Disney World offers a lot of great food, but let’s face it: It can be expensive. One way to make prices easier to (you’ll have to forgive the pun) stomach is to purchase a dining plan. Not only is everything paid for in advance, which means you don’t have to think about costs, but if you use it wisely, you really can come out ahead financially. We know the dining plan can be confusing—we were all newbies once too. To make it a little easier to follow, let’s start at the very beginning.
There are five types of dining plans at Disney World: Platinum, premium, deluxe, base (also known as regular or plus) and the quick-service plan. The premium and platinum plans are more than just food. They offer various experiences as well, everything from spa treatments to babysitting. Most people get the last three plans and those are the ones that I’m going to talk about here.
1. The Quick-Service Plan. The least expensive plan is the quick-service meal plan, which costs $34.99 for adults and $11.99 for children 9 and under. With this plan you’ll get two snacks (this will change to one snack in 2012), 2 quick-service meals, and a refillable mug that you can use for unlimited drink refills at your resort. A quick-service meal consists of one entree, one non-alcoholic beverage, and one dessert per person per each night of your stay.
2. The Base Meal Plan. Probably the best buy for your money, the base meal plan costs $45.99 for adults and $11.99 for children ages 9 and under ($47.99 and $12.99 respectively for peak season). Under the base plan you’ll get one table-service credit, one counter-service credit, and one snack per person for each night of your stay. The quick-service meal is outlined above. For the table-service meal under the base plan, you’ll get an entree, a non-alcoholic drink, and a dessert. In 2012, this plan will come with a refillable mug.
3. The Deluxe Dining Plan. The deluxe plan is pricey, at $78.99 for adults and $21.99 for children 9 and under, but it’s a good choice for those who want to try Disney’s more expensive restaurants. You’ll get two snacks and three table-service credits per person per each night of your stay. You’ll also get a refillable mug to use at your resort and an appetizer with your table-service meals under this plan. This plan offers a lot of flexibility as far as types of restaurants are concerned, but you’ll need to make your dining reservations early if you use it. On any given day, you could eat at a character meal in the morning for one table-service credit and at night, spend two table service credits at a Disney signature restaurant like Citricos. You can also exchange one of those table-service credits for a quick-service credit if you’re running short on time.
We hear certain questions a lot. Here are the most common ones:
When can you use your points?
You can use your points as soon as you check into your resort right up until midnight on the day of check-out.
How can I keep track of my points?
You’ll see them right on the receipt that you get when you pay for your food.
Are the points per day or per night?
This is the number one question we get. Points correspond to the number of nights you’re staying on site. So if you’ve book a resort for five nights and you’re getting the base plan, you’ll get five table-service credits, five quick-service credits, and five-snacks per person per each night of your stay.
Does everyone on the reservation need to be on the dining plan?
Yes. If they are on the reservation, they’ll need to be on the plan.
Are tips included on the plan?
No. You’ll still need to tip for good service. Parties of six or more will have an automatic gratuity of 18% added to their check, regardless of whether you are on the meal plan or not.
The Disney dining plan can be an economical, easy way to enjoy and explore Disney food. In future posts, we’ll discuss how to get the most out of your money and which plan will work best for you.