Disney, Family Fun

15 Hacks to Get the Most Out of the Disney Dining Plan

You may know that Disney offers a dining plan that can be purchased with vacation packages at Disney World.

Disney World Dining Plan - Chef Mickey

Actually, as of 2017, they offer 3 different dining plans: a quick service plan, a regular plan, and a deluxe plan. (The Premium and Platinum plans were discontinued in to 2017.  

Here’s the details of each of the Disney Dining Plans, including other changes in 2017.

But are they worth it? Well … sometimes.

We’ve got a bunch of real world example calculations, that demonstrate how actual food costs in Disney World can be applied toward the plan. The bottom line is that for each plan, you’ll need to order food with a value equal to or greater than daily cost of the plan.

For the quick service plan, this magic number is $46.34. For the regular plan, it’s $67.33. And, for the deluxe plan, it’s a whopping $103.57.

For kids, the numbers are lower, making it easier to get your money’s worth. So, how do you get that much value out of the plan? Here are 10 tips to maximize your value. We’ve got more Disney Dining Plan tips here.

Disney World Dining Plan - California Grill

Tip #1: Character dining, dinner buffets, and dining show packages are generally the best value for TS credits.

Tip# 2: Signature dining is not the best value for TS credits. It costs 2 TS credits, but the monetary price is not twice as much. Pay out of pocket at these restaurants instead.

Tip #3: Keep in mind the value of each credit: $38 for TS, $16 for QS and $5.50 for snack. Choose menu items of equal or great value. At TS restaurants this usually the steak. For snacks, its usually bakery items.

Tip #4: Breakfast is generally not the best value for TS credits, as the meal price is lower than lunch or dinner.Walt Disney World Resort Disney Dining

Tip #5: Use your Rapid Fill refillable resort mug every chance you get. Bring it to every QS meal at the resorts and use it by the pool. This allows you to use your drink credit (part of each QS credit) for a side/snack instead of a drink.

Tip #6: Expanding on the point above, substitute! Substitute an unneeded included drink for a snack/side that expands your meal or can be saved for later.

Tip #7: If the restaurant serves them, milk shakes and smoothies can usually be used for your included drink with your meal credit, and offer the most value.

Tip #8: Don’t waste snack credits on bottles of water. You can get a free cup of ice water at any eatery in the park. And if you bring an insulated tumbler, you’ll always have something cold to drink.

Tip #9: Use snack credits wisely. They can buy you a French pastry at Epcot, a sundae in Magic Kingdom, a Starbucks coffee, a Dole Whip, a large gourmet muffin, among other things.  Don’t waste them on a banana or similar inexpensive items.

Tip #10: If you purchase a Deluxe Dining Plan, use your credits on table service instead of quick service as much as possible.

Tip# 11: This Disney World dining tip is not specific to the dining plan, but it is definitely one of our favorites. Ship nonperishable goods to your resort ahead of time, using a service like Amazon Prime or Prime Pantry, and bring them along in your park bag. We ship snacks, water, and baby supplies.

Disney World Dining Plan - Be our Guest

If you follow these recommendations, it is possible to save money using a Disney Dining Plan. But, it’s also very easy to end up breaking even, especially if you don’t choose the most expensive menu item at each outing. If you don’t want to choose your meals by price, then there’s a good chance you will not save money with the dining plan.

In spite of the potentially meager savings, I recommend the dining plan without reservation.

The real value of the plan lies not in the money saved, but in the stress saved.  

Turning Disney World into an all-inclusive resort ups the fun and relaxation factor considerably. So, buy the dining plan, keep the values of each credit in the back of your mind, and don’t worry about having to take out your credit card.

Coming up next, have you ever wondered what the best age for Disney World is? Check out our next installment!