WHAT IS THE DINING PLAN AND HOW DOES IT WORK?
The Disney Dining plans are a extremally popular add on to everyone's vacation package. In short, its a way to include the cost of your meals into the total price you pay for your vacation package. There are three different Dining plans to choose from; Quick Service Dining Plan, Disney Dining Plan, and Deluxe Dining Plan. Benefits can change from time to time on each plan, but for the most part here's the rundown of it.
** Table service meals are a entrée and Dessert (lunch and dinner only), or a Full buffet. Guests under 21 can choose one non-alcoholic drink, guests 21 and over can choose one alcoholic or non-alcoholic drink.
The Dining plans must be purchased for the entire length of your stay. Unfortunately, they can not be bought for a portion of your stay. So for example, if you are taking a 5 day, four night vacation and add the Disney Dining plan, you'll receive 4 quick service meals, 4 table service meals, and 8 snacks per person (ages 3+) for your trip. Or if for example you are taking a 7 day, 6 night vacation, and using the Quick Service Plan, each person would receive 12 quick service meals and 12 snacks for the trip. Reservations are required for most table service restaurants, so you will need to keep that in mind. Dining reservations can be made up to 180 days prior to check in, and trust me, some restaurants you will need to do that. That's one great benefit of having a travel agent, I will wake up at the crack of dawn to secure those reservations for you! Another thing to note about the table service restaurants is that tips are not included, so those you will have to pay out of pocket for. Click HERE to check out my Disney site for some extra information.
WHAT ABOUT MY CHILDREN UNDER 3?
Great question! Children under 3 do not have to pay for a meal plan. They are welcome to eat off the parents plate, or if at a buffet, you can make them their own plate for no extra fee. And of course you always can pay out of pocket for a meal for them if you'd like.
So here are my top 6 reasons why we LOVE the Disney Dining plan!
1. Refillable Mugs are included
A great benefit from any of the Dining plans is the refillable mug. Each member of your party receives one. You can fill these up with anything from coffee, tea, lemonade, and soda. Now they can't be used in the parks, but you can use them at ANY Disney owned Resort. So if you are resort hopping, be sure to bring it with you! We love to fill them up at our resort before we leave for the parks, and then right before heading back to our room. The refillable mugs also make great souvenirs, so you will have something to remember your trip by without having to pay extra cash. When you get home, all the mugs are microwave and dishwasher safe!
2. Worth it for Character Meals
Do you love character dining? I bet your kids do! My daughter LOVES going to character meals. If you want to enjoy these specialty meals, then your going to want to add the Disney Dining Plan or Deluxe Dining Plan to your vacation package. You can use your table service credits for character meals. This could end up saving you money in the end, as these meals are not cheap. Just to note that Cinderella's Royal Table and Be Our Guest will cost you 2 table service credits here. This is the same for a couple other signature restaurants. Click here to read our post about Disney's Character dining!
3. Snack Credits
With all three dining plans, you will receive 2 snack credits per night. Is really does add up, and is alot of food. Many times guests will still have snack credits left over on their last day. These can't be cashed in or carried over to another reservation, but you can stock up on those amazing Disney snacks for your trip home! You can bring these back as souvenirs for family or friends or just keep them to your self. If you also find that you have quick service credits left over, not a problem, most places will allow you to trade a quick service credit for 3 snacks. TIP: If traveling during the Food & Wine Festival in the Fall, most of the food at booths count as snack credits! Its a great way to use them up!
4. Alcohol & Specialty Beverages Included
This is a great perk! Alcohol and specialty drinks are included in all 3 of the dining plans. Guests 21 and over can enjoy 1 alcoholic beverage with there meal or a non-alcoholic beverage, and guests under 21 can enjoy specialty beverages like milkshakes or specialty teas that usually cost a little more.
5. FREE DINING PLANS
Periodically Disney will announce FREE Dining plans. Dates are usually announced in the spring time for use in the Fall, but you never know what curveballs Disney will throw. When they do release these, you do need to book your reservations right away, as they usually sell out pretty quickly. Free dining usually comes with some stipulations like minimum number of nights booked, and park tickets must be included.
6. The Budget is SET
My favorite thing about the dining plan is that my budget is set and everything is taken care of. The convivence of it is amazing. You don't have to worry about spending to much or anything on food, and never even have to think about leaving Disney property to eat. You will get to experience the amazing food Disney has to offer and the cost will be a non-factor. For me knowing that my food is paid for and when looking at a menu I see the price tag, I don't have to worry about it. Just scan your magic band and your all Set!
At the end of the day, this is another way to enhance your vacation, and make your life a lot less stressful. I can help you figure out which plan will work best for you and your family. Leave a comment below telling us why you love the Disney Dining Plans! Are you planning a trip to Walt Disney World soon? Do you want to learn even more about the Dining plans and what Disney has to offer? Contact me today at firstname.lastname@example.org or click HERE to fill out my FREE quote form to get your vacation planning started. As always be sure to subscribe to my newsletter, and follow me on Facebook and Instagram.
Alan is a travel consultant who specializes in Disney and Sandals Resorts. He loves to travel all over and can give you the best advice!