Tips from the DFB Guide AND New DFB Video: Is the Disney Dining Plan Worth It?

We are back with some of our very best kept Disney Dining Secrets, courtesy of the 2017 DFB Guide to Walt Disney World Dining, Second Edition. And we want to share them with you! And today’s topic is so big that we’re not just writing about it…we’re sharing a DFB Video about it too!

So what’s this all about? Read on…

The Disney Dining Plan and Other Discounts: Do the Math

It’s a question that we get over and over again: Does the Disney Dining Plan really save me money?

The answer depends heavily on the person asking it, and the people using the benefits. Let’s break it down.

The Disney Dining Plan. Will the Disney Dining Plan save me money? Well, the answer is…maybe. It all depends on how you get it, and how savvy you are as you use it.

Eight Spoon Cafe Menu

Eight Spoon Cafe Menu With Lots of Disney Dining Plan Snack Options

Disney Restaurants, for the most part, operate within very specific ranges of cost per meal. So when you use those Disney Dining Credits, they’ve already pretty much figured out how much, on average, your meal would cost without them.

Oak Fired Filet of Beef

Plan a Visit to California Grill, or One of Our Other Recommended Signature Spots, to Use Those DDP Credits Wisely

But the key, of course, is on average. If you consistently go for the highest priced menu items, and weigh that against the cost of the plan per day, then you’re likely to see some savings. For an idea of what we mean, check out our post listing our top picks for Disney signature restaurants, based upon price.

Boma Tables and Buffet

Boma at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Resort is a Good Choice

But that being said, you still have to tip on the cost of the meal, so will you be paying more in tip based upon a higher meal cost than you would if you weren’t trying to “get your money’s worth”? It’s something to consider.

One thing is for sure: you will lose money on the Disney Dining Plan if you don’t use all of your credits! So be sure to research ahead and book those advance dining reservations. There is nothing worse than having to “eat” those leftover credits.

But What About Free Dining? In recent years, Disney has offered Free Dining Plan promotions in an effort to lure guests during historically low occupancy times. And it’s worked like a charm! Many Disney fans breathlessly await offers of free dining to book their next adventure.

Free Dining is Always a Hit

Free Dining is Always a Hit

But are you saving? Again, it depends. Because here’s the sticky part: Free Dining Deals normally require you to pay full price for your Disney Resort Room, and they also usually require a minimum theme park ticket purchase. If you can find a great deal on a room, or you’re already an Annual Passholder, these deals are unlikely to net you much in the way of savings.

Winnie the Pooh...

Use Your Free DDP to Dine with Winnie the Pooh!

In our 2017 DFB Guide to Walt Disney World Dining, Second Edition, we spend an entire chapter crunching numbers — with and without resort discounts, with and without Free Dining, etc. — to show you exactly how you can save money on the Plan.

Still, some guests think that the real savings of the DDP isn’t in terms of money. Instead, they see it as a time saver, and a way to pre-pay more of the trip’s expenses, thereby freeing up spending money for other things.

Take a look at the video, and at our DFB Guide to WDW Dining e-Book, for more great details!

2017 DFB Guide to WDW Dining Cover March 6

Ready for All of Our Best Tips?

We’ve got TONS of Disney World Dining Tips — including the actual math on whether or not the DDP will save you money — in our big, bold 2017 DFB Guide to Walt Disney World Dining, Second Edition!

With more than 650 pages, the 2017 DFB Guide to Walt Disney World Dining, Second Edition is full of tips and planning tools developed by Disney World experts over 20+ years of visits. We’ve done the research for you, so you’ll know just which spots will uniquely suit your family’s needs!

With sample dining itineraries, plus our “Disney Dining at a Glance” section, featuring “Where Can I Find?” options, you’ll have everything you need to plan your best vacation yet. Click here to get your copy of  the 2017 DFB Guide to Walt Disney World Dining, Second Edition E-book — and use code HAPPYPLACE for a 20% Discount for a limited time!

So now, please weigh in below. Is the Disney Dining Plan worth it to you and yours? Leave a comment and tell us what you think!


  1. Melissa Hester says

    When I crunched the numbers we saved $500 but we eat at table service meals and eat snacks . What snacks we do not eat we use to buy rice crispy treats for when we get home and to give our niece and nephews. We also get the more expensive snacks and the refillable mug saves us from hitting the vending machine each morning and night so that adds up too!
    The main reason o get the DDP is for just the peace of mind it’s paid for and I don’t have to worry about how much everything cost which makes it a true vacation!

  2. Mike V says

    I still think this is not a simple cut and dry I saved this much so it’s worth it.
    I feel that there is more savings with the Quick service plan vs the dining plan.
    When you’re eating out at a sit down restaurant each day what is the value of that time you are using and not on rides? Are you one that even values it? Not to mention the additional price of taxes and gratuity that you have to shell out that is not included with the initial purchase.
    And how do you rate that “I saved XX dollars using the plan?” Would you have purchased that $4 mousse desert had you paid without a plan? Would you have bought 4 32oz drinks if you were not on the plan?
    That’s why I do not think that taking your receipts and subtracting it from what you paid for the plan really works.
    From my experience, if you DO enjoy taking time away from parks and like to sit down whether it be for breakfast lunch or dinner and just compare it to the price you paid to receive that…..You can certainly save quite a bit…..

  3. Susan G. says

    For me buying the dining plan (Quick Service) has never been as much about the money savings as it is about the hassle reduction. It’s so much faster and easier to just tap your MagicBand and keep walking than it is to keep up with cash. And I don’t have to worry about keeping up with what kind of tab I’m running by charging to my resort room account. It’s just all already paid for. Even if I end up paying more for the dining plan, for me it’s still “worth it” for reasons other than financial.

  4. Marc Fox says

    A little off topic today, on the video at 1:48, what restaurant/store is this? I’m guessing it’s somewhere at the Poly, but wanted to ask.

    As to the Dining Plan, for us it’s a (yes) to not worry about food and (no) to saving money.

    Lastly, trip down memory lane…one year the Food & Fun option INCLUDED Victoria & Albert. We couldn’t believe our good fortune!

  5. Lisa P says

    We are the people with all the leftover snacks to talk about!

    I don’t think I’ve ever been able to hit the ‘free dining’ option on time. What should I know to get this? How do you calculate $1500?

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