Thanks for dropping by to check out this week’s installment in the Disney Vacation Planning series. In case you have no idea what I’m talking about, this is part 6 of the series which will guide you through the entire Disney World vacation planning process. From when to go, to what to pack – you’ll find it all right here! You can also find tons of other helpful articles here at SoCal Style, and learn some fun new things about Disney!
This week’s post is on a rather controversial topic…..The Disney Dining Plan! If you follow me on Twitter (and you should) then you know I am not a fan. But I’ll save that rant for another day. Today, I want to help you make whatever decision is right for your group. There are a few key factors to take into account before making this choice. First of all though, let’s cover the basics.
What is the Disney Dining Plan?
Does the thought of spending money to visit a theme park where you will have to spend more money make you cringe a little bit? Do you have adolescents in your party that want to run on their own, but you don’t want to send them off with lunch money? Do you want to know exactly how much money is being spent before packing your first bag? Well, the Disney Dining Plan, or DDP, solves all these issues.
The DDP is an add-on option for your vacation package offered by Disney that basically pre-pays for your meals. There are three different tiers, depending on the type of restaurants you are planning to visit. Each package will put a specified number of meal and snack credits into your account, based on the length of your trip and number of members in your group.
There are 3 important types of credits to understand before we go much further.
Quick Service Meal Credit
This will get you and entrée and a beverage at most quick service stops on property. These are places where you order and wait for your number to be called, then find a table – just like how fast food works outside the parks. There are some great quick service places, my favorite is Wolf Gang Puck Express in Disney Springs but there are others as well. New for 2018 you can now order an alcoholic beverage with your meal credit!!
Table Service Credit
This gets a little trickier. If you use this for breakfast it entitles you to an entrée and beverage (including alcohol!) or a buffet. If you use the credit for lunch or dinner you can get an entrée, beverage (still includes booze!), and a dessert, or a buffet. These credits can be used at, as the name implies, most table service restaurants. One caveat though – some character dining, signature dining, and dinner shows require 2 meal credits per person attending the meal.
Yay snacks!! Each credit will get you 1 snack or bottled non-alcoholic beverage or, well…a snack! Some highlights include; Dole whip, popcorn, ice cream, or my favorite….Starbucks! There are tons of snack credit hacks – but that’s fodder for another day.
How Much Does the Disney Dining Plan Cost?
There are three different tiers which are Quick Service, Standard Dining, and Deluxe Dining. The different tiers offer credits towards different types of restaurants and a different number of credits.
Quick Service Dining
For 2018 the Quick Service Dining plan is an additional $52.49 per adult, per night. So, for 2 adults on a 5 day trip this would be an additional $419.92. This provides you with 2 Quick Service meal credits and 2 snack credits, per person per night. (so 16 meals and 16 snacks for our aforementioned couple).
With this plan each member of your party receives 1 table service credit, 1 quick service credit, and 2 snacks per day. The cost is $75.49 per adult, per night. For our couple this would be 8 table service meals, 8 quick service meals, and 16 snack credits. If you are going to purchase a plan and want to dip your feet into the table service pool, this is the way to go.
Deluxe dining will run you $116.24 per person, per night. The package includes 3 meals, of either kind, and 2 snacks per person per day.
Should I Purchase the Dining Plan?
The big question, it depends. There are plenty of people on both sides of the argument. Some, including me, believe that the dining plan gives far too many credits and the price is higher than paying for the meals outright. The opposition argues that they use all the credits and the pricing is fair. Everyone has an opinion. So, I’m going to do my best to provide you the unbiased pros and cons.
• Meals are pre-paid
• Each party member can use credits with their magic-band
• There are a lot of options
• The Deluxe plan is excellent for making character and signature dining more accessible
• Prices are similar to what would be paid at time of purchase
• Extra credits at the end of a trip can be used for souvenirs
• Does not save money
• Choices are limited to which restaurants will accept them (not all of them do)
• For some the number of credits is excessive
• You can only take so many Mickey rice crispy treats home with you
Other Important Notes
The dining plan can be a great option for many. My family and I always purchase the package every trip. Yes, even though I don’t like it. We do it because my dad likes to have everything paid for ahead of time, and since he’s paying I’m on board. That being said, we have never used all of our credits. You can check out my much more opinionated article HERE. Before you make your decision I strongly recommend check out THIS LIST OF APPLICABLE DDP RESTURANTS.
That’s it for today folks! Thanks for stopping by! Let me know in the comments what your favorite Disney restaurant is, or what your most looking forward to on your upcoming trip!