Is the Disney Dining Plan Worth the Cost? We Break It Down.

by | Mar 20, 2024 | Walt Disney World Food

Is the Disney Dining Plan worth it? Read more on the questions you should ask yourself when considering whether to purchase the add-on.

The Disney Dining Plan is BACK in Disney World! This Disney hotel guest perk has historically been well-loved by many guests, but it’s been a few years since it’s been available. And, with its return comes quite a few changes including new plans and new price points so it can be hard to know whether adding a dining plan to your vacation package is right for you.

So, to help you make your decision, we’re bringing you a look into all of the Disney Dining Plans that are available in 2024 and breaking down what a day of eating in Disney World would actually look like using the plans to see if you end up saving…or losing money in the long run. And, if you’re still unsure, we’ve got 4 questions you should ask yourself before you book!

Disney Dining Plan Overview

The Disney Dining Plan was first introduced in Walt Disney World in 2005 as an easy and convenient way for guests to pre-pay for the food they’ll eat on vacation. A lot has changed about the plans over the years, but the basic principles have remained the same – each plan comes with a certain number of dining “credits” that can be used at select quick service, table service, and snack locations throughout the Disney Parks and Resorts. So, instead of pulling out your wallet every time you buy food, you just need to tap your MagicBand or Key To The World Card to “pay.”

Disney Dining Plans are only available to guests who book a Disney World Resort hotel, as they can only be added as part of a vacation package. Dining plans must be added for your entire stay, and the total cost is then applied to your Disney vacation package balance.

Currently, there are two different dining plans available in Disney World: the Standard Dining Plan and the Quick Service Dining Plan. The Standard Dining Plan is priced at $94.28 per adult, per day and $29.69 per child (ages 3 to 9), per day. And, the Quick Service Dining Plan costs $57.01 per adult, per day, and $23.83 per child (ages 3 to 9), per day.

Here’s an overview of what’s included in each:

Standard Dining Plan

  • 1 Quick-Service Meal Per Night of Stay
  • 1 Table-Service Meal Per Night of Stay
  • 1 Snack or Nonalcoholic Beverage Per Night of Stay
  • 1 Resort-Refillable Mug

Quick Service Dining Plan

  • 2 Quick-Service Meals Per Night of Stay
  • 1 Snack or Nonalcoholic Beverage Per Night of Stay
  • 1 Resort-Refillable Mug

Keep in mind that your meal and snack credits are allotted per night of your stay. So, for example, if you book a 4-night stay and add the Quick Service Dining Plan to your vacation package, you will get a total of 8 quick service credits and 4 snack credits that can be used at any point during your stay. Additionally, it’s important to note that tips are not included in the Standard Dining Plan (except for meals at Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue and Cinderella’s Royal Table), so you will be responsible for paying the tip at table service restaurants.

To track how many credits you have remaining throughout your stay, you can check your My Disney Experience app, look at the bottom of your dining receipts, or ask the Resort Concierge or Guest Relations. Any unused meal credits expire at midnight on the day that you check out of your hotel.

Now, let’s look at each plan a little closer to see if they’re right for you.

Is the Standard Disney Dining Plan Worth It?

The Standard Disney Dining Plan was created for guests who want to eat at both quick service and table service restaurants throughout Disney World during their stay. With it, each person in your party is entitled to the following each night of your stay:

  • One table service entrée, dessert (lunch and dinner only), OR full buffet
  • One quick service meal, including entrée OR combo meal
  • One quick service meal, including entrée OR combo meal
  • One snack/nonalcoholic drink
  • One Resort refillable drink mug per package

Note that each quick service and table service meal includes a non-alcoholic beverage for guests under the age of 21 and a non-alcoholic beverage or alcoholic beverage for guests over the age of 21. Non-alcoholic beverages include things like milkshakes, smoothies, hot chocolate, soda, coffee, or tea. And, alcoholic beverages include things like cocktails, beer, or wine (where offered).

It’s also important to keep in mind that select table service restaurants cost 2 table service credits (compared to just one) to dine at. This includes:

  • Fairytale Dining at Cinderella’s Royal Table at Magic Kingdom
  • Princess Storybook Dining at Akershus Royal Banquet Hall at EPCOT
  • Story Book Dining at Artist Point with Snow White at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge

Will the Standard Dining Plan Save You Money?

To determine whether the Standard Dining Plan is actually a good deal, we first have to look at how much it costs to eat in the parks and resorts without the dining plan. We looked at the prices of quick service meals, table service meals, specialty drinks, and snacks throughout all of Disney World and this is how much you will generally pay per meal during your stay:

  • Quick Service Meal: $10-$15 per adult, $7-$10 per child
  • Table Service Meal: $15-$50 per adult, $10-$20 per child + Dessert at $10-$15 per person
  • Buffet/All You Can Eat Meal: $40-$70 per adult, $20-$50 per child + Dessert at $10-$15 per person
  • Alcoholic Beverage: $7-$20 per drink
  • Specialty Beverage: $7-$15 per drink
  • Snack: $2-$10 per snack
  • Resort Refillable Mug: $21.99 for your entire stay

So, as you can see, the pricing can vary a lot based on what you order and how you choose to use your dining credits. And, with the Standard Dining Plan priced at $94.28 per adult, per day and $29.69 per child (ages 3 to 9), per day, opting for the most expensive items will likely save you some money, but, it’s also possible that you could end up losing money. If you go for cheaper options like sodas with your meal instead of a specialty beverage or use your snack credit to purchase something less than $6, it may end up costing you more to have the dining plan than it would if you paid a la carte.

So, when does the Standard Dining Plan save you money? Let’s take a look at two examples of how your savings can depend solely on what table service restaurant you book with the Standard Dining Plan:

Scenario 1

Let’s say that a family with one adult and one child purchased the Standard Dining Plan and they’re planning to use their snack credit to grab something quick for breakfast. Then, they’re headed to EPCOT where they’ll eat at Connections Eatery for lunch and end their day at Chef Mickey’s for a fun character buffet meal. 

Cost for an Adult

Let’s take a look at how much you can get and the cash total for one adult:

  • Breakfast: $2.79-$5.99
  • Lunch at Connections Eatery: $11.29-$14.29 + alcoholic beverage priced at $15.50
  • Dinner at Chef Mickey’s: $66 per adult + specialty cocktail priced at $8.75-$17 
  • Resort Refillable Mug: $21.99 per mug (split price over a 4-night stay)

In total, a day of eating like this for one adult costs $110-$124 total. At first glance, that looks like you can save quite a bit of money that day if you buy the dining plan – that’s $16 to $30 if you’re ordering the most expensive items! However, because tips are not included in the pre-paid plan (except for meals at Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue and Cinderella’s Royal Table), you’ll need to pay $16 out of pocket for your meal at Chef Mickey’s which makes your total savings add up to $0 to $14 that day.

Cost for a Child

The savings are a little different for kids on the Standard Dining Plan in this scenario though! Let’s take a look at how much you can get and the cash total for one child:

  • Breakfast: $2.79-$5.99
  • Lunch at Connections Eatery: $7.79-$8.49 + drink at $2.29-$7.49
  • Dinner at Chef Mickey’s: $41 per child + specialty drink at $5.99-$12
  • Resort refillable mug: $21.99 per mug (split price over a 4-night stay)

In total, the cash price of eating for one day is $65-$80. So, even with a $10 tip at Chef Mickey’s, you’re still saving a total of $25 to $40 per child that day.

hoop dee doo revue

Photo by Jeff Chiu

Scenario 2

Now, Chef Mickey’s is one of the most expensive table service restaurants in Disney World. What if you chose to eat at a cheaper spot instead? Let’s say that a family of one adult and one child uses their snack credit to grab something quick for breakfast. Then, they head to EPCOT where they eat at Connections Eatery for lunch and end their day at Woody’s Roundup Rodeo BBQ at Disney’s Hollywood Studios for an all-you-can-eat meal. 

Cost for an Adult

Here’s how much you get and the cash total for one adult in this scenario:

  • Breakfast: $2.79-$5.99
  • Lunch at Connections Eatery: $11.29-$14.29 + alcoholic beverage at $15.50
  • Dinner at Woody’s Roundup Rodeo BBQ: $45 per adult + specialty cocktail at $8.75-$17
  • Resort refillable mug: $21.99 per mug (split price over a 4-night stay)

The cost of eating for the day comes out to $88-$103 in total. Add a $12 tip for dining at Woody’s Roundup Rodeo BBQ and you end up saving no money with the dining plan…in fact, you might even go a little into the negative if you opted for cheaper entrees, snacks, and drinks on the cheaper.

Cost for a Child

Does the same stand true for a child in this scenario? Not necessarily! Here’s how much you get and the cash total for one child:

  • Breakfast:$2.79-$5.99
  • Lunch at Connections Eatery: $7.79-$8.49 + drink at $2.29-$7.49
  • Dinner at Woody’s Roundup Rodeo BBQ: $25 per child + specialty drink at $7
  • Resort refillable mug: $21.99 per mug (split price over a 4-night stay)

In total, the cash price of all this food is somewhere between $50-$60 depending on what you order. And, even with a $6 tip at Roundup Rodeo, you’ll save $14 to $24 per child.

So, based on the math, is the Standard Dining Plan worth it cost-wise? Maybe! It’s certainly much easier to come out saving some money if you’re traveling with children, but saving isn’t out of the question for adults…you just have to be a bit more mindful of what you order and what table service restaurants you book.

Is the Quick-Service Disney Dining Plan Worth It?

The Quick Service Dining Plan was designed for guests who prefer to spend most of their time exploring the parks and less time eating. This plan does not include any table service meals, but you can eat at nearly any quick service restaurant throughout the parks and resorts. With it, each person in your party is entitled to the following each night of your stay:

  • Two Quick Service meals (entrée or combo meal at lunch and dinner and a beverage)
  • One snack/nonalcoholic drink
  • One Resort Refillable Resort drink mug per package

Note that each quick service meal includes a non-alcoholic beverage for guests under the age of 21 and a non-alcoholic beverage or alcoholic beverage for guests over the age of 21. Non-alcoholic beverages include things like milkshakes, smoothies, hot chocolate, soda, coffee, or tea. And, alcoholic beverages include things like cocktails, beer, or wine (where offered).

Will the Quick-Service Dining Plan Save You Money?

If you’re looking for a way to save on dining by purchasing the Quick Service Dining Plan…well…it’s all going to depend. Here’s the general pricing for quick service meals, drinks, and snacks in Disney Word right now:

  • Quick Service Meal: $10-$15 per adult, $7-$10 per child
  • Alcoholic Beverage: $7-$20 per drink
  • Specialty Beverage: $7-$15 per drink
  • Snack: $2-$10 per snack
  • Resort Refillable Mug: $21.99 for your entire stay

With prices ranging so much, the total cost of eating in Disney World per day really depends on what you order and how you use your dining credits. And, with the Quick Service Dining Plan priced at $57.01 per adult, per day, and $23.83 per child (ages 3 to 9), per day, the same thing we said about the standard plan will remain true for this one – opting for more expensive items on the menu will likely save you some cash, whereas, ordering on the cheaper end may not.

So, when does the Quick Service Dining Plan end up being a good deal? Let’s take a look at a sample day of eating with the plan might look like.

Quick Service Dining Plan Example

Let’s say that a family of one adult and one child decide to use their snack credit to get a quick bite for breakfast and then head to Disney’s Animal Kingdom and eat at Satu’li Canteen for lunch. Then, they hop over to Magic Kingdom for the evening where they eat at Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe for dinner.

Here’s how much you get and the cash total for one adult in this scenario:

  • Breakfast: $2.79-$5.99 
  • Lunch at Satu’li Canteen: $13.29-$17.99 + alcoholic beverage at $11.25-$14
  • Dinner at Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe: $9.99-$13.49 + specialty drink at $6.49 (alcohol is not served here)
  • Resort refillable mug: $21.99 per mug (split price over a 4-night stay)

The cash total for the day comes out to $50-$63 which means that you could save up to $6 with the dining plan if you opted for the most expensive items on the menu. However, you could also end up overpaying for the dining plan by $7.

Now, let’s look at how much this same scenario costs for a child:

  • Breakfast: $2.79-$5.99
  • Lunch at Satu’li Canteen: $7.29-$8.79 + specialty drink at $2.29-$5.49
  • Dinner at Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe: $6.99-$8.59 + specialty drink at $6.49
  • Resort refillable mug: $21.99 per mug (split price over a 4-night stay)

In total, eating like this would cost somewhere between $31-$40 for the day. So, the dining plan would actually end up saving you about $7 to $16 per child.

All in all, the results are split on whether the Quick Service Dining Plan is actually worth the cost. Like the standard plan, you’ll likely save some cash by purchasing the dining plan for your children, however, you’ll have to be more mindful about using your dining credits on the most expensive items on the menu to come out ahead for adults.

How to Decide if the Disney Dining Plan is Worth it for You

Still not sure if a Disney Dining Plan is right for you? It’s not always all about the math!

Questions to Ask

Here are four questions to ask yourself if you’re undecided:

  1. Where do you want to eat? – The Disney Dining Plans tie you to a certain number of meals per day and restaurants where you can eat. We suggest making a list of the places that you want to eat at and price it out! Nearly all of Disney’s menus and costs for dining locations across the parks and resorts are available online.
  2. Are there any deals on the Disney Dining Plan for my travel dates? – Every so often Disney runs a deal where you can add a dining plan to your hotel and ticket package for free. This can be a huge money saver!
  3. What level of convenience are you looking for? – Disney Dining Plans can take the thought out of buying food, but it can also add a lot of thought too. For example, you’ll need to keep track of your dining credits and how many you have used/have left throughout your stay and, if you’re really hoping to break even or save, you’ll need to ensure you’re ordering the most expensive items on the menu which may not always be what you want.
  4. Do the benefits of prepaying for food outweigh the hassle? – While you may still end up purchasing a few extra snacks and have to tip (if you purchase the Standard Dining Plan), the ability to budget for food ahead of time can be a huge draw for Disney-goers. Removing the need to think about your food budget while you’re enjoying the parks can be a big perk that outweighs the chance of losing a couple of dollars or having to keep track of your credits.

The Deciding Factor

Ultimately, the answer to whether the Disney Dining Plan is worth it in 2024 comes down to you and what you’re hoping to get out of your next trip. Go through the costs, consider the convenience, and get excited about eating in Disney World – there is no right or wrong answer!

Want more insider info on the Disney Dining Plan for your next vacation? Check out our recommendations on the best table service restaurants to maximize the dining plans here and see where you shouldn’t eat with the dining plan in Disney World here.

Posts by Jenna Saxton

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Jenna is a contributing writer at WDW Magazine and stay at home mom. When she's not chasing her toddler around the parks, you can find her out for a run or curled up with a book. She has contributed to multiple Disney and travel blogs including Eat Sleep Cruise, 365 Atlanta Traveler, Disney Food Blog, and AllEars.
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Authored by
Jenna Saxton

Jenna is a contributing writer at WDW Magazine and stay at home mom. When she's not chasing her toddler around the parks, you can find her out for a run or curled up with a book. She has contributed to multiple Disney and travel blogs including Eat Sleep Cruise, 365 Atlanta Traveler, Disney Food Blog, and AllEars.
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