walt disney wordl dining plan tips
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Guide To Walt Disney World Dining Plan – 15 Must-Read Tips

Are you looking to get the best value out of your Disney Dining Plan? It’s always important to maximize your investment, so a little bit of planning goes a long way! By strategically selecting your dining locations and menu items, you can make the most out of your meal plan and truly enjoy all the delicious eats Disney has to offer.  With a little research and preparation, you can ensure you’re getting the best bang for your buck and indulging in all your favorite Disney treats. So, before you head out on your magical adventure, take some time to plan out your meals and make the most of your Disney Dining Plan. Happy dining!

Maximize your Disney Dining Plan with these 15 tips and tricks to help you strategically selecting dining locations and menu items to get the best value out of your meal plan and make the most out of your Disney eats. Plus don't miss all these yummy disney snacks too!

Disney Dining Plan

Whether you scored and got the free disney dining plan and are looking for ways to maximize your discount or are paying for the convenience of the popular disney food plan, let me help you make the most of your meal and snack credits! The Dining Plan can be an awesome thing or it can be a total ripoff. By knowing which restaurants and foods give you the best value, you can ensure your purchase of the plan is the former rather than the latter. 
Here are my top tips for maximizing the Dining Plan and ensuring your money was money well spent.

What is the disney dining plan

I case you haven’t heard of the what is disney meal plan, after all it has been on pause for years, let me explain what it is. The Disney Dining Plan is a prepaid meal program offered at Disney World resorts that allows guests to choose from a variety of dining options for their stay. It includes credits for meals and snacks at select dining locations throughout the parks and hotels. It’s a convenient way to enjoy delicious food while visiting the magical world of Disney!
What’s Included
Everyone in the party ages 3 and over receives the following:
  • 1 Quick-Service Meal (per night of stay)
  • 1 Table-Service Meal (per night of stay)
  • 1 Snack/Nonalcoholic Drink (per night of stay)
  • 1 Resort-Refillable Drink Mug

You cannot get it just for a day or two, it is based on the numbers of nights on your reservation. So if you are staying 5 nights in the hotel and 6 days in the park you have 5 quick serve meals, 5 table serve meals, and 5 snacks.  You can spread them out however you like. Sometimes we jsut use all our snacks in one day as we eat around the Food and Garden Festival at Epcot and save meals for other locations. You get a bank of meals and you can choose how many to eat on what days.

character meal at garden grill at epcot

Walt disney world dining plan

Plan ahead

Disney restaurants book up very quickly! Just because you have a meal credit doesn’t mean you get to eat at the restaurant of your choice. Make reservations early, currently 60 days, and prioritize your must-visit restaurants.

HINT: If you want to you can use a sit down table credit at a quick serve restaurant, but it would be a very poor value for the credit.

Order the Most Expensive Thing on the Menu

Are you on the Dining Plan? Lucky you! You can order ANY entree on the menu without worrying about the cost. Treat yourself and indulge in those pricey dishes you usually wouldn’t consider – whether you get the cheapest thing or the most expensive steak, the price is the same!  Don’t forget to pair it with a refreshing drink and a delectable dessert which are also included in your disney dining plan!

Substitute for Packaged Foods

Many Disney restaurants will allow you to order packaged carrots, apple slices, or grapes in place of fries or other sides. If you don’t think you can eat your entire meal in one sitting, swap out one of your sides for a packaged food item to snack on later.

Don’t Waste Quick Service Meals on Breakfast

If you order a quick service meal at breakfast you get an entree and drink. If you order a quick service meal at lunch you get an entree, drink, AND dessert. Besides getting more food, the value of lunch/dinner options is better than breakfast. I suggest bringing a granola bar from home for breakfast, to save your credits for yummy unique food OR using a snack credit to get a pastry or muffin for breakfast.

Mickey Pretzel for snack credit

Get the Best Snacks!

Disney World has some pretty delicious snack options! Whether you love the Mickey pretzels like my son does, the infamous Dole Whip, mini-meals from the food and garden festival at Epcot, Maple popcorn from Canada, amazing carmel appels and baked goods at the Confectionary, or Blue Milk from Galaxy’s Edge – there are so many fun snacks to try! Because I want to you try the BEST, not just the most convenient, I have a whole post about the BEST Disney World Snacks

Take Snacks Home

Got leftover snack credits on your Disney dining plan? Don’t let them go to waste! Stock up on some packaged snacks from the gift shop for the trip home. Some examples are flavored popcorn, rice krispie treats, and lots more. Just visit the Confectionary and ask what qualifies, usually they will have a DDP logo next to the label.

Skip Bottled Water

Many food carts give Dining Plan users the option of ordering a bottle of water in exchange for a snack credit. This is not a good value because you can actually order a free cup of water from any counter-service location, meaning you can save your snack credits for a delicious food item instead.

Order Alcohol

Recently, Disney has given guests on the Dining Plan the option of ordering alcohol at no additional charge. Take advantage of this! Alcoholic beverages are expensive, and ordering them on the Dining Plan will quickly ensure you get your money’s worth. Guests 21 and older may choose either one nonalcoholic beverage or one-single serving mixed cocktail, beer or wine (where offered) as part of their meal. 
If you have the disney dining plan, you can order alcoholic beverages, milkshkes, smoothies, and other fun novelty drinks as part of your meal credit

Milk Shakes Count as a Drink for Lunch

You don’t have to just order soda, lemonade, or drink. We already told you that you can order alcohol for those 21 and over. But don’t worry kids – Disney has a yummy surprise for you too! A single-serving nonalcoholic beverage include at your location can include:

  • Milkshakes
  • Fresh Smoothies
  • Premium Hot Chocolate
  • Soda, Coffee or Tea

chef mickeys character dining at disney world contemporary resort is a fabulous value with the delicious buffet and cute characters all dressed in chef costumes

Pick Character Dining

Using your table-service credits for character meals is almost always an excellent value. Not only do character meals tend to be more expensive when paying out of pocket, you’ll also get some character meet-and-greets out of the deal. Save some extra time in the parks by skipping over the characters you already met during your meal. Who would you want to dine with at a character meal?
  • Cape May Cafe at Beach Club does a character breakfast and is near Boardwalk
  • Chip ‘N’ Dale’s Harvest Feast Dinner at The Garden Grill Restaurant
  • Chef Mickey’s Dinner in Contemporary Resort
  • Crystal Palace Dinner in Magic Kingdom
  • Wish Makers Enchanted Dining at 1900 Park Fare in the Grand Floridian (re-opens April 10, 2024) – breakfast and dinner may feature Aladdin, Cinderella, Mirabel, Princess Tiana
  • Akershus Royal Banquet Hall (Breakfast only now) in Norway at Epcot – meet rotating Disney princeses as you enjoy a family style meal
  • Disney Junior Play n’ Dine – Breakfast at Hollywood and Vine in Hollywood Studios – check for current characters
  • Minnie’s Seasonal Dining – Lunch and Dinner at Hollywood and Vine in Hollywood Studios – Minnie and friends wear different costumes each season at this delightful buffet option
  • Best Friends Breakfast featuring Lilo & Stitch at Ohana in the Polynesian Resort – join Stitch and friends for breakfast
  • Breakfast à la Art with Mickey & Friends at Topolino in the Riviera Resort – join Mickey and friends dressed as different artists (dancer, potter, painter, etc.) for breakfast
  • Tusker House Restaurant in Africa, Animal Kingdom Park offers safari themed characters for breakfast, lunch, and dinner

be our guest restaurant at magic kingdom is now 2 credits on the disney dining plan and therefore not a great value

Beware of Two-Credit Meals

While character meals are almost always a good value, you do have to watch out for the meals that require two credits. Cinderella’s Royal Table is one of these, as are several other signature dining experiences. Two-credit meals are not a good value on the Dining Plan, meaning you should definitely skip over them or pay out of pocket.

Two Table-Service meals will be redeemed from the dining plan for each person dining at:

Find Free Refills at Quick Serve Meals

A select few counter-service restaurants offer self-serve drink refill stations. By seeking out these eateries, you can maximize your meal credit by having a soda with your meal and grabbing a free refill on the way out.
While these locations are subject to change, the following locations offer free refill stations so are a great value for those who want multiple cups of soda at a meal:
refillable mug per person is part of the disney dining plan and can be used at your resort for the length of your stay

Take Full Advantage of Your Free Refillable Mug

You will receive a refillable mug per person at the beginning of your trip. This mug can be filled as many times as you like at your hotel’s refill station. Take advantage of this by grabbing a fill-up on your way to the parks, and again when you return to your resort.

Share Meals to Stretch Credits

Sometimes you don’t need a huge entree, dessert, and a drink of your own. With the exception of buffets and 2-credit meals, you can share your meal. This is a great way to get more value for your meal, especially at places like Mama Melrose where you will get bread to share at the table or large portions like Rexasauraus.
Little ones under the age of three will not have their own food credits. You may buy them food with money out of your pocket, but most people find it better to simply share with their tiny travelers. This is especially true when you go to all-you-can-eat buffets, as you will not be charged for children under three, meaning they can eat whatever they like.
On a related note, if there is a kids menu, children ages 3-9 must order from the kids menu.

Use Snack Credits as Breakfasts

Use Snack Credits as Breakfasts

Because breakfast foods tend to be less expensive than lunch or dinner, using a meal credit for the first meal of the day isn’t the best option. Therefore, many choose to use a snack credit to order a light meal and save their meal credits for lunch and dinner.
fantasmic show featuring colorful water movies and boat with characters at hollywood studios at disney world florida

Use your Credit for Fantasmic Package

Get double the bang for your dining credit! Book a package to get dinner AND a show! You can will enjoy your meal and then get a ticket for reserved seating at a special show/performance. The Fantasmic package guarantees you get prime seating and a seat for this don’t miss show!

Fantastmic Dining Package (1 credit!)

order a whole large  pizza as a quick service meal at select resorts

Grab a Pizza

Pizza from the hotel food court is actually a great value for groups of 3 or more. A single pizza requires two credits, but it’ll easily feed 4–6 people without a problem. Therefore, if you find yourself needing to stretch your credits, this might be a good option.
Two Quick-Service meals will be redeemed for each Pizza Pick-up meal which includes:
  • 1 Large Pizza
  • 2 Single-serving Nonalcoholic Beverages (or Alcoholic Beverages, for Guests 21 and older)

Valid at Disney’s All-Star Movies Resort, Disney’s All-Star Music Resort, Disney’s All-Star Sports Resort, Disney’s Art of Animation Resort, Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort, Disney’s Pop Century Resort, Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – French Quarter and Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – Riverside.

quick service meal of chicken and waffles with bb8 cupcake at backlot express in hollywood studios disney world florida

Best Quick Serve Meals at Disney World

I have so much to say about which quick serve meal to try while at the Disney Parks in Florida I wrote a whole post on the topic. Don’s miss the Best Disney World Quick Service Restaurants!

Tusker House is a buffet serving African Cuisine at Animal Kingdom at Disney World FLorida includes safari donald, goofy, mickey, daisy, minnie, and friends

BEST Disney World Restaurants

Make the most of those table-service credits by booking the best disney world restaurants! These places are fan favorites because of the unique setting, fabulous food, and characters too!
By using these tips and doing some clever planning, the Disney Dining Plan can be an excellent value for your family. Now, let’s stop talking about food and go out and enjoy some delicious Disney dining!


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