Facts and Secrets About the Disney Dining Plan

The Disney Dining Plan is a way to enjoy some of the best Walt Disney World restaurants without thinking twice about the cost. With it, you will prepay for your food. There are three plans to choose from; Quick Service Dining Plan, Standard (or Basic) Dining Plan, and Deluxe Dining Plan. With the Quick Service Plan each day you’ll receive two counter service meals, the Standard Plan will allow you to have one table service and one quick service meal, and with the Deluxe Plan you will have two meals, either quick service or table service. All three plans include snacks as well. The Disney Dining Plan must be booked as part of a Magic Your Way Vacation Package, and you must be staying at a Walt Disney World owned hotel in order to be eligible. Each person in your room must sign up for the plan, and it needs to be for your entire stay. The number of days on your plan will be the number of nights you are staying. All credits expire at 11:59pm the day that you checkout, you can’t hold them until your next vacation. Some people know the Disney Dining Plan inside and out. Others are confused by it. This list is for those people. Here are eight things that many do not know about the Disney Dining Plan.

8. No Alcohol

While beverages are included as part of your meals, you will always pay extra for alcohol. If you plan to enjoy a drink with your meal, you’ll pay out of pocket. The only exception to this is if you book a dinner show that includes beer and wine in the price.

7. Not All Restaurants and Resorts Are Owned By Disney

Many people wonder why some restaurants don’t accept the Disney Dining Plan. The answer is simple, not all restaurants that are on Walt Disney World property are owned by Disney. Some of the non-Disney restaurants will negotiate a deal and accept the plan, but others won’t. Disney also does not own all of the resorts that are on Walt Disney World property. If you book a room at either the Walt Disney World Swan or Dolphin Hotel, you will not be eligible for the Disney Dining Plan. Remember as well that the restaurants at those hotels do not accept it. If you want to know whether or not a restaurant accepts the Disney Dining Plan, you can find that information on the Walt Disney World website.

6. Snack Credits Work at the Epcot Festivals

There are two different festivals held annually at Epcot. In the spring it’s the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival, while the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival takes place each fall. There are special booths at both festivals, offering snack sized foods and beverages that you can’t normally find at the park. You can use a snack credit for most of the snacks available at the festivals. You cannot use a snack credit for alcohol, even at a festival.

5. The Tip Is NOT Included

While the Disney Dining Plan offers a great way to keep your food budget under control, remember that in most cases the gratuity is not included. You do not need to leave a tip at a counter service restaurant, but if you’re at a full service restaurant or buffet, please be generous. There are a few exceptions where a gratuity of 18% will be added, but most of the time you will need to take care of it yourself.

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4. Some Meals Cost Two Credits

On the Standard and Deluxe Disney Dining Plan you will be able to enjoy many of the full service restaurants. Most of them cost one credit, but there are some exceptions. These include (but are not limited to) the dinner shows, Cinderella’s Royal Table, and Le Cellier Steakhouse. Sometimes lunch will cost one credit while dinner will require two. Make sure you check when you make your dining reservations so that you won’t run out of credits.

3. Use Leftover Snack Credits

The Disney Dining Plan offers a lot of food, and sometimes families discover that they have several snack credits leftover on the last day of their vacations. Use those credits to buy non-perishable snacks that you can take home with you. Crispy rice treats shaped like a favorite character, decorated cookies, and candy make great souvenirs for those back home. Bottled water and Coke products also count as a snack. If you’re not sure what you can use your leftover credits for, ask a Cast Member in a store that carries snacks.

2. The Quick Service Plan Is Sometimes Offered for Free

Disney likes to entice people to travel during slower times of the year, and will sometimes offer the Quick Service Disney Dining Plan at no extra cost. Free dining usually takes place in the fall, and spaces are limited. Restrictions apply, and not every vacation will be eligible for free dining. There have also been rollback offers; free dining offered to people who have recently enjoyed a Walt Disney World vacation as an incentive to get them to return. There is no guarantee that Disney will continue free dining indefinitely, the program could be discontinued without notice.

1. The Disney Dining Plan Changes Often

The Disney Dining Plan changes all the time. Sometimes it is a change in policy, such as the 2015 change which now allows children to order off of the adult menu. Other times new restaurants will be added to the plan, while other restaurants will decide to bow out. Another example is that in 2016 the Quick Plan included desserts and one snack, in 2017 it’s two snacks but no desserts. You’ll be given information on your specific plan when you check in. Make sure you look it over, you don’t want to order something and think that it’s covered, only to discover that something changed and you need to pay out of pocket.

About PaulaK

I grew up in Western Massachusetts. When I was nine my family went to Disneyland and I was hooked. I grew up, attended New England College in Henniker, NH and eventually moved to Virginia. I worked as a disc jockey, married and became a full time mom when our daughter was born. Fast forward several years. In 2010 we moved to Central Florida and my Disney obsession grew. I now work as a freelance writer and spend my spare time in the parks. Under the name Paula Brown I penned the novels Dream Wanderers and The Coffee Cruiser. I also am a co-author of Dining at Walt Disney World: The Definitive Guide. I'm obsessed with Star Wars, so this is a good time to live in Central Florida. I've been a vegetarian for well over a decade, a choice that my daughter eventually made as well. While my husband still hasn't joined us fully he has given up most meats except for seafood. I was relieved to find that vegetarian dining is not difficult at Walt Disney World.