The Disney dining plan is super simple: use your credits like you would use money. Your credits are stored on your Magic Band and are good from the moment you check in until midnight the night you check out. The great thing about the plan is that you can use it at just about every location where food is sold (even where you buy snacks). Nearly everything on the menu at your favorite restaurant is included, so you can order whatever you like.
Here are some basics for beginners (or for those who need to brush up), starting with the three types of plans:
QUICK-SERVICE DINING PLAN:
What does it include: Two table-service meals, two snacks, and one refillable drink mug per person (age 3 and up) for each night of your stay.
- Young families who are not interested in character dining and who worry that their children won’t want to sit through a longer meal.
- Park “commandos” who don’t want to take time out for a sit down meal.
DISNEY DINING PLAN:
What does it include:
One table-service meal, one quick-service meal, two snacks, and one refillable drink mug per person (age 3 and up) for each night of your stay.
- Guests who want an “all inclusive” option.
- Guests who will do one or two character meals per trip.
- Guests who want to prepay for meals and snacks and not worry.
DISNEY DELUXE DINING PLAN:
What does it include:
Three meal credits of your choice. This means you can use a “meal” credit for a quick-service or a table-service meal: they’re all the same. You’ll also get an appetizer with each meal (not included in the regular Disney Dining Plan), plus two snacks and one refillable drink mug per person for each night of your stay.
- Guests who want a true all-inclusive experience.
- Adults or families with older children wanting to try more signature dining experiences.
- Guests who do not tour “commando” style.
While this dining plan offers guests the best option for experiencing the many aspects of Disney dining, some guests think it’s just too much food. Okay, so maybe you’re like me and you think to yourself “How is this even possible?” Well, it happens. Keep in mind that you can often take the foodie approach by augmenting the regular Disney Dining Plan with paying out of pocket for lower priced meals and using your dining credits for the more expensive options.
WHAT DOES A MEAL INCLUDE?
At quick-service locations, it’s a drink and an entrée. And table-service locations, it’s a drink, entrée, and dessert. You may also order an appetizer on the Deluxe Dining Plan.
Buffets and family style meals are all you can eat and include whatever is on the buffet/table plus your drink and dessert.
HOW DO I USE IT:
Your entire room will pool their credits. Say you are visiting Disney for 5 nights and you have a room of 4 people, two of which are children under the dining plan, defined as someone ages 3 to 9. You’ll have 10 adult table service credits and 10 children’s table service credits. You can use those credits however you like. In other words, say one of the children doesn’t go to dinner that night. He or she can use that credit another day (or another child on the reservation can use it). Or say dad isn’t hungry and you’re all at dinner. He orders the soup. Obviously you don’t want to waste a table service credit on a bowl of soup, so everyone will order their meal and pay with credits except dad, who will pay out of pocket. Servers are experienced with some guests on the same reservation paying with cash and others paying with credits, so you don’t have to worry about causing confusion or extra work.
The same goes for snacks and quick-service credits, although those credits aren’t differentiated by age, so buy your 7-year old whatever she likes (hint: It’s probably a Mickey Bar).
As noted above, the credits act just like money in the sense that you may use them however you please and are not required to use them each day or lose them. This means that you can eat at a Disney signature restaurant (a restaurant that takes two credits) and the next not have a table-service meal. In theory you can use all your credits up in one day, although that would make for a pretty quick trip to Urgent Care.
One way that credits don’t act like money is regarding the actual cost of the meal. Eating at a one credit restaurant? Use your credit to buy a $20 dinner salad or a $38 steak. It’s all the same on the dining plan. It’s the same for snacks, so don’t buy the $3.50 bottle of water; the $5.75 cupcake is a better deal.
Currently, adults 21 and over can get an alcoholic beverage in place of their regular drink at meals, both quick and table-service. Those under 21 can get a speciality, non-alcoholic beverage, including a specialty shake but not, for example, a drink in a souvenir cup. A few more tips for buying alcoholic beverages on the plan:
- Disney knows that you’re thinking: You can’t “store up” credits and go on a bender at the end of your trip! It’s one per meal per guest.
- However, members of your family who are 21 and over may order a drink with their meal and pass it onto someone else, provided that individual is 21 or over.
- Most drinks are included but some higher priced brands are not. So shots, beer, wine, even mixed drinks are included, but something like a shot in a beer is not. Your server will have more guidance.
- If you choose this route, you can’t get a soda or tea with your meal unless you pay extra for it.
LAST BUT NOT LEAST:
- You’ll purchase your refillable drink mug from the quick-service location at your resort. Just bring the mugs up to the counter. They’ll ring them up and then apply the cost to your dining plan.
- You’ll still need to pay tips–those can paid with the card attached to your Magic Band or some other form of payment.
- If you have too many credits at the end of your trip (how does this happen??) you can “pay it forward” and make a little magic for someone else by purchasing someone else’s meal/snack. It’s not an official policy but cast member’s won’t stop you from paying for a stranger’s meal.
- Snack credits work at most food kiosks at Epcot (Food and Wine, Flower and Garden, etc). You can also use a quick-service credit for three items, but you’ll have to get all those items at the same kiosk.