Used properly, the Disney Dining Plan can save you hundreds—or even thousands—on your Walt Disney World vacation, depending on the number of people in your party and the foods you like to eat. The resort actually offers several different plan levels—some cover table service dining and some don’t, so be sure to choose the plan that works best for the way that you dine.
Disney Dining Plan Tips
5. Use all your credits – or lose them
Once you check in to your resort and are issued your room keys, you can begin using your dining credits. You don’t have to use them in any set order, and you can check your balance at any time. Simply making a purchase will list your remaining credits on your receipt so you can keep track of them. Use all of your credits before you go home—even if you end up buying snacks for the return trip or as souvenirs. If you find you have too many snack credits left, see what you can purchase in the candy shops and gift shops—you can often find items that double as small souvenirs and will fit easily into your luggage.
4. Get food to go
If you are on a plan that entitles you to a dessert or beverage but don’t want these items right away, you may be able to get something to go. Consider picking up an extra bottle of water or getting your dessert to go—and enjoy it later in the day or back in your room.
3. Make reservations
Some plans come with one table service credit per person per day—but you won’t be able to use these unless you make reservations in advance. Choose the restaurant you want to visit and make the reservation well in advance; most allow you to book your table up to six months early. This is particularly important if you want to try a popular restaurant like Le Cellier or Cinderella’s Royal Table, or if you are visiting in a busy time like Spring Break or the week between Christmas and New Year’s.
2. Try something new
One of the nicest things about the Disney Dining Plan is that it allows you to try many different things without worrying about cost. Since your meal is pre-paid, you can pick from anything on the menu. Always wanted to try duck or bison, or tempted by that $42 a plate steak? On the dining plan, you can order what you want without fretting over cost. This feature also comes in handy for kids’ meals—kids’ entrees are expensive, and the dining plan is almost always less expensive than paying as you go if you have kids. You’ll feel much better about ordering the $9.95 kids meal at Teppan Edo if you don’t have to pay out of pocket for it –particularly if your little one takes one bite and then rejects it.
1. Spot the Signature Dining Locations
Some restaurants have been designated Signature Dining locations—the list used to include only Cinderella’s Royal Table and Artist Point, but some other locations have been added as well. Signature locations will eat up two of your credits per person—so it may be better to skip them or pay out of pocket for that particular meal. The list changes each year, but as of press time, dinners at Le Cellier and some other select locations have been added to the Signature Dining list. You don’t need to avoid these (they are some of Disney’s best dining locations) but you should be aware of the impact on your dining credits.
written by: Samantha McNesby
Samantha McNesby is an Orlando resident and expert on the area’s theme parks.
All images: Walt Disney World media site