The Disney Dining Plan can be a great way for many folks to increase both the quantity and variety of their food consumption at Walt Disney World. That’s all good in our book!
But the Dining Plan does have some nuances that can be confusing to first (or second, or third) time users.
To see an overall description of Disney Dining Plans, visit our Disney Dining Plan page. Here are the answers to some Frequently Asked Questions about the Disney Dining Plan to help you sort it all out.
What exactly is the Disney Dining Plan?
The Disney Dining Plan is a method of pre-paying for meals at Walt Disney World. There are several versions of the Plan at different price points to suit different needs. When you purchase the Disney Dining Plan, you will be issued “Dining Plan credits.” These will be computer encoded onto your MagicBand or RFID-enabled Key to the World card, which is also your room key. When paying for food at a Disney restaurant, your server will scan your MagicBand and tell her that you are paying with Dining Plan credits instead of paying with cash. Dining Plan credits will be deducted from your account.
Who can purchase the Disney Dining Plan?
The Disney Dining Plan can only be purchased by guests staying at an on-site Walt Disney World owned/operated hotel. This does not include guests staying at the non-Disney-owned Swan & Dolphin, Shades of Green, or International Drive hotels.
Can I get the Disney Dining Plan if I’m not staying at a Disney hotel?
No, sorry. Only guests staying at the following hotels may purchase the Disney Dining Plan: All-Star Movies, All-Star Music, All-Star Sports, Animal Kingdom Lodge and Villas, Art of Animation, Beach Club and Villas, BoardWalk Inn and Villas, Caribbean Beach, Contemporary and Bay Lake Tower Villas, Coronado Springs, Fort Wilderness, Grand Floridian and Villas, Old Key West, Polynesian Village and Villas, Pop Century, Port Orleans French Quarter and Port Orleans Riverside, Saratoga Springs, Wilderness Lodge and Villas, and Yacht Club.
How do I buy the Dining Plan?
The Disney Dining Plan must be purchased as part of a Magic Your Way package which includes your Disney hotel stay, theme park tickets, and the Dining Plan. There are some modifications to this requirement for Disney Vacation Club members and Walt Disney World annual pass holders. Unless you are a DVC member or AP holder, you can ONLY get the Disney Dining Plan if you also purchase a hotel stay and park tickets as a package. You can buy a Magic Your Way package on the Walt Disney World website, over the phone at 407-WDW-MAGIC, or through an authorized travel agent or vacation planner.
Can I get the Disney Dining Plan if I buy my park tickets from an authorized reseller or other vendor?
No. You have to buy all three components as a package: room, Dining Plan, and park tickets.
Can I decide to get the Dining Plan after I’ve arrived at Walt Disney World?
No. The Disney Dining Plan must be added to your reservation prior to arriving at Walt Disney World, usually at least 48 hours in advance.
I already have a room reservation. Can I add the Dining Plan?
Possibly. It is often, but not always, possible to add the Disney Dining Plan to an existing room reservation. To discuss the particulars of your situation, call Disney directly at 407-WDW-MAGIC. Be prepared with your room reservation confirmation number.
What’s a “credit”?
Credits are the unit of currency of the Disney Dining Plan. There are table service credits, quick service credits, and snack credits. In general, a credit equals one meal or snack. See “two-credit meals” below for exceptions to this rule.
What does “table service” mean?
A table service restaurant is one in which you are seated by a host/hostess at a specific table and have some portion of your meal brought to you by a server. At Walt Disney World, buffet-style meals are considered table service because of both the extensive amount of food available and the fact that a server brings your drinks and clears your table.
Generally you can, and should, make reservations for table service meals.
At a table service meal, you pay your server at the end of the meal, after he or she brings you a bill.
What is a quick service restaurant?
A quick service (also called counter service) restaurant is one in which you place an order at a walk-up counter. You pay for your meal before you eat it (with the exception of Pepper Market at Coronado Springs where you pay as you leave). You are given your food on a tray which you carry yourself to a seating area. You are responsible for clearing your own table at the end of the meal. Reservations are neither required nor accepted at quick service venues. An out-of-Disney equivalent would be a fast food restaurant or a mall food court.
What Dining Plans are available?
There are five different versions of the dining plan: Quick Service Dining Plan, Dining Plan, Deluxe Dining Plan, Premium Dining Plan, and Platinum Dining Plan.
What is the Quick Service Dining Plan?
Guests on the Quick Service Plan receive: Two quick service meal credits and one snack credit per person, per night of your package. Additionally, each member of the party will receive one refillable resort mug good for use during the length of the package. Children under the age of three are not eligible to participate in the plan.
What is the regular Disney Dining Plan?
Guests on the regular Disney Dining Plan receive: One quick service meal credit, one table service meal credit, and one snack credit per person, per night of your package. Additionally, each member of the party will receive one refillable resort mug good for use during the length of the package. Children under the age of three are not eligible to participate in the plan.
What is the Deluxe Disney Dining Plan?
Guests on the Deluxe Disney Dining Plan receive: Three meal credits and two snack credits per person, per night of your package. The meal credits may be used on table service or quick service meals. Additionally, each member of the party will receive one refillable resort mug good for use during the length of the package. Children under the age of three are not eligible to participate in the plan.
What is the Premium Dining Plan?
Guests on the Premium Dining Plan receive: Three meal credits and two snack credits per person, per night of your package. The meal credits may be used on table service or quick service meals. Additionally, each member of the party will receive one refillable resort mug good for use during the length of the package. Children under the age of three are not eligible to participate in the plan. Pizza delivery costs two meal credits. A huge benefit is that signature dining, in-room dining, etc. only cost 1 table service credit rather than two!
In addition to food, guests on the Premium Dining Plan receive: Unlimited selected recreation, including golf, golf lessons, miniature golf, guided fishing excursions, parasailing, water skiing, wake boarding, watercraft rentals, bike rentals, cane pole fishing, tennis, horseback trail rides, pony ride, horse-drawn carriage rides, and archery. Some restrictions may apply and advance reservations may be required. Premium plan guests also get unlimited admission to select theme park tours, a Cirque du Soleil ticket for each person, as well as admission to the children’s activity centers.
What is the Platinum Dining Plan?
Guests on the Platinum Dining Plan receive: Three meal credits and two snack credits per person, per night of your package. The meal credits may be used on table service or quick service meals. Additionally, each member of the party will receive one refillable resort mug good for use during the length of the package. Children under the age of three are not eligible to participate in the plan. Pizza delivery costs two meal credits. A huge benefit is that signature dining, in-room dining, etc. only cost 1 table service credit rather than two!
In addition to food, guests on the Premium Dining Plan receive: Unlimited selected recreation, including golf, golf lessons, miniature golf, guided fishing excursions, parasailing, water skiing, wake boarding, watercraft rentals, bike rentals, cane pole fishing, tennis, horseback trail rides, pony ride, horse-drawn carriage rides, and archery. Some restrictions may apply and advance reservations may be required. Premium plans guests also get unlimited admission to select theme park tours, a Cirque du Soleil ticket for each person, admission to the children’s activity centers, spa treatments, PhotoPass products, and more.
There are also additional dining options, such as Victoria & Albert’s, that are not on the Premium Plan.
Whoa, the Premium and Platinum plans sound amazing, anything else cool about them?
There is no such thing as one or two credit meals on these plans. All meals are created equal, no matter where you want to dine. Nice!
What counts as a meal?
The definition of a meal varies depending on what time of day it is and which version of the dining plan you’re on.
For the Quick Service Dining Plan, adults and children, a breakfast meal consists of an entree and one non-alcoholic beverage. In this situation, you could get (for example) juice OR coffee with your meal, but not both.
For the Quick Service Dining Plan, adults and children, a lunch or dinner meal consists of an entree, dessert, and one non-alcoholic beverage.
For the regular Disney Dining Plan, adults and children using their quick service credit, a breakfast meal consists of an entree and one non-alcoholic beverage. In this situation, you could get (for example) juice OR coffee with your meal, but not both.
For the regular Disney Dining Plan, adults and children using their quick service credit, a lunch or dinner meal consists of an entree, dessert, and one non-alcoholic beverage.
For the regular Disney Dining Plan, adults and children using their table service credit, a breakfast meal consists of an entree and one non-alcoholic beverage OR one full buffet.
For the regular Disney Dining Plan, adults and children using their table service credit, a lunch or dinner meal consists of an entree, dessert, and one non-alcoholic beverage OR one full buffet.
For the Deluxe, Premium, and Platinum Disney Dining Plans, adults and children, a breakfast meal consists of an entree and one non-alcoholic beverage OR one full buffet.
For the Deluxe, Premium, and Platinum Disney Dining Plans, adults and children a lunch or dinner meal consists of an appetizer, entree, dessert, and one non-alcoholic beverage OR one full buffet.
Tell me again how my credits are calculated?
Dining Plan credits are allotted based on the number of NIGHTS of your stay. For example, if you arrive at WDW at 10:00 a.m. on Monday and leave at 7:00 p.m. on Friday, even though you will have spent the better part of five days on site, you have only spent four NIGHTS at WDW. In this example, if you are on the basic (standard) Disney Dining Plan, you will receive four snack credits, four quick service meal credits, and four table service meal credits to use during your stay.
How can I tell how many credits I’ve already used?
This will be printed on your receipt for every meal. The receipt will show how many credits you’ve used and how many are remaining in your account. You are also welcome to stop by the concierge desk of your hotel at any time for a printout of your dining activity.
How much does it cost?
Remember, you must add a Disney Dining Plan to a Magic Your Way Vacation Package.
$60.64 per night per adult ages 10 and up
$19.23 per night per children ages 3-9
Quick Service DDP:
$41.99 per night ages 10 and up
$16.03 per night age 3 to 9
$109.53 per night ages 10 and up
$29.86 per night ages 3 to 9
$194/adult per day ages 10 and up
$144/child per day ages 3 to 9
$254 per adult per day ages 10 and up
$184 per child per day ages 3 to 9
Prices include tax and are subject to change.
The basic Dining Plan seems like not enough food, but the Deluxe Plan seems like too much. What do I do?
Any time you are on the Dining Plan, you are welcome to supplement your eating by paying for more food out of pocket. It’s quite common for guests on the Quick Service plan to supplement their dining by paying cash for a nice table service meal or character breakfast. If the Deluxe Plan seems like too much, you’re likely to be better off getting the basic plan and just buying more food as needed.
I have the basic Dining Plan, can I downgrade to the Quick Service plan? Can I upgrade to the deluxe plan?
Depending on how you booked your package, it may be possible to upgrade or downgrade the type of dining plan you’ve selected. You should make any changes at least 48 hours in advance of your trip (preferably longer). To discuss the specifics of your situation, you’ll have to contact Disney directly at 407-WDW-MAGIC.
My husband is a big eater and I am not. Can we get the deluxe plan for him and the basic plan for me?
No. All guests staying in the same room must be on the same version of the Dining Plan.
I’m going to be sharing a room with a sorority sister. She doesn’t want the dining plan, but I do, can we make this happen?
No. All guests staying in the same room must either have the dining plan or not have the dining plan.
Can I get the Dining Plan for more or fewer days than my hotel stay?
No. The Dining Plan can only be arranged for the exact number of NIGHTS of your hotel package. The only way around this would be to split your reservation. For example, if you’ll be staying at a WDW hotel for five nights, but only want the Dining Plan for three nights (because, say, you’re going to visit Universal Studios and Sea World), you could make two different room/package reservations. One for three nights and one for two. However, be aware that your Dining Plan credits would only be valid for the package part of your stay. This means that you would only be able to use the credits on the first three consecutive days of your trip.
In a variation of this, it turns out that you CAN get a package which includes the Disney Dining Plan, but has park tickets with a fewer number of days than your hotel stay. For example, you could stay for four nights, get a four night dining plan, but only get two days worth of park tickets.
How do I know where I can eat on the Disney Dining Plan?
When you check in to your hotel, you will be given a brochure that lists all your dining options. It can be helpful to know this information in advance so that you can make dining reservations. The brochures are also available on the Walt Disney World website. There were significant additions to the Disney Dining Plan in 2012. You can now eat almost anywhere on property using the dining plan, with the notable exception of the restaurants at the Swan and Dolphin hotels. The Swan & Dolphin are not owned by Disney and do not participate in the Dining Plan.
I don’t understand why I don’t get credits for my under-three-year-old child.
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. Don’t do it. While theoretically you could fudge his age and say he is three, you would then be required to purchase theme park tickets for him. (Park entrance is 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 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.
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 traditional table service restaurant?
At regular table 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.
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.
What is a “snack”?
There are hundreds of different snacks available in Disney’s parks and resorts, from the basic bottle of water, to international treats like Norwegian school bread. Snacks are identified by a little purple and white checkerboard symbol.
Some examples of eligible snack options are: ice cream novelty bar, cup of soup, plain caramel apple, counter-service restaurant menu side items, single-serve popcorn box, whole fruit, 12 oz coffee or tea, single-serve prepackaged milk or juice, 20 oz bottled soft drink or water, or a 20 oz fountain soft drink. But keep your eye out for the purple and white checkerboard, great snack options are everywhere.
Items such as hot dogs, corn dogs, or turkey legs are considered quick service meals, not snacks.
I’ve heard that breakfast can be a snack.
There are many items that qualify as snacks that are typically thought of as breakfast foods. These include some single-serving muffins, bagels, and other pastries; and side items on quick service breakfast menus. If you’re happy eating that as your first meal of the day, then you’re good using your snack credit for breakfast. However, if you want a drink to go with your muffin, you’ll have to pay for that separately. Note that you can trade a quick-service meal credit for three snacks (in a single transaction).
What is a refillable mug?
Here’s the complete scoop on refillable mugs. ALL versions of the Disney Dining Plan now come with one refillable mug for each person over the age of three in the party.
What counts as a “non-alcoholic beverage” on the plan? Can I get glowing Tinker Bell drinks? Milkshakes?
The definition of “non-alcoholic beverage” varies from restaurant to restaurant. In most cases, this means a soft drink, water, coffee, tea, juice, or milk. Novelty glowing drinks generally are not included on the plan. However, there are some unique beverages you can get with the plan. For example, the bottomless milkshakes at the Whispering Canyon Cafe can serve as your drink on the dining plan.
Can I use my Dining Plan credits at character meals?
Yes. With the exception of Cinderella’s Royal Table, all character meals at the Disney parks and resorts are one table-service credit meals. CRT is a two-credit table service meal.
Do I need to make meal reservations when I’m on the Disney Dining Plan?
Reservations are STRONGLY recommended, particularly at busy times of the year. There are no seats in the Disney restaurants held for walk-ups. If there’s somewhere that you really want to eat, make a reservation. You can do this by calling 407-WDW-DINE or by visiting the Walt Disney World website.
Can I order whatever I want from the menu?
In general, yes. There may be some restrictions if a menu item is designed “for two” or includes a double entree. For example, there are occasionally HUGE pieces of meat offered at some of the steakhouses, meant for two guests to share. This could only be ordered using two guests’ credit allotments.
Fulton’s Crab House offers an “add surf to your turf” option on some meals, which basically gives you an entire steak entree and an entire fish entree on one plate. This may be excluded from the Dining Plan.
Overall, if you are ordering a single entree meant for one person, then it is covered on the plan, no matter how expensive. Yes, you can get $34 lamb chops at the Wave or the $33 New York Strip Steak at Sanaa using just a single dining plan credit.
What happens if I want to order an appetizer or an adult beverage?
Adult beverages are never included on the dining plan. Appetizers are not included on the quick service or basic dining plans. You are welcome to order these items, you’ll just have to pay for them separately.
Can I use my table service credits for breakfast or do I have to use them for dinner?
The dining plan is very flexible. Once you have your allotment of credits, you can use them in any order your wish. While it doesn’t make the most financial sense to do so, you are welcome to use your table service or quick service credits for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
What is a two-credit meal?
Some of Disney’s dining experiences are called “signature dining.” They are special, fancy, or just plain expensive. If you’re on the regular or deluxe dining plan and want to dine at a signature restaurant you will need to spend two table service dining plan credits per meal.
For 2015, the two-credit dining experiences are: Cinderella’s Royal Table, Jiko, Flying Fish Cafe, California Grill, Citricos, Narcoosee’s, Artist Point, Yachtsman Steakhouse, LeCellier Steakhouse, Monsieur Paul, Hollywood Brown Derby, Fulton’s Crab House, Wolfgang Puck Dining Room, Jedi Mickey’s Star Wars Dine at Hollywood & Vine (5/4/15-6/14/15), and Star Wars Dine-In Galactic Breakfast! at Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater Restaurant (5/4/15-6/14/15).
For guests on the Premium and Platinum plans, there is no differentiation between one and two credit meals. They can eat wherever they want.
On the regular Dining Plan, do I have to use one snack, one quick service credit and one table service credit each day?
Not at all. Once you have your credits, they’re yours to use however you want, in whatever order you want.
For example, a guest on the basic dining plan staying six nights would be given six snack credits, six quick service credits, and six table service credits. If that guest wanted, he could use two table service credits at a Cinderella’s Royal Table breakfast, two table service credits at a Hollywood Brown Derby Lunch, and two table service credits at a Jiko dinner. The guest would then be out of table service credits on his first day. We’re not recommending this, but it is possible.
If I use two-credits for a meal on day one, how will I eat on day two?
You’ll pay for a meal out of pocket.
At a two-credit meal, can I pay for it using one meal credit plus some cash?
No. Meals must be paid for using either all credits or all cash.
Check-in time isn’t until 3:00 pm. Do I have to wait until then to use my Dining Plan credits?
You room might not be ready until late afternoon, but you can register at your hotel as early in the morning as you like. (If you’re ambitious you could do this at 4:00 a.m.) When you register, you will be given your MagicBand or RFID-enabled Key to the World card encoded with your package components such as park tickets and Dining Plan credits. Go ahead and use those park admissions and Dining Plan credits whenever you wish.
Can I combine quick service credits to make a table service credit?
Can I divide table service credits to make quick service credits?
Technically, no. But this does happen. It never hurts to ask, but you’re likely to get a different answer every time you ask.
Can I divide quick or table service credits to make snack credits?
Yes. Quick service or table service credits can be traded for three snacks as long as it happens all in the same transaction.
We’re dining with friends who are not on the Dining Plan and we have extra meal credits. Can I buy them a meal using my dining plan credits?
Yes. You can use your dining plan credits to purchase meals for those dining with you who are not on the plan.
What’s going on with in-room pizza delivery?
In-room pizza delivery is available at Disney’s value and moderate resorts. A pizza delivery consists of two single-serve, non-alcoholic beverages, two desserts, and one full-sized pizza. Two adult table service meals credits will be deducted from your party’s account for each pizza delivery.
Can use the Disney Dining Plan for Room Service?
Yes. In-room dining (room service) is available at Disney’s deluxe resorts. Each in-room dining meal consists of one non-alcoholic beverage, an appetizer (at lunch and dinner), an entree, and a dessert. Two adult table service meals credits will be deducted from your party’s account for each in-room dining meal.
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.
Can children (ages 3-9) on the Dining Plan order from the adult menu at Table Service meals?
No. Children must order from the child’s menu. The good news is that all food is for all people at the buffet-style restaurants. Although buffets have a child-friendly section 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.
Can children (ages 3-9) on the Dining Plan order from the adult menu at Quick Service meals?
No. Children must order from the child’s menu where available.
Are there places where there is no kids’ menu so I don’t have to worry about who orders what?
Yes. These are primarily quick service venues, including: Toluca Turkey Legs, Casey’s, Sommerfest, Yorkshire County Fish Shop, Golden Oak Outpost, and others.
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 will be happy 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.
I don’t eat dessert. Can I get an appetizer instead?
When available at the restaurant, you can now substitute your dessert for a fruit plate, side salad, or cup of soup.
Check out time is at 11:00 a.m. I have Dining Plan credits left and am headed out to the parks. Can I still use my credits?
Disney Dining Plan credits are good until 11:59 pm on the day you check out of your Disney hotel. Feel free to continue using any remaining credits on the last day of your trip.
I’m splitting my stay between two Disney hotels. How does this impact my Disney Dining Plan use?
It’s quite common for Disney guests to divide their visit between two hotels. There are Dining Plan ramifications to doing this. Each hotel stay will be treated as an entirely separate package. This means that at midnight on the day you check out of hotel A, your dining plan credits expire for that part of your stay. Even if you’re continuing on at WDW, you can’t continue to use credits from your hotel A stay after you’ve moved on to hotel B. This may or may not matter to you, but it does mean you need to be vigilant about managing your credit use.
Do you have to tip your server when you’re using the Dining Plan?
YES! With a few exceptions, gratuities are NOT included on the Disney Dining Plan. You will need to tip your servers at table service and buffet restaurants. Parties of six or more will automatically be assessed an 18% gratuity with their meal. Others may choose what level of tip to provide their server. Check out the complete scoop on tipping on our Tipping FAQ page.
Which meals have the tip included?
Cinderella’s Royal Table, in-room pizza delivery, in-room dining (room service), Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue, Mickey’s Backyard BBQ, and the Spirit of Aloha dinner show. That’s it.
If I’m paying with credits, how do I calculate the tip?
The price that your meal would have been if you had paid cash will be noted on your receipt. You should use this number as your baseline upon which to calculate the tip you leave.
If one member of my party of six is a baby who doesn’t eat, will we still be assessed an automatic 18% gratuity?
Yes. All parties of six or more will be assessed an 18% gratuity. Everyone at the table will be tallied in this count, including children under the age of three.
My friends are not on the Dining Plan and we are. Can we dine together?
Yes, absolutely. When making your meal reservation, make it for the entire number of people in your party, both those on the dining plan and those not on the plan. When you arrive at the table, tell your server which guests are on the plan and which are not. She will be able to generate two separate bills and charge the two types of guests separately, even though you’re eating at the same table.
How is the Disney Dining Plan different from the Tables in Wonderland card?
The Disney Dining Plan is a method of pre-paying for Disney food.
The Tables in Wonderland (TiW) Card is a dining discount program. The TiW Card may only be purchased by WDW Annual Pass Holders, Florida residents, and Disney Vacation Club members. Once purchased, the TiW Card allows holders a 20% discount on food and alcohol at most WDW restaurants, for up to ten guests per meal. If you are an annual pass holder, Florida resident, or DVC member, you’ll want to spend some quality time running the numbers to see what makes the most financial sense for you.
Is the Dining Plan good for vegetarians? Picky eaters? People with food allergies?
You’ll have to run the numbers yourself, but in general, the Disney Dining Plan makes the most financial sense for guests who are big eaters and who like expensive food.
I’m on the Dining Plan. Can I eat at restaurants other than those at my own hotel?
Yes, absolutely. You can eat anywhere on property that accepts dining plan credits.
Can I use my Dining Plan credits at the Epcot Food & Wine Festival?
Yes! All the Food & Wine Festival booths offer items which can be purchased with Dining Plan snack credits. Yummmmy!
When I made a reservation for a restaurant, my credit card was charged. How do I use my Dining Plan credits instead?
Check out a good answer to this from the folks at the Walt Disney World Moms Panel.
How can I get the Dining Plan for free?
Historically, Disney has offered promotions where guests booking hotel stays at select times of the year receive a free dining plan as part of their package. The dates and exact offer vary with each promotion.
Be aware that packages with the free dining offer typically include a room priced at full “rack rate.” It may be possible to shop around and find a room rate at a substantially discounted price. Believe it or not, you can often save more money by foregoing “free” dining with a full price room if you instead get a discounted room and pay for your food. A savvy guest will spend some time crunching the numbers.
How do I find out about free dining offers?
Keep your eyes open. There are many Disney websites, including Disney Food Blog, that run articles when free dining offers are released. Subscribe to the newsletters such as those at Disney Food Blog, allears.net, and mousesavers.com and you’ll be sure to learn about free dining.
I already have a package which includes the Dining Plan. I just heard that free dining will be available during my travel dates. Can I take advantage of this?
Possibly. It depends on whether your particular booking qualifies. Call Disney directly as 407-WDW-MAGIC to discuss your options.
Is everyone staying at a Disney hotel eligible for free dining?
No, there are often restrictions about free dining eligibility. You have to read the fine print. In general, free dining is not available to Disney Vacation Club members using DVC points to book their stay. Also free dining is not available to guests staying at the Fort Wilderness campsites.
If I don’t have the Disney Dining Plan, can I still make meal reservations?
Yes, of course. Anyone is welcome to make reservations for and dine at any Walt Disney World restaurant locations.
I’d like to use the Dining Plan to eat at a restaurant inside a theme park. Do I need to use a park ticket to do this?
Yes. Any time you enter a theme park you’ll need to use an admission ticket, even if you just want to eat there.
If I don’t have the Disney Dining Plan, can I eat at the restaurants in the Disney hotels?
Yes, of course. Anyone is welcome to eat at the Disney hotel restaurants. You don’t have to be on the dining plan, staying at that particular hotel, or even staying on WDW property.
It’s January and I’m looking at the Dining Plan restaurant list for next year. I don’t see my favorite dining spot that I know has been on the plan in the past. Does this mean that they’ve stopped accepting dining plan credits?
Not necessarily. The list of restaurants participating in the Disney Dining Plan changes slightly every year. Many of the restaurants located at WDW are actually owned/operated by outside companies (Rainforest Cafe, for example). Disney has to renegotiate their agreements with these owner/operators each year. If your favorite restaurant is not on the list, this is likely because a contract has not yet been signed, not because the restaurant has been dropped from the program. It is quite rare for a restaurant that once took Dining Plan credits to stop taking them.
Is it worth it?
Ah, that’s the big question isn’t it? Really, the best thing you can do is crunch the numbers. Determine how much you’d spend on food, then see if the dining plan is a good deal for your family. Don’t forget — when Disney releases “free dining” options, hotel discounts do not apply.