The Down-low on the Disney Dining Plan

DiningPlanOne of the most misunderstood things about a Disney trip is also one of the most popular, especially when the word FREE is in front of it. That’s right – the Disney Dining Plan. I’m going to break it down for you, into easy-to-understand chunks.

What Is It?
This perk is offered as part of a package to guests staying at one of Disney’s resorts and can save a family as much as 20 percent on their meals, so when it comes to using your pennies wisely, be sure to take a look at the Dining Plan details. One of the plan’s many benefits is that it gives you the ability to control, on the front end, one of a trip’s most unexpected expenses – dining. You have the ability to “pre-pay” for most of your meals before you ever step foot inside Mickey’s playground.

The Lingo
When reading about the Dining Plan, you will see the words Quick Service, Table Service and Snack, as well as the abbreviations QS and TS.

A “Quick-Service Meal,” (aka QS) is where you place your order and walk to the counter to retrieve it and then find a place to sit. Quick-Service locations do not take dining reservations. The exception to this is a lunch reservation at Be Our Guest in Magic Kingdom, which is considered Quick Service, but the meal is brought to your table.

A “Table-Service Meal,” (aka TS) is where a waiter will take your order and bring your meal to you. These are the restaurants that you plan for in advance by making reservations. Character meals are also Table-Service meals. In an ideal world, I would make these reservations for you at the earliest possible date, which is 180 days prior to your trip date.

A “Snack” can mean many things – examples include a Mickey ice cream bar, a Dole-Whip, or a box of popcorn.

What’s Included
There are actually five dining plans, but for the sake of simplicity, we are going to focus on the three most popular options: the Quick Service Plan, the Standard Dining Plan and the Deluxe Dining Plan.

The most popular plan is the Standard Dining Plan, and this is where you get the most bang for your buck. This plan includes the following for each person over age 3, for each night of your stay:

  • 1 Quick-Service Meal
  • 1 Table-Service Meal
  • 1 Snack
  • Refillable Drink Mug (for use at your resort only)

The Deluxe Dining Plan is for the family who wants to really concentrate on all the great food there is to eat at Disney World. I don’t recommend this plan if you are planning a short trip or if you don’t want to sit down and eat at a Table-Service restaurant at least twice a day. This plan includes the following for each person over age 3, for each night of your stay:

  • 3 Meals (any combination)
  • 2 Snacks
  • Refillable Drink Mug (for use at your resort only)

Last is the Quick-Service Dining Plan. The Quick-Service plan is for the family who is on the go and doesn’t intend to sit down and eat at the many Table-Service restaurants Disney offers. This plan includes the following for each person over age 3, for each night of your stay:

  • 2 Quick-Service Meals
  • 1 Snack
  • Refillable Drink Mug (for use at your resort only)

What’s Not Included:

  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Gratuity (this is automatically calculated for parties of more than 6 people)
  • Items that are in souvenir cups or containers
  • Special Dining Events, such as fireworks dessert parties

How It Works
Here’s the nifty part of using the Dining Plan: how you use it is really up to you! You will get “credits” for each of your meals. So 1 Table-Service Meal = 1 credit. The same is true for Quick-Service Meals and Snacks. All of your family’s credits are loaded into your account when you check in. You can begin using those credits the day you check in and they are valid until midnight the day you check out.

Some restaurants and dinner shows, such as Cinderella’s Royal Table or the Hoop Dee Doo Revue, use two Table-Service credits. So if you have a 6-night stay, after eating at one of those restaurants, you will have 4 credits remaining.

It’s easy to keep track of how many credits you have used and how many you have remaining. At the bottom of your receipt, there is a tally of how many credits you have left. And we will make reservations for the Table-Service meals before your trip, so really all you have to keep up with are the Quick-Service and Snack credits.

You can use your credits however you like until they’re gone. So if you want to have two Table-Service meals one day and two Quick-Service meals the next day, you can. If you want to use a Snack credit on a muffin for breakfast – knock yourself out.

It is important to know that while more than 100 of the restaurants at Disney World do accept the Dining Plan, there are some restaurants that do not. And you can always choose to pay for an extra Table-Service meal out-of-pocket if you wanted to have an extra.

Want to know if the Dining Plan is a good fit for your family or do you still have questions? I’ll be happy to answer them! Shoot me an email at achambers@smallworldbigfun.com or send me a message on my FaceBook page by clicking on the link on this page.

HOW TO CONTACT ALISON: Email me at achambers@smallworldbigfun.com, call/text me at 501.772.3137 or
send me a FaceBook message!
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