As a Disney vacation planner, I am able to offer all my clients the option to purchase one of the Disney dining plans for their trip. A Disney Dining Plan is a great way to make your vacation “all inclusive” and allows guests to pay for everything in advance of their trip. Purchase of a Disney Dining Plan is by no means necessary, but it does allow guests to take in as many attractions as possible without having to worry about where to eat, it is all planned, and depending on your plan choice, reservations are already made.
However, guests often shy away from buying a dining plan because it is something new to learn or they feel it is too expensive. Because Disney has tried to create a meal plan for every budget, in my many times visiting the parks I have always found it to save us money. Since most of us rarely think of how much the overall cost of food is as we are purchasing it, buying meals upfront seems expensive, but after doing the math on food at the parks and resorts, I have decided it is either cheaper or the same as paying as you go. We love the convenience and we never go hungry and generally never need to buy something in addition to the plan. An additional feature of all the dining plans is the free refillable mug which can be used for coffee or soft drinks. Take your mug with you to your quick service meals and drink for free. The table service meals include a free beverage.
The first time to use the plan can be confusing, so this article is designed to help guests understand how the meal plans work and how to get the very most out of them. In a previous post, I explained that there are three meal plans to choose from and they give guests a wide variety of choices and flexibility. This post is designed to help guests understand how flexible the plans are to use and ways to save money in the process.
There are three references that are important to learn to truly understand how to utilize the Disney dining plans. The first term is “entitlements”. An entitlement simply means what you are “entitled” to receive from whatever plan you purchase. There are Snack entitlements, Quick Service entitlements, and Table Service entitlements. Each meal plan is made up a combination of some or all of these terms. Let’s look at what each term means and what’s included on the meal plans.
Disney Dining Plan – Snack Entitlement
This type of entitlement is included in all the Disney dining plan and is the most flexible of all entitlements to use. As the name implies it can be used during the day for a ”snack” or you can be saved and used for a variety of items such as cereal, pastries, and fruit and eaten for breakfast or lunch. At quick-service restaurants, outdoor carts, and select merchandise locations there are a variety of other types of foods and drinks to be used as a snack entitlement at any time, such as; frozen treats and ice cream, popcorn, packaged milk or juice, soft drinks or bottled water. My personal favorite use of the snack entitlement is at Starbucks. Since Starbucks has arrived at Walt Disney World, they have made all their beverages, of any size, a snack entitlement. We love to enjoy a Vente Iced Latte on a hot day, for one snack
Disney Dining Plan – Quick Service Entitlement
A quick service restaurant is, as the name implies a meal, a restaurant that offers meals that do not require reservations or wait staff and is a quick in and out. They can be accessed anytime, no reservation necessary. The Disney Quick Service Plan and the Disney Dining plan both utilize quick service restaurants. The quick-service entitlement is usually a full entree at a quick service venue. On the Quick Service plan, each individual has two quick-service entitlements per day and that entitlement includes an entree, and a non-alcoholic drink or a dessert. On the Disney Dining Plan, each individual receives one Quick Service entitlement. Quick service restaurants are located in all the Disney Resorts and in every park.
Disney Dining Plan – Table Service Entitlements
A table service restaurant is one in which guests are seated and served by wait staff. It includes; an appetizer, entree, dessert and a non-alcoholic beverage. The Disney Dining Plan and the Disney Deluxe Dining plan utilize table service entitlements. There are Table Service restaurants in most Disney resorts and in all Disney parks. On the Disney dining plan, each guest receives one Table Service entitlement. On the Disney Deluxe Dining plan, each guest receives three Table Service entitlements. This means that all meals may be enjoyed at a full-service restaurant. It is also important to note that a table service entitlement can be used at a quick service venue, but a quick service entitlement can only be used at quick service venues. Also important to note is that while the meal plan includes the cost of the meal, guests are responsible for gratuities at time of service. The table service entitlements are the only meals that require gratuities.
The Disney Deluxe Dining plan is the most expensive plan and offers guests the option of enjoying a sit-down meal for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. As I said in my last post if you consider yourself a “foodie” this is the plan for you. This plan will offer a large variety of restaurants, many with world-class chefs and amazing fresh cuisine. Additionally, if guests are traveling with a large group, sitting down for meals offers guests a chance to interact and enjoy each other over great food.
Although Disney World is known for its parks, rides, and resorts, Disney also offers guests the chance to dine at amazing restaurants run by world-class chefs. So an additional feature of table service entitlements is that they may be combined to enjoy one of Disney’s more expensive dining experiences. Although most of the table service restaurants available throughout the Disney parks and resorts require only one table service entitlement per visit, some of the more expensive restaurants will accept the Disney Dining Plans, but they will require two entitlements for a meal. Guests can decide to purchase another meal at a lower priced restaurant and then use that table service entitlement to dine at one of the fine dining restaurants like California Grill, located in Contemporary Resort, or Artist Point at Wilderness Lodge. Another option is to use some snack entitlements to create a light meal and save the table service entitlement to be combined with another entitlement to enjoy one fine dining experience. If guests are looking for a true epicurean dining, Disney has much to offer.
Once you have chosen your dining plan, you can link it to your “my Disney experience app and then make your meal reservations right from the app. Your Mouse Expert can help you get started and offer suggestions to get you started.