When planning your Walt Disney World vacation, there are a LOT of things to consider. When to go, where to stay, what Parks to do which days, and one other thing you might not have known you can plan ahead of time – where/what to eat! You can make ADR’s (advance dining reservations – more about that here) for sit down restaurants well before you even set foot on Disney property, and you can also pre-pay for some/all of your meals ahead of time too – by using a Disney Dining Plan. There are a few different types, here’s a quick summary of them all:
Quick Service Dining Plan: this one includes two counter service meals and 2 snacks per night per person
-Cost: approximately $53/night for adults and $25/night for children (ages 3-9, under 3 are free)
Standard Dining Plan: this plan includes one sit down meal and one counter service meal per night
-Cost: approximately $75/night for adults and $28/night for children
Deluxe Dining Plan: this level of dining plan includes 3 meals per person per night (can be used as counter service OR sit down table service meals) and two snacks per night
-Cost: approximately $120/night for adults and $40/night for children
*As always, Prices are subject to change*
To learn more about choosing which Dining Plan is right for you, click here
Now that you know more about the Dining Plans and have chosen which one you want to use for your Disney World trip, here are some tips on making the most of it:
Maximize Snack Credits: there is a huge variety of items that qualify as a “snack credit” on the dining plan, and some of them are – simply put – a huge ripoff. I recommend you skip things like: bottled waters/drinks, single pieces of fruit, and other smaller items. Instead I recommend using one on items like a larger breakfast pastry (that can be shared between two kids), or a packaged snack like the Mickey shaped cheddar crackers that you can stash away for later for the kids (or you!). A good rule to follow: never use a snack credit for a snack that is less than $5.00. Read more about optimizing snack credits Here
Order The Most Expensive Items: You already prepaid for the dining plan, so to Disney it doesn’t really matter if you order the $12 salad or the $20 burger. I say – go for the burger! Now I’m not saying don’t be health conscious while you’re at Disney, I’m saying when you’re debating between two menu items, order the more expensive one (which sometimes will be the salad and other times will be the burger!). You want to make sure you’re spending at or above the cost of the dining plan – this will ensure you’re getting your money’s worth!!
Share The Other Meals: unless you go Deluxe, you will likely still need to pay for a few meals out of pocket – so I recommend you try and seek out bigger meals for those so you can share them among 2 kids (or 2 adults!). Many meals are large enough for sharing comfortably, and this will help minimize your out of pocket cost while at Disney. More sharing tips Here
Stay Flexible: the plans state a certain number of meals/snacks are available per night, but this does not mean you have to use that many each day. You can use as many as you want/need each day of your trip. For example – at the end of our trip this fall, we had some leftover snack credits, so I sneakily stocked up on packaged items like chocolates, lollipops, pretzels, etc – which will soon be making an appearance in my sons Christmas stocking (what can I say? Santa and I are resourceful like that)
Pro Tip: If you have leftover Dining credits at the end of your trip, each one can be converted into 3 snack credits – so you can snag even more goodies to take home with you!
Stalk For Free Dining: The best way to make the most of the dining plan is to get it for FREE – Disney typically offers a promotion in the fall months where guests staying at select Disney Resort Hotels can add dining plans to their trip for free. This is a much coveted promotion so they run out fast – but if you can snag it, it’s an amazing deal! We were able to get it this past September and it saved us a ton of money!! Click Here for more info/background on this years free dining promotion, and be sure to stay tuned right here on DisneyAddicts.com – as we will publish news on 2019 free Dining Promotions the minute we learn of them!
We have always used the dining plans – and over the years we have come to realize how useful the above tips are. Hopefully you can use them and agree that they help maximize your use of the Dining Plans!