How to Maximize the Value of Your Dining Plan

cupcake

You’ve booked your dining plan! Now off to Walt Disney World to enjoy all the wonderful food options Disney has to offer. While, the dining plans save you money, you want to make sure you are maximizing your value. Let’s take a look at the dining plan options:

Disney’s Quick Service Dining Plan (per person, per night)
Cost: Approximately $50/adult $21/child

  • Two (2) Quick-Service Meals (an entree and beverage or one complete meal combo)
  • Two (2) Snacks
  • One (1) Resort Refillable Drink Mug

Disney’s Dining Plan (per person, per night)
Cost: Approximately $70/adult $25/child

  • One (1) Table-Service Meal (an entree, beverage, and dessert or one full buffet)
  • One (1) Quick-Service Meal (an entree and beverage or one complete meal combo)
  • Two (2) Snacks
  • One (1) Resort Refillable Drink Mug

Disney’s Deluxe Dining Plan (per person, per night)
Cost: Approximately $107/adult $39/child

  • Three (3) Meals any combination of Table-Service and/or Quick-Service Restaurants
    • Table-Service (an appetizer, entree, dessert, and beverage or one full buffet)
    • Quick-Service (an entree and beverage or one complete meal combo)
  • Two (2) Snacks
  • One (1) Resort Refillable Drink Mug

A quick service meal credit can cover a $17 BBQ chicken and rib plate the same as a $9 sandwich or hot dog. Of course there’s nothing wrong with eating a sandwich or hot dog if that’s what you want – but if you don’t want to eat hot dogs, chicken nuggets, and sandwiches for lunch – maximize your credit with some of the best quick meals the “world” has to offer.

Hopefully, you’ve booked with an OUAV travel planner who can send you a list of favorites and let you know where the “gems of quick service restaurants” are.

A snack credit will cover a $3 bottle of water or a $6 cupcake. So obviously you want to use your credits on the higher priced items. I normally pay out of pocket for my drinks because I know I want to use all of my snack credits on cupcakes, fudge, and speciality dessert items. (Yeah, I have a sweet tooth like nobody’s business.)

The table service meals have hopefully been reserved and planned out with your OUAV travel planner before you even leave home. Some table service restaurants are more “fine dining” than others with food to match so if you are looking for maximizing the dollar amount – let your travel planner know. A table service credit will cover a $36 steak the same as a $16 BBQ sandwich.

I usually purchase the Disney Dining Plan with 1 quick service, 1 table service, and 2 snacks. (For more advice on which dining plan is for you – read my blog post “Dining Plan or No Dining Plan?”) Here is an example of how I use my credits:

Example of Amanda’s Dining Plan Credit Usuage

Meal Item Credit Notes
Breakfast Cupcake 1 Snack Credit I   usually pay out of pocket for a small carton of milk or use my resort refillable mug for my drink.
Lunch Flatbread Pizza

or BBQ Plate

with side and drink

1 Quick-Service Credit If they have a specialty dessert, I may use my 2nd snack credit here. If not, I save it for later.
Dinner Steak Dinner with drink and dessert 1 Table Service credit They also have wonderful seafood selections as well.
Snack Ice cream, popcorn, candied apple, OR candied pecans 1 Snack Credit It’s always nice to have a little treat while watching the fireworks or nighttime spectacular.

The credits I have left over at the end of my trip, I cash out at my favorite Main Street Confectionary or Goofy’s Candy Store with fudge, peanut butter cups, and cookies to bring back as extra souvenirs for my friends, family, and sometimes myself.

I’m a water drinker and if you’re like me, it’s great to know you are able to get a cup of ice water for free at any location. You can also take a water bottle in with you, but take a flavor packet as well since the water fountain water is not always tasty.

Be sure to be specific with the cast member you are paying to make sure they understand what you want to use credits for and what you want to pay out of pocket. Also, if you’re not sure what qualifies, your OUAV travel planner is happy to help as well as cast members on site.

How Are My Credits Calculated?
Examples of some common misconceptions about dining plan credits are 1) If you don’t use your snack credits each day, you lose them and 2) you can not use credits from future days on today.

The way the dining plans are explained on paper it may seem that way.  I’ll use the regular dining plan for an example:

On paper it states “One quick service, one table service, and two snacks per person, per night of your stay.” But what it ACTUALLY means is, your credits are calculated per person, per night of your stay. So if you are staying 6 nights, it means each person on your dining package will receive 6 table service credits, 6 quick service credits, and 12 snack credits. You could use them all in the first night you get there – I don’t advise it (ha) – but you could. They are yours to use from check in until midnight the day you check out. So if you want to use table service credits in one day, you can. Keep a check on My Disney Experience and your receipts to see how many credits you still have available. And be sure to check the day before you check out so you can go to the best place to cash in any left over snack credits.

And to make it even sweeter – quick service credits can also be used to purchase 3 snacks, if purchasing them all at one time. How awesome is that?!

As always, your OUAV travel planner is happy to help and answer any questions you may have before and during your stay.

Amanda is an expert on all things Disney and looks forward to hearing from you. Reach out to her at AHowell@onceuponavacation.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

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