Whether you are traveling on your first Walt Disney World vacation or your fifth, it’s important to understand all of the nuances of Disney Dining. From the dining plans to the character meal experiences, there are so many options and choices that it can get confusing. Here are 9 things to know about Disney Dining, including the Disney Dining Plan.
Disclosure: Affiliate links within. Purchasing and/or clicking on some of the links in this post can result in a commission paid to us. All opinions are my own. We’ve been on some complimentary press trips at Walt Disney World and some trips at a discounted cost through Disney Social Media Moms.
9 Things to Know About Disney Dining at Walt Disney World
There are three primary Disney Dining Plans
Walt Disney World offers a dining plan that is available for purchase by guests staying on site at the Disney resort hotels. There are three different options:
The quick service plan offers 2 quick service credits and two snack credits per person per day. The quick service meals include an entree and a choice of beverage (including alcoholic beverages for those over 21).
The deluxe plan offers three quick or table-service credits and two snack credits per person per day. Quick service meals include an entree and a choice of beverage (including alcoholic beverages for those over 21), while table service meals (lunch or dinner) include an appetizer, entree, dessert, and choice of beverage (including alcoholic beverages for those over 21), or a buffet meal.
The standard plan offers one table service, one quick service, and two snack credits per person per day. Quick service meals include an entree and a choice of beverage (including alcoholic beverages for those over 21), while table service meals (lunch or dinner) include an appetizer, entree, dessert, and choice of beverage (including alcoholic beverages for those over 21), or a buffet meal.
All three offer a resort refillable mug for each person over the age of two on the plan. These mugs can be refilled at the resort with coffee, iced tea, tea, and soda.
Advance dining reservations (ADRs) can be made 180 days in advance (at Walt Disney World)
Either go online (starting at 6am ET) or call (starting at 7am ET) to make your reservations. And yes, many of them DO need to be made that far in advance, including popular options like character dining, Be Our Guest, Ohana, and Cinderella’s Royal Table. You can view reservations on the My Disney Experience app.
Snack credits on the Disney Dining Plan
The dining plans all offer snack credits, which can be used on many different snacks including popcorn, ice cream, rice crispy treats, and water. Be sure to strategically plan out your snacks so use credits for more expensive snacks and pay cash for cheaper ones.
Disney dining plan credits can be used in any order on any day of your trip
Even though you get the credits allocated per person per day, they do not need to be used that way. You can use all of your snack credits in one day, for instance. Credits are loaded onto your MagicBands.
Onsite guests have a slight advantage when making reservations
Onsite guests can book all of their dining reservations (up to 10 days) 180 days from their check-in date.
Restaurants charge a no-show fee if you don’t cancel 24 hours in advance
For most restaurants, this fee is $10 per person for no-shows. Some meals and shows require a full upfront payment, and if you don’t cancel in the time frame, you forfeit the entire amount. This relatively new policy helps prevent guests from making multiple reservations for the same meal so they can choose the most convenient one at the time.
Optimizing the plan
You are likely to need to purchase some food out of pocket, even with the dining plan. Do some research in advance to figure out what the least expensive meals are. The Disney Dining plan can be a good value, depending on your family’s dining habits. But you’ll want to make sure you do your research and calculations.
Websites that can help you plan
If you can’t get reservations at the restaurant of your choice
Keep trying! Guests DO cancel and you are still very likely to find the perfect reservation. Resort concierges can also help you check for availability once you are on property. Use the app to keep searching on the go.
Read review of Walt Disney World restaurants on TripAdvisor.