Let’s be honest here — food at Disney World can be expensive.
You can buy a whole meal off of McDonald’s dollar menu sometimes for less than it’ll cost you to buy a box of popcorn. And Disney’s prices are only getting steeper. Recently, we saw literally HUNDREDS of price increases hit a whole bunch of items including popcorn buckets, DOLE Whips, and more. But what do price increases have to do with the Disney Dining Plan? Well, here’s what we’ve seen.
What’s Going on With the Disney Dining Plan?
Odds are you’re already familiar with the Disney Dining Plan, but in case you’re not, the Disney Dining Plan is a pre-purchased plan that guests can add on to a Disney Vacation Package. Guests have to be staying at a Disney-owned-and-operated hotel and have tickets to the parks to qualify for the plan.
With the Dining Plan, you essentially pay for your meals in advance. Then, through the dining plan, you get a number of credits to use at counter-service and table-service meals, as well as a number of snack credits. Since you’ve paid for your meals in advance, you just “redeem” your Dining Plan points/credits throughout your trip rather than having to pay individually for the items you buy.
Disney World suspended the Disney Dining Plan in March of 2020 as the parks shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic. When Disney World’s theme parks reopened later in 2020, the Disney Dining Plan did not come back with them. The Dining Plan has been suspended ever since. But the Dining Plan ain’t over yet!
Back in June of 2021, Disney announced that the Disney Dining Plan WOULD be returning at some point in the future. Disney has not said exactly when it will be coming back though. Instead, they’ve simply said, “While we’re not quite ready to share an update on timing, we are planning to bring this guest-favorite option back at a later date.”
Disney also hasn’t shared what the Dining Plan will look like when it comes back or what the cost for the various plan options will be. We’re on the lookout for any and all updates on the Dining Plan and you can bet we’ll share those with you as SOON as we see any updated info!
What About Those Price Increases?
Alright, so we’ve gone over what’s been happening with the Dining Plan, now what about those price increases? As we mentioned at the start of this article, recently we saw HUNDREDS of price increases hit Disney World restaurants, lounges, and snack stands.
DOLE Whips, Mickey’s Premium Ice Cream Bars and Mickey Ice Cream Sandwiches, Mickey Pretzels, Mickey Waffles, specialty alcoholic beverages, popcorn refills and popcorn buckets, select bottled sodas, and even things like the delicious Carrot Cake Cookie have all increased in price.
These are some of the most extensive price increases we’ve seen in terms of locations/items impacted. These increases have affected items at tons of Disney World restaurants, bars, lounges, and more. Some of the increases are small — a matter of just 20 cents or so. Others are larger — in the amounts of $1, $2, or even $3. And while these price increases might seem small individually, they can add up over the cost of an entire trip. Be sure to keep these increased prices in mind as you plan your budget for future trips!
What the Past Tells Us
So how are price increases potentially tied to the Disney Dining Plan? Well if the past is any indicator, price increases and the Disney Dining Plan tend to “go together” in a way.
Back in 2018, for example, we saw prices increase on a number of classic snack items (like pretzels, popcorn, churros, and more) and fountain beverages. We spotted those increases in October of 2018. Not long after, we saw a number of higher prices at various Disney World restaurants. Just a few months before, in June of 2018, the 2019 Disney World vacation packages and details for the 2019 Disney Dining Plans were revealed.
In 2019 we saw a similar situation. In October of 2019, there were price increases on everything from breakfast items to pretzels and alcoholic drinks. Just a few months before that, in June of 2019, the 2020 Disney Dining Plans and vacation packages were announced.
So it seems price increases seem to happen a few months after or near the time that the Disney Dining Plan announcements are made. Having price increases around the time of the Dining Plan announcements makes sense from an “encouragement” perspective. If suddenly the prices at Disney World for classic food items, snacks, and meals increase, the Disney Dining Plan can become a “better value” for the price you pay.
After price increases, the cost of paying for the Disney Dining Plan (rather than buying your meals individually) might seem like a better deal, or it might seem easier to just get the Dining Plan rather than trying to calculate how much you’ll have to adjust your budget to account for the increases. Whether the Disney Dining Plan is actually a good deal for you will depend on a number of factors, and you’ll ultimately have to crunch the numbers to figure that out. But price increases can certainly make it seem like a better deal at times.
Keep in mind, Disney Dining Plan announcements aren’t necessarily the cause of price increases. Especially this year, these price increases could be tied to supply chain issues, food shortages, inflation, or any one of the many other situations that are currently facing the food industry in the United States and abroad.
Essentially, it’s correlation here, not necessarily causation. In the past we’ve seen a correlation between price increases and Disney Dining Plan announcements. So while one might not necessarily be the cause of the other it’s something we’re watching closely here at DFB!
Well, now we wait. If the present follows the trend of the past, price increases could signal a potential announcement about the Disney Dining Plan. Keep in mind this is just based on what we’ve seen in the past.
Keep in mind, Disney has yet to make any kind of announcement about the Dining Plan and their website still says that Dining Plans are temporarily unavailable.
We’ve been on the lookout for any Disney Dining Plan news and we’ll continue to be especially vigilant following these price increases.
Join the DFB newsletter so you can be notified as soon as Disney makes any Dining Plan announcements!
Be sure to check back with us for all the latest updates!
Join the DFB Newsletter to get all the breaking news right in your inbox! Click here to Subscribe!
Are you a fan of the Disney Dining Plan? Tell us in the comments!