Disney’s Dining Plan Explained: Ultimate Guide to Walt Disney World’s Pre-Paid Dining Plans

The Disney Dining Plan adds all-inclusive convenience to Walt Disney World vacations in Orlando, but is it worth the price?
Magic Kingdom guests dine in splendor at Be Our Guest (Photo: Disney)
Magic Kingdom guests dine in splendor at Be Our Guest (Photo: Disney)

Dining at Walt Disney World is an essential part of the Orlando theme park experience. More than just a quick bite to eat between rides, Disney dining offers unique treats, one-of-a-kind restaurants, and even character experiences you can’t get anywhere else in the parks. It can also get really expensive, especially if you’re planning to spend a lot of time in the parks or at a Disney resort hotel. That’s where the Disney Dining Plan comes in.

This fan-favorite Disney vacation planning tool can save you a lot of money on vacation if you use it right. So, let’s dig into the details of the Disney Dining Plan, including how to purchase it, when (and where) to use it, and how to make sure it’s actually going to save you money when you visit Disney World.

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Roundup Rodeo BBQ at Disney's Hollywood Studios (Photo: Disney)
The Disney Dining Plan gives your vacation a more all-inclusive feel (Photo: Disney)

What Is the Disney Dining Plan?

The Disney Dining Plan is an optional, multi-tiered, pre-paid meal plan that can be part of your Disney World hotel package. The Disney Dining Plan gives your vacation a more all-inclusive feel, much like you might experience on a Disney cruise. It’s accepted at most Disney World restaurants, quick-service locations, and snack stands at theme parks and resort hotels, along with many restaurants in Disney Springs. With your meals, drinks, and snacks already paid for on the Disney Dining Plan, you don’t have to worry about tallying up the bill when eating dinner at your favorite Disney World restaurant.

Who Can (and Can’t) Purchase a Disney Dining Plan?

Anyone staying at a Disney World hotel can opt into the Disney Dining Plan. You cannot purchase the Disney Dining Plan if you’re staying off-property at a third-party hotel, a vacation home, or are driving from home for the day. If you purchase the Disney Dining Plan, each guest whose name appears on the hotel reservation is allotted a certain number of dining credits that reflects the number of nights of your stay. Those credits are then redeemed throughout your trip each time you purchase food by scanning your MagicBand or park ticket. 

How Can I Purchase the Dining Dining Plan?

There are two ways to purchase the Disney Dining Plan. You can do so when booking your vacation package (which can be done over the phone, online through Disney, or through an authorized vacation planner), or you can add it to your package at any time before your day of arrival.

What If I Don’t Use All of My Meal Credits?

Suppose some of your snack and meal credits go unused on a particular day. In that case, they will roll over daily until they expire at midnight on the day of checkout. So, it’s not totally a “use it or lose it” system—but also, it kind of is because you do have to use your points before the end of your trip. Still, if gives you the flexibility to use all of your snack credits the first day you arrive, for example, or save them all for an especially long day at the parks.

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Most Disney restaurants require one credit per person per meal, but a select number of signature restaurants require two table-service meal credits. Depending on where you want to dine, it may be wise to bank your credits to use them for a signature dining experience. (More on this in a moment.) The different tiers of the Disney Dining Plan come with a different allotment of credits, which is reflected in the price.

Space 220 Restaurant at EPCOT (Photo: Todd Anderson)
Anyone staying at a Disney World hotel can opt into the Disney Dining Plan (Photo: Todd Anderson)

How Much Does the Disney Dining Plan Cost and What Are the Different Tiers?

For 2024 Disney World vacations, the Disney Dining Plan is available in two different tiers—the “Quick Service Disney Dining Plan” and the standard “Disney Dining Plan.” (Yes, the standard tier of the Disney Dining Plan is simply called the “Disney Dining Plan,” and yes, it is unnecessarily confusing.) Before we discuss the two-tiered pricing for the two levels of the Disney Dining Plan, it’s essential to explain what the dining credits actually entitle you to:

The “snack and non-alcoholic beverage credit” is somewhat self-explanatory. Think Mickey Mouse ice cream bars, popcorn, turkey legs, your favorite Starbucks drink, and any food or non-alcoholic drink item inside the parks. However, the “quick-service or table-service meal credits” are a bit more nuanced. 

A Quick-Service credit entitles each guest to: 

  • One entrée or combo meal plus a beverage for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. 
  • Guests above the age of 21 can choose between a non-alcoholic or alcoholic beverage, where available. Guests under the age of 21 can select a non-alcoholic beverage.

A Table-Service meal credit entitles each guest to:

  • One entrée, full buffet, or family-style meal for breakfast.
  • One entrée plus one (1) dessert for brunch, lunch, or dinner.
  • Guests above the age of 21 can choose between a non-alcoholic or alcoholic beverage, where available. Guests under the age of 21 can select a non-alcoholic beverage.

2024 Quick Service Disney Dining Plan Prices

  • $57 per day for adults ages 10 and up.
  • $23.83 per day for children ages 3 through 9. 

The Quick Service Disney Dining Plan comes with the following:

  • Two quick-service meals per night of stay.
  • One snack or non-alcoholic beverage per night of stay.
  • One resort-refillable mug.

2024 Standard Disney Dining Plan Prices 

  • $94.28 per day for adults ages 10 and up.
  • $29.69 per day for children ages 3 through 9.
  • It comes with the following:

The Standard Disney Dining Plan comes with the following:

  • One quick-service meal per night of stay.
  • One table-service meal per night of stay.
  • One snack or non-alcoholic beverage per night of stay.
  • One resort-refillable mug

Those of you keeping score at home may think that the list of what’s included looks a little different than before the pandemic. You’re not imagining things: Disney World has modified its Dining Plans slightly since it was last available in 2020. Most notably, the per-night snack or non-alcoholic beverage allotment decreased from two per night to one per night. 

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It’s also very important to note that, like before, gratuity is not included with the Disney Dining Plan. Make sure to budget for gratuities during your stay if you purchase the standard Disney Dining Plan with table service meal credits.

As mentioned earlier, most but not all Disney World table service restaurants and quick-service dining locations accept the Disney Dining Plan. Signature restaurants (like Be Our Guest Restaurant), character dining (like Cinderella’s Royal Table), and dinner shows (like Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue) require two table-service meal credits. If those sorts of dining experiences are important parts of your Disney World vacation, you may need to factor that into your decision process of whether the Disney Dining Plan is right for you.

A few of Disney World’s ultra-signature restaurants, like Victoria & Albert’s at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa and Takumi-Tei at EPCOT do not accept the Disney Dining Plan.

Character dining at Topolino's Terrace – Flavors of the Riviera (Photo: Disney)
Certain dining experiences require two meal credits under the Disney Dining Plan (Photo: Disney)

Is the Disney Dining Plan Worth the Price?

Planning a Disney World vacation is unlike any other trip planning you will encounter. There are so many unique factors to consider, and at times it can feel like you need a Master’s degree in Disney World Studies (can that be an actual degree, please?) to wrap your head around preparing for your upcoming trip. One of those unique factors is determining which add-ons are worth the cost, and the Disney Dining Plan is no exception.

Is it actually worth the price? The honest answer is that it depends. Dining will be one of your trip’s largest expenses no matter what, so it’s worth it to crunch the numbers and see how much you think you will spend if you do so out of pocket. Disney World has menus from all its restaurants and quick service locations on its website, so you can look at the prices and try to determine what you may order. From there, see if it adds up to the per-day cost of the Dining Plan you’re considering adding to your trip.

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From a purely financial perspective, many guests find it hard to save money on the dining plan. While not impossible, you do need to make sure you’re using each meal and snack credit to its full potential. You can roll over your credits if they go unused on any given day, but if you have any unused credits at the end of your vacation then you are leaving money on the table.

So, that means making sure you use every credit during your trip and seeking out pricier menu items that would bring your hypothetical out-of-pocket expenses higher than the per-day Dining Plan cost. Many families find that the real value of the Disney Dining Plan has little to do with the cost and everything to do with the flexibility and convenience. 

Here are a few questions you can ask yourself to start figuring out if the Disney Dining Plan is right for your family (and if so, which plan you should choose):

How do you like to pace your day in the parks?

Do you need longer breaks throughout the day? A “guaranteed” break each day at a table-service restaurant might be a great way to escape the Florida heat, as well as the crowds, especially during busier seasons. In those instances, the standard Disney Dining Plan may be right for you.

On the other hand, If you’re a family that wants to be on the go from the moment you step into the park until the moment you leave, the Quick Service Dining Plan might be the better option. Table service meals can easily chew up a couple of hours of your day, so if you feel like you cannot afford to lose that precious vacation time and would rather be hitting up all of your favorite rides, consider the Quick Service Dining Plan.

How much does your family eat on a typical day?

If your family has a small appetite, the Dining Plan may not be for you. If your schedule typically includes three meals a day, then the Dining Plan may be a more natural fit.

Do you enjoy alcoholic beverages with your meals?

You will get far more bang for your buck if guests over the age of 21 purchase an alcoholic drink with their meal, though you may find that you can still break even or come out ahead without doing so.

The Dining Plan gives your vacation that all-inclusive feel, which many families prefer. It all boils down to what your definition of value is, though, and from there you can make a more informed decision on whether buying the Disney Dining Plan is the right choice for your upcoming vacation.

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Carly Neil
Carly Neil is a New England-based writer who specializes in theme parks, local attractions, food and drink, and travel. Her expertise for all things Disney has been featured in numerous industry-leading sites, and over the years she has become a trusted voice in helping first-timers and experts alike plan their Disney vacations. When Carly isn’t planning her own Disney getaway, she can be found catching the latest Broadway play. Visit her website at carlyterzigni.com for more information, and follow her on Instagram and Twitter @itscarlyneil for theme park news, other daily musings, and pictures of her pets.