How Does the Disney Dining Plan Work and Is It Right for YOU-Updated for 2021!

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The Disney Dining Plan has currently been suspended due to COVID-19. While Disney has not said when it will be reinstated, the information contained herein was accurate prior to the COVID-19 closings, and we will continue to make updates as the situation changes.

As Disney veterans, there is one question we get asked more than any other pertaining to Walt Disney World dining: How does the Disney Dining Plan work and is it worth it?

Unfortunately, the answer to that question isn’t a simple yes or no. Deciding whether the Disney Dining Plan is right for you depends on how much you plan to eat, where you plan to eat it and what you’re willing to pay for convenience.

Understanding the dining plan is a big step in Walt Disney World Vacation Planning. So, to help you make the right choice, we’ve put together this guide to the Disney Dining Plan, answering the most common questions we receive.

What is the Disney Dining Plan and how do I get it?

Before deciding to purchase it, you need to understand how the Disney Dining plan works.

The Disney Dining Plan is a package that allows you to prepay for meals and then redeem the credits during your vacation. The Disney Dining Plan can only be purchased by guests staying at a Walt Disney World Resort as part of a hotel package that includes the purchase of theme park tickets.  Guests are provided a set number of meals for each day of their reservation, depending upon the type of Disney Dining Plan they purchase.

Another way to purchase the Disney Dining Plan is to book a Disney Vacation Club (DVC) resort using points. DVC is Disney’s version of a timeshare arrangement, allowing members to buy points, in exchange for ownership in one of the resorts. Points are then redeemed for yearly stays.

When DVC members make a reservation using points, they also have the option to add on the Disney Dining Plan. If a DVC member decides not to use their points in a given year and allows someone to rent those points in their stead, that guest is also able to add the Disney Dining Plan to their DVC booking.

How much does the Disney Dining Plan cost?

Sa'tuli Canteen Sample platter on a table, included  included in the Disney Dining plan.
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Before we discuss how much the Disney Dining Plan costs, you’ll also need to understand how the Disney Dining Plan works. Disney offers three options depending on the type of accommodations that you book.

Guests who stay at moderate and value resorts will be offered the Disney Dining Plan with quick service option. This plan entitles each guest on the reservation to two quick-service meals each day and two snacks.

The cost for the Disney Dining Plan quick service option in 2020 is:

  • $55.00 per adult per day
  • $26.00 per child per day.

If you book a deluxe resort, you will be offered the Disney Dining Plan option. In most respects, the plan is identical to the quick service option, except you’ll trade out one of the quick-service meals to eat once at a table service restaurant. Costs here are also charged per day and with two separate rates for children and adults.

In 2020, you can expect the Disney Dining Plan to cost you:

  • $78.01 for each adult in your party
  • $30.51 for each child

Last, if you expect all of those daily steps to add up to a solid appetite, you can upgrade either of the options above to the Disney Deluxe dining package. The deluxe option affords you three meals and two snacks for each night you stay. The difference here is that you can consume your meals at any combination of table-service and quick-service restaurants. The choice is up to you, as well it should be for the cost.

In 2020, the Disney Dining Plan deluxe option will run you:

  • $119 for each adult
  • $47.50 for each child

Remember, for all plans, rates are assessed per day for each night of your room reservation.

New in 2020!

New in 2020, Disney released the Disney Dining Plan Plus. This new option provides guests with greater flexibility when it comes to using their Disney dining credits, by giving you the freedom to eat at either a quick service or table service restaurant. You’ll receive the same 2 meals a day, but rather than being limited to 1 quick service and one table service meal a day, you can choose between the two as you see fit.

That means you could easily eat two meals a day at table service restaurants if you have the appetite. Costs for the new Disney Dining Plan Plus are:

  • $94.60 for each adult on the reservation
  • $35 for each child under 10 on the reservation

What is included with a Disney Dining Plan Quick Service option?

Close up of a Dole Whip, a snack that can be purchased using the Disney Dining Plan
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All Disney dining plans work on per meal system, and while the Disney Dining Plan Quick Service option is considered the entry-level of the Disney Dining Plan, it could easily be all many guests need.

With the Disney Dining Plan Quick Service package, you’re entitled to two meals a day and one snack. To understand how this option of the Disney Dining Plan works, we’ll need to break it down a little. A Disney quick service restaurant is equivalent to a counter-service or fast food restaurant. You walk up to a counter, order your food, find a table, and sit down to eat it. At the end of the meal, you clean up after yourself by throwing away your own trash. It may not be glamorous, but believe me, it gets the job done, and where children are concerned, it often does so more effectively than some of Disney’s more glamorous table-service locations. In years gone by, this package was stuffed full of hamburgers, chicken strips and maybe a pizza or two, but Disney has done a lot to widen the variety of these establishments over the last several years. Sa’tuli Canteen in Animal Kingdom is now one of our favorite restaurants. The menu includes a dazzling display of bowled entrees and falls under the category of table service. Similarly, Pecos Bill, which used to be our favorite stop for burgers, has now evolved into more of a southwest-themed menu, so your options
are plentiful.

When taking advantage of the Disney Dining Quick Service package, you’ll have enough credits to purchase two meals for each member of your party for every night of your hotel stay. Meals include non-alcoholic beverages, including a wide assortment of options such as soda, bottled water, smoothies, milkshakes, milk and juice.

When ordering, adults can select any regular meal on the menu. If you want the $12.99 beef brisket at Woody’s Lunchbox, it’s yours. Feeling the need to dine where the beast has trod? That $28 quick-service breakfast at Be Our Guest is also covered under your plan. Of course, when dining with children, they will be asked to select their options from the child’s menu.

Then come the snacks, and this is a term Disney uses lightly. Snack credits can be used to purchase a wide variety of items from the staple bottle of water to a container of fried rice large enough to be a meal. Guests can even use snack credits to purchase alcoholic beverages in place of food. Each member of your party is entitled to use two snack credits for each night of your reservation.

The last item included with your Disney Dining Plan Quick Service option is a refillable mug. This can be used for soda, coffee or tea, but before you get too excited, be advised that you can only refill this at a Disney resort. They don’t work within the parks.

With two table-service meals and two snack credits at your disposal, the Disney Dining Plan Quick Service option makes it entirely possible to keep your party fueled for the duration of your stay, without dipping into any discretionary cash.

What is included with a Disney Dining Plan option?

Drink that can be purchased using snack credits on the Disney Dining Plan.
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Taking advantage of the convenience of prepaid meals means accepting how the Disney Dining Plan works. Unfortunately, that means if you want to redeem dining plan credits for table-service meals, including popular character experiences, you will need to stay at a Disney deluxe resort or step up to the Disney Dining Plan option.

The Disney Dining Plan is identical to the Disney Quick Service option with a small exception. While you are still entitled to two meals a day and two snacks for each member of your party, you’ll find your list of dining options widens with this package.

For each day of your stay, you’ll redeem one meal credit at a quick-service restaurant. See the section above on the Disney Dining Plan quick service option for a complete rundown. Your other meal of the day will be enjoyed at one of Disney’s table-service restaurants. The advantages to this are two-fold. The first, is convenience. After walking from one end of the park to the other, often pushing strollers and toting bags, sitting down and letting someone serve you is an unbelievably nice respite. You’ll find that Disney table-service restaurants offer an incredible variety of food as well, from burgers to brats, steaks,
fish, seafood and even international cuisine.

When you redeem table-service credits, each member of your party is entitled to an entrée on the menu and one non-alcoholic beverage, including a wide assortment of options such as soda, smoothies, milkshakes, milk and juice. Likewise, if the menu offers a buffet, as many do, each member of your party will be entitled to sample food from the full spread of items offered, as many times as they care to fill their plate.

Each guest is also entitled to two snacks per day. Snack credits can be redeemed for a wide variety of items, including soda, popcorn, and ice cream as well as some meal alternatives such as fried rice.

I am on the Disney Dining Plan package. Am I restricted to one table-service and one-counter service restaurant each day, or can I mix them?

As long as you do not exceed the total number of credits for each category, you may use your Disney Dining Plan credits as you see fit. In other words, if you want to have breakfast at Be Our Guest and dinner at Pecos Bill one day, you will use two quick-service credits. That means, that on another day of your stay, you will need to enjoy two table-service restaurants to even out your consumption.

The same goes for snacks. If you elect to redeem only one snack credit a day, you will have an extra credit for later in your trip.

What is included with a Disney Dining Plan Deluxe option?

Interior of Saana, a table service restaurant included in the Disney Dining plan
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To understand how the Disney Dining Plan works with the Deluxe option, it’s worth reading through the quick service package and the Disney Dining option above as the Deluxe plan builds on these.

The Quick Service plan provides guests with two meals a day from any quick service restaurant, and the Disney Dining Plan allows you to redeem credits for one quick service meal and one table-service meal for each day of your stay. The Deluxe Dining Plan, on the other hand, provides you with enough credits for three meals a day for each member of your party, and you can redeem them at any combination of quick service and table service restaurants that you choose. If you want to eat all of your meals on day one at quick service restaurants and then enjoy three Disney character meals on day two, the choice is yours to make. You may even decide to eat all of your meals at either a table-service or quick-service location.

When redeeming credits for quick-service meals, you are entitled to select one menu entrée and one non-alcoholic drink. Table-service meals, on the other hand, provide a bounty of choice and should never leave you feeling hungry.

For each credit redeemed at a table service meal, you are entitled to a full buffet if provided. When ordering from the menu, one credit gets you an appetizer, an entrée, a non-alcoholic beverage (including some interesting options such as milkshakes and smoothies) as well as a dessert. Entrees are sizable as are the before- and after-dinner options.

In addition to the feasting flexibility of the Disney Dining Plan Deluxe option, you’ll receive two snack credits per day, redeemable on a host of items such as popcorn, bottled drinks, ice cream or some meal equivalents such as fried rice. You can even swap them out for an alcoholic beverage or use them to sip while you sit and people watch.

Last, you will receive one refillable mug that can be used for unlimited refills on coffee, tea or soda at your Disney World Resort hotel.

How Does the Disney Dining Plan Plus Option Work?

The Disney Dining Plan Plus is new this year but works on the same premise as all other Disney Dining plans. For each day of your stay, you will be able to redeem credits for two meals and two snacks. The only difference is that you will be able to decide whether you want to eat at quick service restaurants or table service restaurants.

This means that you could eat every meal at a table service restaurant or even a character meal. And while you could also opt to eat every meal at a table service location, it won’t give you the best bang for your buck. If you think you will be dining mostly at quick service locations, check into the Disney Dining plan above, which offers 2 quick service meals for each night of your stay.

Similar to how the other Disney dining plans work, Plus also provides you with one refillable drink mug for use at any resort quick service restaurant. You will also enjoy a selection of soda, coffee, tea and alcoholic beverages (when available) with each meal you redeem with the Disney Dining Plan Plus option.

Just remember, you are paying for flexibility here, the freedom to decide on a day-to-day basis where you will eat. However, since most Disney World table service restaurants require advanced dining reservations, this freedom may come at the cost of not getting into a table-service restaurant, For most travelers, the Disney Dining Plan or Disney Dining Plan with Quick Service option provides a better cost-to-benefit ratio.

How do I redeem my Disney Dining Plan credits?

One of the most popular questions when learning how the Disney Dining Plan works, involves credits and how they are redeemed. Fortunately, using the Disney Dining Plan and redeeming credits couldn’t be simpler.  When you book your Disney World Resort package, you’ll be assigned a Magic Band. This RFID-enabled bracelet holds all of the    information about your stay and allows you to easily swipe or tap to access tangibles such as FastPass+ reservations, advanced dining reservations and Disney World dining
meal credits.

When you order your meal, your server should ask if you are on the Disney Dining Plan. If so, they will scan the Magic Band of one member of your party when it is time to pay. Meal credits are automatically deducted each time you use it, and you are provided with a receipt indicating how many credits were used and how many are left for the remainder of your stay.

When it comes to redeeming Disney dining credits, people also wonder how they are assigned. In other words, does each member of the party receive a credit for each meal/snack per day?

It’s probably more appropriate to say that you receive a pool of credits, adding up to one of every associated type for each member of your party. What you do with those credits is up to you.

For example, we will say you have purchased the Disney Dining Plan. On the first day of your trip, your family of four enjoys a character breakfast. When a member of your party taps their band to pay, four table-service credits are deducted from your total pool of available table-service credits.

Then, comes dinner. You sit down to eat at one of Disney’s fine quick-service establishments, only Mom (or dad or son or daughter) isn’t hungry. She decides not to eat and sit this one out. When it comes time to pay,  you use three quick-service credits from your pool and now have one extra that hasn’t been used.

The next day, you meet up with a friend. He lives in the area and decides to join you at the parks.  You decide to grab lunch at a quick-service restaurant when you remember that you have this extra credit from the night before. Can you use this to cover the cost of your friend’s meal?

The answer is yes. While you are allotted credits per person per day, you may use them on anyone and in any combination throughout your stay until they are gone. In many instances, there is an advantage to doing so. While we have used the Disney Dining Plan on a few occasions when Disney offered free dining, we have never used all of our meal and snack credits.

What if I don’t use all of my Disney plan credits in a single day? Do Disney Dining Plan credits roll over?

While Disney Dining Plan credits are assigned on an individual per day basis, they become part of a pool of credits that can be used at your discretion. For instance, a party of two adults taking advantage of the Disney quick-service dining plan for a four-day trip will be allotted 16 quick-service meals. They could decide to enjoy these in any combination and order that they prefer, maybe three on one day and one on another.

Unused credits will roll over to the next day and are good until midnight on the day that you check out of your resort. In the example above, our fictional guests could even save all 16 credits until the last day of their trip and decide to feast around the world!

Are there any Disney Dining Plan tips for maximizing my experience?

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There are several Disney Dining Plan tips that will help you make the most of your dollars, but first, make sure you understand how the Disney Dining plan works, particularly the plan you plan to use.

Once you do, you’ll realize that most tips for for using the dining plan involve maximizing credits. You may have realized when reading above that there is a big discrepancy in the cost of certain snack items. A small scoop of popcorn, for example, is a far cry from a container of fried rice when it comes to filling empty bellies.

If you study out the options and select carefully, it’s possible to use some of those snack credits as meals. A similar phenomenon comes into play when selecting restaurants.

While many quick-service restaurants employ similar pricing, you’ll notice that pricing is higher at some, such as Sa’tuli Canteen in Animal Kingdom. Using your meal credits here will give you a bigger bang for your buck, especially if you plan to pay for some meals out of pocket.

Likewise, we’ve found that some buffet restaurants are pricier than others. Similarly, some restaurants have higher priced entrees than others. If you plan to purchase any of your meals, using Disney Dining Plan credits for the higher cost meals will save you cash out of pocket and help to maximize the value of your Disney Dining Plan.

Guru Travel has completed the exhausting task of cataloging the options available for snack credits as well as the cost associated with each. You can use it to compare items and make the best selections.

When do my Disney Dining Plan credits start and end?

Disney Dining Plan credits are available from the moment you check in to your resort hotel until midnight on the day that you check out. However, keep in mind that credits accumulate for each night you stay. That means if you check in on Monday and out on Friday, you have four days’ worth of meal credits.

If you start using meal credits on Monday, and utilize your full allotment each day, you will be out of meal credits on Friday. If you do decide to stay until midnight, you will need to pay out of pocket for your meals. On the other hand, if you didn’t use all of your credits Monday-Thursday, these left-over points may be used until midnight on Friday.


Monday Check in 10:00 am Lunch: meal
credit=2 Dinner: meal

Tuesday Breakfast: meal
credit=2 Dinner: meal

Wednesday Breakfast: meal
credit=2 Dinner: meal

Thursday Breakfast: meal
credit=2 Dinner: meal
credit=2 Total
Credits Used: 16

Do I need to make advanced dining reservations if I’m using the Disney Dining Plan?

Pluto visits a family during breakfast at a character meal included in the Disney Dining plan.
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When we first started going to Disney World, it was easy to walk up to a tables-service kiosk and get a table. The popularity of the Disney Dining Plan, combined with higher park attendance, means that seats at table-service restaurants can be in short supply depending on when you are traveling and the popularity of the restaurant.

We highly recommend that you make reservations in advance, especially if missing out on popular experiences such as character meals or Be Our Guest will ruin the trip for someone. If you change your mind about a restaurant, reservations can be cancelled via the My Disney Experience app. Just mind the cancellation policy when you book.

Many restaurants have a 24-hour cancellation policy and will charge a fee if you do not show up for your reservation. On the other hand, your full party does not need to be there in order for Disney to consider your obligation fulfilled, so if someone gets sick or is too tired, they can skip the meal, as long as other members of your party do attend.

Is the Disney Dining Plan worth it?

Unfortunately, there is no cut and dried answer when it comes to deciding whether the Disney Dining Plan is worth it. A number of factors come into play, including:

  • The Disney Dining Plan option that you have
  • Where you plan to eat
  • The eating preferences of the members of your
  • Your budget

The only way to determine if the Disney Dining Plan is worth it from a cost perspective, is to list the restaurants where you plan to eat, get an idea of the average costs, and then see what you will pay for food during the length of your trip. If you’re paying more out of pocket than the cost of the Disney Dining Plan, it’s worth it.

Of course, there are factors beyond cost when it comes to booking a Disney Dining Plan. Many people love the convenience and freedom associated with the Disney Dining Plan. They can eat where they want, order the highest cost item on the menu, and never worry about the expense, because they’ve already paid it when they purchased their vacation package.

If this is your traveling style, then the Disney Dining Plan could be well worth the expense even if it would cost you less to pay for your meals out of pocket.


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Kathleen Hesketh and Ali Patton, mother daughter travel bloggers

We're Kat and Ali, a pair of mother daughter travel bloggers sharing our knowledge and experience from multiple years of Disney travel with other Disney lovers and first-time visitors, hoping to simplify your vacation experience and help you enjoy all of the magic of a visit to Disney World. As Disney vacation planners, we can now book vacations through Mickey World travel, at no additional charge, and help you realize all of the magic of a trip to Disney.

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Kathleen Hesketh

Kathleen is a travel agent with Mickey World Travel, a platinum level Authorized Disney vacation planner, where she helps people discover the magic of a Disney vacation and other travel destinations. She is also the chief author and editor for Seconds to Go - a travel blog where she shares experiences from traveling the U.S. with her daughter, Ali.

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