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: 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.
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.
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.
Disney Dining Plan Resources
Full Disney Dining Plan FAQ — everything you need to know about the Disney Dining Plans.
Pricing and changes to 2013 Disney Dining Plan!
Review Disney Dining Plan changes between the 2011 and 2012 Disney Dining Plan here!
Check out Disney Dining Plan changes between the 2010 and 2011 Disney Dining Plan here!
What About Disneyland 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.
*Snack examples include: 1 frozen ice cream novelty, 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, 22-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.