We have updated our Guide to the Disney Dining Plan for 2020. We have all the essential information, including answers to your questions on how to get the best value out of the Disney Dining Plan. Plus, we tackle the issue of whether you should make this expensive additional purchase.
Important Information: The Disney Dining Plan remains suspended at Walt Disney World. However, the latest information from Walt Disney World is that it will return in the future. Visit our guide to learn more about Dining at Walt Disney World in 2021.
What is the Disney Dining Plan?
The Disney Dining Plan is a prepaid meal plan offered at Walt Disney World for guests booking a Disney Resort Package. Meals are added to your Magic Band or Card, and you present your card to pay for your meal.
The plan must be booked before arrival with a valid park ticket and is not available to guests not staying at a Disney resort. It is also open to Disney Vacation Club members.
On occasions, Disney offers free dining packages to guests as part of their package.
Wow…does that mean I can eat anything?
No!… You get a set number of credits a day, depending on which plan you book.
Where can we eat?
This depends on what plan you book.
However, for all plans, there are locations throughout Walt Disney World, including theme parks, Disney Resorts & Disney Springs.
What plans can I get?
There are now 3 Disney Dining Plans offering the following per day
Quick Service Dining Plan
- 2 quick-service meals
- 2 snacks
- 1 refillable mug
Regular Dining Plan
- 1 table-service meal
- 1 quick-service meal
- 2 snacks
- 1 resort refillable mug
Deluxe Dining Plan
- 3 meals (any combination of table-service and quick-service)
- 2 snacks
- 1 resort refillable mug
What is a table service meal?
A table service meal consists of an entrée and dessert(lunch & dinner only), which will be waiter served. You will also be able to order one drink, and in some restaurants, you will get free refills of soft drinks. You can also select from some of the stunning buffet locations across Walt Disney World.
What can I drink on the Disney Dining Plan?
2018 was a massive year on the Disney Dining Plan as alcoholic beverages were included for the first time.
Guests 21 and older can choose either one non-alcoholic beverage, including specialty beverages or one single serving mixed cocktail, beer, or wine with their meal.
This change includes both Quick Service and Table Service locations. However, not all Quick Service locations serve alcohol, including all areas in the Magic Kingdom except for Be Our Guest.
It is worth noting that children ten and older get charged the same as adults on the Disney Dining Plan despite soft drinks costing considerably less than alcoholic beverages.
Is there anything different with the Deluxe Dining Plan?
Guests also get an appetizer with each table service meal.
Note the Deluxe plan contains a lot of food…An awful lot of food!
Disney portions are not small. Only the biggest appetites will manage to take full advantage of the Deluxe Dining Plan.
Are gratuities included?
No, these are extra and are expected. For groups of 6 or more, they will be automatically added. There are a couple of venues where gratuities are included, and these are indicated when booking. Current sites including gratuities are Cinderella’s Royal Table, The Spirit of Aloha, and Hoop de Doo Musical Revue.
Gratuities are not expected at Quick-Service locations.
What is a quick-service meal?
Quick-service or Counter Service is Disney World’s Fast Food locations. However, don’t think of just burgers and fries as a massive choice of meals are available. There are quick-service options at Walt Disney World to suit all palates.
One quick service meal includes entrée plus a non-alcoholic beverage. In the past, you got a dessert with Quick-service meals, but this stopped in 2017.
Guests over 21 are able to get 1 alcoholic drink in locations serving alcohol.
What is a snack?
Snacks can be pretty much anything from ice-cream to popcorn to drinks to small meals at food stores.
You are bound to find something tasty for your snack credits. Eligible items are highlighted in shops & food kiosks.
However, watch the price as snack credits vary a lot in price. Water rarely represents a good use of a snack credit.
Make sure you use all your snack credits. You can exchange any leftover credits for candy in the Resort Shops before you return home.
What is a refillable mug?
A resort refillable mug gives you free drinks at Resort Quick Service Locations. They are not valid in parks but can be used in all resorts.
Remember, if you get a quick service meal at a resort, you can use your mug for a free drink and collect a bottle of water.
Seems easy…anything else?
Well, the Disney Dining plan takes a bit of getting used to, and not everything costs one credit.
Some Table-Service locations are Disney Signature Locations, and these cost two table service credits. These are the very best locations across Walt Disney World serving outstanding food.
OK, I have got it! Can I use my Disney Dining Plan elsewhere?
We’ll actually you can. Two table service credits can be used for Disney Dinner Shows, e.g. Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue or Room Service Delivery or Pizza Delivery.
(Pizza Delivery or Room Service Meals depend on the resort you are staying in)
How do they know I am on the Disney Dining Plan?
Your dining credits are stored on your MagicBand. A receipt will be provided after redeeming the credits indicating how many credits remain.
You can also now track your credits on the My Disney Experience App.
What about Kids?
Kid plans are available for children aged 3-9. Table service locations have special kid menus which they must choose from. Kid menus do vary significantly in quality but overall have improved in recent years.
At buffet locations, kids choose from the same selections as adults, although there is usually an extra kids section too.
Children 10 or older must purchase the adult plan. However, they must have a soft drink with their meal & substitutions for an extra alcoholic beverage for Mum & Dad are not allowed.
At Quick-Service locations, there is no value to differentiate between Kid and Adult meals. Supposedly children should choose from a Kid’s menu if available, but I have rarely seen this enforced.
What about kids under 3?
Children aged under 3 are not able to eat on the Disney Dining Plan. Usually, children will eat some of their parent’s meals, or in buffet location, they are welcome to take their own plate. Don’t worry, they will not go hungry.
Can we visit Character Meals
Yes, you can as long as you have table service credits as part of your plan. Character Meals represent some of the best value meals on the Disney Dining Plan.
To find out more visit our Guide to Character Meals.
Can we book a Disney Dining Plan for just one of us?
No everybody; unless under 3; in the same room must be on the same Disney Dining Plan.
What is Free Dining?
At certain times of the year, the Disney Dining Plan is available at no charge for Resort Reservations. This can be a great value offer for guests. The type of Disney Dining Plan offered will depend on the resort you are staying at.
Offers vary by country of residence. However, there is nothing stopping you from booking through an international site.
Is the Disney Dining Plan changing in 2020?
There are no Disney Dining Plan changes planned for 2020, but the price has increased. All benefits, including alcohol, will remain throughout 2020.
How much is the Disney Dining Plan in 2020?
For 2020, the cost per day of the Quick Service Dining Plan is $55 for adults (ages 10+) and $26 for children (ages 3-9).
The cost per day of the Disney Dining Plan is $78 for adults and $30.50 for children.
The cost of the Deluxe Disney Dining Plan is $119 for adults and $47.50 for children.
International guests may find prices quoted are different than U.S. Rates.
Can you save money?
That depends. You need to plan your snacks and meals carefully. Venues differ significantly in price, and if you eat at the wrong restaurant or choose the wrong snack, you will lose money.
Roughly speaking credits are worth :
- Quick Service credits are worth about $19
- Table Service credits are worth about $42
- Snack credits are worth around $5
To break even, you must choose meals/snacks worth at least this amount. Choosing expensive options such as steak will increase your likelihood of breaking even. Vegetarians will always find it more challenging to break even.
Drinking alcoholic drinks, especially cocktails, has made the challenge of breaking even slightly easier.
Signature restaurants are rarely good value for money. Despite costing 2 table credits, you will struggle to find a meal at most venues that cost twice as much as a regular meal.
Breakfast is usually cheaper than lunch or dinner and therefore represents poorer value.
Where can I find out what restaurants are on the plan?
The easiest place to look for what restaurants are included is the Disney World website.
The final 2020 Disney Dining Plan list has not yet been published.
NOTE that Disney updates the final Disney Dining Plan list regularly. It will often have restaurants missing until early January as contracts are still getting completed. Do not worry as restaurants have only rarely left the Disney Dining Plan. If a restaurant is included in 2019 it almost certainly will be included in 2020.
Do we need to book tables in advance?
Yes, you do! The most popular venues book up fast.
Advanced Dining Reservations can be booked by anyone 180 days in advance.
Guests staying in Walt Disney World Resorts can reserve 180 days in advance of their day of arrival and make up to 10 days of Advance Dining Reservations that same day. Guests with Disney Dining Plans should take full advantage of these extra 10. days.
Find Out More
We have created a Guide to Dining at Walt Disney World which has plenty of hints & tips
Our Guide to Walt Disney World is a great place to start planning your vacation.
Just FYI, gratuity is included on some of the meals. Cinderella’s Royal Table, The Spirit of Aloha, Hoop de Doo Review, and Mickey’s BBQ all include gratuity.
Also, when looking at the menus on the Disney site, they don’t give prices for the buffets. The buffets are expensive. You’re looking at $100 for one adult and one child. So character buffets are a great choice to maximize the dining plan. Not so great for out-of-pocket paying.
I will add both to next version of article
Thanks for raising
Sarah Smith says
My husband and I are both looking into the Disney Dining Plan to determine if we should purchase it for our trip this summer. The tips in your article are really helpful in determining if we should buy the Disney Dining Plan. I especially like your advice to book tables in advance and to use the credits on lunch or dinner instead of breakfast.