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Disney Dining Plan FAQs: Kids and the Disney Dining Plan

With the Free Disney Dining Plan for August and September 2012 being announced earlier this week, I figured now was a good time to start up our Walt Disney World Disney Dining Plan FAQ Series!!

Dining With The Characters is a Great Dining Plan Option.

Our illustrious Disney Food for Families columnist, Erin Foster, has worked day and night (night and day) putting together a list of 81 Disney Dining Plan FAQs with thorough answers! (For those new to the Disney Dining Plan, see the specs here.)

You and I get to reap the benefit of her hard work as we post the first installment of our Disney Dining Plan FAQ Series — Kids and the Disney Dining Plan.

The Disney Dining Plan With Kids Under 3 Years Old

A few FAQs for those visiting with a toddler under 3 years old (Disney’s “children” classification begins at age 3 and goes through age 9).

Why can’t my under-three-year-old child can’t be on the dining plan.
That’s just the way it is. You may have a 2-year-old with a voracious appetite who you want to put on the dining plan. I don’t recommend it.

While theoretically you could fudge his age and say he was three, but then you’d be required to purchase theme park tickets for him. (Park entrance free for the under-threes.) It will be MUCH cheaper to just buy your two-year-old his own food at the restaurants.

How do I feed my 2-year-old at a traditional table service restaurant?
At regular table service restaurants, children under the age of three can share your meal.

Taste Test Crew

They will be literally eating from your plate. If you want your child to have their own food, supplemental food, or their own beverage, you’ll have to pay for this separately.

How do I feed my 2-year-old at a quick service restaurant?
At quick service restaurants, children under the age of three can share your meal. They will be literally eating from your plate.

If you want your child to have their own food, supplemental food, or their own beverage, you’ll have to pay for this separately.

How do I feed my 2-year-old at a buffet service restaurant?
At buffet and family-style restaurants, children under age three can “eat from your plate” for free. Don’t take this literally. You can get them their own plate of food. They can eat whatever they want. The child’s beverage is included, you don’t have to pay extra.

Do I have to pay for my 2-year-old’s beverage?
At buffet and family style restaurants, no. At quick service and traditional menu-based restaurants, yes.

The Disney Dining Plan With Kids Ages 3-9

Questions about dining with Disney’s “child” category — kids ages 3-9!

Kids' Turkey Hot Dog Meal

Can children (ages 3-9) on the Dining Plan order from the adult menu at Quick Service meals?
Technically, no. The Dining Plan clearly states that children must order from the children’s menu whenever one exists. In most cases, however, there is no differentiation between adult and child quick service credits. Cast members will not know if any particular credit is being used for an adult or a child.

Let your conscience be your guide on this. Note that this could be changed at any time.

Can children (ages 3-9) on the Dining Plan order from the adult menu at Table Service meals?
No. The Dining Plan clearly states that children must order from the children’s menu whenever one exists.

The good news is that all food is for all people at the buffet-style restaurants. Although buffets have child-friendly sections with items like mac & cheese, chicken nuggets, and pizza, children are not required to limit their food choices to these items. If you have a hungry or adventurous 8-year-old, then the buffets may be a good choice for you.

Are there places where there is no kids’ menu so I don’t have worry about who orders what?
Yes. These are primarily quick service venues, including Toluca Turkey Legs, Casey’s Corner, Sommerfest, Yorkshire County Fish Shop, Main Street Bakery, Golden Oak Outpost, and others. Some table-service locations may also have only one (adult) menu for all guests.

Try the Boma Buffet if you have an adventurous eater

My older child (age 10 or above) doesn’t like anything on the adult menu. Can he order from the children’s menu?
This fairly common occurrence is treated on a case by case basis. Technically, adults (anyone age 10 or over) are supposed to order from the adult menu and kids (ages 3-9) are supposed to order from the kids’ menu.

In practice, if an older child (or actual adult) doesn’t like any of the food on the adult menu, the server may be able to bring a larger-size portion of any of the food on the children’s menu. When this happens, an adult credit will be deducted from your account even though the guest is eating “kid” food.

Dining Together

One great question about whether the whole family needs to eat together.

Do all members of my family have to eat together when we’re on the Disney Dining Plan?
No. Family members can eat at different restaurants at different times. Just make sure a member of the family at each restaurant has their Key to the World card with which to pay.

Stay Tuned For More Disney Dining Plan FAQs!

We’ve got a LOT more where those came from, but hopefully we were able to answer a few of YOUR questions with today’s post in the series!

Have more Disney Dining Plan questions? Let us know what they are and we’ll add them to the list!

Have you ever used the Disney Dining Plan with kids in your party? Let us know some of the experiences you had! You’ll likely help out other guests by sharing your story!

Other Posts You May Enjoy:

30 Comments

  1. marcellina says:

    I think a dining plan primer is a great idea.. it can get kinda confusing sometimes! On our recent trip my son was 13 months old and we had the basic dining plan…. it worked out great for us since the dining plan seemed like a TON of food! Basically everyone in our party would share with the baby and there was still a lot of food left over that didn’t get eaten.

  2. Pudge the Fish says:

    If you are at Disney during free dining, and you have a 9 year old with a adult tastes, just book that child as a 10 year old. That way they can order from the adult menus. Disney will let them order from the child menu too if they prefer to do that one or two nights (anyone can order “down” on the menu they just won’t like you order “up.”) With the dining plan portion free you will only pay for the adult theme park ticket upgrade which is usally about $30. That $30 is money well spent if your 9 year old likes steak, seafood, etc. Additionally this will only work if you do not have airfare on your Disney vacation because new TSA regulations require that you provide a birthdate, therefore preventing you from fudging their age. Just reserve your airfare seperately.

  3. marcellina says:

    what a great tip Pudge.. I’m going to remember that for future clients I work with! thanks!

  4. Pam says:

    We are going to be on the DDP, and I would like to eat at Flying Fish on our upcoming WDW trip. I believe that the kids’ menu at this restaurant will be more appealing to my 11 year old. Thanks for the tip about having an older kid order from the kid’s menu, and just requesting a bigger portion (and charging as an adult credit). I will ask our server if that’s possible : )

  5. Sommery says:

    Our first Disney trip, we got the free dining and upgraded to Deluxe. We were traveling with a 12 year old and an 8 year old. Knowing that my 8 year old daughter would not be content with chicken nuggets, mac & cheese, and hot dogs at every meal I paid careful attention to the kids meals at each restaurant before making adr’s. I found that there are quite a few sit-down restaurants with “different” items on the kids menu. One example off the top of my head is Coral Reef which has a Catch of the Day on the kids menu. Also, sometimes my more picky 12 year old would switch with the 8 year old – both were happy. Even if I have to pay for it, I won’t go to the World without a dining plan. It worked great for us!

  6. MusicologyMm says:

    On our last trip to Walt Disney World with my 2 year old son, all of the table service restaurants allowed us to order off the children’s menu for him at no additional charge. (We had the regular dining plan.)

  7. Rayne says:

    Great article! I just need a little clarification: you refer to “adult” and “child” credits (a differentiation which is also reflected on my dining plan reservations from WDW – it has separate designations for adult and child credits), but you also say that in many places, there is no differentiation. What I’m trying to gauge is, if my family were to order 4 adult meals at a counter service place for our 2 adults and 2 children, would we simply be charged 4 generalized counter service credits, or would be be charged a more-specific “4 adult counter service credits,” leaving us with extra children’s credits (and a shortage of adult ones) by the end of our stay? More specifically, do our key to the world cards contain adult-only or child-only credits, or (to paraphrase Yogi Barra) is a “credit is a credit is a credit”? Or does it simply vary by location?

  8. TinkyMurph says:

    Hey Rayne, the past 2 visits I have had this experience- At Pizza Planet, for example, my family got a table and I stood in line to order. I ordered 4 exact pizza with small side salad meals for 2 adults & 2 kids. My receipt just showed that 4 CS credits had been used. I’m also curious as to whether this is still the case for 2012. Our last visit was December 2011. This happened only at counter service locations, of course.

  9. Eric says:

    @Rayne & TinkyMurph – You are correct. CS meals are not divided into “adult” or “child” categories. There is just a total number of credits for CS meals. TS are divided into “adult” and “child” categories. Technically, you can order any combination of adult or child CS meals. But as AJ said in the article, that could change. But it has been that way since the inception of the DDP in 2005.

  10. canadianslovewdw says:

    with the counter service credits .. your card shows how many of each is in your party.. so they wouldnt let us order 3 adult meals when we had 2 adults and 1 child, but if i ordered 2 adult meals.. then my wife ordered 1 adult meal then it was ok…

  11. canadianslovewdw says:

    the first time we went , most table service restaurants, if not all gave my then 2 year old daughter( 1 month before her 3rd B-day)her own drink and did not charge.. but some said they were supposed to …

  12. Brandy says:

    We had gotten the free dining plan in Dec’11 and upgraded to Deluxe. Since some of our plans fell through we actually used some of our leftover TS&QS credits to get our 1 1/2 yr old his own full meal. It seemed more logical than just letting them go to waste! And this isn’t necessarily a good tip but something we did : )

  13. Sarah says:

    Do yo know if the ‘free’dining plan will extend into October 2012? I really hope so……

  14. Mark says:

    Does anyone know if you go to a table service at a signature restaurant with a 4 yr old who does not like anything on the menu are you forced to use 2 childrens credits or can you just share your plate with them?

  15. Trish says:

    Though frowned upon by the waitress at times, I often went to a table service restaurant with my family of 2 adults and 2 children and I would not order for the children. I had the deluxe dining plan and the kids meals are junk, so we would often just have the kids eat our food. We always stated that it was a waste and we would not order food for the kids because it was too much. Therefore, only 2 meals would be subtracted. Consequentially, we had extra meals for places that took 2 credits per meal. I did not see a distinction between adult and child credits at table service restaurants using the deluxe dining plan. Of course at buffets, they would take away 4 credits for us, but again no distinction was made for adult vs. children. We most likely used our credits for more adult meals than kids meals so my conscience should be feeling guilty, but….

  16. Dee says:

    I made reservations for breakfast at the Wave. They have a kids breakfast menu, but they would prefer to eat off the buffet. Would they be allowed to since there is a kids menu and “buffet” is not listed as an option for them?” We are on DDXD plan.

  17. Michelle says:

    We are going to Disney in August. My daughter will turn 10 on the second day of our trip. Can I still book our dining plan with her being a child? Will anyone question it?

  18. Pudge the Fish says:

    Michelle, it has always been my understanding that the tickets and dining plan cost is based upon the child’s age at check in. Keep in mind that people will question her age if she decides to wear a birthday pin. And if booked as a nine year old then she must order from the child menu at any table service restaurant.

  19. Gem says:

    The info above is fantastic. I have a question about Table Service Credits..
    I am hoping to put our children into the clubs in the hotels so my new husband and I can go out for a romantic meal.
    If we were to use two credits that night, would there be ‘credits’ left over, or ‘child credits’?
    As if we could utilise two meals out of it, that would be fantastic!

  20. AJ says:

    Gem — For table service, the credits are separated out into child and adult credits, so you’d have “child credits” left over after using adult credits for a signature meal.

  21. What if you choose to go to an ADR “buffet” restaurant and your children are not hungry? Must I lose a table service credit? Also, there are a few places we adults like to eat, but the children hate the choices. I have always used a table service credit even if I fed them ahead of time. It would be nice to reserve the credits for a meal they will actually eat

  22. Kristina says:

    Does anyone know when the 2014 Disney Dining Plan Participants will be announced? I know that July 10th is the magic day when the packages for 2014 will be announced, and I was so hoping they’d release 2014 Dining Plan info that day as well. I’m hoping there are no major changes from 2013 – 2014!

  23. Grant says:

    My question is can my wife and I buy the deluxe dining plan and buy my daughter who is 7 years old the standard plan?

  24. Sommery says:

    I believe everyone booked in your room has to be on the same plan. So if you and your wife are on Deluxe Dining, your daughter would also be on Deluxe Dining.

  25. Victoria says:

    The disney trip we r planning (our first!) we will have 4 Children under 8 and our youngest will b turning 3 literally at the time (aug/sept) we r planning to visit. He is a small guy so I anticipated issues w rides and he doesn’t eat much. Is it better to save on resorts tickets and food and go on the earlier side of our time window with a 2 year old? I like saving money like any mom and we have some flexibility I’m just afraid of disadvantages or exclusions that make make him feel left out or anything. Any input would b greatly appreciated!

  26. Andrea says:

    We encountered a terrible experience. We have a 15 year old with Autism who only wants to order from children’s menu. We asked for the children’s menu and the manager refused to provide a children’s menu to someone over 9. He was very adamant about that policy regardless of being informed that the child has an autism spectrum disorder. This was at Epcot Italy.

  27. AJ says:

    Andrea — Thanks so much for sharing your experience!

  28. mandy says:

    I am wondering if I will have the same problem on our upcoming vacation. My son is 11 yrs old and autistic, and there are some things on the adult menu at TS places that he would not want to eat. We planning on using the Regular Dining Plan so I am hoping i can get our servers to let him order from the childs menu and I will gladly let them take off an adult credit for them, bc at times he came eat like an adult if its the right food.

  29. A.S. says:

    I have a similar question. My 11 y/o (by trip time) mostly wants to eat kids menu items. I am willing and ready to pay the higher Adult rate from the DDP or possibly go OOP. I am not trying to cheat the system. But the big question: would they even let her order from the kids menu? Is there a rule of OOP that a kids meal cannot be ordered if over 9 years old?

  30. Andrea says:

    You will want to speak to a Disney representative about your situation when it comes to fine dining. The problem didn’t occur for buffet meals, hotel cafe, or fast food meals. When fine dining they were hesitant, but accepted the fact that she ordered from kids menu except for the Italian restaurant that refused. O Canada was very accommodating and will return in future.

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