It shouldn’t come to a surprise to anyone that I do in fact like the Disney Dining Plan, and my parents and I have had it on our last four trips to Disney World.
I break down the Disney Dining Plan a lot more here.
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Pros to the Disney Dining Plan
1. You can pay in advance.
This is my No. 1 favorite thing about the Disney Dining Plan. You pay in advance, so you don’t worry about paying for food while in the park.
The devil’s advocate would say: Well, you pay for everything with your wristband anyway, so it’s all the same.
This is not untrue. But even so, it feels different, and I don’t feel like I need to save money or make money-conscious decisions while in the park. If I want a churro or a venti drink at Starbucks, I don’t fret about racking up a huge credit card bill.
2. Snack credits at the Food & Wine Festival.
I love using my snack credits on the delicious food at the many vendors at the Food & Wine Festival! If you’ve done the DPP before, you know that snack credits are worth around ~ $5.
The move is to not use them on bottled water or affordable snacks that would only cost $2-$3, but to use them on the pricier options. The food at the Food & Wine Festival vendors is a great way to use your snack credits and get the most bang for your buck.
3. One alcoholic beverage or “specialty beverage” is included.
I don’t drink much, but it was nice that an adult beverage or a specialty beverage would be included with my quick service or table service meals at Disney World. These can range from $5 to $10, sometimes more, and include cocktails, wine and beer, as long as they’re single servings and not in a souvenir cup.
I got a milkshake at the 50’s Prime Time Cafe with my meal and it was included as my specialty beverage – and then I got dessert, too!
4. It’s easy to split meals.
You get less with your meals than you used to, but Disney’s serving sizes are still enormous. So, it’s very easy to split meals or snacks between two people.
Mom and I split lunch more than once, so we could get breakfast and dinner on other days. And we were plenty full!
5. It’s pretty flexible.
If you don’t want a drink with your quick service meal, for example, you can usually swap it for a dessert or a side. And you’d be amazed at what qualifies for a snack credit at a lot of places in the parks.
Some people feel like the DDP is very rigid and stresses them out. But if you’re already Type A, like my mom and I are, you’ll appreciate the structure – and the ability to make it work for you when you need to.
Cons to the Disney Dining Plan
There are a few things I do not like about the Disney Dining Plan. For those reasons, my mom and I might not actually get the DDP when we go again in December. Instead, we might just buy a few Disney gift cards at Target for 5% off instead to cover food and souvenirs.
I make a lot of my decisions with the help of my favorite guide, the Unofficial Guide to Disney World. That’s how I’ve slowly come to the conclusion that while the dining plan can be worth it, it is becoming less so as Disney raises the prices on things.
Here are my least favorite things:
- You get less food than you used to. The old plan used to include an appetizer, entree and dessert with your table service credits, for example. So, for example, if we went to Yak & Yeti for a quick service lunch in 2012, we got way more food. I remember getting an orange chicken entree with white rice, a container of fried rice and a lemon ice cup, plus a drink. Now, you get a smaller entree with rice and a drink.
- The Signature Dining situation is disappointing. To use your dining plan at a Signature Dining restaurant like Narcoosee’s or Jiko, you have to use two table service credits. But the cost of dinner at those restaurants is not twice as expensive as a regular table service dinner. That’s one reason my mom and I plan to skip the DDP unless it’s free in December.
- It can be stressful to decide between meals that save money and meals you want to eat. For example, using a quick service credit on breakfast is usually not cost-conscious when you’re on the DDP. (A QS credit costs around $21, and breakfast usually isn’t that expensive.) So, do you pass on breakfast or use a snack credit for something small, when you’d really just like to grab waffles at your hotel? Those decisions are just a pain to tackle on a vacation.