10. Choose a plan that’s right for you and your family
There are a couple of different dining plans available, and choosing the right one for your family is really going to determine how valuable the plan is for you. There is the quick service dining plan, which as the name suggests includes quick service meals rather than table service ones. The Disney dining plan, which includes one snack, one quick service meal, and one table service meal per person per day, and the deluxe plan, which is essentially the same as the Disney dining plan however it includes more table service meals.
9. Schedule reservations as far in advance as possible
This is something I would do for any trip regardless of if I’m using the dining plan or not. Making reservations as soon as you can gives you the best chance to eat wherever you want, and gives you some added structure to your day. Scheduling reservations is almost mandatory for certain restaurants such as Cinderella’s Royal Table and Be Our Guest, so be sure to make them as soon as you can!
8. Snack credits can be used on more than you think
When you think of snacks from Walt Disney World what normally comes to mind? You might think of carmel apples or Mickey bars, but when it comes to the Disney Dining Plan, almost everything under five dollars can be considered a snack. This criteria opens up tons of different items that you can use your snack credits on. If you are unsure if something is considered a snack, look for the purple and white dining plan logo!
7. Speaking of snacks, use them wisely!
While snack credits can be used for plenty of things, be sure to try to get the most out of them. While it may seem like a good idea to use one of your credits on a bottle of water or soda. keep in mind that they do cover most things under five dollars. To keep that in perspective, During EPCOT’s Food and Wine Festival the kiosk meals are often considered snacks because they fit into the snack criteria. The more expensive the snacks are the greater value you are getting out of the plan.
6. Don’t use dining plan for room service
You can use your dining plan credits on room service at your hotel. While this seems like a good idea, it’s actually a waste. For all room service meals, they will cost you two dining plan credits. You’re much better off saving these for while you’re in the parks (or maybe grabbing dinner at Disney Springs after you’re done in the parks!)
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5. Be wary of two credit meals
There are some signature restaurants on your dining plan such as Hollywood Brown Derby, Le Cellier, and California Grill that will cost two dining plan credits. Personally, I would say to just pay out of pocket if you really want to eat at some of these restaurants, as it won’t be worth it to use your points at these restaurants. Dinner shows, like the Spirit of Aloha dinner show at the Polynesian Village Resort are also two credits, and likewise I would suggest paying out of pocket for them and saving the double credits for two separate restaurants.
4. Tips and gratuity are NOT included
It is a common misconception that tipping is included in your dining plan. Be sure to carry some small bills on you to cover these gratuities. In American culture (if you are reading this internationally) tipping is normally around 18-20% per meal, so it can add up quickly if you’re not prepared for the extra expense.
3. Check to see if a free dining plan is worth it
Often during the year, Disney will offer a free dining plan when you book your trip to Walt Disney World. While it may seem like a good idea, be sure to do the math to see if it is actually worth it. When you stay at a value resort, the free dining plan is the quick service plan. For moderate and above, itis the Disney Dining Plan. You can upgrade each plan, but cannot downgrade. Be sure to do your homework and price out the restaurants you want to go to to make sure you will actually be saving money with a free dining plan, especially as when free dining plans are offered, you will be paying the regular, non-discounted rate for the hotel room, so it is important to see which discount is better for you.
2. Try not to leave leftover credits
Through all the excitement and fun of your trip, you may find yourself falling behind and having some leftover credits. While this is common, you don’t really want to waste those credits. Thankfully, Disney does give you some options so you can squeeze out those last few credits before you go home. Many of the souvenir style snacks, like cookies and rice krispie treats are available as snack credits, and you can use meal credits the day you check out of your resort as well.
1. Get the most out of every meal
A great thing about the Disney Dining Plan is that when you use your credits on a meal it doesn’t matter what you order, it will still cost the same amount of points. Say you stopped at Flametree Barbecue in Animal Kingdom and can’t decide between the chicken or ribs, you can get the combo plate that would normally cost more money. Even at table service restaurants, you can order whatever entree you like and it will still be the same amount of credits so order whatever you like. It’s your vacation, enjoy it!