Friday, September 30, 2011

Should I Add the Disney Dining Plan to my Vacation?

You learned all about the basics of the Disney Dining Plans in my last post, but maybe you’re still trying to figure out whether or not the dining plan is right for you. Today, I’ll point out some pros and cons of using the plans, which will hopefully help get you pointed in the right direction!

Pro #1: Easy Budgeting 

Since you’ll be pre-paying for the majority of your meals, you’ll know up front exactly how much you’ll be spending on that portion of your vacation. That means that there’s one less stress factor while you’re there – mealtime can just be enjoyed rather than debating the impact of your meal choice on your budget. Which leads me into Pro #2…

Pro #2: Choices Choices Choices! 

When you use the Disney Dining Plan, you’re able to choose any entrée from the menu. That means that you don’t have to sacrifice and get the chicken instead of the fish entrée that you really wanted just to save a few dollars, because it’s already paid for! You don’t have to argue with your kids about whether they can get a dessert or not – it’s included! To me, this pro is just priceless – I am a bargain shopper and love to save money, so if I’m debating between 2 entrees, I’ll almost always choose the cheaper one. But when I use the Disney Dining Plan, I have the freedom to choose anything! It really adds to that relaxing vacation feel.

Pro #3: Cost Savings! 

You can save over 20% when using the Disney Dining Plan. Let me run through a sample day of using the dining plan to illustrate that savings. I chose mid-range items (not the cheapest or most expensive on the menu) to provide a fair assessment:

For breakfast, typically I’ll eat at my hotel. I use a snack credit and save my meal credits for lunch and dinner (applies to both the Quick-Service and Basic Dining Plans), and use my refillable mug for my beverage.

Location: Port Orleans French Quarter – Food Court

Items: Yogurt Parfait: $4.29 – 1 Snack Credit; Coffee: $2.59 – Use resort refillable mug

Total breakfast value: $6.88

Lunch: For lunch, typically I use a Quick Service credit. For this example, we’ll say I’m spending the day at Epcot

Location: Sunshine Seasons Food Court, The Land Pavilion, Epcot

Items: Oak-Fired Rotisserie Chicken: $10.19; Fountain Soda: $2.39; Strawberry Shortcake: $3.99 - 1 Quick Service Credit

Total lunch value: $16.57

Dinner: For dinner, typically I use a Table Service credit. In this example, I’m still at Epcot for the day. 

Location: Biergarten, Germany, World Showcase, Epcot

Items: Dinner Buffet (includes drink and dessert) - 1 Table Service Credit

Total dinner value: $39.40

Total Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner Value: $62.85 
Dining Plan Cost: $51.54 
Savings: $11.31, or 18%!

To conduct your own cost analysis, you can check out nearly all the Disney World restaurant menus at, but as you can see, it’s extremely easy to save money using the dining plan! 

To be fair, in my experience with the dining plan, there are also a couple cons:


You get a lot to eat on the dining plan, to the point where sometimes it can feel like too much! For the most part, this happens to me with desserts – eating a dessert with lunch and dinner can get a little overwhelming. To overcome this, a lot of times I’ll just ask them to wrap up my dessert to go at dinner, and then I’ll eat it for breakfast the next morning (Hey, it’s Disney! If there’s anywhere you want to eat cake for breakfast, this is the place!). At quick-service locations, the desserts typically come in a to-go container already. And, when you eat your previous night’s dessert for breakfast, it frees up a snack credit to use for other tasty treats too!

Con #2 Advanced Planning Required 
Note: This does not apply to the quick service dining plan!

As the popularity of the dining plan grows, more restaurants are filling up farther in advance than ever before. This means that it’s in your best interest to make your dining reservations as soon as you book your vacation. For some people, it can be tough to decide what meals to eat and when months ahead of time! And for those who like to just play it by ear, it can be tough to walk up to Disney restaurants and get in. However, if you’re willing to use your table service credits for lunch instead of dinner, the last minute options are a little more plentiful. In any case, I would recommend making reservations, and if you change your mind while you’re there you can just give Disney Dining a call and see what’s available.

For me, the pros of the dining plan well outweigh the cons! Disney has created a wide array of dining plans to fit a variety of budgets and dining preferences. I have dined on both the basic dining plan and the quick-service dining plan, and have thoroughly enjoyed both experiences!

Currently, Walt Disney World is running a promotion where you receive a free dining plan when you travel on select dates now through March. This promotion must be booked by October 29, 2011, and availability is limited, so please visit to get your quote today!

If you have questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me at

Have a magical day!


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