I’ve had a few people ask me about the dining plan, and my thoughts on it. We actually used the regular plan on our first trip to Walt Disney World, but it took a lot of research for us to make it worthwhile.
Let’s back up for a second – the dining plan is something Disney offers to guests staying in a Disney-owned resort. There are a number of different plans:
- The Quick Service Dining Plan – this gives each person on the plan an allotment of 2 quick service meals per day, 2 snacks per day and a refillable drink mug valid for the duration of your stay (can only be refilled at Disney resorts, NOT theme parks). (2017 cost – $48/person/night of your stay)
- The Dining Plan – 1 table service and 1 quick service credit per person per night of your stay, 2 snacks/person/night plus the refillable mug (2017 cost – $69/person/night of your stay)
- The Deluxe Dining Plan – 3 meal allotments per person per night (can be used for quick service or table service meals), plus 2 snacks/person/night and the refillable mug (2017 cost – $106/person/night of your stay)
Each quick service meal includes one entree and one non-alcoholic drink, while a table service meal credit includes one entree, one non-alcoholic drink and one dessert. The deluxe plan also includes an appetizer with each table service credit. (Worth noting – when we used the regular dining plan in January 2016, the quick service credit included a dessert as well, but there was only 1 snack credit/person/night).
When we used the regular plan in 2016, I tracked what the cost of each of our meal credits would have cost if paying out of pocket. We paid ~$60/each for each night for the dining plan, so ~$840 in total for our 7 night stay. We had a total of 14 table service credits, 14 quick service credits and 14 snack credits between the two of us. The total value of the snack credits we redeemed was $68.91, $280.15 for quick serve credits and $558.52 on table service credits – which gives a total of $907.58. Based on this math, we ended up saving over $67.
So, even though it is possible to come out ahead, there are a few reasons why I probably won’t use the dining plan again:
- The plan did not fit with our style of eating. I did not like being restricted to 1 sit-down meal each day and 1 counter-service meal per day. On our 2017 trip, we ate at mainly table service restaurants and it made me much happier!
- The plan actually gives you too much food! It’s a rare occasion when I actually order dessert at a restaurant, and I wasn’t a fan of eating dessert after every single meal.
- To go with the point above, I don’t always want an entree. Sometimes I just want to order an appetizer or two and call it my meal.
- In order to come out ahead, we found ourselves always trying to order the most expensive item on the menu, even if it wasn’t exactly what we wanted to eat. We were too focused on not losing money on the dining plan to fully enjoy all of our meals.
That said, there are still lots of people who swear by using a dining plan on every trip. One of the most common reasons why is that it’s prepaid – by paying for the plan ahead of time, you only need to worry about paying for gratuities and alcohol out of pocket once you’re there.