Breaking It Down: Disney Dining Plan Explained

If you’re planning a Disney vacation, chances are you’ve heard about the Disney Dining Plan. The Disney Dining Plan or DDP is a pre-paid meal plan. By choosing a DDP, guests can easily dine at over 100 Disney restaurants. Disney offers a variety of dining plan options for every type of preference and budget. Plans vary, but typically include 2-3 meals, snacks, and a refillable drink mug for the duration of your vacation.

How does it work? Pay for your dining plan options in advance along with your vacation package. You’ll pay somewhere between $45-$100 per person, per day for the plan. Once you arrive at Disney World, you’ll simply use your Disney magic band at the time of payment to deduct the meal credits from your account. Talk about easy! Do note that the DDP does not cover gratuities at any table service dining location you eat at, so make sure to budget for tipping your servers.

Now that we’ve got the basics, let’s take a look at the types of Disney Dining Plans available.

Types of Disney Dining Plans

There are currently 3 types of DDPs: Quick Service Dining Plan, Disney Dining Plan, and Deluxe Dining Plan. Each offers something different for guests to choose from.

Quick Service Dining Plan

The Quick Service Dining Plan is perfect for those on-the-go or those looking to be a bit more budget friendly. It includes 2 quick service meals, 2 snacks, and 1 refillable mug per guest over the age of 3 for the duration of your trip. This means you can eat 2 quick service meals a day and get 2 snacks per day too. Quick service restaurants are those that are typically quick in nature. This means, more fast food or fast casual restaurants. You’ll order at a fast food restaurant style counter, pick your food up, and find a table to eat. This type of meal plan is great for families and those looking to maximize their budget and time in the parks. Each Disney resort has a quick service restaurant. Plus, you’ll find lots of quick service options at every Disney park.

Columbia Harbour House Sign

Photo Copyright HarshLight / Flickr

Disney Dining Plan

The Disney Dining Plan offers guests the flexibility of quick service and the benefits of table service dining, all in one plan. It includes 1 quick service meal, 1 table service meal, 2 snacks, and 1 refillable mug per guest over the age of 3 for the duration of your trip. This means you can enjoy 1 quick service meal and 1 table service meal for the perfect balance of sit-down and fast-food dining options. The Disney Dining Plan is the most popular of the DDP because it includes table service dining. Table service restaurants are your traditional sit-down meals. You’ll be seated and a server will take your order and bring you your food. I personally enjoy table service a lot because it gives you a chance to take a break during a busy day of park touring. It’s also a great way to experience unique dining experiences like character meals.

Sci-Fi Dine In Interior

Photo Copyright Josh Hallett / Wikimedia Commons

Deluxe Dining Plan

If you are a major foodie, want super flexible options, or just want to enjoy a lot of signature dining, the Deluxe Dining Plan is for you. It includes 3 meals, 2 snacks, and 1 refillable mug per guest over the age of 3 for the duration of your trip. The Deluxe Dining Plan is appealing because you can mix and match whatever type of dining you want each day. Want to enjoy table service meals 3 times a day? You got it! All about a quick service breakfast and a signature dinner. You can do that too! The Deluxe Dining Plan gives you the ultimate flexibility to choose how you want to dine. But, it is the most expensive dining plan per person, per day at over $100 per person. Plus, it’s a lot of food. Those on the Deluxe Dining Plan will want to consider the amount of food versus the price per day.

Are the Dining Plans Worth It?

A lot of people ask me whether the DDP is worth it. It, of course, depends. There are some important points to consider when you think about the DDP. First, be aware that it may cost you more to use the DDP. Depending on the plan and touring season, it may be cheaper to purchase your meals during your vacation, rather than pre-paying for them.

But, what if you score a promotion? Disney does offer a lot of free dining promotions, meaning you can get free dining for your entire vacation. Sounds pretty great, right? It can be. I’ve vacationed with free dining many times and found it to be a great savings. But, over the past few years, Disney has charged guests rack room rates for vacation packages that include free dining. This means, you might not be saving as much money as you thought. You’ll want to do some math based on the rates and the dining experiences you have planned for your vacation to see if it’s worth it.

It also depends on what kind of dining experiences you have planned and the amount of credits you have. For example, Crystal Palace, a character buffet, is one credit per person on the Disney Dining Plan. Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue Dinner Show is two credits per person. So, it’s important to consider the point value of resturants in order to best maximize the plan.

Still, if you’re like me, the flexibility of booking and pre-paying for dining in advance may be worth any break-even or more expensive cost scenarios, if you’re looking to have a vacation where you can simply tap your magic band and pay for food.

Sunshine Seasons Food Court

Photo Copyright Michael Gray / Flickr

The Choice Is Yours!

There are lots of pros and cons to the Disney Dining Plan offered at Disney World. You’ll want to go through it all to see if it’s right for you. I’ve had great experiences using it, but I also enjoy vacationing without it too. You can find out more about the Disney Dining Plan on Walt Disney World’s official website.

Want even more dining info? Check out some of our articles here on the Mouse’s House. We’ve got the scoop on the 10 Best Disney World Restaurants for 2017. If you’re a first time visitor, check out our 10 Disney World Tips for First Time Visitors article too.