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Disney Dining Plan 101

When planning trips to Disney, I have found few things to be as confusing as Disney Dining Plans. In some ways, the plans make it easier for families. They allow you to pre-plan more of your costs since most of your food will be pre-paid. In addition, you don't have to worry about how much something on a menu costs. So, if your 10 year old wants to order the most expensive entree, you don't have to try to talk him out of it!

The plans, though, can be confusing for first timers who may not understand how the credits are determined and how best to utilize those credits. Here's my attempt to break it down for you.

First, it's important to understand that dining credits are determined by the number of nights of your resort stay. So, off-site guests are NOT eligible to add the dining plans to their stay because they don't have a resort stay booked.. The dining plan also has nothing to do with your tickets. You could have a 5 night stay and a 3 day ticket, for example. Disney would use the 5 night resort stay to determine the number of dining plan credits you would receive. It's important to understand that credits can be used any way you like. You could use them all in one day, if you wish. Or use 2 TS credits one day and none the next day. It's very flexible.

Second, you need to understand the definition of Table Service, Signature Table Service, Quick Service and Snacks.

  • A Table Service meal means that you will be seated and waitstaff will take your order. These credits include an entree, dessert and a non-alcoholic beverage.

  • At Quick Service restaurants, you order at a kiosk or window and get a tray of food. Credits include an entree and a non-alcoholic beverage. (Signature restaurants are Disney's more expensive, sometimes more elegant restaurants and use two Table Service credits per meal).

  • A snack can be most anything from a bottled water to a Mickey Pretzel to an ice cream cone to fresh fruit to a cinnamon roll.

Third, the refillable mugs. With a dining plan, each person over 3 years of age will also receive a refillable mug that can be used at resorts, but not at the parks. They make a great souvenir and I use mine at home for drinks on the go.

*Children under the age of 3 eat for free. This means they can eat off your plate, or make their own plate at a buffet. However, if you order them a meal, you will need to pay for it.

What's included in each Dining Plan?

The Quick Service Dining Plan:

Each person ages 3 and up receives:

- Two Quick Service meals

- Two Snacks

- One refillable mug

The Standard Dining Plan:

Each person ages 3 and up receives:

- One Table Service Meal (entree, non-alcoholic beverage and one dessert or one full buffet)

- One Quick Service Meal (one entree and one non-alcoholic beverage)

- Two Snacks

- One refillable mug

The Deluxe Dining Plan:

Each person ages 3 and up receives:

- Three meals (redeemable for QS or TS)

- Two Snacks

-One refillable mug

When deciding which dining plan is right for your family, it's important to consider both the cost of the plans and also how much time it takes to eat. While a Table Service meal can offer a welcome respite from touring the parks, they can also take up a lot of your time. It's important to find the right balance for you. Your Vacation Specialist can help you determine the plan that's right for you!

Mary Graham is an avid Disney World visitor and has been planning Disney vacations for over 15 years. She is a Vacation Specialist with Coasters & Castles Travel and would love to help you plan your next Disney vacation!! email her: mgraham@coastersandcastlestravel.com

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