Curious about the Disney Dining Plan? Wondering if the plan will really save you up to 35% off the cost of dining in Walt Disney World? We’ve got the scoop about whether or not the Disney Dining Plan is truly worth it.
It’s worth it if…
Eating out is an important part of your vacation
Some Disney guests love to snack on the go with items from their local grocery store, while others spend the bulk of their trip dining in table service restaurants. If the latter applies to you, the Disney Dining Plan can be an excellent deal. The value of the plan does depend on which dining experiences you choose, (and which ones you avoid), but in general if dining is already one of the most important parts of your Disney trip you should be able to save some decent cash with the Disney Dining Plan.
You tend to order the more expensive entrees
If you have the choice between salad, pasta, or steak, would you choose the steak? If so, the Disney Dining Plan will likely be the best deal for saving money on dining during your trip. The difficulty in using this point as reasoning for or against the plan is that if you’ve purchased the plan you may be tempted to order more expensive entrees than you would have normally chosen. If that’s the case, and you’re only going with the steak to maximize the value of the plan you may want to think twice, because paying out of pocket for less pricey items could be cheaper.
You were already planning on ordering dessert
Do you always order dessert? (Even if you’re full it never hurts to have a small taste of something sweet!) If you were planning on ordering dessert anyway, you’ll be in luck since dessert is included with table service and quick service meals on the Disney Dining Plan! This may seem like a small cost to factor into the value of the plan, but if you regularly order desserts they can add up quickly over the course of a Disney vacation!
It may not be worth it if…
You have certain dietary restrictions or are vegan/vegetarian
If you are gluten free, vegan, vegetarian or have other dietary restrictions, you may save more money by forgoing the dining plan and paying out of pocket. With the exception of buffets, most Disney restaurants feature options for a variety of dietary needs, but they do come at lower price points. Vegetarians for instance may not find much value in the plan because most vegetarian options cost so much less than their non-vegetarian counter parts to begin with. Plus if you have less options choosing what to eat under the plan may feel more like a chore than an enjoyable and affordable way to dine out.
You have a small appetite or like to split meals
The dining plan, regardless of which specific plan you choose, comes with a lot of food. For guests with small appetites, this may pose an issue since the plan will likely include more food than you would have otherwise ordered. Even if you know you do not tend to eat a lot, but you still want to try a little bit of everything, paying out of pocket and splitting meals may be a more affordable alternative to the dining plan. (You can’t really split meals on the plan because each person is allotted the same number of meals throughout the trip.)
You typically save money without booking your trip as a package
If you have a Disney Vacation Club membership, are a Florida resident, annual passholder, or stay in Orlando for free with friends and family, ‘splurging’ on a Disney resort package may not be worth the difference you’d pay to be able to purchase a dining plan. The plan is only available as part of a package, meaning you’d have to stay at a Disney resort. If you’re staying off property or have annual passes you are not able to purchase the plan, and if you are considering staying at a Disney resort and purchasing tickets just to become eligible you will most definitely not come out ahead financially.
What else to consider
Two-credit dining experiences may not be the best deal. Signature dining experiences, select character experiences, and in-room dining all cost two credits per person on the dining plan. In general, meals that cost two credits are better deals when you pay out of pocket for them. You can still save “up to 35%” off the cost of dining with a couple of two-credit meals, especially if you pay for them separately and save your credits, but at the risk of this being way too much food you may be better off skipping the plan if you’d have lots of two credit dinners.
Dining experiences that are already reasonably priced will not give you a much of a savings. The more expensive a meal or snack option is the better the savings will be while using the dining plan (with the exception of those two credit experiences). What this means is that table service restaurants that are more affordable to begin with will not save you much money with the dining plan. The best strategy for saving money on table service meals with the plan is to dine at the most expensive one credit restaurants.
Do some math to see is the plan will work for you. It may be a bit time consuming, but the best way to figure out if the dining plan will save you money is to do some estimations. Check out Disney dining menus before adding the plan to your reservation and estimate what you would spend on dining. Then compare this amount with the cost of the plan and go with the cheaper option.