The Disney Dining Plan at Walt Disney World



By Dave Shute

How to Eat    Where to Eat    The Dining Plan    Guide to Disney Dining

OVERVIEW: THE DISNEY DINING PLAN(S)

(This page is one of a series explicating Walt Disney World lingo, abbreviations, and FAQ for first time family visitors to Walt Disney World.)

There are several Disney Dining Plans available to guests at Walt Disney World resort hotels. The basic premise of these plans is that by pre-paying many of your meals, your budgeting is simplified, and, quite possibly, you might save money.

(See this for the official Walt Disney World website material on all of these plans.)

Only one of Disney Dining Plans–the “Disney Dining Plan” itself—is worth considering.  This site recommends that those eating all the meals in one of its recommended itineraries purchase it.

The rationale is that those eating a number of sit down (“table-service,” in Disney lingo) meals will save some money by purchasing the dining plan.  Not a lot, though.

Buying this plan, however, raises a couple of complexities.

First, to get the maximum value out of it, you really should eat at some of Walt Disney World’s best loved dining settings.  These can sell out months in advance, so you should follow this site’s advice on when your plans should be firm.

Second, while you are actually at Walt Disney World, there can be confusion about which credits apply to which settings, and what items are included and not included.  The itineraries of this site take care of most of this for you.

MORE DETAIL ON THE DISNEY DINING PLAN(S)


All of the Disney Dining Plans work basically the same way.

  • You buy the same dining plan for each person registered in your hotel room, for each night of your stay. (You can’t buy it for kids under three, and kids three to ten have special, much lower, prices.)
  • When you check in, you will be granted a certain number of credits of various types for each night of your stay.  These credits can be used on any day of your stay, and by any member of your party, except that you can’t trade kid credits for credits for those 10 and over.
  • So, for example, you could use none of your credits on one day, and have half of your party use all of your remaining credits the next.

The plans vary by what credits you get, and how many per night of your reservation.

The basic plan, called the Disney Dining Plan, is the one recommended for those following the itineraries of this site, as they will save a little money from using it for all the meals the itineraries present, rather than paying cash for all of them.

THE DISNEY DINING PLAN

In the Disney Dining Plan, you get one table service credit (think waiters), one counter-service credit (think fast food) and one snack credit (think bottled water, ice cream, or an apple) per person 3 or older registered in your room, per night of your stay. You also get a refillable mug.

  • The table service credit includes an entrée, dessert, and a beverage—but not an appetizer, and not a tip
  • The counter service credits also include an entrée, dessert and beverage
  • These credits expire at midnight on the last day of your stay (that is, midnight of your check-out day)
  • As noted above, you can mix and match among your party
  • So you can use no credits one day, and use credits for two table service meals per person the next.  You can also swap them among members of your party, except that people ten and older can’t use the kid credits you buy for kids between 3 and 10. Kid credits also have to be used on children’s meals, if they are available at the establishments you are dining in

For the rest of 2013, and in 2014 until prices go up again, the Disney Dining Plan costs $58.66 per night of your reservation for those ten or older as of check in, and $18.88 per night for kids between three years old and ten.

(You can’t not get it for a registered person, or for fewer than the nights you have reserved.)

SOME COMPLEXITIES WITH THE DISNEY DINING PLAN

This page continues here.

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95 comments

1 Virge { 07.27.11 at 10:38 am }

I’m looking at taking my family of 4 to Disney World in October of 2012 (we chose October based on your site’s suggestions). Based on your reccommendations, I know we’ll want to have our plans set in time for the 180 day mark but do you have any other reccommendations for when we should begin making our hotel (staying on site) & flight reservations? Are we more likely to get better prices if we wait closer to the 180 date or should we do it sooner? I looked on your “to do list” section of the site but we’re so far out from our trip that our time frame isn’t even on there yet :) Thanks!

2 Dave { 07.27.11 at 12:18 pm }

Hi Virge!

Can’t hurt to make your hotel reservations now. If you do it through a travel agent (e.g. thru the form on the lower right) they can help set you up so that if any discounts come out, it’ll be easier for you to take advantage of them.

Most airlines, if I am recalling correctly, only do reservations 11 months to a year and a day ahead…so you may not be able to do air now…

3 Angela { 07.30.11 at 12:32 pm }

Hi. We are planning a WDW trip from Jan 7-15 2012. There are 10 of us, 5 adults & 5 kids (ages 9, 7, 5, 23 months, & 18 months at time of travel). I’ve been looking & the only real option is a tree house villa at Saratoga…which sounds great. My question is about the dining plan. My husband & I want it for our family of 6, but my mother in law & brother in law think it’s too much money. What are your thoughts on this? I need some good selling points. I feel like it’s a great value considering we want to do at least 2 character meals. Thanks!

4 Dave { 07.30.11 at 4:00 pm }

Hi Angela! I love the Treehouses for family groups like yours! See this: http://yourfirstvisit.net/2009/08/16/review-the-treehouses-at-disneys-saratoga-springs-resort-and-spa/

The dining plan is getting to be less of a good deal over time. Where it does make a lot of sense however is if you have a lot of kids under ten, and would have paid for an average of at least one sit-down meal a day anyway

Maybe the only way to convince them is to do the math–show the cost of meals a la carte vs. using the dining plan. You might start with menus from Saratoga Springs http://www.wdwinfo.com/wdwinfo/dining/diningdetail.cfm?restaurant.ID=460

5 Monica { 01.13.12 at 5:34 pm }

Hello,
I want to travel in July with my 7 year old daugheter. I can only go the 1st or 2nd week in July 2012. Are there any specials for these weeks? Like free dinning, or kids eat and play for free.

Thanks,
Monica

6 Dave { 01.13.12 at 6:31 pm }

Hi Monica. None have been announced so far. There often isn’t much in the way of deals in July, since it’s the busiest month at WDW and thus Disney doesn’t need to offer deals to get people to go then. Of your choices the second week is a little less busy than the first…

7 Sarah { 02.22.12 at 3:30 pm }

When using the dining plan, can you share meals? I know some of the meals require two vouchers and to make up for that, I was wondering if they allow you to share on any or all the meals. We’re going for our first time in December. Your site has been very helpful.

8 Dave { 02.22.12 at 5:30 pm }

Hi Sarah, glad the site has helped! The short answer is yes. The long answer is that you can pool credits from people on the same room reservation, of the same age group (>9 vs <10) and of the same meal type (counter vs table service…)

9 Lee { 05.20.12 at 12:05 am }

I am confused, flustrated, and overwhelmed? My family of 4 is planning to visit Disney World sometime in 2013. 1.) We search and search for the best price out there. We would like the cheapest price available. So when is our cheapest time to visit with table service dining plan in a value resort? 2.) One of our children will turn 10 in March, and it looks like it might cost us more after March since she will be 10. So how much more do we spend after she turns 10 total (park, dining plan, etc.)? 3.) Our other child is mentally handicapped and has a weather intolerce issue (cannot be out in real hot or real cold weather). We have been in the middle of September before and it was too hot for her. (crowd level was nice though and we had free dining). 4.)We have not used a travel agent before when going to Disney and wonder if they really do save you money? I really do not like giving my phone # and email just to get a quote with an online travel agent. Thank you.

10 Dave { 05.20.12 at 8:56 am }

Hi Lee, the constraints you’re under make it hard to get something perfect. The cheapest times to go are either cold or hot. The times with more comfortable weather that are also not as high-priced as others are late Oct/early Nov. See the October and November weeks on this page: http://yourfirstvisit.net/2011/09/19/2013-weeks-to-visit-walt-disney-world-ranked-in-order/

A travel agent doesn’t necessarily save money–just time.

See also the material that begins here: http://yourfirstvisit.net/2010/10/03/introduction-to-the-tightwads-guide-to-walt-disney-world/

11 Lee { 05.21.12 at 11:01 pm }

Thank you. I will check out these sites.

12 Dave { 05.22.12 at 6:45 am }

OK Lee, let me know if you have any questions…

13 Mark { 06.14.12 at 1:44 pm }

So how does it work for children under 3? We’re going in January or February next year, before my daughter turns 3 so she’ll be free at the park for her first visit. (I expect we’ll be back every few years, so we can do a pre-school tailored trip now). Since we can’t buy a dining plan for her, do we just pay cash for her while the rest of the party uses plan points?

14 Dave { 06.14.12 at 5:53 pm }

Mark, kids under three typically nibble off their parents’s plates–especially at buffets, but even with plated meals portions are generousness–and then topped off as needed with cash.

15 Arletis { 06.26.12 at 10:42 am }

Hello, thanks for all the great recommendations! this is indeed an eye-opening site, even for veterans at WDW. I’ve been there 6 times in the last 10 years and never used the Dining Plan before. Now with 2 kids (4 and 6) I’m considering it (we all eat very light and usually 2 adult portions serve us all, but we are considering the convenience of using DDP for the character dinings). So, until we decide… just booked online for AoA 25/nov-3/dec without the Dining Plan. Could the DDP option be added later to our existing reservation?

16 Dave { 06.26.12 at 11:19 am }

Hi Arletis and thanks! And yes you can add the dining plan later…

17 Joanne P. { 07.06.12 at 5:37 pm }

Hi, I have taken my children and grands to disney many times staying in a time share in Kissimee. On 6-8-13 we are going for my last time with my last 2 grands who will be 9 & 4. her is the break down of our group. (son & wife & their 9 year old: daughter & her 4 year old: Me age 69 and my sister 71. We will stay at Disney and do meal plan. I am on fixed income but paying for all except my sister. here is where I need advise. 1. should we 7 stay at POP Century or somewhere else? My sister and I want to eat at 2 Signature dinners and take kids to 1 character meal. the others do not care where they eat but they want to ride. will the Dinning Plan meet our needs. We will check out on Sat. because I cannot pay for the extra night. Please give me your best estimate for this trip too. thanks!

18 Dave { 07.07.12 at 2:21 pm }

Joanne–I can’t quite tell how many nights you are staying, and whether there are six or seven of you…can you clarify?

19 Free dinning January 2013 - PassPorter Community - Boards & Forums on Walt Disney World, Disneyland, Disney Cruise Line, and General Travel { 07.15.12 at 7:57 pm }

[...] one rumor. FREE DINING AT DISNEY WORLD IN2013 There’s no guarantee Disney will offer the Disney Dining Plan for free in 2013. If it does, based on past dates, Disney will most likely offer more free dining [...]

20 Amy { 07.19.12 at 10:11 pm }

We have the free dining plan for our trip, however, I was wondering if they let people share a plate. My sister and I are not very big eaters at all. Do they let us share a plate?

21 Dave { 07.20.12 at 10:39 am }

Yes, Amy they do!

22 Maria { 08.03.12 at 12:11 pm }

Hi – I’m taking my son (14) in Sept to WDW and camping at the Wilderness Campground. We’re using two two-day no-expiration tickets from when I took him a few years ago. We will have 3 nights. I will have to purchase a one-day ticket in order to participate in the dining plan. At 14 he’s a big eater. I don’t need to purchase tickets on the Magic Your Way Plan, but I’m wondering if – since our flight leaves the evening of the last day – it would be a good value to buy a one-day ticket for one of the parks in order to participate in the Dining Plan. I was looking at quick service as he’s not really interested in sit-down and character meals. Any thoughts on this approach versus just being thrifty? I, personaly, can live on apples and cheese for that length of time. Appreciate any insight – great site by the way! Thanks.

23 Dave { 08.03.12 at 4:02 pm }

Maria, the dining plan nowadays doesn’t actually save much money–and certainly not enough to pay back the costs of a one-day ticket…

24 Brad { 08.23.12 at 10:36 am }

Dave. Love your Site.
Looking at going to Disney beginning of Feb. 2013, and making reservations through Disney website, you can set up everything….Room-Airline–Food.
Now looking through other websites(Travelocity,Southwest) Looks like we can book a cheaper flight and room through them..Now the question is… can we still book the Dining Plan and RideTickets through Disney then flight and room through a 3rd party?
Thanks Much.
Brad

25 Dave { 08.23.12 at 12:10 pm }

Hey Brad, and thanks!

I’m gonna double check this, so look back here for a response from an expert I’m gonna reach out to, but I am pretty sure you can only get the dining plan if you reserve your room through Disney or a travel agent–and you may have to get your park tickets from them too.

Your flight you can do with anyone!

26 Christine from Destinations In Florida { 08.23.12 at 12:25 pm }

Hi Brad!

In order to get the Disney Dining Plan, you need to book a complete Disney package — room, tickets and dining. Unfortunately, you cannot book the flight and room through one source and dining and tickets through another. A complete package must be purchased. The flights, however, can always be purchased separately.

It is extremely rare for Travelocity or another online source to be cheaper than booking through Disney or a certified Disney travel agent. The flights may be cheaper, but Disney tightly controls its room costs. Keep in mind that discounts for February have not yet been released so the prices you are seeing on the Disney website are full price. There is an extremely good chance those prices will drop. If you book through an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner, you can book now and the agent will add any applicable discounts later so that you get the room you want at the best possible price.

I’m happy to help in any way I can. We love to work with Dave’s readers! Just let me know if you’d like a quote.

27 Dave { 08.23.12 at 1:39 pm }

Thanks, Christine!–Brad, she’s the expert I was referring to

28 Brad { 08.23.12 at 3:48 pm }

Thank You Christine and Dave.
One more question…
So if i book through Disneys website NOW and the “February Discounts” come out in the months ahead, am i able to personally get the rates adjusted through disney or is that only through a authorized dealer will i get the prices lowered?
Thanks MUCH

29 Dave { 08.24.12 at 8:49 am }

Brad, you can do it either way–yourself, or with help!

30 Laura { 09.02.12 at 1:13 pm }

Hi:

I’m looking at summer 2013 WDW trip – first time with my kids (will be 9 and almost 4), but certainly not the last. My question regarding the dining plan – looking at the pdf on the WDW site, it looks like far fewer table service restaurants (notably at Epcot and DD) are included for next year that are on the 2012 plan. I, for one, love to eat at San Angel, and now am wondering if the plan is worth it if I can’t eat at some of the restaurants I like best. Do you know if they are paring down the possible choices? Thanks in advance.

31 Dave { 09.03.12 at 7:45 am }

Hi Laura–many of these Epcot and DTD restaurants are independently owned, and negotiate the terms of their presence on the Dining Plan with Disney, often until the last moment (San Angel is famous for this). Many DTD restaurants never come in, but the Epcot ones almost universally do. So this happens every year–the DP looks thin at Epcot until the end of 2012. It’s a really good bet that anyone who is in for 2012 will be in for 2013…

32 Scott { 09.08.12 at 10:57 pm }

Dave, can you decide to use a dining plan credit for two members of your party and for specific meals and pay for meals that others in your party get? I hope this question makes sense
Thanks in advance.

33 Dave { 09.09.12 at 9:19 am }

Scott…umm not quite. Do you mean pay different ways at a meal? Yes, you can do that…if you mean pay different ways for people on your hotel reservation, no, everyone on the reservation has to buy the same plan, but they do not have to use the plan the same way at any specific meal…

34 Scott { 09.09.12 at 11:50 am }

Dave…I kind of thought I was not clear. Yes, I was referring to the specific meal.

35 Danny { 10.07.12 at 9:44 am }

Hi Dave. The dining plan doesn’t seem like enough food to us. Would you recommend the deluxe dining plan. I want to do a lot of sit down restaurants. What does the deluxe dining plan have exactly?

36 Dave { 10.07.12 at 3:21 pm }

Danny the deluxe plan gives you three credits a day, which you can use for either table service or quick service meals.

I can’t recommend for a couple of reasons: it’ll likely be cheaper for you to pay cash for the excess meals than to use the deluxe plan; so many table service meals will cut into your ride and relaxation time; and finally, since you’ll have to reserve the vast majority of your meals far in advance, it creates too many fixed points in your schedule.

You can see more on this plan here: http://www.disneyfoodblog.com/magic-your-way-package-with-deluxe-dining-plan/

37 Danny { 10.08.12 at 12:10 am }

Thanks, but mostly I will only do 1 TS a day. But for Epcot, there is so many I want to try, and cannot resist them. I also like the fact of having appetizers to. Do you still not recommend it? Oh and another thing I want to do some signature restaurants like Cinderella’s Royal Table, Bistro de Paris (or whatever it will be called in future) and Hollywood Brown Derby. SO do you still think it would be cheaper to stick with the regular?

38 Dave { 10.08.12 at 6:33 am }

Danny you can have as many TS meals and appetizers as you want. The question is whether it’s cheaper to add them to the regular plan via cash or pay for them via the deluxe plan. The only way to know for sure is to plan what you’d do regardless of which dinning plan you are on, and then figure out which approach is more expensive!

39 soapbubbble { 10.12.12 at 7:06 pm }

Hi. It is my first trip to WDW. I booked a dinner reservation at 1900 Park Fare restaurant in Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa for the day we arrive on oct 14, 2012. Am I required to buy the Magic Kingdom ticket in order to dine at this resort? We are staying at the Port Orleans Resort. Any help would be appreciated!! Thanks!

40 Dave { 10.13.12 at 1:05 pm }

Hi Soapbubble, no you don’t as it is near, but not in, the Magic Kingdom. You get to it from Port Orleans by taking the WDW bus to MK, then the “Resort Monorail” from MK to GF. You never actually enter MK while doing this, so you don’t need a ticket!

41 Corie { 10.13.12 at 8:34 pm }

We will be on the DDP for our trip in 59 days!!!! :) so i have 2 questions…..1.When the kids menu says add $2.00 for steak, is that included or do they charge us when they bring the bill? And 2. When ordering at Yorkshire will I just say charge 2 adults and 2 children’s fish plates since they don’t actually have a children’s menu? My kids love it and can eat a plate by themselves.

Thanks so much! We LOVE your site.
Corie

42 Dave { 10.14.12 at 8:29 am }

Hi Corie, the steak charge is in addition and added to the bill, and if a dining spot does not have a kids menu, the kids can order anything an adult could for their credit! And thanks for the love…

43 Ken { 12.02.12 at 2:01 am }

Hey Dave,

What do you think about the 2013 dining plan with respect that there are a lot less location accepting the DDP?????

Thanks Ken

44 Ken { 12.02.12 at 2:09 am }

Hey Dave,

What do you think about the 2013 dining plan with respect that there are a lot less locations accepting the DDP?????

Thanks Ken

45 Dave { 12.02.12 at 11:23 am }

Ken that happens every year. Many WDW-located restaurants, specifically at Epcot and Downtown Disney, are not owned by Dinsey. So Disney has to negotiate with them, and their leverage is to wait as long as possible to commit. By early 2013 the list will be close to normal!

46 Ken { 12.02.12 at 7:11 pm }

Dave,

Thanks for your time, I am kinda excited to watch and see this list change over the next few months. I am hoping for a lot of the Downtown Disney restaurants to come aboard! My wife and I are head 9/22/2013 – 9/29/2013.

Once again your site ROCKS, and thanks for your time!

Ken

47 Dave { 12.02.12 at 7:20 pm }

Thanks Ken! BTW, check out a 2012 list–it’s a good guide to what the 2013 list will end up looking like: http://disneyworld.disney.go.com/media/wdw_nextgen/CoreCatalog/WaltDisneyWorld/en_us/PDF/2012Dining.pdf

48 K { 01.06.13 at 2:38 pm }

I was wondering if you go to a signature restaurant that requires 2 credits do they allow you to split a plate so you “pay” 2 credits instead of 4? Has anyone seen this work ? Can a child get adult dish at a signature restaurant (this would be 2 credits as well)?

Splitting of dishes does not work for buffet or Character dinning correct? In addition it will not work for dinner/shows.

49 Dave { 01.07.13 at 6:43 am }

I doubt it, K, but am not sure… Specifically, you need to reserve seats and need to pay–one way or another–for the seats you reserve. Children can’t order off the adult menu unless there is no child menu.

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50 karla { 02.06.13 at 3:05 pm }

Hello. I am planning a trip to Disney. We will arrive on May 6th and depart on May 10th. we are a family of 4. One member is under age 10. We are considering one the All Star resorts due to its value price. I am confused abou the dining plan. I definitely want to purchase one. My question to you is:

Several people have told me to order the basic meal plan b/c I will begin to get Disney coupons and offers to upgrade to deluxe dining package for cheaper than if i were to purchase it at the start. I am worreid that i wont get the offers then have to scarmble or pay more in the long run.
Any advice on this and anything else you can advise , Im all ears like Mickey!!

51 Dave { 02.07.13 at 7:08 am }

Hi Karla, I’ve never heard of “coupons and offers to upgrade to the deluxe plan.” Disney sometimes offers free dining, and you can use the “free” part as a partial payment to a higher level plan. This may be what they are thinking about. But so far, there’s no free dining for your dates, and I don’t expect to see any offered–see this: http://yourfirstvisit.net/2013/02/07/2013-free-dining-mymagic-implications-disneys-q1-2013-earnings-call/

The dining plan(s) no longer save much money, and given how close your dates are, you may not be able to book the best/most fun WDW restaurants anyway–see this: http://yourfirstvisit.net/planning-your-first-family-trip/when-your-plans-need-to-be-firm/ So I would not buy the dining plan until you’ve targeted your table service spots and tested availability–see this: http://yourfirstvisit.net/planning-your-first-family-trip/where-to-eat/

One other note–among the value resorts, the All-Stars are last on my rankings. See this: http://yourfirstvisit.net/2010/08/04/the-value-resorts-at-walt-disney-world/

Hope this helps!!

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52 Roxanne { 04.20.13 at 5:38 pm }

I had a question about the character meals! We will be bringing a 4 year old and plan on doing many of the character dinners/breakfast, Aker, Cinderellas royal table, chef mickey, etc. Do you recommend or have you heard if one or the other is better? For example, if we go to Cinderellas royal table, would doing the breakfast time or dinner timebe better? Or does it matter? Have you heard of better experiences at one or the other times? Just curious! Thanks for all your help! Trying to make this memorable and best vacation I can!

53 Dave { 04.21.13 at 8:05 am }

Hi Roxanne, see this for a ranking of the character meals: http://yourfirstvisit.net/planning-your-first-family-trip/where-to-eat/dining-alternatives/character-meals-and-dinner-shows-ranked-in-order/

My recommendations are in my itineraries–see for example the list of meals (not all character) here: http://yourfirstvisit.net/planning-your-first-family-trip/where-to-eat/

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54 Mike { 05.13.13 at 6:42 am }

Since we got got a pin number for free dinning, can we upgrade to the next higher dinning plan and when do we have to do it? How much will this cost us ? Thanks Dave

55 Dave { 05.13.13 at 8:05 am }

Mike, all you have to do is pay the cash price difference between the two plans to upgrade. So if your free dining costs at normal prices $50/person/night, and you wanna upgrade to something that costs $70/person/night, you’d pay $20/person/night to upgrade…You can do this when you reserve…

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56 colleen { 05.17.13 at 9:32 am }

is the dining plan only offered for guests staying on Disney property? We are headed to Disney Nov 2014 and staying off Disney property. Can we not get the dining plan?

57 Dave { 05.17.13 at 9:40 am }

Hi Colleen, yes, you can only get the dining plan if you stay in a Disney owned and operated hotel…

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58 Mike H { 05.18.13 at 1:48 am }

Hi Dave – is table service only available to those on a qualifying dining plan? We now don’t think the dining plan is worth it but still want to do Cinderella and Be Our Guest.

59 Dave { 05.19.13 at 7:03 am }

Mike you can absolutely reserve table service without the dining plan! It’s open to everyone! But do see this: http://yourfirstvisit.net/planning-your-first-family-trip/when-your-plans-need-to-be-firm/

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60 Nicole T. { 05.20.13 at 9:37 pm }

You should never ever ever use your snack credit on a bottle of water or an apple! Are you kidding me?? Think gourmet cupcake at $3.99; funnel cakes at $5.69; a ham and cheese croissant sandwich at Les Halles ($4.99); Mickey-shaped pretzels ($4.50); Mickey Nut clusters @$4.99 and Ice Cream Sundaes at the Plaza Ice Cream Parlor that go for over $5.00 each. Snack Credits = $$ Do not ‘waste’ them on anything under $3.50 or $4.00!! And many of these can be shared to maximize your credits even more.

61 Dave { 05.21.13 at 8:13 am }

Great points, Nicole!

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62 LaToya { 07.12.13 at 9:16 pm }

Are the dining plans only available if you are staying at a Disney resort? My family owns a timeshare in Orlando so (gladly) don’t need to stay in one of the resorts but wouldn’t mind utilizing a dining plan while we’re out at the parks. Thanks for all of the help and awesome info throughout the site!! : )

63 Dave { 07.13.13 at 11:12 am }

LaToya yes, dining plans are only available to those staying in a Disney owned and operated resort.

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64 Jenny { 07.15.13 at 11:00 am }

My daughter has won a free trip to Disney. The prize itself includes, airfare, hotel (Art of Animation) and park admission. We are traveling during a time when the free dining plan is offered. Would I be able to add this to our package??

65 Dave { 07.16.13 at 7:40 am }

Hi Jenny, I’m not sure. If you “own” the reservation, have the reservation number, etc, you should be able to. If the contest-creator “owns” it, it may not be revisable.

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66 Wendy (on disboards she who must read) { 08.01.13 at 3:20 pm }

After a sleepless night, we got free dining. Now I am looking at my reservations…

I have a Brown Derby reservation for Fantastmic for lunch. Will that take 2 credits? Is there another restaurant we could book for Fantasmic that does not cost two?

In addition, do you know where I can find a good list of snacks that are the best “buy” for the credits? Ahhh…more to find out!

Thanks for all of you guidance and help – the hints as to what might be coming allowed me to get free dining. It was an odd release, but it worked (I did have to upgrade the room, but I get a better room and 50% off dining with the change due to the increase in the price of the room.)

Last question at this point – has anyone released the Thanksgiving menus for this year?

Thanks!

67 Dave { 08.01.13 at 3:46 pm }

Wendy–I saw you I saw you! But more to the point I’m so glad you got in!

Brown Derby lunch is indeed two table credits. The other restaurants on the Fantasmic plan are weak but one credit…

Couple of links for snacks: http://www.disneytouristblog.com/maximizing-snack-credit-value-on-the-dining-plan/ and http://www.disneyfoodblog.com/2012/05/09/top-6-disney-dining-plan-snack-credit-values-for-2012/ Second is 2012, not sure it matters.

On thanksgiving, I couldn’t find any 2013 menus for you–but I’m sure you’ve seen this marvelous post: http://yourfirstvisit.net/2013/04/15/thanksgiving-2013-at-walt-disney-world/

68 Wendy (on disboards she who must read) { 08.01.13 at 4:16 pm }

Are the villas at Wilderness Lodge in a different area than the Wood View rooms? I could get a villa studio for a bit less than the bunk bed wood view room – might it be a better choice? We are traveling 6 others…and their TA did not get them anything. If the villas are a better choice, I might be able to get them to move, too.

Thanks!

69 Wendy (on disboards she who must read) { 08.01.13 at 4:19 pm }

Oh, and thanks for the info about the Fantasmic meal! Do you think it is worth 2? How much better are the seats? We have a big group and preferred seating would be very nice, I think. I did love the BD years ago…

Thanks!

70 Dave { 08.01.13 at 6:27 pm }

Wendy yes they are in a different area, though views are similar.

Typically the WL studios have a queen and a fold-out full bed. A minor difference compared to the regular rooms is that they have a microwave as well.

For floor plans etc see this: http://yourfirstvisit.net/2011/02/07/review-the-villas-at-disneys-wilderness-lodge/ (The studio floor plan is on the seocnd page.)

71 Dave { 08.01.13 at 6:31 pm }

Wendy, the reserved Fantasmic seats–while not necessarily worse than what you’d get without the meal–are nothing special, and actively disliked by some (off-center, too close).

What the Fantasmic meal gets you is not good seats, but rather guaranteed seats for a defined, not bad, wait–you need to be at the special entrance for those taking this package 30 minutes early.

Because you don’t get much, don’t save that much waiting, and the food isn’t much (or, as in the case of Brown Derby, too expensive for most) I don’t have the Fantasmic Package in my itineraries…

72 Wendy { 08.02.13 at 2:32 pm }

Thanks – now I just need to decide!

W

73 Lex { 08.15.13 at 1:36 pm }

Hi!
We’re trying to plan our trip for the last week of May 2014. I’ve heard nothing but good things about the dining plan, and therefore would love it for free! But I have half of the people I’ve asked opinions telling me that I should wait until they offer it closer to my dates since it’s not available as of right now for the dates we’d be going. Would you happen to know if they will offer this again down the road? I’m torn weather or not to book my trip now or in a couple months.

74 Dave { 08.16.13 at 7:50 am }

Lex, they may offer free dining in May–see this: http://yourfirstvisit.net/2013/08/05/an-interesting-disney-world-survey-and-the-future-of-room-deals/

Simply for getting the deal, it doesn’t matter when you book. Even if you have a reservation, it still has to be available when you call–so having a reservation doesn’t help or hurt. It’s either available or not…

Follow yourfirstvisit.net on Facebook!

75 maree { 01.20.14 at 12:36 am }

Hi have just been reading through all the questions which gets me thinking i am going to Walt Disney World in early Oct 2014 have not booked anything yet. Is there any chance of a free or discounted disney dining plan. Thankyou Maree.

76 Dave { 01.20.14 at 6:37 am }

Maree, there’s always a chance! I doubt it, but hope I will be wrong!!

77 Fernanda { 02.04.14 at 6:11 pm }

Hi Dave,
First of all thanks so much for all the effort put into this site. It is helping us a lot on planning our first trip as a family (we’re already late with some planning but we have the flights and hotel for most nights booked).
We are visiting the week of May the 10th (saturday through sunday) and we’re staying the majority of days at the Dolphin since we could pay with points. The last couple of nights we want to stay at Disney’s Art of Animation on Nemo’s Family Suite (3 adults and 3 kids). We want to buy the package (hotel+tickets for the whole 7 days+dining) but can’t understand if the dining plan will be for the 7 days of the tickets or the 2 nights we’ll stay at the Disney hotel.

Thank you so much!

78 Dave { 02.05.14 at 2:44 pm }

Hi Fernanda, you can only buy the dining plan at Disney-owned hotels, and the Dolphin is not. So you’d get it only for the AofA nights…you’ll also need to buy tix to be eligible for the dining plan, which means either two ticket buys (much more expensive than one, because of the way Disney prices tickets) or activating your tickets tied to the AofA booking way before your AofA stay, which can get complicated…. So it might be wise, frankly, to skip the dining plan entirely…

79 Larry { 02.23.14 at 2:12 pm }

Does Disney have any convenience stores on the grounds? Someplace to buy milk,bread, snacks etc.?
PS great site,very helpful.

80 Dave { 02.24.14 at 7:46 am }
81 Mandy { 03.05.14 at 9:03 am }

Do you have any info on the free dining for 2014? Thanks for this site, it’s super helpful!!!!

82 Dave { 03.06.14 at 8:16 am }

Hi Mandy and thanks! There’s no real word yet on any 2014 free dining.

83 ed { 04.02.14 at 11:51 pm }

Awesome site. We are planning a visit late oct. Seems the dining deal is usually in effect at that time. Does the deal usually apply to all Disney Resorts? I’m looking at a standard room at AOA and have had mixed information that only suites are offered the deal?
thanks

84 Dave { 04.03.14 at 7:37 am }

Ed, there’s no “usually.” What’s happened the past few years is a leftover from slow recovery form the recession, and Disney continues to cut back on discounts it offered in the early years–so you can’t predict the future form the recent past. So I would not count on free dining then. And yes, certain hotels with high demand are excluded–Little Mermaid rooms have been excluded from almost all the deals offered since they opened.

85 mo { 05.14.14 at 8:02 am }

Hi dave
Thanks for info.I am staying at all star sports in Sept 2014 .Does room have a mini fridge,if not how do i get one for medical reasons.

86 Dave { 05.15.14 at 11:30 am }

Mo, yes it does!

87 Hank { 05.21.14 at 10:23 pm }

Hi Dave,
We are a family of 5 (2 Adults, 7 year old, 5 year old and 2 year old). My mother-in-law has a time share that we can use down there that is off premises. Right now Disney is offering the Free Meals during the time that we are looking to go to Disney. Is it better to stay at the Free Hotel and pay for meals or is it better to stay on-site and get the Free Meals? This is a GREAT SITE and has been very helpful and informative.

Second: On eBay there are coupons that we can purchase for $10 for Free kids meals at certain restaurants. Have you hear of there coupons and are they a rip off?

Thanks
Hank

88 Dave { 05.22.14 at 10:06 am }

Hank, you simply have to run the numbers, as it profoundly depends on which hotel you stay in at WDW instead.

There’s some numbers on potential savings here http://yourfirstvisit.net/2014/04/16/the-best-ever-free-dining-faq-in-the-history-of-the-world/ And you can find WDW hotel prcies linked to from here: http://www.mousesavers.com/2014-disney-world-resort-room-rates-season-dates/

And sorry, but I don’t track off-site food deals…

89 Anonymous { 08.27.14 at 3:45 pm }

Ok Dave,
as always….Thank You So Much For Your Help!!!!

I may be overthinking this, so I would love your input, again.
Whe we take our trip in May 2015, there will be 5 adults and 2 kids under 3 (yep, it’s me again!)
Ok, so kids under 3 eat free at buffets or off our plates.
We are planning on doing, to just name a few…

1900 Fare Park for dinner
Hollywood and Vine for lunch
Chef Mickey (unsure of meal time)
Coral Reef for dinner
..
With the above places, and others comparable, in price, Would it pay to get the regular dining plan for the adults with the kids being free or just pay as we go??

Also, I keep hearing the snack credit can be used for things “less known” then the norm…piece of fruit, popcorn, ect…would you know what those are??

90 Melissa { 08.27.14 at 3:46 pm }

Ok Dave,
as always….Thank You So Much For Your Help!!!!

I may be overthinking this, so I would love your input, again.
Whe we take our trip in May 2015, there will be 5 adults and 2 kids under 3 (yep, it’s me again!)
Ok, so kids under 3 eat free at buffets or off our plates.
We are planning on doing, to just name a few…

1900 Fare Park for dinner
Hollywood and Vine for lunch
Chef Mickey (unsure of meal time)
Coral Reef for dinner
..
With the above places, and others comparable, in price, Would it pay to get the regular dining plan for the adults with the kids being free or just pay as we go??

Also, I keep hearing the snack credit can be used for things “less known” then the norm…piece of fruit, popcorn, ect…would you know what those are??

91 Melissa { 08.27.14 at 3:56 pm }

Actually 1900 fare park for lunch…sorry

92 Dave { 08.28.14 at 8:17 am }

Melissa, those meals will average $40 The dining plan is $64/day, so to come out ahead those 4 days you’d need to see $24 of value out of your quick services and snacks, which is possible but unlikely. See the second half of this (beginning “WHAT’S THE DINING PLAN, ANYWAY”) for more: http://yourfirstvisit.net/2014/04/16/the-best-ever-free-dining-faq-in-the-history-of-the-world/

93 Dave { 08.28.14 at 8:20 am }

Park fare doesn’t do lunch, Melissa…

94 Alli { 10.23.14 at 12:40 am }

hey dave! I am back to your site for more advice! I have my vacation booked and currently we are staying in two standard rooms at the Art of Animation Resort. Today I got word of free dining being offered for the dates I am there but the standard rooms aren’t included of course! If we switch to a suite it will be roughly $700 more than we already paid (still saving compared to purchasing a dining plan separate) or we could switch hotels all together and stay at another value resort, leaving us with an all around cheaper bill than we already paid plus the free dining. So my question is: Is it worth leaving the Art of Animation and instead staying at the All Star Music or sports resort in order to get the free dining? Will my kids even care what hotel we are in? haha, I just would like your opinion on what you would do. kids choice of hotel vs free dining plan
Thanks!
Alli

95 Dave { 10.23.14 at 10:16 am }

Alli, did you get a pin offer? I’d change in a minute to get the savings, but I’d change to Pop Century, not one of the All-Stars.

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