This is the Key to Maximizing Walt Disney World’s Disney Dining Plan

The Disney Dining Plan is a bit of a controversial subject amongst Walt Disney World fans. Some are die-hard advocates of the vacation add-on, while others think it’s a waste of money. 

The Disney Dining Plan Snack Symbol © Disney

While the Disney Dining Plan may not be for every type of traveler, there are ways to get the most value out of whichever plan you choose, should you decide to go for it. 

Today we’re going to chat about the key to maximizing the Disney Dining Plan!

Disney Dining Plan Basics

If you’re unfamiliar with the Disney Dining Plan, this is a way for Disney World resort guests to add-on prepaid meals to their vacation package. There are currently four plans offered (click their names for more details): the Quick Service Disney Dining Plan, standard Disney Dining Plan, Disney Dining Plan Plus, and Deluxe Disney Dining Plan. Each of these plans offers two snacks per night of your trip in addition to a resort refillable mug. The plans each include a certain number of meal credits (Disney calls these “entitlements) per night of your trip, depending on which one you choose. 

Flame Tree Barbecue

Learn all about the Disney Dining Plan here!

Get the Most Out of the Disney Dining Plan

Order Steak and Seafood

Mathematically speaking, you’ll get the highest value out of your Disney Dining Plan credit if you order the most expensive items on the menu. Typically, these items are going to include either steak or seafood (or both). 

Steam Maine Lobster from Narcoossee’s

For instance, the Filet de Boeuf at Chefs de France will run you $36.99 while the Gratin de Macaroni will cost $19.99. Similarly, the Jumbo Scallops at California Grill is listed on the menu for $54, while the Wild Boar Ragu is listed for $36.

Oak-Fired Filet from California Grill

If you enjoy meat and seafood, you’re on your way to getting good value from the Disney Dining Plan! On the other hand, if you prefer meals without steak and seafood, you might not get the optimal value from purchasing the plan. 

Experience Character Meals

A great way to utilize your Disney Dining Plan credit is by using it on a character meal. While lunch and dinner typically provide a better value than breakfast, practically any character meal is a good use of your credit. 

Daisy at Tusker House

1900 Park Fare currently costs $45 per adult and $29 per child during breakfast, while dinner at Akershus Royal Banquet Hall costs $53 per adult and $34 per child. Perhaps one of the best bang-for-your-buck character meals is Storybook Dining at Artist Point, which currently costs a whopping $60 per adult and $39 per child.

Storybook Dining at Artist Point

It’s important to note that Cinderella’s Royal Table will cost you two table service credits (while all others cost one), so you’ll probably want to spring for the $75 dinner if you choose to dine there (using two Table Service credits would only value them at $37.50 each). 

Cinderella greeting Guests at Cinderella’s Royal Table

Try High-Dollar Snacks

Don’t waste those snack credits, y’all!

Give us alll the Dole Whips!

An easy way to waste money on the Disney Dining Plan is by using your snack credits on things like bottles of water or bags of chips. It’s so much better to spend your credits on items that would run you $6.00 or more out of pocket. 

Colossal Cinnamon Roll

If you’re visiting during an Epcot festival, another great way to use your credits is by snacking around World Showcase, where festival food booth eats are typically sizeable snacks, high quality, and come with big price tags. Other great uses of your snack credits include the Colossal Cinnamon Roll at Kusafiri Coffee Shop & Bakery ($7.49), French Fries with Pulled Pork & Cheese from Flame Tree Barbecue ($6.99), and a Funnel Cake with Cookies & Cream Toppings and Ice Cream from Epic Eats ($8.49). 

Funnel Cake from Epic Eats

There are so many fabulous ways to use your snack credits, so don’t waste those credits on unexciting options. 

Pulled Pork Fries

Get Your Drink On

Whether you drink alcohol or not, beverages are a great way to get additional value out of a Disney Dining Plan meal credit.

Storybook Dining at Artist Point Specialty Drinks

Ordering a tea or soda will, of course, offer more value for your credit than a free glass of water, but there are ways to get even more bang for your buck. Dining at Whispering Canyon Café? Enjoy a bottomless (non-alcoholic) milkshake (a $9.00 value). Planning a dinner at Yak & Yeti Restaurant? Opt for the boozy Delightful Daiquiri for $13

Bottomless Shake at Whispering Canyon Cafe

Remember that an alcoholic beverage or a specialty beverage is included with all meals (where offered) at both Quick Service and Table Service, so be sure to ask about your options. While you may stick to water at home, using the Disney Dining Plan gives you the excuse to splurge on some delicious drinks. 

Use Those Mugs!

Speaking of drinks, be sure to use your included resort refillable mug when you can. 

Stainless Steel Refillable Mug

I personally love to grab a coffee or Diet Coke before I start my day, refresh with a Powerade during the afternoon, and unwind with a hot chocolate before I hit the hay. If you’re staying in a sprawling resort, like Caribbean Beach or All-Star Sports, this may seem like a bit of a hassle, but it’s something I find completely worth it. (And note that Caribbean Beach has been adding Coke Freestyle machines in some of its buildings, so a beverage refill might not be too far away!)

Rapid Fill Station

Choose Your Signature Meals Carefully

Several restaurants on Disney World property (like the aforementioned Cinderella’s Royal Table) require two table service credits on the Disney Dining Plan. While some signature dining locations provide a decent value per credit, others do not. 

Yachtsman Steakhouse

California Grill, thanks to its pricey entrees, provides a solid value per credit. Adults on the standard Disney Dining Plan and Disney Dining Plan Plus can easily reach a per-credit value of $47.50, while those on the Deluxe Disney Dining Plan (thanks to the inclusion of an appetizer) can reach a per-credit value of $59

California Grill

Be Our Guest dinner, on the other hand, has a set price of $62 per adult, so the per-credit value is much lower. If you want to get the best bang for your credit on the Disney Dining Plan, use a counter service credit here for lunch or breakfast instead. 

Be Our Guest

You can absolutely get great value by dining at signature restaurants (especially on the Deluxe Disney Dining Plan), but be sure to look over menus before you make your Advance Dining Reservations. 

Are you a fan of the Disney Dining Plan? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

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5 Replies to “This is the Key to Maximizing Walt Disney World’s Disney Dining Plan”

  1. Visiting from the UK and booking early we get the DDP for free, we think its great and if it wasn’t included we would buy it. And yes we do make sure we max it out, getting the best value snacks and the most expensive things on the menus! My favourite is the coconut shrimp combo at Rainforest Café, cant wait until September, providing its all up and running again!!

  2. My family and I always use the dining plan even if its only 1 day. We have used both the counter service and sit down meal plans depending on the length of stay and occasion. Totally worth it.

  3. I’ve only tried the dining plan once when it was offered for free and we upgraded to deluxe. I loved the convenience! The best option seems to be to preload a Disney gift card and use that for all meals. Then you don’t feel the need to order something you don’t really want just to get the most out of your plan. You also have any extra money left on the card to spend in the gift shops instead of rice krispy treats lol. Nothing was more infuriating than the first and LAST time we did a big family trip and we were sharing the deluxe plan. Watching my Aunt and Uncle buying a Sprite and a bag of chips with TWO snack credits after I told them over and over to pay out of pocket for those things and save the credits for better, more expensive things. It was like they just had to spite me or something. That alone was enough to make me not want to ever travel with them again. lol

  4. I love the standard Disney dining plan. I can prepay for my meals and then not have to worry about the cost when I am at Disney. It makes my vacation seem more “all inclusive”.