Disney’s dining plans are a popular choice with Disney World guests and the most sought after promotions is Disney free dining.
The question is is the free dining offer at Walt Disney World a great deal. We’re going to break down the typical cost of food at Disney World and the benefits of the free Disney Dining Plan so that we can see if free dining is really better than the actual cost of food.
The Cost of the Disney World Dining Plan
The biggest temptations you see around the parks at Walt Disney World are the amazing snacks. Yet somehow, guests on the dining plan frequently wind up with extra snack credits at the end of their trip.
Snacks can cost anywhere from $3-10. Some of the more expensive snacks don’t qualify for snack credits., but most snacks are under $5.
The dining plan budgets approximately $5 for each snack credit. If you are paying for your dining plan, choosing snacks over $5 makes the Dining plan a better choice.
Quick Service Meals
Each quick service location in Walt Disney World is going to cost somewhere in the $10-20 range. Usually, an entree will be under $15.
When you budget your meals, you should consider the cost of your drink purchase on top of the entree and anything else you might order. An individual meal will likely cost about $20 per person.
Quick service dining credits include 1 entree and 1 beverage. Anything else is out of pocket. If you keep your meal under $20 or your family shares meals often, the dining plan may not be better for your budget.
Table Service Dining
The widest variance in cost is with table service restaurants. These range from relatively inexpensive to very luxurious. The most famous table service restaurants in Walt Disney World are signature restaurants, and these cost two meal credits instead of just one.
Both 1 and 2 credit table service restaurants offer the same thing for your meal credits. You get one entree, one beverage, and one dessert. Table service restaurants will generally cost each guest $30-$60 or more.
Entrees will typically be above $25, even at less luxurious restaurants. Appetizers and desserts range from $8-15. Looking over the menus on Disney’s website will help you decide if the dining plan, whether it’s part of the Disney free dining plan, or not is a better deal than budgeting.
Disney’s Buffet Options
Buffets on the dining plan typically use 1 meal credit and cost $35 or more per adult depending on where you go. Many of the buffets are also character meals and use 2 meal credits.
Buffets and family-style restaurants are all-you-care-to-enjoy, so thinking about your family and how much they tend to eat will help you figure out if the meal plan is a good value for your travel group.
What You Get with The Disney Dining Plan
Disney Quick Service Dining Plan
A quick service dining plan includes credits for every night of your stay. The meal credits are only good for quick service restaurants and you get two per night. You also get two snack credits per night and a refillable mug that you can use on fountain drinks at your resort for your whole stay.
Disney Dining Plan
The regular dining plan is like the quick service plan, but you are allowed one table service credit per night and one quick service credit instead of just two quick service credits. The table service credit can be used for quick service as well, which will mean you overpaid for the meal, but it offers you some flexibility.
Disney Dining Plan Plus
The Plus dining plan is brand new. It allows you to have two table service credits per day instead of one table service and one quick service. The snack credits and refillable mug are the same as on the other two plans.
Disney Deluxe Dining Plan
The Deluxe dining plan includes three table service meals per night. This is ideal if you plan on a lot of signature dining, which is more difficult to pull off on the plus plan without paying extra during your trip.
Free Disney Dining vs. other Discounts
In order to determine which deal is the best for you, you need to compare the rate of the room with a free dining package and the discounted rate of the same room with any other promotional offer for that time period.
Then compare the difference in cost with your expected food budget for the trip. It is very possible that you will save more money by budgeting your own meals than by taking the free dining offer.
More Disney World Dining
Once you’ve looked over the details about Disney free dining and other savings, check out more posts about Disney World dining.