Disney Dining Plans can be one of the most confusing parts about your Disney dining planning; hopefully this primer will help!
What are Disney World Dining Plans?
Disney has set up dining plans for any budget and any dining taste. Plans are pre-purchased and added onto a Disney Vacation Package (i.e. you must be staying on a Vacation Package at a Disney owned-and-operated hotel, and have purchased at least one ticket per person), so that all you have to do when you get to Disney World is head to a restaurant on the list, eat, and scan your card.
The points for the meal will be deducted from your pre-paid card, and you don’t pay while you’re at the restaurant. (Note: Gratuity is not included on table-service meals.)
Disney dining plans set the number of counter-service and table-service restaurant meals, and snacks*, you’re allowed to have during your trip. Some visitors love the ease of the program, others feel a bit too hemmed in by the rules.
NOTE: As of 2018, guests may now order one specialty beverage per meal. Guests 21-and-over may order one specialty alcoholic beverage or specialty non-alcoholic beverage and guests of any age may order one specialty non-alcoholic beverage.
NOTE: When you book a dining plan, everyone in the room must be booked on the same package and must be using the same type of ticket options. Kids under 3 years old may share from an adult plate at no charge, or a meal may be purchased from the menu for them. You can’t purchase the dining plan for a child under the age of 3. Guests ages 3-9 must order from a children’s menu where available.
*Snack examples include: 1 frozen ice cream novelty, cup of soup, counter-service menu side items, plain caramel apple, popsicle, fruit bar, popcorn scoop (single-serving box), single-serving bag of snacks, single piece of whole fruit, 20-oz. bottle of Coke, Diet Coke, Sprite or Dasani water, 20-oz. fountain soft drink, 12-oz. coffee, hot chocolate or hot tea, single-serving prepackaged milk or juice. See Everything You Need To Know About Disney Snacks here.
Detailed Information And Disney Dining Plan Prices
Is the Disney Dining Plan Worth The Money?
This depends completely on how you and your family usually eat while on vacation. The best suggestion is to crunch the numbers. We have a full chapter on deciding whether the Dining Plan is worth it for your family in our DFB Guide to Walt Disney World Dining e-Book.
The chapter includes sample budget scenarios for a family on vacation for a week with or without the Dining plan, a look at how hotel discounts can impact your bottom line when it comes to purchasing the Disney Dining Plan, whether Disney’s Free Dining Plan promotions offer the best value, and more. You can get your own copy here!
What’s “Free Dining“?
From time to time, Disney will announce special resort reservation promotions that offer a free Disney Dining Plan with your resort booking and theme park ticket purchase. Dubbed “Free Dining” by Disney fans, these promotions usually happen during the lower-crowd times in Disney World, like Winter and late Summer/early Fall. (In 2019, dates changed to summer through September 30.)
Booking the free dining promotion cannot be combined with hotel discounts or other incentives, so getting free dining may not automatically be your most cost-effective option. It pays to crunch the numbers here as well.
If a free dining promotion is not offered during your vacation dates, you may get lucky and receive a “free dining PIN code” in the mail or email from Disney. To potentially get one, you would need to be signed up to receive special offers and discounts through Disney’s website.
NEW Disney Dining Plan Option in 2020
On February 27, 2020, a new (fourth) Disney Dining Plan option became available to guests: Disney Dining Plan Plus. The focus of this new plan is on flexibility, with the primary difference from the Quick Service and Standard Disney Dining Plans being that guests receive two meals per night of stay, with the option to dine at any combination of Quick Service and Table Service locations. Find the full inclusions and details for this plan here.
Changes to Disney Dining Plan in 2018
As of 2018, guests 21 and older can can choose either one non-alcoholic beverage (including specialty beverages where offered) or one single serving mixed cocktail, beer, or wine (where offered) with their meal entitlement. See more details on alcoholic options here.
Guests under 21 years of age can choose one non-alcoholic beverage (including specialty beverages where offered). Non-alcoholic specialty beverages include Artisanal Milkshakes, Fresh Smoothies, Premium Hot Chocolate, Soda, Coffee, or tea. See more details on non-alcoholic options here.
Disney Dining Plan Resources
Full Disney Dining Plan FAQ — everything you need to know about the Disney Dining Plans.
More Disney Dining Information and FAQs
For more Disney dining information, including details on dining discounts, restaurants, menus, and more, visit our Disney Dining Reference Page.
Headed to Disney World Soon? Learn More With a Free Vacation Planning Video from Disney!
We highly recommend checking out the Free Vacation Planning Video that Disney creates every year. It’s SO much fun to watch. There’s tons of info on every park and resort, and it’s the perfect way to start getting excited about your trip…and maybe even see a few must-dos that you don’t have on your agenda yet! You can order it or live stream it right now. (I do it every year :-D) You can find out more about the free planning video here!
What About Disneyland Dining Plans?
Update: In the past, Disneyland offered pre-paid dining plans and meal vouchers. At present, these are not available. Call Disneyland Resort at (714) 781-DINE or (714) 781-3463 to confirm before your trip! Disney has also introduced Disneyland Dining Plans, which work on a pretty straightforward voucher system. Click here for more information.
Disney World Premium and Platinum Dining Plan Packages
Disney Premium Package Dining Plan – NOTE: The Premium and Platinum Dining Plans were discontinued in 2017.
Disney Platinum Package Dining Plan – NOTE: The Premium and Platinum Dining Plans were discontinued in 2017.