Disney offers guests a chance to pre-pay for their food, called the Dining Plans. When a guest adds a dining plan to their reservation, they will receive meal credits to use during their stay at Disney World. Disney offers 3 levels of the Dining Plan: the Quick Service Plan, the Disney Dining Plan and the Deluxe Dining Plan. Today, as we discuss why the Dining Plan is a bad value, we are referring to the Disney Dining Plan.
1. Children Pay Adult Prices Age 10+
The Disney Dining Plan includes one table service meal, one quick service meal and 2 snacks per person per day. The cost is $75.49 for adults (ages 10+) and $25.75 for children (age 3-9). As you can see, once your child reaches age 10, they will pay adult prices. This is a downside of the Disney Dining Plan if your 10 year old (and up) would not normally eat adult portions. The Dining Plan is a lot of food for a grown adult, never mind a pre-teen or adolescent.
2. Do Not Drink Alcohol
If you do not drink alcohol or specialty drinks, the Dining plan may not be worth it. Alcoholic beverages and specialty drinks (for those under 21) are included for a Quick-Service or Table-Service meal entitlement (only), for all dining plans. Learn the non-alcoholic and alcoholic options below. If you do not normally drink these with meals, this is a point against the dining plan.
- Non- Alcoholic beverages include: Artisanal Milkshakes, Coffee, Fresh Smoothies, Premium Hot Chocolate, , Soda and Tea.
- Alcoholic beverages include: Beer, Cider, Mixed Drinks, Sangria, Specialty Cocktails and wine.
Certain signature restaurants at Walt Disney World require the use of 2 Dining credits. While the food may be incredible, this is a bad value for guests on the Disney Dining Plan. These include: Yachtsman Steakhouse at Disney’s Yacht & Beach Club Resorts, The Hollywood Brown Derby at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Jiko at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge and more. These select restaurants that require 2 dining credits make the Dining Plan a bad value.
Another point on value is how much you need to spend. To break even with the Disney Dining Plan (meaning coming out ahead in value), guests must spend a minimum dollar amount. Each snack should cost $5.00 or more. While a guest dining at a sit down restaurant will not come out ahead unless they spend an average of $40 per person per meal (includes soda, meal and dessert) for lunch and dinner. Therefore if you do not normally drink soda or a dessert with every meal, you will be forcing yourself to eat more just to come out ahead in value. Skip the Dining Plan if you normally skip soda and dessert.
4. Time Consuming
Having the Disney Dining Plan means table service restaurants and Character meals are within reach. However, many guests underestimate how time consuming the Disney Dining Plan can be. The average sit down restaurant/character meal takes an estimated 2 hours out of your day. This does not include waiting for transportation and traveling to your destination. If park time is more important to you than the Disney Dining Plan is a bad value.
5. Tips Not Included
You have paid for the Disney Dining Plan, and think, that’s it! Wrong. Gratuity is not included in the Disney Dining Plan and guests are required to pay for this out of pocket. With the Disney Dining Plan many guests make reservations for restaurants they would normally not pay for. Keep in mind the gratuity is still calculated on the total of your dining bill. Even though the bill itself is paid for with your dining credit, the tip of 18%-20% will still be expected. Another fact that surprises guests, is tipping at Buffets as well. Plus, when traveling with a party of 6 or more an 18% gratuity will be automatically applied. Servers work hard and deserve their tip for great service, therefore keep this in mind when considering the Disney Dining Plan.
Whatever you choose, be sure to do your research. Here are 5 Reasons You Should Get The Dining Plan.
Learn more about Walt Disney World Dining and get suggestions for where to eat, how to use the Disney Dining Plan and more.