Disney Dining Plan 2018: Everything You Need To Know

on July 22, 2017

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Everything you need to know about the Disney Dining Plan! Cost, what's included, who should get them, tips and more for using the Dining Plans at Walt Disney World!

One approach to dining at Walt Disney World is to use a Disney Dining Plan. These plans have been around since 2005 and are basically a way to “pre-pay” for dining before your vacation starts.

In this post, I will share basic information about the plans, their 2018 cost, and recent updates that allow for much more flexibility.

Keep in mind that the plans are certainly not for everyone on every trip, and while they seem complicated at first, are actually pretty easy to use once you get the hang of it!

If you know the basics but are looking for some tips & tricks, check out this post!

Who Can Use The Disney Dining Plan?

Everything you need to know about the Disney Dining Plan! Cost, what's included, who should get them, tips and more for using the Dining Plans at Walt Disney World!

Zebra cupcake at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge

Disney Dining Plans can be used by guests staying at any Walt Disney World resort hotel. They can be purchased as part of a package that includes your room, park ticket, and dining, or included as part of a Free Dining Plan Package (more on this later).

They currently can’t be purchased by visitors staying at any hotels that are not owned by Disney (“off-property” hotels) or locals visiting for the day. The plan also must be purchased for every night of your stay and for everyone staying in your room.

Disney Dining Plan 2018 Prices

Everything you need to know about the Disney Dining Plans! Cost, what's included, who should get them, tips and more for using the Dining Plans at Walt Disney World!

Sanaa at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge

There are three different dining plans currently available; the standard Disney Dining Plan 2018, the Quick Service Plan, and the Deluxe Dining Plan.

The credits shown are per night of your stay and each plan includes a Resort Refillable Mug. The children’s prices are for kids ages 3 to 9. Here’s what you get with each plan and their cost (tax is included) per night of your stay this year:

Everything you need to know about the Disney Dining Plan! Cost, what's included, who should get them, tips and more for using the Dining Plans at Walt Disney World!

How Does The Disney Dining Plan Work?

Everything you need to know about the Disney Dining Plan!

Veggie Bowl at Pecos Bill’s, Magic Kingdom

Each of the dining plans includes credits that you can use all over Walt Disney World for almost any food or drink, even alcohol and specialty drinks starting in 2018!

These credits are loaded on the Magic Bands (read all about them here) of everyone in your party. You can use the credits at any point during your stay, from the time you check-in until midnight on the day you check-out. The types of credits are:

  • Snack Credits (most items that aren’t a meal unto themselves fall into this category)
  • Quick Service Meals (i.e. meals at locations where you order at a counter as opposed to having a server)
  • Table Service Meals (“Sit-down” meals – Signature restaurants and dinner shows require 2 Table Service credits per person)

In 2017 each Quick Service Meal credit includes an entree and non-alcoholic beverage. In years prior Quick service credits included a dessert. To make the plan more flexible, that dessert has been converted into a snack credit.

I personally am THRILLED about this change! It allows you to use the credit for a snack any time of day, or at Food & Wine Festival, which is one of the best uses of the Dining Plan.

Each Table Service Meal credit includes an entree, non-alcoholic beverage, and dessert. This credit was made more flexible in 2017 by allowing guests to choose a salad or soup (if available at the restaurant) in place of a dessert.

Everything you need to know about the Disney Dining Plan 2018!

Patron LIme Margarita and Fish Tacos in Epcot on the Dining Plan!

All Disney Dining Plan 2018 meals will include alcoholic drinks as well!

With any quick service or table service meal, guests over 21 can select a single-serving mixed drink, wine, or beer as their beverage with the plan. You could choose a specialty drink (such as a smoothie or milkshake) as your beverage as well.

And I am happy to report that you are not limited to certain alcoholic drinks with the Dining Plan… anything is fair game as long as it doesn’t come in a souvenir cup or serve more than one person. You can even get a $16 Patron Lime Margarita at Epcot’s La Cantina de San Angel with your quick service credit on the dining plan!

You are of course always allowed to order anything else from the menu that is not included in the dining plan and pay for the items out-of-pocket.

Everything you need to know about the Disney Dining Plan 2018! Cost, what's included, who should get them, tips and more for using the Dining Plans at Walt Disney World!

Resort Refillable Mug

In addition to snack and meal credits, each dining plan includes a Resort Refillable Mug with unlimited free refills for the length of your stay. The mugs can be used at any Disney resort hotel for soda, coffee, tea, lemonade and hot chocolate, but aren’t good for refills in the theme parks.

How Do I Get a Dining Plan for Free?

Everything you need to know about the Disney Dining Plan 2018! Cost, what's included, who should get them, tips and more for using the Dining Plans at Walt Disney World!

Free Mickey waffles? Yes please!

You likely have heard of Disney’s wildly popular “Free Dining” promotion. For this offer, guests pay the regular, non-discounted rate for their hotel stay and park tickets, but get one of the dining plans at no additional cost.

A free dining package usually requires booking a minimum three-night stay and purchasing a minimum of 2-day “Park Hopper” tickets for everyone in your travel party. Dates for Free Dining are usually released in April for travel dates in the fall and winter.

You can read everything you need to know about free dining in this post. If you are interested in booking a free dining package, I strongly suggest getting a quote from Destinations in Florida, my recommended Disney travel agency. You won’t pay anything extra and they can help you with every aspect of planning your Disney vacation!

Disney Dining Plan 2018 Restaurants

The answer to “What restaurants take the Disney Dining Plan?” is almost every restaurant at Disney World. 

Each year when the Dining Plan is released, restaurants are slowly added to the of those that accept the plan. Almost all dining establishments at Disney World now take the Dining Plan. For a complete list, check out this PDF from Disney of Disney Dining Plan 2018 Restaurants. 

Is It Worth Getting the Dining Plan at Disney World?

Everything you need to know about the Disney Dining Plan 2018! Cost, what's included, who should get them, tips and more for using the Dining Plans at Walt Disney World!

French Bakery in Epcot

If you are like most folks visiting Walt Disney World, you have a budget that you need to stick to for your vacation. Having a pre-paid dining plan included in a package in one way to help you stay within your budget at Disney World.

Here is a comparison of what it would cost out-of-pocket vs. on the dining plan for a sample day at Epcot:

Dining PlanOut-of-Pocket Cost
Breakfast – Resort Food Court1 Snack + refillable mugPastry – $4.79
Coffee – $2.79
Lunch – Epcot’s Sunshine Seasons1 Quick Service Credit + 1 SnackPressed Cubano Sandwich – $13.49
Fat Tire Amber Ale – $8.75
Fruit & Cheese Plate – $6.69
Dinner – Epcot’s Akershus Royal Banquet Hall1 Table Service CreditAdult All-You-Care-to-Enjoy Meal – $55.37 (including tax)
Viking Coffee – $9.00
Total Cost$75.49$100.88

With this sample day, you would save $25.39 in one day for one person on the dining plan.

Keep in mind that Akershus Royal Banquet Hall is one of the priciest one table service credit restaurants at Disney World, so I wouldn’t expect to save this much every day. But if this is the type and quantity of food you would likely eat on vacation, then the dining plan might be a good fit for you!

Here’s an example of another day at Epcot that wouldn’t be such a good deal on the Disney Dining Plan 2018:
Dining PlanOut-of-Pocket Cost
Breakfast – Resort + Fountain View (Starbucks)2 Snacks + refillable mugCoffee Cake – $3.19
Smoothie – $4.99
Coffee – $2.79
Lunch – Katsura Grill1 Quick Service CreditTeriyaki Chicken – $10
Soft Drink – $3.05
Dinner – Rose & Crown1 Table Service CreditShepard’s Pie – $20
Fountain Drink – $3
Warm Fruit Crumble –  $7
Total Cost$75.49$54.02

Today you’d lose $21.47 with the dining plan. The main reason is eating at some of the most affordable restaurants out-of-pocket and choosing soft drinks as opposed to pricey alcoholic drinks.

So overall, if the first sample day represents how you generally like to eat on vacation, the Disney Dining Plan could work out very well for you! If you aren’t a buffet fan, are a lighter eater, or don’t drink alcohol with your meals, it would likely make more sense to pay out-of-pocket for your food. 

For an in-depth post that compares the Disney Dining Plan 2018 to what you can expect to pay out-of-pocket, check out this post.

Have you ever tried the Dining Plans? Please share your experience in a comment below!

Any questions about the plans? Leave a comment or send me a message on The Frugal South’s Facebook page!

Want to learn how to do Disney on a budget? Check out my Disney-only site, The Budget Mouse here!

27 Comments

  • Disney World Free Dining: Everything You Need To Know - The Budget Mouse

    […] pay the regular, non-discounted rate for their hotel stay and park tickets, but get one of the Disney Dining Plans at no additional […]

    September 25, 2018 at 7:18 am Reply
  • Kathy

    Hi Leah….I will be going to Disney World for the first time in November…there will be four 50+ women, two to a room. We booked through Disney but did not add a dining plan, however, we are rethinking it. My understanding is that everyone in the room has to have the same dining plan correct? Also, if we seperate, and go off and do different things, technically can your roommate use some of your snack/meal credits if they decide to go on an eating binge for the day? Are all the points loaded on each magicband? Just curious, because we are also planning a trip for late 2019 where six of will be going and possible staying in a villa so I wanted to know if everybody has access to all the eating credits. Thank you.

    August 22, 2018 at 1:15 pm Reply
    • Leah

      Great questions, Kathy! Yes, everyone on the same reservation must have the same dining plan. But if you booked the rooms separately, one room could have the plan and the other room not. The credits are “pooled” together for all of those on the reservation and yes, everyone has access to the pool of credits. Every time you use a credit it will show you on your receipt how many credits you have left, making them pretty easy to keep up with.

      August 22, 2018 at 9:15 pm Reply
  • K Lin

    Isn’t there also a charge for the character meals if you are not on the dining plan that is not added in the article calculations?

    July 2, 2018 at 7:25 am Reply
    • Leah

      Hi K! There isn’t any extra charge for character meals if you aren’t on the dining plan above the per person cost. You will have to leave a tip for your server (everywhere except Cinderella’s where it is included) if you are on the plan or paying out of pocket. Here are the current costs of each Character Meal from WDWprepschool: https://wdwprepschool.com/guide-to-all-character-meals-at-disney-world/

      July 2, 2018 at 7:57 am Reply
  • Tonnie

    We are currently planning our trip to Disney World, and this time a (partial) on-site stay (1/3, then moving to off-site hotel and get a rental car for the other 2/3th of the trip)
    Because we are from europe we are looking at a disney package with 5 nights hotel and the pay 7 get 14 days Disney tickets.

    What i dislike for the dining plan is that you don’t get the credits for the park-days, because tbh we can be big eaters, but definitely not every day, and if you change light days with some more heavy eating days the dining plan doesn’t seem such a great deal, or am i missing something?

    June 7, 2018 at 5:17 pm Reply
    • Leah

      Hi Tonnie – I did some research and looked into the Europe Free Dining Package since I thought it might differ from the US packages. It apparently has the same rule that the dining credits have to be used during your Disney resort stay – you have up until midnight the night you check out of your Disney resort to use your credits. The free dining package looks like a great deal… have you considered the quick service meal plan? You’ll still be able to pay out of pocket for a few big buffets or character meals and it isn’t as much food. Just a thought…

      June 7, 2018 at 9:14 pm Reply
  • Ellen Oakes

    We visited in February 2018 and loved the food – however the tipping seemed extreme- are you expected to tip and how much is required – also there were six adults and we were served large amounts of food – not complaining but it seemed a waste – ex. very large bowl of macaroni and cheese for only one child. Best roast turkey I ever tasted.

    March 29, 2018 at 10:19 pm Reply
    • Leah

      I totally agree with you about the portions being too big at Disney, Ellen. I guess they do it because most people expect that? I really don’t know! We often share food because of it.

      March 30, 2018 at 6:27 am Reply
  • Amberly McWhirter

    Hi Leah!

    My husband and I are traveling to Disney this May for the first time as adults! We have the 2018 Dining Plan and want to make sure we get the best bang for our buck. With that being said, I know an alcoholic beverage comes with each quick service and table service meal (with the exception of buffet meals). However, when I look up a QS or TS breakfast/brunch menu, it doesn’t list alcoholic beverages. I’m only noticing alcohol posted on some lunch menus, but mostly just dinner menus (looking at the Be My Guest menu as an example). So my question is, do you know if alcoholic beverages (such as a mimosa, Baileys with coffee, etc) are available for breakfast?

    March 6, 2018 at 4:10 pm Reply
    • Leah

      Hi Amberly! You are smart to plan ahead with the dining plan. You are also right that you can get an alcoholic beverage with each meal if it is available. We usually use our credits for lunch and dinner only since you only get 2 per day and they are a higher value than breakfast. If you are doing a brunch buffet, you can check for beverage options on the menus on the Disney website, on AllEars.net, and over at Disney Food Blog. If none of those places show adult drink options, I’m guessing they aren’t available. Sorry I can’t be of more help!

      March 6, 2018 at 4:57 pm Reply
  • Maria

    Can I save meal credits, or do they have to be used each day? For example if I go one day and only use a table service and snack credit, will the unused quick service credit roll into my next day essentially giving me an extra quick service option to use? or is it more a use it or lose it program?

    My stay is planned for 5 days at the hotel, but we’re only going into Disney for 4 of those days, so I’m wondering if the 5th day is a waste of the plan if I cant roll the credits together.

    April 20, 2017 at 12:33 pm Reply
    • Leah

      Hi Maria! You can use your credits in any combination on any day. You could theoretically use them all on the first day or wait and not use them at all until the end of your trip. Hope that helps!

      April 20, 2017 at 8:16 pm Reply
  • Sara

    When would you want to book to get this free dining option?

    February 16, 2017 at 5:16 pm Reply
    • Leah

      Last year Free Dining became available April 25th for dates in the late summer through early winter. So look for it again sometime in April hopefully!

      February 16, 2017 at 5:35 pm Reply
  • Destini B

    hi we(myself, my 6year old, and hubby) went last spring with the deluxe dining plan 5days, and I made it a mission to eat at every popular restaurant in each theme park. Bad idea if we had slightly weaker stomachs im sure we would have puked on the rides afterward from t-rex eating app, entrée, dessert, and drinks to chief mickey’s buffet, plus eating a full dinner at Liberty Tree (which is thanksgiving pretty much) of it kind of got to be a little crazy. Leftovers piled in our little room frig like the leaning tower. I though we always were BIG eaters but nope. So much delicious food so little time. So next time we are going for the reg dining plan with the 1 table meal, 1 quick service and 2 snack credits we will have to work to credits for lunch and the TM/QS for breakfast and dinner.

    February 12, 2017 at 1:56 am Reply
    • Leah

      Thanks for making me laugh this morning, Destini! I totally agree, the Deluxe Plan is SO. MUCH. FOOD. My sister and her husband got it for their honeymoon and said they could barely walk around after they ate they were so full. We stick with the regular Dining Plan and I think we get more than enough food.

      February 12, 2017 at 7:16 am Reply
  • Amanda

    We are going in April and my parents bought us all the delux dining plan (so nice) but my mom and I oftentimes share entrees as do my husband and I when we eat out. Can we share an entree at lunch or dinner and not use one of our dining credits? We only are doing the plan for the 3 days at the parks but have a few days at the end of the trip where we are just in the hotel. 🙂

    February 5, 2017 at 9:58 am Reply
    • Leah

      Hi Amanda! Yes, you can definitely share meals on the dining plan! Since you are on the Deluxe Dining Plan and get 3 TS credits daily, the main benefit would be to have enough credits for Signature restaurants, which require 2 TS credits each. What a wonderful treat from your parents!

      February 5, 2017 at 7:16 pm Reply
    • Jackie

      I would double check with Disney to make sure you can use your credits after your free dining ends. That’s if you plan on using them for the following days. Double check just to be sure. I don’t want you to lose any. If you need to use up the credits in the three days then look into dinners that cost two credits. Sorry, not free dining. I mean dining plan.

      March 24, 2017 at 8:36 pm Reply
  • GG Brewer

    But cannot get the free dining with rentIng DVC points? Am I correct? Great read! Thanks!

    January 22, 2017 at 8:01 am Reply
    • Leah

      That’s right, GG! You can’t get Free Dining with renting DVC points, but you CAN pay out of pocket for the Dining Plan and add it to a DVC reservation.

      January 22, 2017 at 8:47 am Reply
  • Why Disney is a Real Vacation (and Other Vacations Aren't) - The Frugal South

    […] within a budget and not cook any meals on a Disney vacation. We also sometimes get a package during the free dining promotion which really helps! Did I mention I don’t have to wash the […]

    November 11, 2016 at 4:15 pm Reply
  • Kristi

    Thank you so much for sharing all of these wonderful tips! I just have one question about the dining plans. I read your article that mentions renting DVC points and was wondering if I did that for my resort stay would I still be able to add a dining plan or since I am not purchasing a package through Disney would that not be an option for me?

    July 24, 2016 at 3:59 pm Reply
    • Leah

      Hey Kristi – the short answer is YES! That is one thing I love about renting DVC points – you can add the Dining Plan without booking a package or buying park tickets. I’ve done it several times myself. 🙂

      July 25, 2016 at 8:15 pm Reply
  • The Best Times of Year to Visit Walt Disney World - The Frugal South

    […] Dining” offer for this time of year, which, could be a great deal for a family (see my Disney Dining Plan 101 post for more info). Note: There is a cost increase and surge in crowds associated with the Veteran’s Day long […]

    May 5, 2016 at 6:24 am Reply
  • Disney Dining Plan Tips & Tricks - The Frugal South

    […] out my previous post on the basics of the Disney Dining Plans, or check out my tips and tricks for getting the most out of the dining plans in this […]

    September 17, 2015 at 8:01 am Reply
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