I did it! It has been an absolutely crazy couple of weeks, but I made a chart for you to track the number of dining credits you have spent while booking advanced dining reservations (ADRs) for Disney World. I have since lost the scratch piece of paper I hastily recorded our dining information on as I booked our reservations. Hopefully this table will help you be more organized than I have been!
The example below is based off of the Magic Your Way Plus Dining plan. This plan includes 1 table service credit, 1 quick service credit and 2 snack credits per person per day. The table is designed to keep track of the credits used per person. For example, ‘Ohana requires one table service credit per person, so only one credit has been recorded.
I have also added a section for you to track your quick service credits. Right now the only quick service restaurant that accepts ADRs is Be Our Guest in Magic Kingdom. Know that Be Our Guest is only a quick service for breakfast and lunch. If you want to eat dinner there, you will have to use a table service credit.
You should also know that the following restaurants require two table service credits:
- Cinderella’s Royal Table (MK)
- Jiko – The Cooking Place (AKL)
- Flying Fish Cafe (Boardwalk Inn)
- California Grill (Contemporary)
- Citricos (Grand Floridian)
- Narcoossee’s (Grand Floridian)
- Artist Point (Wilderness Lodge)
- Yachtsman Steakhouse (Beach Club)
- Le Cellier Steakhouse (Epcot)
- Monsieur Paul (Epcot)
- The Hollywood Brown Derby (HS)
- The Boathouse (Disney Springs)
- Fulton’s Crab House (Disney Springs)
- Morimoto Asia (Disney Springs)
- The Dining Room at Wolfgang Puck (Disney Springs)
- Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Review (Fort Wilderness)
- Mickey’s Backyard BBQ (Fort Wilderness)
- Disney Spirit of Aloha Dinner Show (Polynesian Village)
Should you purchase the dining plan?
If you have never used the dining plan before, but are considering it, you may want to ask yourself a few questions before pulling the trigger and spending almost $70 per adult per day and just a little over $24 per child per day (prices are based off of 2017 packages). Ouch! Honestly, we always find ourselves a bit overwhelmed by the amount of food we have consumed by the end of the trip and swear that the next time we visit we will skip the dining plan. Yet when it comes time to book our next vacation, my husband changes his mind and tells me to get the dining included with our resort stay. For him, I think the big benefit of the dining plan is that you have prepaid for your meals (with the exception of gratuities).
1. Are you going to be dining with characters?
If the answer is yes, then you may want to consider purchasing the dining plan. Many of these meals are buffet style and can get pretty pricey. A dinner at Chef Mickey’s is $59.99 per adult. If you are going to be dining regularly at a venue like this then I recommend purchasing the dining plan.
2. Do you like dining at signature restaurants?
If you consider yourself a “foodie” and plan on treating yourself to some fine dining while visiting Disney World, then this is another reason to consider the dining plan. You may want to look at menus before purchasing the dining plan and do the math. Are you going to be eating a $100 plus meal? If so, then the dining plan is probably the cheaper way to go. But remember, you will still be responsible for paying the gratuity on the meal as that is not covered under the dining plan (except for Cinderella’s Royal Table and some dinner shows).
3. Do you want to attend a dinner show?
This is another reason to consider the dining plan. I originally looked into the Polynesian’s Spirit of Aloha Dinner Show which costs more than $60 per adult. With the dining plan you can only choose from seating categories 2 and 3, so as long as you don’t mind not having the best seating you can use your dining plan at this type of venue.
4. Will you be drinking a lot of fountain drinks while at your resort?
My husband is the only soda drinker in the house, so the free refillable mug that is included with the dining package is a good value for him alone. We are able to get my son water with his cup and I usually get my first cup of coffee of the day using my refillable mug. (Remember that snack credits are redeemable at the Starbucks in each park if you are like me and need lots of caffeine to make it through a Disney vacation.) We do use our mugs regularly at home. I love using mine for my breakfast smoothies!
5. Do you really want to go to a table service restaurant everyday?
If the answer is no, then the only dining plan you may want to consider is the Quick Servicing Dining Plan. With this plan you get two quick service meals and two snacks per day as well as your refillable drink mug. You won’t lose precious time for riding rollercoasters (or waiting in line) by sticking to quick service restaurants. Also, you won’t have to worry about gratuities at these venues.
6. Are you going to be spending days off property?
The dining credits are allotted by the amount of nights you are staying at your Disney resort. If you will be traveling to another destination off property during your trip and eating elsewhere, you may want to consider skipping the dining plan unless you want to double up on table service meals another day.
7. Will you have access to a kitchenette?
If you are staying in a villa with a kitchenette and don’t mind cooking while on vacation, then you’ll also want to skip out on the dining plan. After all, you’ll be able to cook cheaper and healthier meals yourself. Don’t worry if you don’t have access to a car to make a trip to the grocery store. You can use Amazon Pantry as well as local services in Orlando to have your groceries delivered to you room.
8. Are you traveling with children under 3?
We opted to use the dining plan while visiting Disney when my son was just 10 months old. The dining plan allows you to feed children two and under off of your plate. Since he wasn’t dependent solely on solid foods, he didn’t need to eat much and this worked quite well. Also, Disney chefs are very accommodating when it comes to food allergies (he has a milk protein allergy) so I had no worries when it came to dining out. Had we taken him when he was two years old, I think we would have skipped the dining plan and paid for food at each meal. While my son is not a big eater, I don’t think feeding him off of our plates would have been enough to satiate his appetite at that age. It is also my experience that sharing a meal with a toddler often means you have to pick something they are willing eat rather then order an entree you really want.
9. Do you really want a dessert with every meal?
Both of your table service and quick service meals come with a dessert. I’m not really big on this as I already feel like a glutton eating out while on vacation (we are big on home cooked meals in our house). Whenever restaurants give us a wrapped cookie or other sealed dessert, I often put them away for later. Most of the time these desserts end up getting eaten after we have returned home.
10. Do you like to order the most expensive entree on the menu?
If so, then you should get the dining plan. I normally tend to order cheaper items when we dine out, but the dining plan does encourage me to expand my horizons and order that expensive steak instead of the chicken.
11. Will you be splitting your stay?
You can split your stay between Disney resorts and have the meal plan, but you should know that your meal credits will expire when you check out of the first hotel. This means you need to use them or lose them before checking into your second resort. If you want to use the dining plan during your entire stay, you will need to purchase a second plan with your second resort. We did a split stay during our last vacation and the only glitch we ran into was the activation of our second dining plan once we checked into our second resort.
If your on the fence about purchasing a dining plan, do your research and read about others’ experiences. I also recommend that you double check that the restaurants you plan on dining with accept the dining plan. It is rare that venues at Disney don’t accept the plan, but if you are contemplating dining at places like Victoria and Albert’s then the dining plan is a waste of your money. Anything with Disney is a big expense and you don’t want to purchase something you aren’t really going to use. You might also look for vacation packages that include the dining plan for free. I have often seen promotions from Disney for free dining plans during the off season.
UPDATE: I received an e-mail on 4/24/17 from Disney Visa Rewards regarding a free dining plan promotion for cardmembers, but it looks like this offer is not exclusive to just cardmembers. You can read about the free dining plan package here. If you are interested in this offer, it looks like you must book by 7/7/17.