Disney Dining Plan Ultimate Guide

Posted in Disney World
on November 8, 2019

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Mickey Waffle

Have you heard about the Disney Dining Plan and are wondering how it works? 

Well the Disney meal 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 everything you need to know about the Disney Dining Plan 2020 including what’s included, the 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 already know the basics, check out this post for my Disney Dining Plan tips and tricks.

Who Can Use The Disney Dining Plan?

Dessert from Contempo Cafe at the Contemporary Resort

Dessert from Contempo Cafe at the Contemporary Resort

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 2020 Cost

Table at Sanaa at Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge

Sanaa at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge

There are currently three different meal plans: the Disney Quick Service Dining Plan, the Disney Dining Plan, and the Disney Deluxe Dining Plan.

How Much Does The Disney Dining Plan Cost?

The cost (including tax) of the Disney Dining Plan 2020 for each night of your stay is:

  • Quick Service Dining Plan: $55.00/adult and $26.00/child
  • Disney Dining Plan: $78.01/adult and $30.50/child
  • Disney Dining Plan Plus: $94.60/adult and $35.00/child
  • Deluxe Dining Plan: $118.99/adult and $47.50/child

Here is a handy chart that shows the credits you’ll get with each plan and their cost per night of your stay in 2020:

Disney Dining Plan 2020 Prices

  Credits (per night) Cost
(including tax)
Quick Service Dining Plan 2 Quick Service Meals + 2 Snacks $55.00 (adult)

$26.00 (child)

Disney Dining Plan 1 Table Service Meal + 1 Quick Service Meal + 2 Snacks $78.00 (adult)

$30.50 (child)

Disney Dining Plan Plus 2 Meals (either Table Service or Quick Service) + 2 Snacks $94.60 (adult)

$35.00 (child)

Deluxe Dining Plan 3 Table Service OR Quick Service Meals + 2 Snacks $118.99 (adult)

$47.50 (child)

Note: Though tax is included in the cost of the plan, tips for your server at Table Service meals are not included.

Please budget to tip your server appropriately (both an 18% and 20% will be calculated for you on the receipt), even at buffets.

Each plan includes a Resort Refillable Mug (more on those soon). The children’s prices are for kids ages 3 to 9. Kids 10 and over are charged the adult price. 

How Does The Disney Dining Plan Work?

Veggie Bowl at Pecos Bill's, Magic Kingdom

Veggie Bowl at Pecos Bill’s, Magic Kingdom

Each of the dining plans includes credits that you can use all over Walt Disney World.

These credits are loaded on the Magic Bands (read all about them here) of everyone in your party as soon as you check in. If you are using online check-in you can begin using your credits as early as 6 am on your check-in day. 

You can use the credits at any point during your stay, from check-in until midnight on the day you check out.

The types of Disney Dining Plan credits are:

  • Snack Credits (most items that aren’t a meal unto themselves fall into this category)
  • Quick Service Meal Credits (i.e. meals at locations where you order at a counter as opposed to having a server)
  • Table Service Meal Credits (“Sit-down” meals – includes buffets, character meals, and signature dining)
disney world resort refillable mug - disney dining plan

Resort Refillable Mug

In addition to snack and meal credits, the meal plans at Disney include a Resort Refillable Mug with unlimited free refills for the next 14 days.

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.

Soda machines are equipped with a chip reader that only dispenses the drink into a cup that is activated for that date. 

If you are changing Disney resorts (what is called a “split stay”) and get a mug during the first part of your vacation, it will continue to work for the second part. The mugs aren’t connected to a Dining Plan per se but will work for 14 days once activated. 

Disney Quick Service Dining Plan

With the Quick Service Dining Plan you’ll get two quick service credits per person per night of your trip. They can be used to dine at any Quick Service (aka counter service) restaurant at Disney World. 

Get my picks for the best quick service dining in each of the four theme parks in these posts!

fish tacos at La Cantina de San Angel in Epcot

La Cantina de San Angel

A quick service credit includes an entree and anything that comes with it (e.g. a cheeseburger that comes with fries) plus a beverage.

You can get most any beverage on the menu, including alcoholic drinks. 

With any quick service or table service meal, those 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.

If you don’t want a beverage you can usually substitute anything that qualifies as a snack credit on the menu for your drink. Most quick service dining locations allow this substitution but your mileage may vary.  

You’ll also get two snack credits per person per night and a refillable mug on the Quick Service Dining Plan. 

Disney Dining Plan

dessert at Satuli Canteen on the disney dining plan

Satuli Canteen

With the standard Disney Dining Plan you’ll get one quick service credit and one table service credit per person per night of your trip. 

Each table service meal credit includes an entree, 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.

And as in the case with quick service meals, any single serving drink on the menu that doesn’t come in a souvenir cup is fair game – so go ahead and order that $17 glass of wine!

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. This can include appetizers or add-ons to your entree. 

With the Disney Dining Plan you’ll also get two snack per person per day and a refillable mug. 

Disney Dining Plan Plus

New for 2020 is the “Plus” plan. It was developed in response to guest demand for a plan that allowed for more table service credits without going to the Deluxe plan which gives three table service credits per day. 

You get 2 meal credits per person per day that can be used for any combination of quick service and table service meals. You can of course also use two of your meal credits to dine at the Signature restaurants and others that require two credits. 

I personally am not overly excited about this plan. While it might be good for people who want to eat at more table service restaurants on their trip that the regular plan allows, I think it would be even harder to get your money out of the plan. 

I might only get it as part of “split stay”, where I have two separate reservations. I sometimes get a dining plan for the first segment of our stay to get our mugs and eat at some select restaurants that are a good value on the plan. More on that strategy next!

Disney Deluxe Dining Plan

fish entree at Disney's California Grill

California Grill

With the Disney Deluxe Dining Plan you’ll get three meal credits per person per day that can be used for table service or quick service dining. You’ll also get two snacks per person per night and a refillable mug. 

The table service credits that come with the Deluxe Plan include an appetizer, entree, dessert, and beverage. 

This plan clearly comes with a TON of food and it is very hard for most people to use all of their credits. 

The credits can come in handy when dining at a Signature restaurant, which requires two table service credits per person. These includes Disney’s “fine dining” establishments as well as Cinderella’s Royal Table and the Disney dinner shows. 

I generally do NOT recommend the Deluxe Plan – it is a ridiculous amount of food and few humans could get their money’s worth out of the plan.

The one instance for which I recommend the Deluxe plan is for a split stay – this is when you break your vacation up between two separate reservations.

Any Disney Dining Plan has to be purchased for every night of your stay and for everyone in your room. But this only means you must have it for the entire reservation – you can have it for the first part of a split stay and not the second.

If you don’t mind switching resorts once during your stay, you can rent points for just one or two nights and add the dining plan for that part of your stay.

You can add the dining Plan to a one-night reservation booked with DVC points, but you can no longer add a dining plan to a one-night reservation booked through Disney (unless it is booked with a Passholder discount). The minimum for adding the dining plan when you book directly with Disney is a two-night reservation. 

How Do I Get a Dining Plan for Free?

You may 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 4-day “Park Hopper” tickets for everyone in your travel party. 

You can read everything you need to know about Disney free dining in this post.

If you are interested in booking a free dining package, I strongly suggest getting a quote from Siera with Destinations in Florida, my recommended Disney travel agent. You won’t pay anything extra and she can help you with every aspect of planning your Disney vacation!

Disney Dining Plan 2020 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 take the Dining Plan.

Here are the exceptions I know of that don’t take the Disney Dining Plan:

  • Victoria & Albert’s, a fine dining restaurant at the Grand Floridian resort
  • Tutto Gusto Wine Cellar in Epcot’s Italy pavilion
  • La Cava de Tequila in Epcot’s Mexico pavilion
  • Haagen-Dazs kiosk at Disney Springs
  • Jock Lindsay’s Hangar Bar at Disney Springs
  • Pizza Ponte at Disney Springs
  • AMC Fork & Screen in Disney Springs
  • Pepe in Disney Springs

Everywhere else in the theme parks, at Disney Springs, and at Disney-owned resorts will accept your Disney Dining Plan credits. 

Disney Dining Plan Two Table Service Credit Restaurants

meeting aurora at Cinderella's Royal table

Cinderella’s Royal Table

Some dining locations at Disney World require two table service credits on the Disney Dining Plan.

Here is a master list of those places and where they are located:

  • Cinderella’s Royal Table – Magic Kingdom
  • Be Our Guest (dinner only) – Magic Kingdom
  • Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue – For Wilderness
  • Disney’s Spirit of Aloha Dinner Show – Polynesian Resort
  • The Hollywood Brown Derby – Hollywood Studios
  • Tiffins – Animal Kingdom
  • Le Cellier – Epcot
  • Monsieur Paul – Epcot
  • Jiko – Animal Kingdom Lodge
  • Flying Fish – Boardwalk Resort
  • California Grill – Contemporary Resort
  • Citricos – Grand Floridian Resort
  • Narcoossee’s – Grand Floridian Resort
  • Yachtsman Steakhouse – Yacht Club Resort
  • Morimoto Asia – Disney Springs
  • Paddlefish – Disney Springs
  • STK Orlando – Disney Springs
  • The Boathouse – Disney Springs

Is It Worth Getting the Dining Plan at Disney World?

French Bakery in Epcot

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.

Check out my post that tackles the Disney dining plan vs no dining plan question.

As an example, here is a comparison of what it would cost out-of-pocket vs. on the dining plan for a sample day at Epcot:

  Dining Plan Out-of-Pocket Cost
Breakfast – Resort Food Court 1 Snack + refillable mug Pastry – $4.79
Coffee – $2.79
Lunch – Epcot’s Sunshine Seasons 1 Quick Service Credit + 1 Snack Pressed Cubano Sandwich – $13.49
Fat Tire Amber Ale – $8.75
Fruit & Cheese Plate – $6.69
Dinner – Epcot’s Akershus Royal Banquet Hall 1 Table Service Credit Adult 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 2019:

  Dining Plan Out-of-Pocket Cost
Breakfast – Resort + Fountain View (Starbucks) 2 Snacks + refillable mug Coffee Cake – $3.19
Smoothie – $4.99
Coffee – $2.79
Lunch – Katsura Grill 1 Quick Service Credit Teriyaki Chicken – $10
Soft Drink – $3.05
Dinner – Rose & Crown 1 Table Service Credit Shepard’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 comparison of the Disney Dining Plan to what you can expect to pay out-of-pocket, check out this post about is the Disney meal plan worth it?

I hope this post helped you understand the basics of the Disney Dining Plan and how it works during a Disney World vacation. 

Any questions about the Disney Dining Plan 2020? Join the discussion in my free private Facebook group for my Disney-only site, The Budget Mouse!

Disney Dining Plan Ultimate Guide

54 Comments

  • Christina

    This was so incredibly helpful. Thank you so much! For the two table credit restaurants (Cinderella’s Round Table, Beauty and the Beast), on the normal dining plan, would that mean if we used 2 credits on our first day to go to either of these restaurants, the next day we would need to forego a table service meal?

    May 8, 2020 at 10:16 pm Reply
    • Leah

      Hi Christina! You can use your credits in any combination you’d like on any day. So you could use another table service credit the next day, for example. Then one night during your stay, you could eat at a restaurant that doesn’t have good value on the Dining Plan and pay out of pocket. Hope that helps!

      May 10, 2020 at 9:15 am Reply
  • Denali

    Thank you for the great article. Do kids on the dining plan have to order from the kids menu? My kids are not fans of the typical kids meals like Mac and cheese and chicken nuggets.

    March 5, 2020 at 10:03 am Reply
    • Leah

      At table service meals generally yes. But they can obviously eat anything off of the buffets (though there are “kids” sections) and at family-style meals. There are starting to offer more varied choices on kid’s menus as well which is encouraging – especially at quick service restaurants.

      March 6, 2020 at 12:58 pm Reply
  • Nancy G

    Thank you! I’ve been looking for information on the Disney Dining Plans all over and found this article super helpful. I was on the fence about whether it was a good value for my family but your comparison charts really made it clear. We’ll be getting them.

    February 4, 2020 at 6:59 am Reply
  • Dee

    I am trying to get some information on the KIDS QUICK service meals and I can’t find the information anywhere… does anyone know the answer to the following:

    The Disney dining plan says that anyone under 21 can order a specialty drink off the menu with their meal. If the menu for kids says it comes with their choice of apple juice or milk, can they INSTEAD choose a smoothie or milkshake if offered on the menu? I’m trying to plan for 5 adults and 2 kids and knowing if they can get a smoothie or milkshake instead of milk/juice makes a huge difference in planning our meals, so anyone who knows this answer I would be SO grateful! Thank you!

    January 14, 2020 at 1:32 pm Reply
    • Leah

      Hi Dee! At quick service meals kids under 10 have to get one of the kid-approved drinks that comes with a kids meal I believe. Kids 10 and up can get anything. At table service restaurants all ages can order anything! Milkshakes, smoothies, etc. are all fare game.

      January 15, 2020 at 9:27 am Reply
  • laura

    hello! my autistic son is a picky eater. wont eat 95% of the food . If everyone in the group going gets the dining plan does he have to get it?

    January 13, 2020 at 11:00 pm Reply
    • Leah

      Hi Laura! Yes, unfortunately everyone on the reservation will have the same dining plan. Hopefully you can find something your son likes – there are lots of choices.

      January 14, 2020 at 5:39 am Reply
  • Tia

    Doesn’t Be Our Guest restaurant take two credits as well? Planning all of this can be so overwhelming, thanks for your help!

    January 4, 2020 at 11:34 am Reply
    • Leah

      Yes it does – for dinner only! Updating the post now – thanks so much!

      January 7, 2020 at 4:22 pm Reply
  • Amanda Miller

    Thank you for your article! Do you know if you can get an alcoholic beverage with the meal plan at a buffet in 2020? thank you!

    December 20, 2019 at 5:18 pm Reply
    • Leah

      Hi Amanda! Yes, you can definitely get an alcoholic beverage at any meal at any buffet included with the 2020 plan. Enjoy!

      December 22, 2019 at 7:21 am Reply
  • Jeff

    Was wondering if I got water with a table service or quick service lunch, would I be able to get the speciality drink later somewhere else on my plan or does it have to be used with that meal?

    September 27, 2019 at 8:33 am Reply
    • Leah

      It has to be ordered with your meal – but you can get both ice water and a specialty drink.

      September 28, 2019 at 6:31 am Reply
  • Robin

    My husband and I want to eat at a signatures restaurant and use 2 credits to pay for his beverage, entree and dessert, then pay out of pocket for my entree and beverage. Is this allowed?

    May 19, 2019 at 6:57 pm Reply
    • Leah

      Yes, absolutely! We have done this very same things ourselves Robin. 🙂

      May 23, 2019 at 1:44 pm Reply
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