As far as I’m concerned, one of the best things about Walt Disney World is the food! One of the best ways to experience all of the food that Disney has to offer is by using the Disney Dining Plan – especially if you are going to be visiting during the Free Dining discount that Disney generally offers in the fall!

What is Included with Each Dining Plan?

The first thing that you need to know is that there are 3 Disney Dining Plans, and they are all pretty different:
  • Disney Quick Service Dining Plan
    • 2 quick service credits
    •  2 snack credits
    • about $50 per adult and $27 per child per night
  • Disney Dining Plan
    • 1 table service credit
    • 1 quick service credit
    • 2 snack credits
    • about $75 per adult and $30 per child per night
    • also sometimes called Plus Dining Plan
  • Disney Deluxe Dining Plan
    • 3 table service or quick service credits
    • 2 snack credits
    • about $115 per adult and $45 per child per night

How Many Credits Do You Get?

Credits are based on the number of nights stayed at a Disney Resort, not based on days, and they go into a grand total of sorts for your whole trip. For example, if your family of 4 is staying Monday-Friday with the Disney Dining Plan, you will have 4 nights of credits for 4 people – that means a total of 16 table service credits, 16 quick service credits, and 32 snack credits for your group to use during your stay.

How Do Credits Work?

Each quick service credit comes with 1 entree and 1 beverage while each table service credit comes with 1 entree, 1 dessert, and 1 beverage OR 1 buffet or family style meal and 1 beverage. This beverage can be a soda, specialty non-alcoholic beverage {milkshake, smoothie, etc}, or alcoholic beverage {for those 21+ only}. If you have the Deluxe Dining Plan, each credit includes 1 appetizer, 1 entree, 1 dessert, and 1 beverage OR 1 buffet or family style meal and 1 beverage. Generally speaking, most table service restaurants use 1 table service credit per person, and all quick service restaurants use 1 quick service credit per person. However, there are a handful of signature table service restaurants or dinner shows that use 2 credits like Cinderella’s Royal Table, Le Cellier, Yachtsman Steakhouse, California Grill, or Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue to name a few.

Making the Most of Credits

I know, you’re probably looking at the Disney Dining Plan thinking “if I only get 1 table service credit a day, how can I eat at these 2 credit restaurants?” You can use 2 table service credits in one day because your credits go into a pool of sorts for your whole stay. The next dilemma: if you borrow a table service credit from one day to eat at a 2 credit signature restaurant, what are you going to eat on the other day? Stay with me here, this might get confusing… If your family of 4 makes a reservation at 1900 Park Fare, this will use 4 table service credits. However, if your family goes to Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn and Cafe and you guys aren’t that hungry, you can order just one Fajita Platter or Beef Nacho to share and use only 1 quick service credit. You DO NOT all have to get an entree, a side, a drink, and a dessert at every quick service meal. Save those credits and SHARE SHARE SHARE!

How Do I Use My Snack Credits?

Disney was kind enough to put a little purple and white square by any item that is considered a snack credit on the menus for every snack cart, bakery, quick service restaurant, or Starbucks. So whether you want popcorn, a Mickey Bar, a Dole Whip, or a triple mocha triple shot frappe at Starbucks, you can use your snack credit for it! Not all snacks are created equal, and some are definitely more bang for your buck than others. Here are a few that you should check out: There are tons of great options for great snacks, and some of those snacks can even be meals! I ate chili cheese fries from Casey’s Corner for lunch during our last trip, and here’s the photo evidence.

What If I Don’t Use All of My Credits?

So now it’s the last day of your vacation, and you realize that you have 2 quick service credits and 6 snack credits left…now what? Go to your nearest bakery and go absolutely CRAZY! Disney will let you turn those quick service credits into 3 snack credits, and you can go home with all of the Mickey Crispy Treats, cake pops, fudge, and cookies that your heart desires! It’s a great way to bring home some extra magic, or these also make great souvenirs for the people that you totally forgot to buy something for.

Should I Get a Dining Plan?

If you are planning on doing lots of table service meals, character buffets, your family just really loves to eat, I would highly suggest that you consider going with the Disney Dining Plan. Some people like to get the Quick Service Dining Plan and pay out of pocket for one nicer meal, but if you do the math, you still come out cheaper to just upgrade to the Disney Dining Plan and have a table service credit for every night instead of just one meal for your whole trip. Finally, I generally only recommend the Deluxe Dining Plan to families who are going ALL. OUT. with dining who have a table service reserved for at least 2 meals a day. The final decision rests with you, but especially if you’re going to be visiting while there is a great discount for adding on a Dining Plan, it’s a no brainer for me!