A First Timer’s Guide: The Disney Dining Plans

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Disney Dining Plan for First guide

We think we have everything figured out for our Walt Disney World vacation and then we find out that Disney has dining plans!  Walt Disney World designed the dining plans for convenience!  Although they offer a lot of this, it can be overwhelming to figure out which plan will work for your family!  In the first, A First Timer’s Guide we will explore these dining plans and how they will fit into your Walt Disney World vacation step by step!

Step 1:  Select a dining plan that is right for your family.

Disney offers three dining plans to choose from.  These are the Quick Service Dining Plan, the Disney “Plus” Dining Plan and the Deluxe Dining Plan.  Let’s explore the Quick Service Dining plan first.

The Quick Service Dining Plan for 2015, during the regular season costs $41.99 for an adult and $16.03 for a child.  For 2016 that price will increase to $42.84 for an adult and $17.47 for a child. This plan includes two (2) Quick-Service Meals and one (1) Snack per person, per night of your package stay for everyone in the party ages three and over. The plan also includes one (1) Rapid Fill Resort refillable drink mug per person, that is valid for the length of your stay (eligible for refills at self-service beverage islands at Quick-Service locations at any Disney Resort hotel).

The Disney “PLUS” Dining Plan will cost $60.04 for adults and $19.03 for children during the 2015 regular season.  A slight increase will take place for 2016 costing adults, $61.84 and children, $20.94. This tends to be a very popular plan! The Disney Dining Plan includes one (1) Quick-Service Meal, one (1) Snack and one (1) Table-Service Meal per person, per night of your package stay for everyone in the party ages three and over. The plan also includes one (1) Rapid Fill Resort refillable drink mug per person, that is valid for the length of your stay (eligible for refills at self-service beverage islands at Quick-Service locations at any Disney Resort hotel).

The Deluxe Dining Plan is costing $109.53 for an adult and $29.86 for a child during the 2015 regular season.  This also so a slight increase in cost for 2016 costing adults $111.73 and children $32.56.  This elaborate plan includes three (3) Meals and two (2) Snacks per person, per night of your package stay for everyone in the party ages three and over. The plan also includes one (1) Rapid Fill Resort refillable drink mug per person, that is valid for the length of your stay (eligible for refills at self-service beverage islands at Quick-Service locations at any Disney Resort hotel).

I highly recommend the Disney “Plus” Dining Plan!  This plan allows you to experience some of the amazing character meals and the thematic dining at Walt Disney World Resort!  It is very nice to be able to sit down and relax with a good meal!  Waiters and waitresses at Walt Disney World do an outstanding job to make your dining experience exceptional!

Step 2:  Advanced Dining Reservations

The Quick Service Dining Plan does not require any reservations unless you would like to eat at Be Our Guest in the Magic Kingdom for breakfast or lunch.  All other dining plans require advance dining reservations and you will want to make these far in advance.  Most dining locations begin accepting dining reservations 180 days prior to your vacation.  It is important to have done some research on restaurants and their locations before your booking day!  Guests who have booked a Walt Disney World Vacation with a dining package can make their dining reservations for up to 10 days at the 180 day mark. It is important to book at the 180 day mark for popular restaurants.  These tend to fill up very quickly and can even sell out within 15 minutes of opening reservations!  These can include and are not limited to Cinderella’s Royal Table, Be Our Guest and Chef Mickey’s.  At the 180 day mark you can either make your dining reservation online via your My Disney Experience account at 6am EST or call (407) WDW-DINE or (407) 939-3463 at 7am EST.  The other option is to have a resourceful travel agent take care of this for you!  After all, this is your vacation and you want to eat at the best locations!  🙂

Step 3:  How do I redeem my dining credits?

Once your reservations have been made you will want to know how to use these credits in the park.  All dining credits will be linked via your MagicBands!  MagicBands work like a mini computer system!  Let’s pretend we have the Disney “Plus” Dining Plan for our upcoming vacation!  For lunch, a quick / counter service meal consists of a entrée, dessert and a non-alcoholic beverage.  Currently, the dessert and the non-alcoholic beverage may be substituted for any item that is an eligible snack at the location.  A table service credit for dinner entitles you to an entrée, dessert and a non-alcoholic beverage – or – one (1) full buffet. If available, buffet excludes Specialty Beverages that are sold separately.  If you would like to purchase specialty drinks or additional add-ons, you are welcome to do so!  These will be added onto your bill.  You will present your MagicBand to your server when it is time to pay.  Be sure to tell them how many credits you are using.  Also, be sure to check your receipt upon payment to keep track of your credits.  Disney does an amazing job of listing the amount of credits you have at the bottom of your receipt.

Most table service restaurants are one credit.  However, there are some dinner shows and specialty restaurants that require 2 credits per diner.  The following are locations that require 2 table service credits.

  • Jiko, Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge (Dinner)
  • Flying Fish Café, Disney’s BoardWalk (Dinner)
  • California Grill, Disney’s Contemporary Resort (Dinner)
  • Citricos, Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort (Dinner)
  • Narcoossee’s, Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort (Dinner)
  • Artist Point, Disney’s Wilderness Lodge (Dinner)
  • Yachtsman Steakhouse, Disney’s Yacht and Beach Club Resorts (Dinner)
  • Le Cellier Steakhouse, Epcot (Lunch & Dinner)
  • Monsieur Paul, Epcot (Dinner)
  • The Hollywood Brown Derby, Disney’s Hollywood Studios (Lunch & Dinner)
  • Fulton Crab House, Downtown Disney (Lunch & Dinner)
  • The Dining Room at Wolfgang Puck Grand Café, Downtown Disney (Dinner)
  • Fairytale Dining at Cinderella’s Royal Table (Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

You may also use your Dining Plan credits for Private In-Room dining.  This will cost 2 Table Service Credits for a meal consisting of an entrée, dessert, and non-alcoholic beverage.  In-room pizza delivery can also be utilized on the Dining Plan.  One pizza, two desserts and two non-alcoholic beverages will cost 2 Table Service credits.  Dining Credits can be used to experience some of Disney’s Dinner Shows.  The Hoop Dee Doo Revue, Spirit of Aloha Dinner Show, and Mickey’s Backyard BBQ are each 2 table service credits for category 2 or 3 seating.  Dinner shows do require advanced dining reservations and gratuities are included for them!  That is a nice added bonus!

One very nice thing is the flexibility of the Disney Dining Plan.  With the Disney “Plus” Dining Plan you receive a quick service and a table service credit for each night of your stay but you can use them how you wish and when you wish.   This means you can use 2 credits at a time per person.  It will just leave you with one less meal per night. This is a huge for families who wish to do a dinner show, dine at a signature restaurant or even eat with Cinderella at Cinderella’s Royal Table located in Cinderella’s Castle!

Always be sure to ask your server what is included with your dining plan!  Sometimes a bottomless milkshake or an amazing dessert might even be included.  You do not know unless you ask!  🙂  There can also be chef selections / specials that can be included!

Children 3-9 will be required to order off of the children’s menu where available.  Children under 3 are not on the Dining Plan and can share from an adult plate or a meal can be purchased for them.

Step 4:  What is a snack credit?

This symbol will become a very big part of your life while on your Walt Disney World Vacation!  Check it out here:

disneydiningplansnackcredit

 

This symbol will indicate a snack credit for you at counter service restaurants, snack carts, and in shops / merchandise locations!  Snacks can include soda, a bottle of water, an ice cream, smoothie or even a cupcake!  The possibilities are endless and you can be creative with these!  Just be sure to be on the look out for the symbol above!

You have just learned all about the Disney Dining Plans!  You should feel very accomplished!  Your vacation is off to a great start and now you have some amazing insight into the dining plans available to you!

Here are some great tips!

  • Table-Service restaurants, character dining and dinner shows book quickly and the restaurant and seating of your choice may be limited or may not be available during your visit.
  • Please make reservations online at disneyworld.com/dine or by calling 407-WDW-DINE up to 180 days prior to your visit for the best options.
  • When dining with another party who is also using their MagicBand or card to redeem their meals, please notify the server which meals should be redeemed on each valid Disney Resort ID (either a MagicBand or card) upon ordering dessert.
  • You can continue using meals/snacks in any order during your package stay until each person has depleted his/her allotted meals/snacks. For example, if you use all your snacks on the first day, that will leave zero snacks for the remainder of your stay.
  • Locations for all dining plans are subject to change without notice or liability. Theme Park admission is required for some dining locations. Operational hours may vary.
  • Remember that gratuities are NOT included with the Dining Plan except for Dinner Shows, In-Room Dining and Cinderella’s Royal Table.  These will need to be paid out of pocket at the time of service.  You can charge the gratuity to your room account.
  • You may have left over credits at the end of your vacation.  Don’t let them go to waste!  Even if you are about to leave for your return home, you can spend any remaining snack credits in the gift shop of your resort.  Just look for that handy purple and white square.
  • Use the dining plan to savor cuisine you may not otherwise try!
  • The dining plan can make your Walt Disney World experience an all-inclusive vacation!
  • Be sure to take advantage of your refillable mug!  You can use a snack credit for a muffin or a danish.  Then refill your mug and you now have breakfast!
  • Most of all enjoy the experience of Disney Dining!  It is like no other!

Happy Disney Dining!

Be sure to be watching for more A First Timer’s Guide articles coming soon!  🙂

My name is Jen Perkins.  I am a travel agent with World of Magic Travel Services.  I’m a Disney Destination Specialist.  I am also a writer for Chip and Co. and Disney Addicts.  If you have any questions regarding the Disney Dining Plans, please do not hesitate to ask!  You can contact me at jen@worldofmagictravel.com.  I would love to hear from you and help you plan your next “magical” vacation!

You can also visit my facebook page here for more details on Disney World, updates on promotions, articles and upcoming events all related to Disney World, Disney Cruise Line, Universal Studios and much more!  You will also find an array of photos of many of these amazing places!

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