Disney Dining, DIsney Vacation Tips

Disney Dining Plan 2024 – The good, the bad & the tasty!

Disney Dining Plan 2024 – The good, the bad & the tasty – Jodi at Timeless Tales Travel shares all her tips and favourite things about dining on the plan

Have you ever wondered about the Disney Dining Plan?  Is it “worth it”?  Should you try it?  My family tested it out and I have all the juicy details to share!

Look for this symbol for eligible Disney Dining Plan options!

 

What is the Disney Dining Plan anyway? 

Disney offers two different plans, depending on your family’s needs and eating habits. We used the regular Disney Dining Plan for our 7-night stay, and each of us received 7 table service credits, 7 quick service credits, 7 snack credits and a refillable mug for coffee/soda at our resort. For my family of four with two adults and two kiddos under 9 the cost was $1,740 USD.

Satu’li Canteen, Quick Service lunch

We used every credit and tried to maximize the plan to get the most value out of it. I kept track of all the numbers as we went along, and in the end, without the plan, we would have spent $2,260 USD. 

We saved more than $500 USD – woot! But how did we do it?

Jungle Navigation Co. LTD Skipper Canteen, table service lunch

Here’s a breakdown of what we would have spent if not on the plan:

  • Garden Grill dinner, Epcot – $260 USD
  • Ohana dinner, Polynesian Resort – $255 USD
  • Garden Rocks Dining Package at Biergarten, Epcot – $225 USD
  • Fantasmic! Dining Package at 50’s Prime Time Cafe, Hollywood Studios – $200 USD
  • Topolino’s Terrace breakfast, Riviera Resort – $200 USD
  • Chef Art Smith’s Homecomin’, Disney Springs – 190 USD
  • Jungle Navigation Co. LTD Skipper Canteen, Magic Kingdom – $155 USD
  • Quick Service meals – $492 USD 
  • Snacks – $183 USD
  • Refillable mugs – $100 USD

 

How to maximize the Disney Dining Plan

Enjoy character meals and buffets

These meals are generally more expensive than other restaurants. We dined at two character meals (Topolino’s Terrace and Garden Grill) and two additional buffet dinners (Biergarden and Ohana).

Topolino’s Terrace, character breakfast

Take advantage of special dining packages 

Some are included with the Dining Plan, while others aren’t – so look closely! These packages not only include dinner, but also tickets to special seating for a variety of different shows.  Without the Dining Plan these meals are more expensive than a regular meal at the same restaurant, but with the Dining Plan most are only one table service credit.

 

Enjoy an alcoholic beverage with as many meals as possible! 

Docking Bay 7 at Hollywood Studios was a particularly good value quick service restaurant with lunch, including two adult beverages, at $90 USD.

 

Look for snacks that are over $6 – $7 USD

Some items considered snacks can be as little as $2.25 USD, like a popcorn bucket refill.  Pay out of pocket for those small expenses, and save your credits for a bigger bang for your buck!

Avoid restaurant’s that cost TWO table service credits 

Some character meals and signature restaurants like Cinderella’s Royal Table will cost TWO table service credits. While these experiences are certainly wonderful, if you’re looking for value, they’re not worth double the credits.

Bonus Tip!

Casey’s Corner is a special gem for families with kids 9 and under!  Since they don’t offer a kids menu, you can use a kids credit for an adult-size meal, including the delicious Mint Julep specialty drink!  This was especially great at Magic Kingdom since the quick service locations at this park don’t serve alcohol, so saving the adult credits for other parks makes sense.

What did we love about the Disney Dining Plan?

Savings

Clearly we saw savings, and we LOVE that!

Ohana, Table Service Dinner

 

All inclusive feel

It was great to not have to think about how much we were spending on food, or what our bill would look like at the end of the trip, since everything was paid for in advance.  That was a HUGE bonus!

 

Trying new restaurants

We likely wouldn’t have eaten at so many restaurants, enjoyed multiple character meals or chosen some of the restaurants we did if we were paying out of pocket. But I’m so glad we did! We LOVED the meals at Garden Grill and Ohana, which we likely would not have tried without the Dining Plan.

 

Guilt free

I didn’t feel guilty ordering the most expensive items on the menu.

All the desserts & cocktails

Normally my family doesn’t order dessert at restaurants, and I rarely order a cocktail, but this time they came with our meals, and it was wonderful to indulge!

 

What didn’t we like about the Disney Dining Plan?

Too much food!

Overall, it was WAY too much food – we didn’t need to eat that often or that much.

A lack of flexibility 

There were snacks and drinks we would have enjoyed, but they weren’t included in the plan and we had so many credits to use, we didn’t want to pay out of pocket for extra items. 

Topolino’s Terrace, kids breakfast

Topolino’s Terrace, Breakfast Bread Service

 

A lot of planning

Now I’m a travel planner by profession, but this was a lot of planning, even for me! I felt like I had to not only make dining reservations for our table service meals, but also plan our quick service meals in advance, to ensure we would use all the credits before the end of the week. Sometimes we weren’t hungry, but we still ate in order to use the credits. It took some of the spontaneity out of the trip.  

 

 

 

Final Thoughts

Overall, would we do it again? Maybe! It really depends on the vacation we envision.  If we want to go hard and ride all the rides, see all the attractions, and have the flexibility to do what we want when we want, then I’d probably skip the Dining Plan and eat ad hoc around the rides and attractions.  But if we want a more relaxing trip, with time to slow down, mellow out, and enjoy good eats and drinks, I would definitely do it again!  

Also – if you’re travelling with teenagers or guests with an insatiable appetite, the Dining Plan is the way to go!

If you’re thinking of taking a Disney vacation and you want all the ins and outs about the Dining Plan, and all the other exciting opportunities and options that can be part of a magical Disney holiday, I’d love to help plan it!

Jodi Serwatuk, Travel Planner, Disney & Universal destinations at Timeless Tales Travel

 

 

 

Follow me on Facebook – facebook.com/JodiatTimelessTalesTravel

Reach out for a Quote – https://www.timelesstalestravel.com/agents/jodi-serwatuk/ 

Email me for more information about my planning services – [email protected]

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