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Disney Dining Plan Hacks

Last Updated on July 26, 2020

If you're on the Disney Dining plan these hacks will show you how to do it like a pro! #disneyworld #disneydiningplan #disney

Are you ready for the next installment in our Dining Plan Tips series? Today we’re looking at the different things you can do to maximize the value of the Disney Dining Plan.

The real value of the plan lies not in the money saved, but in the stress saved.  

Turning Disney World into an all inclusive resort ups the fun and relaxation factor considerably. So, buy the dining plan, keep the values of each credit in the back of your mind, and don’t worry about having to take out your credit card.

There are two main ways to get the most out of your Dining Plan credits. The first is to order food that is more than the value of a credit, and the second is to stretch your credits to make them go further.

‘The Standard’ Disney Dining Plan

Guests who stay at a Walt Disney World Resort hotel are eligible to purchase a Disney Dining Plan. The plans provide a certain number of credits to each person in the resort room. These credits can be redeemed at over 200 table and counter service restaurants across the parks and resorts. There are a few different dining plans: Quick Service, Standard and Deluxe.

The Quick-Service Dining Plan includes only fast food-style counter service meals, and the Deluxe Dining Plan comes at a premium price and includes extras like wine and more than one table service meal every day.

What are the Dining Plan Options?

The Quick Service Dining Plan (as of 2019) offers:

  • Two Quick Service Meals (each includes one entree and one beverage)
  • Two Snacks
  • One Refillable Resort Mug

The Standard Disney Dining Plan offers:

  • One Table Service Meal (includes one entree, one beverage, and one dessert OR one full buffet)
  • One Quick Service Meal (includes one entree and one beverage)
  • Two Snacks
  • One Refillable Resort Mug

Dining Plan Plus offers:

  • 2 meals – any combination of table service and quick service meal for each night of your stay
  • 2 snacks/non-alcoholic drinks
  • 1 refillable resort mug

The Deluxe Dining Plan offers:

  • Three Meals (redeemable interchangeably at Quick Service or Table Service locations)
  • Two Snacks
  • One Refillable Resort Mug

Note that your dining credits are for each night of your stay, not each day. This will come into play for our strategy later. In the meantime, let’s see how to get the most out of that refillable mug.

The refillable mug bundled into the price of your Disney Dining Plan retails for $18.99, but it’s actually worth so much more — if you do it right.

For a six-night stay, this mug averages out to a cost of $3.16 per day.

Fountain beverages average about $3.99 (price varies per location) per 16 ounces, so you’re already saving on that first drink. But don’t just snag a pop with dinner. If you grab a coffee in the morning, a soda during your afternoon pool/nap time and hot chocolate in the evening, your mug is worth $11.97 in drinks per day.

If you're on the Disney Dining plan these hacks will show you how to do it like a pro! #disneyworld #disneydiningplan #disney

Get the most bang for your buck

Now you know how much your credits are worth, you can choose items from the menu that have a higher dollar cost to maximize your value.

As a quick reminder:

  • Quick Service credits (QS) are worth around $18
  • Table Service credits (TS )are worth around $41 (more if you’re on the deluxe plan as an appetizer is also included)
  • Snack credits are worth around $5

Disney’s Signature Restaurants are not worth 2 Disney Dining Credits

Never use the Disney Dining Plan for Disney’s signature restaurants – Le Cellier, Hollywood Brown Derby, etc. These restaurants use up TWO table service credits per person so instead of getting two $50 meals, you’re only getting one $50-75 meal.

Cinderella’s Royal Table is the only exception, since the meals are so incredibly expensive.

Payout of pocket for cheap meals

Sometimes, a meal is not worth using your credits on and you are better paying cash for it. This hack only works if you are planning on going over your credit allotment and need to decide which meals/snacks to pay out of pocket. Clearly, you want to pay for the cheap meals/snacks in cash and use your “free” credits for the expensive stuff.

Be sure to double check which snacks/meals are eligable since not EVERYTHING at Disney qualifies for Dining Plan – looking at your Star Wars.

If you're on the Disney Dining plan these hacks will show you how to do it like a pro! #disneyworld #disneydiningplan #disney

Ask for a smoothie or shake

If you don’t want an alcoholic drink, don’t think that you’re stuck with soda. You can usually ask for a smoothie or a shake as your “included” drink with your meal, which is obviously better value than soda.

Dining Packages

There are several dining packages available through Disney’s Advanced Dining Reservations that are separate from your standard reservations. These dining packages include VIP seating for nighttime spectaculars; tickets are included in the cost if you are using dining credits, but they are a surcharge if paying out of pocket.

For example, if you book the Fantastic package at Mama Melrose it costs just one table service credit, but you get an appetizer as well as your entree and drink AND you get reserved seating for that evening’s Fantastic show! If you plan on eating at these restaurants (because there are more than one restaurant per Park offering dining packages) and watching the evening show on the same day, make sure to select the dining package option when making dining reservations.

If you're on the Disney Dining plan these hacks will show you how to do it like a pro! #disneyworld #disneydiningplan #disney

Quick service to snack Credit

Quick Service credits aren’t separated into kid or adult categories, so you can get adult meals for your child. You can also use 1 Quick Service credit to purchase 3 DDP-eligible snacks, as long as they’re done all in the same transaction at the dining location

While you can convert Quick Service credits to Snack credits, unfortunately, this does not work the other way around.

Eat with the characters.

Character meals are by far the best way to use a meal credit. You are eating, relaxing, and visiting characters, all the while, not standing outside in a 2 hour queue. It’s a win, win, win!

While character breakfasts are a pretty good value for your credits, the best way to maximize your table service credits is to eat dinner with the characters. The food costs more and it’s higher quality too.

Keep in mind, not all restaurants have characters for every meal, or they change characters throughout the day.

If you're on the Disney Dining plan these hacks will show you how to do it like a pro! #disneyworld #disneydiningplan #disney

Breakfast Snacks credits

Using a dining credit for breakfast usually means getting less than face value worth of food. Unless you are on the Deluxe plan, you also will only get enough dining credits for 2 meals, and 2 snack credits. This tends to leave breakfast alone and forgotten.

Instead of skipping breakfast altogether, because you need that energy in the Parks, have a quick bite in your room through grocery delivery and have a snack-based breakfast. There are a ton of great “healthy” options available in the parks, as long as you are willing to wait until Park opening to eat.

If you're on the Disney Dining plan these hacks will show you how to do it like a pro! #disneyworld #disneydiningplan #disney
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