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One of the biggest decisions you must make when planning your trip to Disney World is whether to get the Disney Dining Plan. For those planning their first trip to Disney, however, the Dining Plan can be confusing to understand. What exactly does it entail? Is it worth the money? Will it benefit your family? Which plan should you get? Of course, the answers to these questions will be different for each family. This article will walk you through the factors you should consider so you can decide for yourself whether you should add the Disney Dining Plan to your next trip.
The Different Plans
Technically, there are three different Disney Dining Plans to choose from. These are the Quick-Service Plan, the Disney Dining Plan, and the Deluxe Dining Plan. These plans vary in price and offerings. In order to make an informed decision on which plan is best for your family, if any, you need to understand what each plan entails. Below are the details on each of the plans for 2017.
Please remember, though, that you can only get the Disney Dining Plan in one of two ways. You must either book a Walt Disney World Vacation Package, which includes a stay at a Walt Disney World Resort and at least a base Park Admission ticket in addition to the dining plan, or add the dining plan to your reservation when renting Disney Vacation Club points. Also note that everyone in the room, ages 3 and over, must be on the same dining plan. Because children under the age of 3 are not required to have a park admission ticket, they are also not required to have a dining plan. They are allowed to eat off of a parent’s plate free of charge.
The Quick-Service Plan
The Quick-Service Dining Plan includes two quick-service meals and two snacks per person for each night of your stay. The quick-service meals include an entree and a drink. So, if you are staying for six nights and seven days, your plan will include a total of twelve quick-service meals and twelve snacks for each person on the reservation. The plan also includes one refillable resort mug for each person in the room.
The Disney Dining Plan
The Disney Dining Plan is the standard plan. It includes one table-service meal, one quick-service meal, and two snacks per person for each night of your stay. It includes one refillable resort mug per person too. The table-service meals include an entree, a non-alcoholic drink, and a dessert or a full buffet. The quick-service meals include an entree and a non-alcoholic drink.
The Deluxe Dining Plan
The Deluxe Dining Plan includes three meals and two snacks per person for each night of your stay and one refillable resort mug per person. The three meals can be used at either a quick-service location or a table-service restaurant.
Using Your Dining Credits
During your stay at Walt Disney World, you can use your dining credits in any order you would like. So, let’s say that your family will be staying for five nights in January at Coronado Springs Resort and will have the standard Disney Dining Plan. You can use two table-service credits on one day and then two quick-service credits the next day or one quick-service credit and one table-service credit each day. You can use your snack credits as you go or you can save them all for the last day. It’s up to you.
Your meal entitlements expire at midnight on the day of your check-out. You can use your credits for any meal of the day and at any time that you would like. At each restaurant, you are allowed to order any entree on the menu, regardless of price. To use your credits, you simply need to tell your server or cashier at each restaurant that you are on the dining plan and then scan your Magic Band. It’s that easy! Your receipt will include a note at the bottom that tells you how many credits you have remaining. You can pick up your refillable resort mugs at the food court in your resort at any point after you have checked in.
The Cost Factor
For most families, the cost factor will be a big consideration when determining whether the dining plan is right for you. So, let’s talk about the price. For 2017, the Quick-Service Dining Plan will cost $46.34 per night for guests 10 and over and $20.18 per night for guests ages 3-9. The Disney Dining Plan’s price is $67.33 per night for guests 10 and over and $24.22 per night for children ages 3-9. The Deluxe Dining Plan is $103.57 per night for adults and children ages 10 and over and $37.62 per night for kids ages 3-9. Without the dining plan, the refillable resort mug will cost you $15.49 plus tax each.
If you have the dining plan, the only thing extra that you will have to pay for your meals once on your trip is the tip and any alcoholic beverages you may consume. In order to know whether this is a good value for your family, you will have to determine whether your family can eat enough to justify the cost of the plan and then factor in the value of the non-financial aspects of having the Disney Dining Plan, which I will talk about below. In order to get an idea of the price of meals when paying out of pocket so you can compare the costs, look at the menus at allears.net.
Your Eating Habits
I know that this is a strange thing to consider when deciding whether to buy the Disney Dining Plan, but your family’s eating habits will play a big part in whether one of the plans will be a good fit for your family. You need to consider how much food your family is likely to eat and how important food is to you while on vacation. If you view food as simply a necessary fuel to keep your body going and you plan to spend as little time as possible eating, then the dining plans may not be worth the price. If, however, food is an very important part of enjoying your vacation and your family spends a lot of time bonding over food, then you may get a huge value out of the dining plans.
Likewise, think about the pickiness of your family members. If you have several people in your party that will only eat burgers and chicken nuggets, then the dining plans may not be worth the money for you. On the other hand, if your family is full of foodies, you will love having the dining plan.
The Vacation Factor
You also need to think about what I like to call the vacation factor. This means taking into account how your vacation habits may differ from your normal day-to-day habits at home. For instance, our family enjoys having a nice sit-down meal each night while on vacation, even though this isn’t something we do every night at home. This is an important aspect of the vacation fun for us. Dining at Disney is a big part of what we love about being at Disney World. So, for us, the dining plan is a must because it allows us to enjoy our vacation more. Along these same lines, if you plan to take part in several character meals while at Disney World, then you should definitely consider the dining plan. It may end up saving you a little bit of money on these character meals.
The Convenience Factor
The convenience factor goes hand-in-hand with the vacation factor. How important is it to you that you can prepay for your food and not have to worry about price when you sit down to eat? For us, this is a big factor. I love not having to worry about how much money I will need on our trip to devote to meals. So, even if the price of the dining plan is slightly more than it would be for us to pay for meals out of pocket, I still value the dining plan because it adds to our vacation fun while eliminating the need to worry about food costs while on our trip.
Like most other things, whether the Disney Dining Plan is a good choice for your family will be an individual choice that will vary from one family to the next. You will need to look at it in detail and consider your family’s habits and preferences for vacationing. While many of these factors have no monetary value, they do have value when it comes to the enjoyment of your trip and therefore are worth considering. For some families, the Dining Plans will absolutely be worth it, while for others, it would be an unnecessary expense. I hope this article helps you to determine whether the Disney Dining Plan is right for your next trip. Happy travels and have a magical day!