Is the Dining Plan Worth It?

DDP 2 This is another question I am often asked by clients.  And again, my answer always begins with “It depends.”

We have done the Quick Service Dining Plan, the Disney Plus Dining Plan, and the Deluxe Dining Plan, so I’d like to think that I have a little experience in the realm of Disney dining.  Of course, changes to the dining plan have been made over the years, but the included restaurants have basically stayed the same.

First, let’s look at what the 2016 Dining Plans entail (all dining plans include a resort refillable mug):

Quick Service Dining Plan includes 2 quick service (fast food) meals and 1 snack per DDPperson, per night of your resort stay for everyone ages three and older.

Disney Dining Plan includes 1 table service meal, 1 quick service meal, and 1 snack per person, per night of your resort stay for everyone ages three and older.

Deluxe Dining Plan includes 3 table service meals and 2 snacks per person, per night of your resort stay.

What is included in a meal?  For breakfast, you can select an entree and a non alcoholic beverage for quick and table service options, or one full buffet for table service buffet restaurants.  For lunch and dinner, you may select an entree, dessert, and non alcoholic beverage, or one full buffet for table service restaurants.

There are several restaurants that are considered “signature” dining and require two table service credits, such as Cinderella’s Royal Table and Le Cellier and dinner shows such as Mickey’s Backyard BBQ and Hoop Dee Doo Review.

There is no limit to how many credits you can use a day.  If you want to bust your gut and use them all up the first couple of days, then you are more than welcome to do so.

If you are a foodie, then I always recommend it.  You love to dine out and enjoy new flavors and experiences, so the dining plan is well worth the cost.  I’d even recommend you go deluxe and enjoy some of the signature restaurants.

It’s difficult to say if it’s definitely going to be worth it to everyone.  I know we eat differently when we are on the dining plan.  Since nearly the entire menu is fair game, I tend to splurge.  Yes, I’ll have prime rib every night.  And yes, I might regret it a few days later, but with all the walking around I do at Disney, I feel like I have earned a little indulgence.  (FYI…my FitBit averages about 20,000-25,000 steps per day at Disney!)

However, if your menu preference doesn’t change when nearly everything is included, then maybe a dining plan isn’t for you.  I’m not talking about people with food allergies/sensitivities, because Disney does an excellent job at making accommodations for that.  Many restaurants offer special menus or you can always speak to the chef and they can make something special for you.  They will even walk through the buffet lines with you and talk about the different selections and make recommendations based on your dietary needs.  I’m talking about people who don’t believe in food indulgence while vacationing.  (Yes, they are out there!)

Disney buffet

Some important things to note:

  1. You cannot pick and choose who in your room will be on a dining plan.  It’s either everyone or no one.  (Children under 2 are considered complimentary.)
  2. Children (ages 3-9) that are on the dining plan can only order from the children’s menu.  There are some kids that are big time foodies that just can’t stand ordering the typical hamburgers and mac & cheese that a lot of kid menus offer.  That can definitely be a deciding factor for some families.
  3. It’s also important to note that gratuities are not included in table service dining plans.  So, yes, you will still have a small out of pocket cost for dining, even if you are are on the deluxe plan and have all your meals covered.  But, thanks to Magic Bands, you can simply charge your gratuities back to your room.

I know without a doubt that the deluxe plan is not for us.  I would rather enjoy my time in the park than visit a table service restaurant 2-3 times a day.  We did the deluxe plan for our anniversary trip, and it was seriously way too much food.  Back then, table service also included an appetizer, so we literally were eating all. day. long.  I think I’m more of a middle of the road kind of girl and enjoy one table service meal a day while at Disney.  Although, my husband would rather not have that meal at dinner, during sunset, also known to photographers as “magic hour.”  That’s usually when he’s running around like a crazy tourist snapping pictures everywhere.

I’d rather eat.

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