Disney Dining Plan Review

It’s safe to say that Kevin and I thoroughly enjoyed the amazing food we ate on our honeymoon very, very much. We booked our honeymoon during Disney World’s Free Dining promotion, and because it was the first time using the Dining Plan for both of us, I did a lot of research to figure out how to use it exactly.

Is the Disney Dining Plan Right for You?

We received the Standard Disney Dining Plan. With that, we got:

  • 1 snack credit – this includes items like a pretzel, ice cream, bottled water, soda, a piece of fruit, items at the International Food & Wine Festival
  • 1 counter/quick service credit – restaurants where you order the food, pick it up yourself, sit down and clean up. You’re not waited on by a waiter or waitress. With 1 credit, you get 1 non-alcoholic beverage (like bottled water, soda, shake, etc.), entree and dessert.
  • 1 table credit – in general, any restaurant where you have a waiter or waitress. With 1 credit, you get a non-alcoholic beverage (like bottled water, soda, shake, etc.), entree and dessert.
  • 1 refillable mug – this can be used for soda, tea, coffee and hot chocolate but ONLY at your resort, and not in the parks.

In 2013, the daily price of the Standard Disney Dining Plan was $55.59 per adult.  

Because we stayed 7 nights, together we received 14 table credits, 14 quick credits, 14 snack credits. For simple math’s sake, I listed out the credits individually, to add up to 7 instead of doubling each credit to equal 14. This will make more sense as you read on…

50's Prime-Time Cafe at Walt Disney World

It took a lot of planning, but with a little bit of organization, I think we successfully maximized our dining pretty well. To start, I created two lists – one listed each type of credit we received and one listed all of the Dining Plan meals we’d be needing each day. Our situation was a little bit different since we upgraded to the Club Level at our resort (highly recommended), and we received complimentary continental breakfast, so we didn’t need to allocate any credits towards breakfast.

(Note: I didn’t list planned snack credits because those are more spontaneous and we saved most of our snack credits for the Food & Wine Festival.)

Organizing Your Disney Dining Plan Sample

Table service credits – (7 total)

1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.

Quick/counter service credits – (7 total)

1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.

Monday –

  • Dinner

Tuesday –

  • (Continental Breakfast)
  • (Lunch at Islands of Adventure)
  • Dinner

Wednesday –

  • (Continental Breakfast)
  • (Lunch included with Keys to Kingdom Tour)
  • Dinner

Thursday –

  • (Continental Breakfast)
  • Lunch
  • Dinner

Friday –

  • (Continental Breakfast)
  • Lunch
  • Dinner

Saturday –

  • (Continental Breakfast)
  • Lunch
  • Dinner

Sunday –

  • (Continental Breakfast)
  • Lunch
  • Dinner

Monday –

  • (Continental Breakfast)

A Disney World Honeymoon

I had this all listed out and realized we had 11 meals we’d need to fill with table and quick service credits, but we had 14 total credits to use. We did a couple things to make sure we didn’t waste any credits:

  • Booked a Signature Restaurant, which was worth 2 table service credits
  • Booked a Character breakfast one morning, which used 1 table service credit, instead of eating our continental breakfast

Once I had the number of meals listed, we picked our top restaurants and made reservations when there was availability. Making reservations first also helped us figure out what our general plans for the week looked like in terms of what parks we would be at when.

Over time, the lists began to fill up. Every time we decided on a restaurant or made a reservation, I’d fill in if it was a table or quick service restaurant and before we knew it, we had all of our credits listed out.

1 table – (7 total)

  1. Yak & Yeti – Animal Kingdom
  2. ‘Ohana – The Polynesian Resort
  3. Sci-Fi Theater – Hollywood Studios
  4. Coral Reef – Epcot
  5. 50’s Prime Time Café – Hollywood Studios
  6. Jiko (worth 2 credits) – Animal Kingdom Lodge
  7. (see Jiko)

1 quick – (7 total)

  1. The Pepper Market – Coronado Springs
  2. Beaches Bar and Grill – Grand Floridian Resort
  3. Pecos Bills* – Magic Kingdom
  4. Be Our Guest – Magic Kingdom
  5. La Cantina de San Angel** – Epcot
  6. Les Halls*** – Epcot
  7. Cafe Rix – Coronado Springs

Monday –

  • Dinner – 1 quick @ The Pepper Market – Coronado Springs

Tuesday –

  • (Continental Breakfast)
  • (Lunch at Islands of Adventure)
  • Dinner – 1 quick @ Pecos Bills – Magic Kingdom

Wednesday –

  • (Continental Breakfast)
  • (Lunch included with Keys to Kingdom Tour)
  • Dinner – 1 quick @ Beaches Bar & Grill – Grand Floridian

Thursday –

  • (Continental Breakfast)
  • Lunch – 1 quick @ Be Our Guest – Magic Kingdom
  • Dinner – 1 table @ Yak & Yeti – Animal Kingdom

Friday –

  • Breakfast – 1 table @ ‘Ohana – Polynesian Resort
  • Lunch – 1 table @ Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater – Hollywood Studios
  • Dinner – 1 table @ Coral Reef – Epcot

Saturday –

  • (Continental Breakfast)
  • Lunch – 1 quick @ La Cantina De San Angel** – Epcot
  • Dinner – 1 table @ 50’s Prime Time Café – Hollywood Studios

Sunday –

  • (Continental Breakfast)
  • Lunch – 1 quick @ Les Halls*** – Epcot
  • Dinner – 2 table @ Jiko – Animal Kingdom Lodge

Monday –

  • Breakfast – 1 quick at Cafe Rix – Coronado Springs

A Disney World Honeymoon

Now, I know this seems VERY planned out, but Disney is able to be so flexible! For example (see corresponding asterisks above):

*We originally listed this as “A quick-service restaurant in Magic Kingdom” and decided to eat at Pecos Bill once we got to the park.

**After eating all day at the Food & Wine Festival, we were in no mood to sit down and eat an actual lunch so we skipped lunch that day, knowing we’d have an extra quick-service credit to use later in the week.

***We ended up not going back to Epcot when we thought we would, so we didn’t go to Les Halls for lunch. Instead, we went back to Magic Kingdom and dined at Be Our Guest for the second time!

A Disney World Honeymoon

Overall, I think we did a great job maximizing our credits. I’ve heard of people who don’t plan out their meals and end up leaving with many unused credits. Unfortunately, we did run out of time (and empty stomachs) and had 1 unused quick-service credit (we skipped our lunch at Epcot on Saturday because of the Food & Wine Festival). With that being said, here’s the breakdown:

  • What we would have spent on food if we got everything that we did and paid out of pocket (including the park snacks and Food & Wine Festival snacks. This does not include alcohol.) = $857.16
  • What the Dining Plan was worth ($55.59 per person per day) = $778.26
  • We ate this much more than what the Disney Dining Plan was worth = $78.90

A Disney World Honeymoon

So it looks like we got more than what we “paid” for, right? NOW. Here’s where it gets tough. Was it actually worth it?

Kevin and I have talked about it long and hard and we really don’t think that we would have eaten $857.16 worth of food in our week at Disney World. For example:

  • We’re not dessert people. Most of the time we didn’t even eat half of our desserts, so we could have gotten away without getting dessert at all. If we really wanted something sweet, we could have split one.
  • We aren’t soda people, so the refillable mugs were a little pointless for us. I did fill mine with coffee each morning, but I only drink 1 cup of coffee so I could have just used a traditional ole cup at breakfast. (Side note: I use mine all the time at home. It makes for a great souvenir, but perhaps it would have been smarter to buy one Disney cup in a merchandise store instead of two refillable mugs.)
  • So much food! There were a number of occasions where we could have easily split a meal (‘Ohana, Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater, Coral Reef, 50’s Prime-Time Cafe).
  • We aren’t soda people, again. With our Dining Plan, we received a soda or bottled water with every meal. While we both like to drink water with our meal, but we could have avoiding getting bottled water by bringing in our own bottle to refill at water fountains throughout the parks.

Be our Guest Restaurant

Lastly, here are some big pros and cons to the plan that we found:

Pros

  • It’s nice to not worry about getting an expensive entree at dinner, knowing it’s pre-paid (or in our case, free).
  • We did not feel guilty at all for spending $168.25 on our meal at Jiko (yes, it was that much!).
  • It’s a great feeling to have everything pre-paid. Before we left for our honeymoon, we knew how much money our honeymoon cost (not including tips, alcohol and souvenirs). We liked this because unlike our cruise, we weren’t stuck with a big bill at the end of our trip.

Cons

  • Requires a good amount of pre-planning (if you don’t pre-plan, you risk forgetting about credits or running out of time to use them).
  • Even with all of our planning, we didn’t have time to use our final quick-service credit, so I felt like we wasted (free) money.
  • Frankly, I think we got too much food. I felt wasteful. I would have much rather split something with Kevin and then if I was still hungry, gotten a snack.

So would we do it again? It depends. If we received the Dining Plan as a part of Disney’s Free Dining promotion, I could see us doing it again, but we would not select to pay out of pocket for it.  

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