for fun treats you enjoy rather than to keep hydrated. Ask your family members how much food they want, check out pictures of Disney meals, and check out Disney menus before making the choice for your family.

Thanks to DisBoards for some of the great info listed here. Source (1)(2)(3)

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Tags: , , ,

Author:julie

I'm Julie, I love to travel, I'm very hyper and I like to "hype" things and from that, TravelHyper was born. I'm a Missouri native and I cover St. Louis travel ideas as well as my own travels. I also like to focus on places I want to visit and budget travel ideas by creating trip plans. There's so much world out there and I hope you'll find that it's worth seeing and that vacation doesn't have to be out of reach to you.

Subscribe to Travel Hyper

Follow for the latest updates and exclusive content on these sites